Jabs traded ahead of Ark. runoff

NEWPORT, Ark. - Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D., Ark.) traded jabs with challenger Lt. Gov. Bill Halter as they campaigned ahead of a nationally watched runoff Tuesday that will wrap up one of the most expensive and bitter political battles in state history.

Both candidates traveled Saturday throughout Arkansas as they neared the end of their 14-week battle for the Democratic Senate nomination. Lincoln is fighting to keep her job. The runoff became necessary when neither candidate drew 50 percent of the vote in the May 18 primary.

The two have spent more than $10 million combined on their campaigns. The price rises with the millions that outside groups have pumped into the state, mostly on TV ads. The winner will face Rep. John Boozman (R., Ark.) in the fall. Most polls have shown Lincoln and Halter both trailing Boozman. - AP

Steele: Investigate primary job offers

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department should examine the White House dealmaking in Senate primary races with "an impartial referee" who can sort out the facts, Republican national chairman Michael Steele said Saturday.

Justice should assign "a special investigator or an independent counsel, who can sort out the facts and answer the burning question - what did the White House offer, . . . who authorized the offer, who else knew about it, and what was the expected trade-off for accepting the offer?" Steele said in his party's weekly radio and Internet address.

The White House recently acknowledged discussing possible positions with candidates Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania and Andrew Romanoff in Colorado to entice them - unsuccessfully - not to challenge incumbents in the Democratic Senate primaries. - AP

Ship is christened for Adm. Spruance

BATH, Maine - A Navy destroyer bearing the name of a commander who won a pivotal battle in the Pacific during World War II was christened with champagne Saturday by his granddaughter, who said the naval officer would have blushed at all the attention.

The 9,200-ton Aegis destroyer bears the name of Adm. Raymond Spruance, who commanded a battle group comprising two of three aircraft carriers whose warplanes sank four Japanese carriers at the Battle of Midway, hailed as the turning point in the Pacific in World War II.

Ellen Spruance Holscher whacked the champagne bottle several times against the ship's bow before it finally broke before a cheering crowd at Bath Iron Works that included four of Spruance's other grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Spruance died in 1969. - AP

Elsewhere:

Parishioners who lost appeals to the Vatican to reopen their closed Boston-area churches will continue round-the-clock vigils and plan to make a direct appeal to Pope Benedict XVI.