POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/23

Here Come the Super Super PACs

Politico: “Here’s how it works: under new federal rules, a traditional PAC and super PAC may operate under one roof. These hybrid operations can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash to promote or oppose candidates, as any super PAC can, while simultaneously giving limited amounts of money directly to campaigns and committees, like a traditional political action committee. Already, 11 of these hybrids have emerged, representing a range of political ideologies and purposes.”

 

Giffords Will Step Down from Congress

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was shot in the head during a 2011 assassination attempt, announced that she will resign from Congress this week in order to focus on her continuing recovery, the Arizona Republic reports.

“Giffords, whose ability to speak was damaged by the gunman’s attack, made the announcement herself in a YouTube video posted to her account. She plans to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday and will resign sometime after that.”

Washington Post: “According to state law, Gov. Jan Brewer must set a date for a special election primary 80 to 90 days after Giffords formally steps down, and a general election will be set for 50 to 60 days after the primary. So the primary election for Giffords seat will likely be held in late April with the general election in June.”

 

What if Gingrich Wins Florida?

John Heilemann: “If Gingrich wins Florida, the Republican Establishment is going to have a meltdown that makes Three Mile Island look like a marshmallow roast.”

“Why? Because the Establishment will be staring down the barrel of two utterly unpalatable choices. On the one hand, Gingrich’s national favorable-unfavorable ratings of 26.5 and 58.6 percent, respectively make him not just unelectable against Obama but also mean that he would likely be a ten-ton millstone around the necks of down-ballot Republican candidates across the country. And on the other, Romney has shown in two successive contests — one in a bellwether Republican state, the other in a key swing state — an inability to beat his deeply unpopular rival. If this scenario unfolds, the sound of GOP grandees whispering calls for a white knight… will be deafening.”

 

Why Florida Could Be Tough for Romney

Mitt Romney has two advantages as the Florida primary approaches on January 31: money and early voting. Romney and an aligned Super PAC have spent more than $7 million of airtime already in the state and nearly 200,000 Republicans have already cast their votes.

But Politico notes Newt Gingrich heads into Florida “emboldened by two assets that will test Romney’s organization and money there: the momentum from a double-digit victory and a conservative base that appears to be coalescing. But the results here revealed Romney’s weakness as much as they hinted at Gingrich’s potential. The establishment favorite didn’t just lose South Carolina – he got thrashed,”

First Read adds that the GOP electorate in Florida “has the potential to be unkind to Romney. Think South Carolina but with Cuban Americans in Miami thrown into the mix. According to the 2008 exit polls, 61% of Florida Republican primary voters considered themselves conservative (68% said they were conservative in South Carolina last night). And remember: Florida’s primary is closed, meaning that independents don’t get to vote. After all, it’s the same electorate that picked Rick Scott in 2010 over establishment favorite Bill McCollum.”

Adam Smith: “As important as money, television advertising and organization are here, momentum tends to trump everything else in widely watched presidential campaigns. Romney easily outspent and out-organized John McCain in Florida in 2008 and still lost.”

 

Bonus Quote of the Day

“One or two more defeats and who knows what he’s going to say….I think he’s been dancing on eggs trying to find a version of Romney that will work.”

— Newt Gingrich, in an interview on Face the Nation, about GOP presidential rival Mitt Romney.

 

Romney Will Release Tax Returns This Week

Mitt Romney told Fox News that he will release his tax returns for 2010 on Tuesday, with an estimate of his 2011 returns.

Said Romney: “We made a mistake holding off as long as we did.”

 

Romney’s Message Problem

First Read: “Romney is not going to be the de-facto nominee until he wins over the conservative base of his party (outside of New Hampshire). And last night in South Carolina, that base overwhelmingly broke for Gingrich. Among voters who described themselves as “very conservative” (who made up 36% of last night’s primary electorate) Gingrich beat Romney, 48%-19%. Among Tea Party supporters, Gingrich had a 20-point edge, 45%-25%. And among those who are evangelicals or born-again Christians (who made up 65% of the electorate) Gingrich won, 44%-22%. And just as importantly, these folks finally coalesced around one anti-Romney alternative — and that person was Gingrich.”

“Ultimately, Romney’s problem right now is message — not mechanics. And as we saw in 2008, Romney doesn’t do the attack well. That’s what is going to make Monday night’s NBC debate so fascinating to watch.”

 

Quote of the Day

“It’s a real possibility. Right now I’d say it’s 50-50. The base wants its chance to have their say. They aren’t going to want it to end early, before they get their chance, which means that the process could go all the way to Tampa.”

— Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, quoted by the Huffington Post, on the chances of an open or undecided Republican National Convention.

 

Jeb Bush Will Not Endorse

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) told Bloomberg he will “stay neutral” in the state’s Republican presidential primary while warning his party’s candidates to leave the “circular firing squad” of their debates behind and start appealing to a broader audience.

 

State of the Republican Race

James Carville: “Memo to Republican Establishment: Let me break it to you gently — you’ve got a first-class disaster on your hands. I know you boys thought this thing would work out and you would be able to whip the Republicans in line to fall in behind Mitt (I assume you are all males but if there is a female in the establishment, I apologize.) Not going too good, is it fellows?”

Andrew Sullivan: “This is the Republican crack-up people have been predicting for years. Gingrich is on a roll. I think he can win this – and then lose this in a way that could change America history. That is a brief impression in one moment of time. But I cannot see Romney winning this at this point. They are just not into him, and he’s an awful candidate.”

Brad Phillips: “If Mitt Romney had won, he would have become the de facto nominee earlier than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history, meaning that he alone would have had to endure more media scrutiny – for a longer period of time – than any of his predecessors. Instead, he’ll now continue to share the media’s harsh glare with Newt Gingrich, a severely flawed candidate who will steal some of the limelight and help buffer Mr. Romney’s coverage. More stories about Mr. Gingrich’s angry ex-wife and messy leadership as House Speaker means fewer stories about Mr. Romney’s tax returns and Bain Capital.”

Jonathan Chait: “My view all along has been that any remotely plausible candidate could beat Mitt Romney. My current view is that there are no remotely plausible candidates, which leaves us with Newt. So we have the immovable object meeting the irresistible force, except the exact opposite. Like almost everybody outside Gingrich’s immediate family, I had already written him off twice. But he really seems okay. If some really crazy rich conservatives decide to write him some seven- or eight-figure checks, who knows?”

 

State of the Union Preview

President Obama will use his State of the Union address on Tuesday “to define an activist role for government in promoting a prosperous and equitable society, hoping to draw a stark contrast between the parties in a time of deep economic uncertainty,” the New York Times reports.

Obama will promise a populist “blueprint for an American economy that’s built to last,” with the government assisting to ensure “an America where everybody gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everybody plays by the same set of rules.”

With three days remaining until the speech, the Washington Post reports Obama said he has yet to finish writing his address, “so there might be a few late nights between now and then.”

 

Two Years After Citizens United

It’s been two years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which unleashed millions of dollars of ads financed not by candidates but by groups with innocuous names claiming no relationship to the candidates.

Norm Ornstein: “By giving corporations free rein to meddle in politics without any accountability required, just like in the robber baron days, and by defining money as speech, the court dealt a body blow to American democracy. Candidates no longer can focus simply on raising money for their campaigns against other candidates. Because corporations have almost unlimited sums they can put in with no notice, candidates have to raise protection money in advance just in case such a campaign is waged against them.”

“And in many cases, as I have written before, they will pay for protection by quietly giving companies or other interests what they want legislatively to avoid a multimillion-dollar slime campaign against them. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United, said there could be no corruption in independent spending. What planet does he live on?”

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