Bachmann Opponent Says He Will Not Run

A Minnesota hotelier who lost a close race against Representative Michele Bachmann last year and was gearing up for a rematch in 2014 has said that he will not run after all — just two days after Mrs. Bachmann, a fiery Tea Party Republican, said she would not seek re-election.

The hotelier, Jim Graves, a Democrat who founded the AmericInn hotel chain, told the MinnPost in an interview that, in essence, he had already won since Mrs. Bachmann dropped out of the race.

“With Michele Bachmann now stepping down, I’ve been talking to my friends and family and frankly, the feeling is, ‘Mission Accomplished,’” he said.

“There’s no way anyone could run and win who would be worse than Michele Bachmann,” Mr. Graves added. “So we accomplished that task.”

Mrs. Bachmann’s exit, which comes as she contends with numerous federal and local investigations into possible violations of campaign finance law, certainly lengthened Mr. Graves’s odds at winning the seat. Mrs. Bachmann, a onetime presidential candidate, would have been a focus of efforts by the national Democratic Party to unseat vulnerable Republicans. And Mrs. Bachmann barely won over Mr. Graves last year with a margin of barely 1 percentage point.

A Republican to replace Mrs. Bachmann has not yet stepped forward. A number of names have emerged as possible candidates, including a former gubernatorial candidate and several state legislators.

Mr. Graves said he was making his announcement so soon because he wanted to give Democrats ample time to decide and declare for the race.

Follow Jeremy W. Peters on Twitter at @ jwpetersNYT .

The Early Word: New Direction

In Today’s Times

  • President Obama plans to nominate James B. Comey, a former Justice Department aide to President George W. Bush, to become his next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Michael S. Schmidt reports. He adds that the pick makes a strong statement about bipartisanship as the president faces criticism from Republicans, but it is also palatable for Democrats because Mr. Comey is known for putting the law above politics.

  • As Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. meets with the news media on Thursday to address concerns about how the Justice Department investigates leaks of classified information, he faces accusations from Republicans that he misled them about whether his agency has considered prosecuting journalists as spies for publishing government secrets, Charlie Savage and Jonathan Weisman write.

  • Mark Landler names politics as one of the factors influencing the disparate impact that the furor over last September’s deadly attacks on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, has had on the State Department careers of Susan E. Rice and Victoria Nuland.

  • The president’s trips — official, political and personal — are drawing heightened scrutiny as automatic budget cuts force federal workers to take furloughs and shutter popular programs like White House tours, Michael D. Shear and Peter Baker write.

  • Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, the Tea Party Republican firebrand, has decided not to seek re-election next year, cutting off her tough bid for a fifth term as she faces a widening federal inquiry of her campaign spending, Jeremy W. Peters reports.

Happenings in Washington

  • Mr. Obama will return from Chicago in the afternoon.

  • At noon, Quinnipiac University’s polling institute will release the results of a national survey involving the Benghazi attacks, the Internal Revenue Service and The Associated Press.

  • The winner of the National Spelling Bee will be crowned Thursday night as the competition comes to a c-l-o-s-e. The finals begin at 8 p.m.

Rhode Island’s Chafee to Join Democratic Party

BOSTON — Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, the only Independent governor in the nation, plans to switch to the Democratic Party as he faces a tough re-election fight next year.

Mr. Chafee, who served in the United States Senate as a Republican, had discussed the possibility of becoming a Democrat for months and spoke last year at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

He was unavailable for comment on Wednesday, but a spokesman, Christian Vareika, confirmed the news after it was first reported by Politico. Mr. Vareika said Mr. Chafee would announce his decision Thursday morning in his hometown, Warwick.

He said the governor had concluded that “the priorities and principles that have guided him throughout his career align with the Democratic Party’s,” particularly with regard to public education, job creation and equal rights.

With three-fourths of voters disapproving of his job performance and the state’s economy limping along, analysts say that becoming a Democrat may be Mr. Chafee’s best shot at winning re-election. His apparent hope is that as a Democrat, President Obama will step in on his behalf and help him through a difficult primary.

Mr. Chafee and Mr. Obama, who overlapped in their short Senate careers, have developed a supportive relationship. Mr. Chafee backed Mr. Obama in his battle against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary in 2008 and supported him again in 2012.

In turn, Mr. Obama stayed out of the Rhode Island governor’s race in 2010 and did not endorse the Democratic candidate “out of respect for his friend Lincoln Chafee,” an Obama spokesman said at the time.

In a statement issued Wednesday through the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Obama said, “I’m delighted to hear that Governor Chafee is joining the Democratic Party.” But he gave no hint as to whether he would endorse anyone in a Democratic primary.

By contrast, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, indicated in a statement that the association would stay neutral in any intramural battle. “We are excited to welcome Governor Chafee to the ranks of Democratic governors and look forward to enthusiastically supporting whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee in Rhode Island,” he said.

At the moment, Mr. Chafee’s prospects for re-election seem fairly low. Various Democrats are lining up to run against him, including two potentially strong contenders: Gina Raimondo, the state treasurer, and Angel Taveras, the mayor of Providence.

“His move comes from thinking, ‘If I don’t switch parties, I’m going to lose anyway,’ ” said Wendy Schiller, a political scientist at Brown University. “And maybe as a Democrat, the president can come out for him wholeheartedly or at least help dry up the funding for the other candidates.”

But this will be tricky, she said, in part because Ms. Raimondo is a woman and Mr. Taveras a Latino, both representing important Democratic constituencies. Mr. Chafee is “a white patrician Yankee who was a Republican,” Dr. Schiller said.

Former E.P.A. Administrator Joins Apple

Apple has hired Lisa P. Jackson, who served as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency during President Obama’s first term, to serve as the company’s senior environmental adviser, Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, announced on Tuesday.

Mr. Cook spoke at D: All Things Digital, a technology conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., on Tuesday.

Ms. Jackson, who oversaw some of the administration’s biggest environmental initiatives, including rules doubling automobile fuel efficiency and the first regulations limiting emissions of mercury and other toxins from power plants, will report directly to Mr. Cook. The company has pledged to significantly reduce its energy use and carbon footprint by substituting renewable energy for fossil fuels at its data centers.

She became a lightning rod for Republican critics of the administration’s efforts to address climate change and reduce power plant and coal mine pollution.

Ms. Jackson said in a statement late Tuesday, “Apple has shown how innovation can drive real progress by removing toxins from its products, incorporating renewable energy in its data center plans, and continually raising the bar for energy efficiency in the electronics industry. I look forward to helping support and promote these efforts, as well as leading new ones in the future aimed at protecting the environment.”

The company has been under fire recently for employing foreign tax shelters to reduce its United States tax bill.

The Early Word: Beachheads

In Today’s Times

  • President Obama’s visit to the Jersey Shore seven months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the famous coastline made for good optics as he and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey appeared together, Michael D. Shear and Mark Leibovich report. For Mr. Obama it was a snapshot of a rare bipartisan partnership that has worked, and for Mr. Christie it was proof that he stands apart from the kind of ideological rigidity that could alienate large swaths of the Democratic-leaning electorate of New Jersey.
  • Congressional Republicans are increasing pressure on the Obama administration over the handling of the September Benghazi attacks, this time by targeting several top aides to Hillary Rodham Clinton with subpoenas for information, Jeremy W. Peters reports.
  • The White House is expected to name Jason Furman, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, as chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, Annie Lowrey writes. He is one of the last holdovers from the original Obama administration who helped manage the financial crisis and deep recession.

Around the Web

  • A group of lawmakers has joined a mounting campaign urging the Washington Redskins football team to change its name, Politico reports. The representatives sent a letter to the team owner and other National Football League officials saying the name is “a racial, derogatory slur.”

Happening in Washington

  • A luncheon and panel discussion Wednesday about the impact of technology on women and democracy will include Madeleine K. Albright, the former secretary of state, and Tina Brown, the editor in chief of The Daily Beast.

Clinton Aides Are Focus of Subpoena for Benghazi Talking Points

WASHINGTON — Several top aides to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state, are targets of the latest subpoena for information about the drafting of talking points after the siege last fall on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Representative Darrell Issa, the California Republican who is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that the Obama administration’s refusal to cooperate fully with a House investigation left him “with no alternative but to compel the State Department to produce relevant documents through a subpoena.”

Mr. Issa’s move was the latest effort by Congressional Republicans to increase pressure on the Obama administration as they proceed with a series of investigations into two controversies that have ensnared the White House: the handling of the Benghazi attacks and the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups that sought tax-exempt status.

Through hearings on Capitol Hill and other requests for documents, e-mails and other correspondence inside the executive branch, Republicans have sought to determine what Mrs. Clinton knew about Benghazi and whether she might have played a larger role than acknowledged in the administration’s response.

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of misleading the American people by initially focusing on an anti-Islamic video as the impetus for the attacks, which killed four Americans. Later on, administration officials settled on terrorism as an explanation for the attack.

Specifically, Mr. Issa and Republicans in Congress have zeroed in on how administration “talking points” were revised to exclude any mention of terrorism before Susan E. Rice, the United Nations ambassador, went on television to discuss the attacks.

Mr. Issa’s letter says that the State Department is “withholding documents related to the Benghazi talking points,” and that those documents are “crucial to the committee’s investigation.”

The letter goes on to list 10 State Department officials whose correspondence might be relevant to the subpoena, including Mrs. Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and other top advisers like Philippe Reines, Victoria Nuland and Patrick Kennedy.

Clinton Aides Are Focus of Subpoena for Benghazi Talking Points

WASHINGTON — Several top aides to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state, are targets of the latest subpoena for information about the drafting of talking points after the siege last fall on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Representative Darrell Issa, the California Republican who is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that the Obama administration’s refusal to cooperate fully with a House investigation left him “with no alternative but to compel the State Department to produce relevant documents through a subpoena.”

Mr. Issa’s move was the latest effort by Congressional Republicans to increase pressure on the Obama administration as they proceed with a series of investigations into two controversies that have ensnared the White House: the handling of the Benghazi attacks and the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups that sought tax-exempt status.

Through hearings on Capitol Hill and other requests for documents, e-mails and other correspondence inside the executive branch, Republicans have sought to determine what Mrs. Clinton knew about Benghazi and whether she might have played a larger role than acknowledged in the administration’s response.

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of misleading the American people by initially focusing on an anti-Islamic video as the impetus for the attacks, which killed four Americans. Later on, administration officials settled on terrorism as an explanation for the attack.

Specifically, Mr. Issa and Republicans in Congress have zeroed in on how administration “talking points” were revised to exclude any mention of terrorism before Susan E. Rice, the United Nations ambassador, went on television to discuss the attacks.

Mr. Issa’s letter says that the State Department is “withholding documents related to the Benghazi talking points,” and that those documents are “crucial to the committee’s investigation.”

The letter goes on to list 10 State Department officials whose correspondence might be relevant to the subpoena, including Mrs. Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and other top advisers like Philippe Reines, Victoria Nuland and Patrick Kennedy.

One Area in Which Congress Excels: Naming Post Offices

Pillory Congress all you want as do-nothing or dysfunctional, as its critics often have. But in one respect, lawmakers in the Capitol are remarkably productive: they name post offices like nobody’s business.

A new report from the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research division of Congress, found that about 20 percent of laws passed in recent years were for naming post offices.

As Congress has become less and less efficient, the numbers are all the more striking. In the 111th Congress, which met from 2009 to 2010, members passed 383 statutes, 70 of which named post offices. In the 112th Congress, the last Congress to meet before the current one convened in January, members passed 46 measures naming post offices, out of 240 statutes over all.

The report notes that many of the post offices were named for officials of local renown. But others were named for better-known figures like Ronald Reagan (three times), Gerald R. Ford (twice), Bob Hope, Nat King Cole and Mickey Mantle.

Many have been dedicated to soldiers who died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One post office in Louisville, Ky., was named to honor all local residents who have died in those conflicts. It is called the Iraq and Afghanistan Fallen Military Heroes of Louisville Memorial Post Office Building.

The House, where most of the measures naming post offices originate, has evidently become somewhat self-conscious about the amount of time it spends on the issue. So for this Congress, the 113th, the House committee that oversees the issue produced new guidelines that direct members to consider such bills expeditiously “so as to minimize the time spent.”

Passing these bills has become routine, and it is usually done without much debate or dissent. The practice has been to get all members of a state’s delegation to agree on a post office dedication before moving the bill to the floor.

There are other restrictions as well. Post offices cannot carry the names of people who are living, with the exception of former presidents, vice presidents and elected officials over 70.

The process is relatively inexpensive, a fact that helps explain why it has become so common in a Congress that is averse to anything that could be considered remotely wasteful. “There is no change in the way renamed post offices are identified in the U.S.P.S.’s listings of post offices,” the report notes.

Renaming plaques, which cost between $250 and $500, are bought at the expense of the United States Postal Service. The service also has responsibility for any ceremonial costs. Those are also kept tight.

“The protocol includes inviting the honored individual and his or her family,” the report says, “an honor guard, a religious figure for an invocation, media notification, and light refreshments such as cake and punch.”

The Early Word: Calculations

In Today’s Times

  • Peter Baker delves into how President Obama’s re-election chances played into his decision to shift the nation’s approach on counterterrorism, a process that resulted in the changes the president announced last week.
  • Mr. Obama plans to nominate three judges to the federal appeals court in Washington, despite facing roadblocks to confirmation in the Senate, where Republicans — who would rather eliminate the vacant seats at the court — wield enough power to stall or kill some nominations, Michael D. Shear writes.

Happenings in Washington

  • At 9 a.m., Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, is scheduled to deliver remarks to a conference of physician assistants in Washington. She is expected to lay out strategies for meeting the needs of new patients entering the system under the new health care law.
  • Starting at 10 a.m., the Supreme Court will begin issuing orders and opinions.
  • The attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., will deliver keynote remarks to 70 new citizens at 11:15 a.m. during a special naturalization ceremony in the Justice Department.
  • After touring areas of the New Jersey coastline still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, President Obama will return to the White House for a meeting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at 4:30 p.m. in the Oval Office. At 5:30 p.m., he will speak at an event in the East Room for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

McCain Travels to Syria to Meet With Rebel Forces

WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has called vocally for the United States to intervene militarily in Syria, traveled to Syria on Monday to meet with rebel forces fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, according to a spokesman for Mr. McCain. It was the first time that a United States senator had gone to Syria to meet with the rebels since the conflict there began two years ago.

Mr. McCain entered Syria from southern Turkey, according to his spokesman, Brian Rogers, who added that the senator had been in the region to attend the World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan over the weekend.

In 2011, Mr. McCain traveled to Libya to meet with rebel forces there while they were fighting Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and made similar calls for the United States to provide military aid to the rebels. The United States did ultimately provide military support, along with several European countries, and Colonel Qaddafi’s regime was toppled.

Since the conflict in Syria began, Mr. McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, have harshly criticized President Obama for not doing more to help the rebels. They argue that the president, who has authorized the shipment of night-vision goggles and body armor, should establish a no-fly zone and provide weapons to the rebels.

While in Syria, Mr. McCain met with Gen. Salim Idris, the leader of the military wing of the Supreme Military Council, a Syrian opposition group. The Obama administration considers General Idris much more of a moderate than the leaders of the Nusra Front, which has ties to Al Qaeda and is better financed and organized. Mr. Obama has refused to provide the rebels with military support because he fears that would empower the more radical elements of the opposition.

After the Israeli military struck a major Syrian military research center near Damascus this month, Mr. McCain said the strike had weakened the argument that Syria’s air defense system would be difficult for the United States to penetrate.

“The Israelis seem to be able to penetrate it fairly easily,” he said on May 5 on “Fox News Sunday.”

The United States, Mr. McCain said, could easily strike the Syrian defenses “with cruise missiles, cratering their runways, where all of these supplies, by the way, from Iran and Russia are coming in by air.”