Mitt Romney is skipping a South Carolina event, Kay Bailey Hutchison isn’t ready to endorse Rick Perry, and Bob Turner is criticizing health-care coverage for 9/11 workers.

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* Romney has decided to skip a Labor Day candidate forum in South Carolina hosted by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in order to spend more time campaigning in New Hampshire. It’s another sign that Romney (who DeMint endorsed in 2008) is not investing heavily in the state. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Godfathers’ Pizza CEO Herman Cain are all participating the Palmetto Freedom Forum.

* Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) is not ready to bury the hatchet with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who defeated her in a primary last year. Asked in an interview with Fox Business airing tonight if she would endorse her fellow Texan, Hutchison said, “Of course I will be for the Republican nominee for President.” On the governor's race, she said, “He had told our supporters he wouldn’t run and changed his mind ... I thought I was unfairly criticized but of course I would think so.”

* Businessman Bob Turner (R), who faces Assemblyman David Weprin (D) in New York’s 9th district special election, said something today that will likely haunt him until the Sept. 13 election. In an interview with the Daily News editorial board, Turner called the Zagroda Act — a $4.3 billion law covering treatment for 9/11 rescue workers, cleanup crews, local residents and volunteers — “a little too broad. ... My call would be to protect police, fire, emergency workers, construction workers, etc. If someone said, ‘I volunteered’ or walked through there, it’s just not the type.” Criticizing care for 9/11 volunteers is risky territory, and Weprin quickly called Turner’s words “an embarrassment to New York.” A recent poll suggested the race, for the seat vacated by ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D), could be close.

* Good news for Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) in the Hawaii Senate race — Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) is passing on that contest and will be running for reelection in the House instead. Hirono had already opened up a significant fundraising advantage in the race to replace retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka (D). Former Rep. Ed Case is also in the Democratic primary; Republicans are trying to recruit former governor Linda Lingle for the race.

* As Hurricane Irene heads up the East Coast towards New England this weekend, President Obama has no plans to cut short his Martha’s Vineyard vacation. “But we’re obviously watching the weather reports,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said today. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is also keeping the president updated.


* Candidates for the House and Senate in 2012 have reported raising a total of $285.2 million in the first six months of the year. The $103.1 million raised by Senate candidates is the highest-ever total ever for a non-election year. In the House, both incumbents and non-incumbents have raised more collectively than at this point in 2009.

* West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) is out with his first ad for this fall’s gubernatorial election. The 30-second-spot touts the state’s budget surplus, and Tomblin declares that he thinks “the best way to stimulate job growth is to lower taxes.” Tomblin faces Republican businessman Bill Maloney (R) in the Oct. 4 special election.

* In an interview airing next week, former Vice President Dick Cheney told NBC News that “there are gonna be heads exploding all over Washington” when his memoir “In My Time” comes out. One tidbit: he kept a resignation letter in a safe, in case he was incapacitated for health reasons.

* A senior adviser at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is joining Perry’s presidential campaign. Stan Anderson, who ran the Chamber’s Campaign for Free Enterprise — an advocacy offshoot launched in 2009 — will be a senior adviser and direct congressional relations for the candidate.

* Some Ohio Republicans are pushing Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, to run against Rep. Mary Kaptur (D-Ohio) next year. Kaptur’s district is heavily Democratic, but redistricting could put her in danger. Wurzelbacher, who rose to national prominence in the 2008 campaign by questioning President Obama on economic policy, already serves on his local GOP committeee.

* Former Wisconsin Rep. Steve Kagen (D) is defending former governor Tommy Thompson (R) — and hinting at his own 2012 plans. Thompson, who is running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Herb Kohl (D), has been repeatedly jabbed by the conservative Club for Growth. “Let’s agree to elect an independent-minded U.S. senator willing to dedicate his life to building a more peaceful, prosperous and compassionate nation for all of us,” Kagen said in a statement today. “I look forward to meeting with Tommy and debating whatever differences he and I may have.”


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With Rachel Weiner and Aaron Blake