Beltway Briefing

The top stories from US politics today.

1. US payroll figures are in for June and they are bad, bad news for Obama. Unemployment was up to 9.2 per cent; wages were stagnant and a pitiful 18,000 jobs were created. With jobs set to be the defining issue of 2012, these figures are a huge blow for Obama. Mitt Romney has so far based his attacks on Obama almost entirely around jobs. It plays to Romney strengths (his background in business) and focuses the debate away from his weaknesses (healthcare and his religion).

 

2. Michele Bachmann hates it when you suggest she's a flake, but likes it when you say she has sex appeal.

"Well, listen, I'm 55 years old. I've given birth to five kids and I've raised 23 foster kids, so that sounds like good news to me."

Woof. Now how this sits with the next Bachmann story, though.

3. Michele Bachmann was the first Republican candidate to sign marriage pledge put forward by The Family Leader, a prominent Iowa group that promotes Christian conservative social values. The organisation's chief executive, Bob Vander Plaats, a conservative evangelical leader, has said the Family Leader will not support any candidate who declines to sign. Presidential candidates who sign the pledge must agree to fidelity to his or her spouse, opposition to any redefinition of marriage (generally taken to be a ploy against same-sex marriage), and reform of uneconomic and anti-marriage aspects of welfare policy and divorce law.

4. A Republican-leaning fundraising group have launched a new phase of its $20 million advertising campaign attacking Democrats. Crossroads GPS, which has links to GOP strategist Karl Rrove, is running television ads that target five Democratic senators who are up for re-election in 2012. The group is also running ads on US national cable TV outlets and in presidential battleground states criticising Barack Obama.

 

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The 43 people Donald Trump listens to

Who are the people the US president follows on Twitter?

The US president Donald Trump is known for his free use of the social media platform Twitter.

Since taking office in January, the president has notably continued to use his own Twitter account @realDonaldTrump instead of switching to the official @POTUS account, instead choosing to tweet his views to his 24.9m followers.

Of the 43 accounts Trump is following, Piers Morgan, the British media personality, has the most followers, clocking in at 5.52m.

Roll over the table below to see how who these 43 people are - or read the whole story at Verdict.co.uk.