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Political notebook: Bachmann rules out 2012 bid for presidency

ST. PAUL - A darling of conservative media will not run for president in 2012.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann waited until an Iowa newspaper asked before she took herself out of the race.

"Goodness, I've only been in the House for three years, so, no, I'm not considering anything like that," the Minnesota Republican told the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal.

Previously, she left the door open for a presidential campaign, saying she would run if God sent her a message.

Bachmann has become a conservative favorite and has gained national attention with numerous appearances on Fox News Channel and other cable television stations.

A Web site is selling Palin-Bachmann bumper stickers, another sells Bachmann action figures (although at last report sales for the $34.95 dolls were not going well) and a nonprofit organization includes her on its Great American Conservative Women calendar.

She serves the northern Twin Cities area in a district that stretches northwest to St. Cloud.

Small business trade

Small businesses have potential to sell to overseas markets, Sen. Amy Klobuchar says, so she plans a hearing to promote it.

The Minnesota Democrat's office reports today's hearing will focus on how federal agencies can best help small- and medium-sized businesses enter foreign markets and expand their international sales. The hearing is part of her duty as chairwoman of the Senate subcommittee on competitiveness, innovation and export promotion.

The Karlstad, Minn., Mattracks company will be featured at the Eagan meeting. It makes rubber track systems for off-road vehicles and all-terrain vehicles. The northwest Minnesota firm sells to more than 50 countries.

Among those testifying at the hearing are officials from the U.S. Commerce Department, Small Business Administration and Chamber of Commerce.

Franken bill passes

Some members of Congress go years before getting a bill on the president's desk, but Al Franken has been in office four months and is celebrating his first major victory.

The Minnesota Democrat began talking about the Service Dogs for Veterans Act right after taking office. It will establish a pilot program to study the importance of providing disabled veterans with dogs to help in their daily lives.

"We owe so much to the brave men and women who risk everything for us," Franken said. "This legislation is a small but important step in making sure they can lead the happy, productive lives they deserve when they get home from the battlefield."

Franken has focused on several veterans' issues since taking office in July.

Fewer jobless checks

Unemployed Minnesotans will get fewer benefit checks because the state's jobless rate has dropped.

When the state's average unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent, the federal government reduced the number of weeks Minnesotans without jobs can get checks to 72. States with a three-month average rate of

8 percent or higher can pay 79 weeks of benefits.

About 3,500 jobless benefit recipients in their final seven weeks of benefits will be cut off immediately.