Morning Briefing: November 10, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he will not drop out of the presidential race after embarrassingly forgetting one of the three federal agencies he wants to eliminate during last night’s GOP debate. “You bet I’m going to continue on,” he said on NBC this morning. Nonetheless, many pundits are pronouncing the death of Perry’s already wounded campaign.

President Obama’s poll numbers have surged in recent days, showing him running neck-and-neck in key swing states against GOP contender Mitt Romney and against a generic Republican.

With less than two weeks before the Nov. 23 deadline for the deficit super committee, the Obama administration is keeping its hands-off approach to the negotiations. Polls show that voters believe President Obama has been more willing to compromise than Republicans and that Republicans are blocking a deal to avoid raising taxes on the wealthy.

Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform will not remove the names of lawmakers who have disavowed its pledge to oppose tax increases. Multiple Republicans and one Democrat have walked back their previous support from the pledge. Norquist is standing firm, saying the pledge is a commitment for the duration of one’s time in office.

Estimating that 90 percent of the Gulf Coast has been cleaned after last year’s oil spill disaster, government officials have decided to let BP end its cleanup efforts, yet residents are still concerned about lasting damage. “It’s not clean. There are still tar mats and tar balls appearing,” said John Young, the president of Jefferson Parish in Louisiana.

The United Nations is reporting that more and more Syrian soldiers are defecting to the side of the pro-democracy protesters, perhaps foreshadowing a civil war. “More and more soldiers refuse to become complicit in international crimes and are changing sides. There is a serious risk of Syria descending into armed struggle,” said U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay.

Former European Central Bank vice-president Lucas Papademos was named Thursday as the prime minister of the new Greek interim government, as that country approaches bankruptcy. Papademos will be sworn in on Friday and establish an interim government then.

Appearing in front of Parliament this morning, News Corp. executive and heir apparent James Murdoch denied knowing about wrongdoing at News of the World, the British tabloid at the center of a widening phone hacking scandal. “Any suspicion of wider-spread wrongdoing, none of that was mentioned to me,” Murdoch said.

President Obama will announce an agreement for a new and permanent U.S. military presence in Australia when he visits the country next week. The move is aimed at countering China’s influence and reasserting America’s interest in the region.

And finally: While other candidates were likely going over policy points and huddling advisers before last night’s debate, Newt Gingrich was watching “Bridesmaids.” A spokesperson said it was his first time watching the film, “a raunchy comedy about a woman who nearly destroys her best friend’s wedding.”

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