WASHINGTON Dec 8 (Reuters) - Two big events on Capitol Hill grabbed our attention today. They revolved around two men with some similarity in their surnames - Corzine and Cordray. We're likely to be hearing about both for some time.
Jon Corzine went before the House Agriculture Committee to explain how futures brokerage MF Global went bust under his command and what happened to the hundreds of millions of dollars in customer funds. The former senator saw the tables turned on him, but our reporters said he was a powerful presence at the witness table and kept his cool under fire from lawmakers who used to be his colleagues. He only cracked a bit when he was asked about those who lost money, like farmers from the lawmakers' districts.
Alas, Corzine was unable to give any clues about where the money is, although he expressed hope it would be recovered. This saga will likely take a long time to wind its way around Washington's regulatory agencies. The paper trail is long and messy.
Over in the Senate, Republicans refused to budge on Richard Cordray, President Obama's choice to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That might be fine by Obama because it gives him fuel for the campaign trail. He can tell voters that Republicans are leaving consumers unprotected from "unscrupulous financial operators." In fact, those were the words he used today in an impromptu briefing right after the Senate showdown. We'll be hearing a lot more about Cordray, for sure, even if his confirmation looks doomed at this point.
So here's today's Daily Double clue. This five-time Jeopardy! champion and former Ohio attorney general failed to become the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as his confirmation got caught up in electoral politics. Who is Richard Cordray?
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Here are our top stories from Washington and from the campaign trail:
MF Global's Corzine: I did not intend to break rules
Jon Corzine said he "never intended to break any rules" while he was chief of MF Global and that he doesn't know what happened to the hundreds of millions of dollars in missing customer money. Corzine, in his first public appearance since the firm filed for bankruptcy, gave lawmakers a lengthy account of the final days of MF Global and apologized to those harmed by the firm's collapse. [nL1E7N8A4D]
Republicans block Obama's consumer nominee
Senate Republicans beat back President Obama's pick to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and each party accused the other of holding consumers hostage to politics. Democrats were able to muster only 53 of the 60 votes needed to advance to an up-or-down vote on the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray. [nN1E7B70F3]
In Hispanic-heavy Colorado, Obama must work to win
Though demographic trends lean in his favor, President Obama has work to do in Colorado to woo Hispanics, the voting bloc that holds the key to victory in this battleground state and, potentially, nationwide. Strong support from Latinos helped Democrats win the governorship and a Senate seat here in 2010, but polls show the president's support within the community has slipped dramatically, hurting his chances of winning a state deemed crucial to his re-election bid. [nN1E7AR003]
Romney campaign cast doubts on rising Gingrich
The campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched a fierce attack on Newt Gingrich, who shot to double-digit leads over Romney in opinion polls of several states. [nN1E7B70MZ]
Cain may find pot of gold at end of campaign trail
The campaign trail did not end at the White House for Herman Cain, but it might yet lead him to a pot of gold. The former restaurant executive and motivational speaker could translate his sudden fame into hefty speaking fees and a nationwide talk-radio audience now that he has abandoned his campaign, according to industry executives. [nN1E7B70KW]