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Inside Politics: McCain says lack of aid to Syrian rebels is ‘shameful’

Sen. John McCain says the lack of U.S. aid to Syrian rebels is “shameful,” and that helping the opposition would be the biggest blow to Iran in 25 years.

The United States has refused to arm Syrian rebels in part to avoid a proxy fight with Iran and Russia, which back the Syrian government. The crisis in Syria is likely to come up when President Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Mexico on Monday.

Mr. McCain told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that members of the Syrian opposition are being “killed and massacred and tortured and raped” and “the fact that Americans aren’t helping them is shameful.”

CAMPAIGN

Santorum sticks by earlier campaign jabs at Romney

Sen. Scott P. Brown, Massachusetts Republican, runs a triathlon in Ashland, Mass., on Sunday. Mr. Brown is facing Democrat Elizabeth Warren in his bid for re-election. (Associated Press)

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Sen. Scott P. Brown, Massachusetts Republican, runs a triathlon in Ashland, Mass., ... more >

Rick Santorum is sticking by earlier questions he posed about former rival Mitt Romney’s authenticity, saying the points he made during the primary campaign were legitimate.

Mr. Santorum said in a CNN interview Sunday, “I don’t back away from any of those things.”

Mr. Santorum had also argued in March that Republicans should give President Obama a second term because Mr. Romney wasn’t conservative enough. The former Pennsylvania senator now says “clearly, the difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney is a chasm.”

IOWA

Ron Paul faithful seekinfluence at convention

DES MOINES — Ron Paul has given up on becoming president, but loyal supporters are promising to promote the libertarian-leaning Texas congressman’s principles at the Republican national convention this summer, a potential complication for Mitt Romney’s goal of a peaceful coronation.

Paul backers have taken over state Republican conventions Nevada and Maine, and they had a strong showing this weekend in Iowa, aiming to increase their voice and clout at the nominating convention in Tampa, Fla.

Supporters say they hope to promote Mr. Paul’s conservative principles, which have attracted a strong following of young voters and tea party activists, by flooding ballots for the convention and urging changes to the party platform.

Since Mr. Paul’s unsuccessful 2008 candidacy for the GOP nomination, his top organizers have set about working within the party’s structure to gain influence. The hope is to bend it toward principles he espouses, chiefly smaller government, sound monetary policy and a limited international military presence.

ENVIRONMENT

EPA calls for new standards for soot pollution emissions

In a step that officials said would save lives, the Obama administration Friday announced new air quality standards intended to reduce the amount of soot that can be released into the air.

Environmental groups and public health advocates welcomed the move by the Environmental Protection Agency, saying it would protect millions of Americans at risk for soot-related asthma attacks, lung cancer, heart disease and premature death.

But congressional Republicans and industry officials called the proposal overly strict and said it could hurt economic growth and cause job losses in areas where pollution levels are determined to be too high.

Perhaps wary of the rule’s political risk, the administration had sought to delay the new soot standards until after the November elections. But a federal judge ordered officials to act sooner after 11 states filed a lawsuit seeking a decision this year.

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