GOP Debate Reaction

An aggressive Mitt Romney came out swinging at Newt Gingrich and didn’t stop until he had him wobbling against the ropes.  With the lead in most polls and just five days until the Florida primary, he very likely finished off his main rival. It was a superb performance by Romney. Gingrich was terrible.

That said, every moment Romney spends talking about blind trusts and his taxes is a win for Democrats. The longer the Republican primary continues, the worse his appeal is to swing voters. Romney knows this and needs to clinch the nomination as quickly as possible.

Rick Santorum had his best debate yet and scored many points against both Gingrich and Romney. Ron Paul was hilarious but largely irrelevant to the main conversation on the debate stage.

Obama Says He Wants Re-Election Badly

President Obama signaled an aggressive tact for his early re-election campaign in an ABC News interview.

“How much do you want it?” Diane Sawyer asked.

“Badly, because I think the country needs it,” Obama replied.

He added: “Whoever wins the Republican primary is going to be a standard bearer for a vision of the country that I don’t think reflects who we are. I’m going to fight as hard as I can with every fiber of my being to make sure that we continue on a path that I think will restore the American dream.”

Clinton Ready to Leave Politics Behind

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “definitively said she wants out of politics,” ABC Newsreports.

“During a town hall meeting with State Department employees this morning Clinton said she is ready to step off ‘the high wire of American politics.’ She said she’s paying no attention to the battle for the Republican presidential nomination and hasn’t watched any of the debates.”

Gingrich Lands Support of Former Colleague

Not many of Newt Gingrich’s former House GOP colleagues support his presidential bid, but the Voice of San Diego found one who does: Former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA), who is in prison for conspiracy and tax evasion.

Cunningham sent a message to Gingrich: “Newt, a voice out of the past. Down but not out and still fighting. First I do not want anything from you but have been watching the debates. I have 80% of inmates that would vote for you. They might not be able to but their extended families will.”

Romney Tax Returns Differ from Ethics Forms

Some investments listed in Mitt Romney’s 2010 tax returns — including a now-closed Swiss bank account and funds located in overseas tax havens — were not explicitly disclosed in the personal financial statement he filed last August, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“The Romney campaign described the discrepancies as ‘trivial’ but acknowledged Thursday afternoon that they are undergoing an internal review of how the investments were reported and will make “some minor technical amendments” to Romney’s financial disclosure that will not alter the overall picture of his finances.”

MSNBC notes that while Romney’s tax returns “have produced no revelations about any improper dealings on Romneys’ part, they have continued to raise questions about how and why some of his multiple overseas investments were made in the first place, and why there were not more fully reported on Romney’s financial disclosure forms.”


Dole Unloads on Gingrich

National Review has the brutal statement from former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS):

“I have not been critical of Newt Gingrich but it is now time to take a stand before it is too late. If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway.”

He adds: “In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad. He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year. Newt would show up at the campaign headquarters with an empty bucket in his hand — that was a symbol of some sort for him — and I never did know what he was doing or why he was doing it, and I’m not certain he knew either.”


Majority Would Vote Out Every Member of Congress

The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll shows most Americans agree on one thing: 56% of registered voters say they would vote out every member of Congress if there were a place on the ballot to do so.

Support is consistent across the ideological spectrum — with 55% of liberals, 55% of moderates, and 58% of conservatives all feeling the same way.

Said pollster Bill McInturff: “We found the one area in which all people in the country agree.”


Gingrich Still Leads Romney Nationally

Despite recent Florida polls which show Mitt Romney opening up a lead over Newt Gingrich in that state’s upcoming Republican primary, the latest Gallup tracking poll shows Romney continuing his fall.

Gingrich now leads Romney nationally by six points, 31% to 25%, with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul both at 13%.


Barney Frank Getting Married

Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-MA) office has confirmed to NECN that the retiring 71-year-old lawmaker is marrying his longtime partner, Jim Ready, in a Massachusetts ceremony. A date has not been set.

If Frank were to get married before he leaves office in January, he would be the first congressman in a same sex marriage.


Money Well Spent?

Just published: Money Well Spent?: The Truth Behind the Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History by Michael Grabell.

The author concludes the stimulus package did some good and saved as many as 3 million jobs but the political legacy of the bill may be its most lasting effect.


Why Introverts May Make Better Presidents

Rick Stengel: “Campaigning, by its very nature, places a premium on an extroverted persona. Candidates are meant to clap people on the back, bound onstage and then deliver a passionate stump speech. No one wants to see a shy candidate on the podium who looks as if he’d rather be in a room by himself. But campaigning is not governing, a task for which a more introverted style might have advantages. Research suggests that extroverted leaders are more likely to make quick and sometimes rash decisions, while introverted leaders tend to gather more evidence and are slower to judgment.”


Video Shows Senator Calm as He’s Detained

security video of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) at a Nashville International Airport security checkpoint doesn’t show him being “irate,” as officials asserted in an incident reports when he refused a pat down.

Tennessean: “An incident report describes the police response as encountering ‘a passenger being irate.’ But videos released by the Metro Airport Authority late Wednesday show Paul entering the security line at 7:57 a.m. and then alternately sitting and standing in a glass cubicle while being watched by authorities. Paul appears to make a few phone calls as well. Paul is shown being escorted by an airport official at 9:04 a.m. Paul rebooked his flight and later went through security without incident.”

See more…


Why Rubio Won’t Be VP Pick

Reuters reports that while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) might check a lot of boxes for the Republican Vice President nomination — “telegenic, Hispanic and a fiscal conservative who has been embraced by the Tea Party” — his financial troubles could be problematic in the vetting process.

“In 2008, despite earning a declared $400,000 — including his $300,000 salary from the Miami law firm Broad and Cassel — Rubio failed to pay down the principal on his home for several months, according to Florida campaign finance disclosures. During the same period he did not make payments on a $100,000-plus student loan from his days at the University of Miami, the disclosures said… Rubio’s handling of his personal finances contrasts sharply with the image of him on his Senate website, which highlights Rubio’s efforts to prevent Washington from ‘piling up debt.'”


Brewer’s Book Soars Up Bestseller List

Getting into a public argument with President Obama apparently does wonders for book sales: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s book, Scorpions for Breakfast, is now at #177 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

(I’m sure she didn’t plan this just to boost book sales – FVM)


Perry Approval Plunges in Texas

A new Dallas Morning News poll finds Gov. Rick Perry’s dismal showing in the Republican presidential race has plunged his approval among Texans to its lowest level in a decade.

Most striking: Perry’s 40% job approval rating in his home state is lower than President Obama’s 43%, despite the GOP’s domination in Texas.

The poll also showed that most Texans — 53% — do not want to see Perry seek another term as governor. Even some of his strongest supporters — 41% of Republicans and 35% of those who voted for him two years ago — don’t want him to run again.


Romney Retakes Lead in Florida

A new Rasmussen survey in Florida shows Mitt Romney now leading Newt Gingrich by eight points, 39% to 31%, with Rick Santorum at 12% and Ron Paul at 9%.

Four days ago, just after the South Carolina Primary, Gingrich led Romney 41% to 32%.

Meanwhile, a new Monmouth University poll shows Romney with a 7 point lead over Gingrich among likely Republican voters, 39% to 32%, with Santorum at 11% and Paul at 8%.

A new InsiderAdvantage survey shows Romney with an eight point lead over Gingrich, 40% to 32%, followed by Paul at 9% and Santorum at 8%.


Has Gingrich Peaked in Florida?

Nate Silver: “The FiveThirtyEight forecast model still projects Mr. Gingrich as the slight favorite in Florida, giving him a 2-point lead and a 60 percent chance of victory. However, this lead is diminished considerably from two days ago, when the model saw a potential double-digit win for Mr. Gingrich as polls released immediately after the South Carolina primary had him surging in Florida.”

“In fact, I suspect the model is being too conservative and that there is enough evidence — when you look carefully at the day-to-day results — to conclude that Mr. Romney has re-emerged as the slight favorite in Florida instead.”

First Read: “Five days until the voters go to the polls in the Sunshine State, the GOP presidential contest is very volatile. It’s a pure coin flip… The bottom line is no one knows what’s going to happen, raising the stakes for tonight’s debate, the 19th of this cycle and the last one before this primary.”


Why Florida is Make-or-Break Moment for Republicans

Amy Walter points out that a win by Newt Gingrich in Florida would all but guarantee a long, drawn-out contest.

“It will legitimize Gingrich as a serious contender (not just a guy who got lucky in South Carolina). It will lead to lots of hand-wringing by GOP leaders. The cable chatterers will be in full-blown bloviate mode about the state of the dysfunction in the Republican Party. A Romney win doesn’t guarantee a quick end to the contest, but it would slow Gingrich’s momentum. Other factors that could dampen Newt-mentum include the fact that there’s just one debate scheduled for the entire month of February and that there are only caucuses, not primaries, for most of that month. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have all but conceded the state to the two frontrunners. Florida is a winner-take-all contest, which means all 50 delegates go to the top vote-getter. There’s no incentive to try and battle for third or fourth place. And while both remain committed to staying in the race, it’s clear that, for now, the battle for the nomination is a two-man race between Gingrich and Romney.”

First Read: “Just how important is Florida to both the Romney and Gingrich candidacies? Romney and Gingrich allies are spending more than $20 million between them to try and win it and possibly put away the GOP nominating fight.”

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