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Arguing that New York needs his financial skill to guide it through the Wall Street crisis, Mayor Michael Bloomberg persuaded the City Council to amend the term-limits law Thursday so that the billionaire independent can run for re-election next year. By a 29-22 vote, the council agreed to allow officeholders three consecutive four-year terms. Existing law limits them to two terms, and Bloomberg's second is up at the end of 2009.

The vote significantly alters the city's political landscape. Many would-be mayoral candidates are expected to drop out rather than run against a popular incumbent with unlimited cash to spend.

Bloomberg founded the financial news service that bears his name and is worth an estimated $20-billion. The former CEO was first elected as a Republican in 2001, while smoke was still rising from the ruins of the World Trade Center; he later became an independent.

After Thursday's vote, Bloomberg issued a statement praising the council for acting to "give the people of New York a fuller choice" next year. He said the city must turn its focus to softening the fallout from the financial downturn.



A watchdog group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission Thursday alleging that the Republican Party broke federal campaign laws by buying Sarah Palin and her family about $150,000 in clothes for campaign appearances.

The complaint names as defendants Palin, the RNC, Minnesota-based Republican consultant Jeff Larson and other operatives associated with the RNC.

The Federal Election Campaign Act specifically prohibits expenditures for such purposes, the liberal-leaning Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said in its complaint.

The group cited language in the law stating that no donated funds may be converted to personal use if the expense "would exist irrespective of the candidate's election campaign," including a clothing purchase unless it is of "de minimis value."

Murkier, however, is whether the law allows clothing purchases by a party committee, as occurred with the Palin expenses.

Larson made most or all of the purchases at high-end stores in Minneapolis as the Republican National Convention was ending, according to the Republican National Committee's campaign finance report for September.

For Obama

Scott McClellan: President Bush's former press secretary says he is backing Barack Obama for president. McClellan made the endorsement during a taping of comedian D.L. Hughley's show that is premiering on CNN this weekend. He follows former Secretary of State Colin Powell. McClellan caused bitterness among former co-workers with a tell-all book that criticized Bush.

LeBron James: The NBA superstar, and Grammy-winning recording artist Jay-Z will host a rally for Obama on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The rally will include a free concert by the hip-hop star.

In hot water

Stepping down: New Mexico GOP officials criticized Marcia Stirman, the head of the Republican Women of Otero County, for calling Obama a "Muslim socialist" and stating that "Muslims are our enemies." Stirman will be asked to step down, said Sassy Tinling, the chairwoman of the county Republican Party.

-Diane Fedele, president of a Republican club in San Bernardino County, Calif., resigned after apologizing for "poor judgment" after a newsletter was distributed with a caricature of Obama on a fake food stamp surrounded by ribs, watermelon and fried chicken.


Biden says McCain is getting out of control

Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said Thursday that Republican candidate John McCain is "getting a little loose" at a time when the nation needs a steady hand.

Campaigning in NASCAR country, Biden employed car racing terminology to describe the contentious final days of the campaign. He told supporters in Charlotte that he's worried about how the Republicans have been acting as the two campaigns have been "trading a little paint" recently. "What worries me most is the McCain campaign seems to have gotten a little loose," Biden said. "John's getting a little loose. He doesn't have much of a steady hand these days. Now's the time we most need a steady hand."

Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant said Biden was being loose with his rhetorical flourishes and offered a different NASCAR analogy: "If Obama wins, he will raise taxes and our economy will go from a yellow to red flag."

Where they were


Biden:North Carolina cities of Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Raleigh.

McCain: Ormond Beach and Sarasota.

Sarah Palin: Troy, Ohio, and Beaver, Pa.