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September 4th, 2011
04:58 AM ET

State of the Union Early Bird for September 4, 2011

(CNN)-It's early, and State of the Union is bringing you the best of the morning headlines to go with your cup of coffee.

On our radar this morning: Sen. DeMint's Labor Day presidential forum, Sarah Palin stops by Iowa, the latest in Libya, and the economy.

Check out what we're reading, and be sure to watch our interview today with South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint at 9am/12pm ET.

2012

DeMint, kingmaker for GOP hopefuls?

In an unusual Labor Day forum at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, DeMint will quiz six Republican White House aspirants Monday on their commitment to slashing government spending, diminishing Washington’s place in Americans’ lives and fighting for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget.

“This is not a bachelor forum,” DeMint said. “It’s a forum that will allow them to move beyond talking points and let the people of South Carolina know what they really believe.”

Sarah Palin, in Iowa, attacks Obama and ‘crony capitalism’

Though Obama was the only person she criticized by name, she called for a thorough vetting of those seeking the White House to determine whether they are real reformers. She also said Republican candidates “who raise mammoth amounts of cash” should be asked what their donors “expect in return for their investments.”

“I think she’s a great person to draw people together,” said Mary Ann Nolan, an Iowan. I’m not really sure about her running for president. I think she’d be better behind the scenes pulling us together. . . . I think she’s just a lightning rod for the press, and they’ll just bring her down.”

Republican Candidates Turn Attacks on One Another

PRESIDENT OBAMA

President Obama faces headwinds in New Jersey trip

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who was on the tour with Sires and will join the president on Sunday, said even though Irene passed through his state a week ago, Obama will still be able to witness just how badly some communities have been hurt.

“The president is going to have a very firsthand view of one community of many in New Jersey that was very badly hit, and even as the water continues to recede, the consequences will be very, very obvious,” he said. “New Jersey is going through the same challenges as many parts of the country, and there are too many New Jerseyians who are unemployed. When he comes Sunday, the residents will say thanks for coming, but also, ‘We need your help.’”

9/11

Aviation warning issued over Al Qaeda, small planes

"Al Qaeda and its affiliates have maintained an interest in obtaining aviation training, particularly on small aircraft, and in recruiting Western individuals for training in Europe or the United States, although we do not have current, credible information or intelligence of an imminent attack," according to the bulletin obtained by the Associated Press.

LIBYA

Libyans Say Closing In on Gaddafi Bastions

Gaddafi's fugitive spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, who telephoned Reuters, said he himself did not know where the ousted 69-year-old leader was but insisted he was in Libya and well defended.

"He's in the country," he said. "And he's in a safe place surrounded by many people who are prepared to protect him."

Documents shed light on CIA, Gadhafi spy ties

Documents seized at the Libyan intelligence headquarters have revealed a surprisingly close relationship between the CIA and their counterparts in the Gadhafi regime.

They highlight the cooperation between Libya and Western intelligence agencies after Libya ended its weapons of mass destruction program in 2004.

AFGHANISTAN

More Afghan soldiers deserting the army, NATO statistics show

At least one in seven Afghan soldiers walked off the job during the first six months of this year, according to statistics compiled by NATO that show an increase in desertion.

Between January and June, more than 24,000 soldiers walked off the job, more than twice as many as in the same period last year, according to the NATO statistics. In June alone, more than 5,000 soldiers deserted, nearly 3 percent of the 170,000-strong force.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Lumbering Tropical Storm Lee drenches Gulf states with rain

Dominique Strauss-Kahn lands in France

Bank of America could cut as many as 30,000 jobs

U.S. Appeals to Palestinians to Stall U.N. Vote on Statehood
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