Archive for February 2012

POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/29

February 29, 2012

Snowe Will Not Run Again

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) will not run for re-election, the Portland Press Herald reports.

Said Snowe: “After an extraordinary amount of reflection and consideration, I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate.”

Santorum Flips on Democrats Voting in GOP Primaries

With Rick Santorum now urging Democrats to vote for him in Michigan’s open primary, CNNnotes he took a very different position in late January.

Said Santorum at the time: “We want the activists of the party, the people who make up the backbone of the Republican Party to have a say in who our nominee is as opposed to a bunch of people who don’t even identify themselves as Republicans picking our nominee. I don’t like that. I believe that states should only allow Republicans to vote in Republican primaries.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“I am so mad at the press I could just strangle them!”

— Ann Romney, quoted by National Review, on how it was “getting harder and harder to be cheerful.”

Obama Takes the Gloves Off

In a fiery speech to the United Auto Workers, President Obama defended his decision to bail out the auto industry while ripping into Mitt Romney.

Greg Sargent: “But this speech was about more than the auto-bailout. It was Obama’s case for reelection. This speech constituted Obama’s most ambitious effort yet to weave his defense of the auto rescue into the larger contrast he will try to draw between his vision and the ‘you’re on your own’ ideology he will accuse Republicans of representing.”

Andrew Sullivan: “I worry it positions him a little too far to the left — even if he is addressing a union crowd. But it sure doesn’t make him look afraid or cautious or calculating, does it? It reminds us of the formidable orator any Republican is going to have to counter this fall, and the economic climate and real record that buttresses this president’s case. It’s why he’ll almost certainly win Michigan this fall — and maybe much more.”

See more…

Low Turnout in Michigan?

“Turn-out in today’s presidential primary election looks to be about the same or less than it was four years ago,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

CNN: “The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday estimated turnout in the Republican primary will represent between 15% and 20% of registered voters. If the prediction holds, the figure would represent a decrease from the 21% who participated in the 2008 contest.”

Santorum Way Ahead in Ohio

A new University of Cincinnati poll in Ohio shows Rick Santorum leading the GOP field with 37%, followed by Mitt Romney at 25%, Newt Gingrich at 16% and Ron Paul at 11%.

Key finding: 47% of those polled said they could change their mind between now and next Tuesday’s primary.

Carnahan Will Challenge Fellow Democrat

The AP reports that Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) has chosen to run a primary challenge against Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) after Carnahan’s district was split into a Republican-leaning suburban district and Clay’s heavily Democratic St. Louis district.

The Hill: “The race is a continuation of a fight between the two that started with redistricting, when Missouri lost one of its congressional seats. Carnahan’s district was dismantled by Republicans in the state Legislature, but after Missouri’s Democratic governor, Jay Nixon, vetoed the maps, the final votes to override the veto came from Clay allies in the statehouse. After it became clear Clay was happy to see Carnahan lose his seat, Carnahan swore at him on Missouri’s statehouse floor, according to reports.”

Wisconsin Recall Could Be Close

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Wisconsin shows Gov. Scott Walker (R) trails both of his most likely opponents in the recall election by narrow margins. Tom Barrett (D) leads 49% to 46% and Kathleen Falk is ahead 48% to 47%.

Key finding: Walker continues to be unpopular with only 47% of voters approving of him to 52% who disapprove.

Poll Shows Allen Pulling Ahead in Virginia

A new Roanoke College poll in Virginia shows George Allen (R) has opened up an 8-point lead over Tim Kaine (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 45% to 37%.

One caveat: These numbers differ from those of nearly every other survey over the last year, with most polls showing the race within the margin of error.

Michael Moore Urges Democrats to Vote for Santorum

Filmmaker and Michigan native Michael Moore told Rachel Maddow that he’s encouraging Democrats to vote in today’s Republican presidential primary.

Said Moore: “A lot of my Democratic friends are going to vote for Santorum tomorrow in something they are calling, Operation Hilarity. We do have a good sense of humor in the state of Michigan.”

Update: Moore’s office emails to clarify he “wasn’t actually encouraging Michiganders to vote for Santorum, just reporting that friends of his are doing it and that he thinks it’s funny.”

See more…

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’m very pleased with the campaign, its organization. The candidate sometimes makes some mistakes, and so I’m trying to do better and work harder and make sure that we get our message across.”

— Mitt Romney, quoted by BuzzFeed, when asked if he was satisfied with how his campaign has been run.

How Mormons Became Republicans

The Salt Lake Tribune takes a look at the early days of the Republican Party, when the founders of the fledgling anti-slavery party “saw Mormons as their enemies,” and how that evolved into the modern trend of Mormons overwhelmingly supporting Republicans.

“The GOP’s first party platform in 1856 took direct aim at polygamy, placing it in the same sinister frame as slavery in the hope of cultivating the votes of Christians wary of the spread of these dual threats to the republic… Later on, Republicans used their congressional power to wipe away any secular power Mormon leaders had in the Utah Territory and were the main backers of a law that disincorporated The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints… Republicans over the next several decades targeted the LDS Church over polygamy and suspicions that Mormons were attempting to form their own sovereign country in the Mountain West.”

“The GOP’s take on social issues, such as abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment and gay marriage, drew Mormons into the conservative fold beginning in the 1970s. Church apostle Ezra Taft Benson, who supported the right-wing John Birch Society and served as Agriculture secretary under President Dwight Eisenhower, helped further push his fellow Mormons into the conservative camp. A report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in January showed that about 74 percent of Mormons lean toward the Republican Party.”

Gingrich Holds Big Lead in Georgia

A new SurveyUSA poll in Georgia finds Newt Gingrich with a big lead in next week’s GOP presidential primary with 39%, followed by Rick Santorum at 24%, Mitt Romney at 23% and Ron Paul at 9%.

Gingrich Super PAC Gets Another Big Check

A super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich has received another “substantial” contribution from billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and will launch television ads in seven states this week, the Washington Post reports.

The ads will begin today in Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio and Tennessee, with more to come Wednesday in Mississippi, Alabama and Kansas.

The Possum Republicans

David Brooks: “All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid. This year, they have an excellent chance to defeat President Obama, yet the wingers have trashed the party’s reputation by swinging from one embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum. But where have these party leaders been over the past five years, when all the forces that distort the G.O.P. were metastasizing?”

Republicans Worry About Negativity

National Republican leaders “are voicing increasing dismay over the course of the party’s presidential primary, which has fallen into such a negative grind that they warn it could cost them the White House,” Politico reports.

“At the core of their concern is the atmosphere of daily vituperation between the top candidates. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are now engaged in a seemingly constant knife fight, interrupted by only the sparest of positive, policy-oriented debate.”

Notes former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D): “In terms of sustained negativity, there’s nothing like it in history.”

Romney Quickly Losing Conservative Vote

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds just 38% of “very conservative” Americans now express favorable views of Mitt Romney. That’s his lowest mark of the campaign among staunch conservatives and down 16 percentage points over the past two weeks.

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POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/28

February 28, 2012

Santorum Seeks Democratic Crossover Votes

Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign “is actively seeking the support of Democrats in Tuesday’s Michigan primary, running a robocall that sounds oddly like one that would be run by an organized labor group,” the Washington Post reports.

TPM: “Michigan’s primary rules allow Dems to vote in the state’s GOP primaries. The liberal site DailyKos and other progressive partners have been trying to drum up enthusiasm for ‘Operation Hilarity’ — an effort to get Democrats to vote in the GOP primary and tilt the vote against Mitt Romney. The Santorum campaign evidently decided they’d take votes from any legitimate source.”

 

Did Santorum Regain Momentum in Michigan?

Harry Enten notes that three Michigan polls from last Thursday found Mitt Romney leading Rick Santorum by an average of 5.7 points. However, Romney’s average lead in polls taken over the weekend is down to just 1 point.

Meanwhile, a Public Policy Polling survey in the field tonight is already picking up on “encouraging things for Santorum.” The full poll results will be out late tonight.

If true, it could be a late night tomorrow waiting for primary results to come in.

 

The End of the Republican Party?

Jonathan Chait: “The modern GOP — the party of Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes — is staring down its own demographic extinction. Right-wing warnings of impending tyranny express, in hyperbolic form, well-grounded dread: that conservative America will soon come to be dominated, in a semi-permanent fashion, by an ascendant Democratic coalition hostile to its outlook and interests. And this impending doom has colored the party’s frantic, fearful response to the Obama presidency.”

 

Romney Recalls Event He Couldn’t Have Seen

Mitt Romney recalled childhood memories of a landmark moment in Detroit history, noting he was “probably 4 or something like that” the day of the Golden Jubilee, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the American automobile, the Toronto Star reports.

Said Romney: “My dad had a job being the grandmaster. They painted Woodward Ave. with gold paint.”

Unfortunately, the event took place June 1, 1946 — fully nine months before Romney was born.

 

Bonus Quote of the Day

“You know, it’s sort of a touching response to a $1.2 trillion deficit, isn’t it, that somehow the American people will just all send in checks and take care of it.”

— Warren Buffett, in an interview with CNBC, responding to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) who told him he should “write a check and shut up” if he’s so intent on raising taxes on wealthy Americans in order to reduce the deficit.

 

Targeting Chairmen

After a rough election cycle for Democratic chairmen of House committees in 2010, The Hillprovides a rundown of the Republican chairmen facing difficult reelection battles, including a few primary challenges.

 

Michigan Gets Tighter

Nate Silver‘s latest forecast shows Romney still has the advantage in the Michigan GOP primary tomorrow “but it is more tenuous than the one we released overnight. The model gives him a 64 percent chance of winning the state, down from 77 percent in the previous forecast.”

The reason? Five new polls are out today with three showing Romney in the lead and two putting Santorum ahead.

Steve Kornacki: “The familiar Romney campaign formula — wait for conservative rival to emerge, beat back conservative rival with attack ads and strong debate performance, prevail in do-or-die primary test, wait for next conservative rival to emerge — may be in the process of repeating itself in Michigan. But the final polling in advance of tomorrow’s primary contains some serious hints of trouble for Romney.”

 

Walker Will Not Challenge Recall Signatures

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) will not challenge any signatures by Monday’s deadline in an attempt to stop a recall election against him, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

“That leaves only a review by state elections officials standing between the Republican governor and only the third recall election for a governor is U.S. history.”

Joshua Spivak has an excellent look at what to expect next.

 

Kerrey Reconsidering Senate Bid

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) “appears to be flirting — once again — with the prospect of running for U.S. Senate,” the Omaha World Herald reports.

“He met earlier this morning with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, setting off speculations that Kerrey is in the race. Kerrey has had talks with his former campaign manager, Paul Johnson, about a prospective run.”

The  Washington Post reports Kerrey will run.

 

Maybe Romney Should Just Run as a Rich Guy?

Brad Phillips: “Mr. Romney finds himself in the worst of two worlds. On one hand, he’s a rich guy whose privileged life keeps slipping out through obliviously tone-deaf gaffes. On the other hand, he’s pretending to be a populist who personally relates to the financial struggles of ordinary Americans.”

“I understand why Mr. Romney’s advisers didn’t want him to run as a ‘rich guy’ candidate. With income inequality at record-high levels and Romney’s image as a corporate raider, his wealth could easily be viewed as a campaign-killing liability. But Mr. Romney’s chronic gaffes have rendered that strategy impossible. It’s time for Romney to start running as the person he really is: a rich guy.”

 

Paul Has Never Attacked Romney

ThinkProgress reviewed the 20 Republican presidential debates and found that Ron Paul has not once attacked Mitt Romney.

While Paul has ripped the other presidential contenders 39 times, he has never harshly criticized Romney or singled him out in any way for criticism. It’s particularly striking given that Paul and Romney “do not agree on virtually any policy positions.”

 

How Republicans Move the Center

Rick Pearlstein argues that Republicans “plant their flag in an uncompromising position, and wait for the world to come around – which, quite often, it eventually does. This is because in a media environment based on the ideology of ‘balance,’ in which anything one of the parties insists upon must be given equal weight to whatever the other party says back, the party that plants its ideological flag further from the center makes the center move. And that is how America changes. You set the stage for future changes by shifting the rhetoric of the present.”

 

Union Slams Romney on Auto Bailout in Ohio

AFSCME is up with a tough new ad in Ohio that blasts Mitt Romney’s rejection of the auto industry bailout.

Greg Sargent: “It’s unclear whether this message will have resonance among GOP primary voters. But the ad represents a bet that the GOP primary has forced Romney so far to the right on the auto-bailout — requiring him to go through comical contortions to pretend it wasn’t a big success — that it’s worth branding him hard with it now, among swing voters in states other than Michigan.”

See more…

 

Are Republicans Against College?

Jill Lawrence: “First came Mitt Romney’s dismissive remarks about President Obama’s ‘faculty lounge’ pals. Now Rick Santorum is calling Obama snobby for urging people to go to college — and defending that view in a series of TV appearances.”

See more…

 

Quote of the Day

“I’m not going to go armchair quarterback it. I think there are alternative scenarios that could have worked also, but the point is, is that it’s history, and the important part is it was successful, we’re moving along, creating jobs.”

— Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), quoted by The Hill, defending President Obama’s bailout of the U.S. auto industry. The entire Republican presidential field has come out against the bailout.

 

Santorum’s Gloom May Doom Campaign

Massimo Calabresi argues that Rick Santorum’s declining poll numbers and lost momentum are a result of his gloomy message on the campaign trail.

“At first Santorum’s moral doom-saying just sounds like a slightly wacky play to the extreme wing of the GOP… But eventually it becomes clear that Santorum believes America’s lax morals are leading to that kind of future. First you teach teenagers about contraception; the next thing you know you are voting in favor of warehouses of fetuses, grown for the benefit of mankind… On paper, Santorum might be a viable alternative to Romney. In a series of difficult Senate terms, Santorum was more successful than most in reaching across the aisle even as he rose in the GOP hierarchy. But Santorum sees a looming moral apocalypse, abetted by what are now mainstream positions in America. That’s not a message that’s going to win, even in a GOP primary.”

 

Santorum Will Get Secret Service Protection

Rick Santorum will receive Secret Service protection this week, CNN reports.

So far, Mitt Romney is the only GOP presidential candidate granted protection. USA Todayreports Newt Gingrich requested Secret Service protection last week and is awaiting word on whether he will receive the security.

 

Mixed Polling Results in Michigan

Though a Public Policy Polling survey released late last night showed Mitt Romney regaining the lead over Rick Santorum in the Michigan GOP primary, 39% to 37%, a newMitchell Research/Rosetta Stone poll shows Santorum taking over the lead back from Romney, 37% to 35%.

A new We Ask America poll shows Romney ahead 37% to 33%.

A new American Research Group survey shows Santorum just ahead, 36% to 35%.

A new Rasmussen survey shows Romney leading, 38% to 36%.

 

Romney Headed for Big Win in Arizona

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Arizona shows Mitt Romney is headed for an overwhelming victory in Arizona’s primary on Tuesday. He leads Rick Santorum, 43% to 26%, with Newt Gingrich at 18% and Ron Paul at 11%.

Key finding: “Almost half of those planning to vote have already cast their ballots, and Romney has a 48-25 advantage over Santorum with those folks. That lead makes it nearly impossible for Santorum to make up the difference on election day, and Romney has a 39-27 advantage with those planning to vote on Tuesday anyway.”

A new We Ask America poll shows Romney leading Santorum, 43% to 27%.

 

Santorum Still Leads in Ohio

A new Quinnipiac poll in Ohio shows Rick Santorum leading the GOP presidential field with 36% of likely Republican primary voters, followed by Mitt Romney at 29%, Newt Gingrich at 17% and Ron Paul at 11%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “A week out, Sen. Rick Santorum remains seven points ahead among Ohio’s likely Republican primary voters. While almost half the voters say they might change their mind, Santorum supporters seem a little surer of their vote. What happens in Michigan tomorrow night might have an impact on voters in Ohio’s Republican primary.”

 

Obama Looks Better for Re-Election

A new Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll “reveals the prolonged nominating battle is taking a toll on the GOP candidates and finds the president’s standing significantly improved from late last year.”

“President Obama’s approval rating is 53%, up 9 percentage points in four months. Matched up against his Republican opponents, he leads Mitt Romney by 10 points (53-43) and Rick Santorum by 11 (53-42). Even against a generic, unnamed Republican untarnished by attacks, Obama is up 5 percentage points. In November, he was tied.”

However, a new USA Today/Gallup poll finds Obama lags his two leading Republican rivals in the 12 swing states likely to determine the outcome of a close race in November.

First Read: “Either Gallup is seeing something that no one else is seeing right now (NBC/WSJ, WaPo/ABC, NYT/CBS), or its methodology is understating Obama’s support and inflating the GOP’s. This isn’t the first time this cycle where Gallup has looked different from the other major national polls.”

POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/27

February 27, 2012

Santorum’s National Lead Collapses

The latest Gallup daily tracking poll shows Mitt Romney overtaking Rick Santorum nationally, 31% to 29%, after he once trailed his rival by double-digits.

 

The Delegate Count Isn’t What’s Important

Nate Silver notes that while the Republican presidential primary has come down to collecting delegates on the way to the convention, “the G.O.P.’s delegate-selection rules are exceptionally complicated and ambiguous. Many delegates could go to the convention in Tampa either loosely pledged or entirely unbound to any of the candidates.”

“That means there will be some wiggle room in the math. Doing things like winning key states, leading in the aggregate popular vote, leading in national polls and appearing to have the momentum at the end of the process may influence the behavior of these unbound delegates. If a candidate can make a credible claim to having a mandate from the voters, they might line up behind him. If his claim is poor, they could block his nomination.”

 

Is Arizona Out of Reach for Democrats?

The Hotline: “The White House continues to talk about its ability to contest Arizona, but polling data suggest otherwise — and underscores the fact that immigration right now is a losing issue for President Obama and Democrats… While the Hispanic growth in the state is significant, the percentage of those who are registered is relatively low – and there have been few signs of any significant uptick in political participation. The numbers also provide a cautionary tale to the party’s likely Senate nominee, Richard Carmona, who is an attractive recruit because of his Hispanic heritage, but could lose support from white voters over his opposition to SB 1070… There was a good reason why Janet Napolitano didn’t run for Senate — her involvement in the White House’s lawsuit against the state immigration law would have handicapped her campaign from the start.”

 

Wyoming Advances Doomsday Bill

Wyoming state representatives “advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States,” the Casper Star Tribune reports.

The bill “would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.”

 

Santorum Way Ahead in Tennessee

A new Vanderbilt University poll in Tennessee finds Rick Santorum leading the GOP presidential primary with 33%, followed by Mitt Romney at 17%, Ron Paul at 13% and Newt Gingrich at 10%.

That said, an additional 27% “either said they wouldn’t vote for any of the four major remaining candidates, didn’t know how they would vote or refused to answer.”

The Tennessee primary is on March 6.

 

Quote of the Day

“Republicans being against sex is not good. Sex is popular.”

— GOP strategist Alex Castellanos, quoted by Maureen Dowd.

 

Romney Preps for Long Primary

“Whether Mitt Romney wins or loses the Michigan and Arizona primaries on Tuesday, his advisers are warning donors and other supporters to prepare for a longer, more bruising and more expensive fight for the Republican presidential nomination that may not be settled until at least May,” the New York Times reports.

“That is prompting a new round of intensified fund-raising by his financial team, which had hoped by this point to be collecting money for a general election match with President Obama. The campaign is increasingly trying to quell anxiety among Republican leaders, while intently focusing on the mechanics of accumulating delegates needed to secure the nomination.”

 

GOP Establishment Worries About Santorum

The Kansas City Star editorial page asked economist Art Laffer — “yes, he of the famous Laffer curve” — whether Rick Santorum would be the Republican presidential nominee.

“Laffer’s answer was non-verbal. His hands went up on each side of his head. He leaned forward, bug-eyed at the imagined horror of Santorum as the GOP nominee — a response that reflects the fears of many on the Republican side.”

 

The Republican Break Up

John Heilemann notes many Republicans “are already looking past 2012. If either Romney or Santorum gains the nomination and then falls before Obama, flubbing an election that just months ago seemed eminently winnable, it will unleash a GOP apocalypse on November 7 — followed by an epic struggle between the regulars and red-hots to refashion the party. And make no mistake: A loss is what the GOP’s political class now expects.”

Said GOP strategist Ed Rollins: “Six months before this thing got going, every Republican I know was saying, ‘We’re gonna win, we’re gonna beat Obama.’ Now even those who’ve endorsed Romney say, “My God, what [an effing] mess.”‘

 

More Divided Than Ever

The latest National Journal congressional voting ratings finds polarization “remains endemic. Lawmakers march in lockstep with their party. Heretics are purged.”

“For the second year in a row but only the third time in the 30 years that National Journal has published these ratings, no Senate Democrat compiled a voting record to the right of any Senate Republican, and no Republican came down on the left of any Senate Democrat. (The first time this happened was 1999.)”

“The 435 members of the House are as polarized as their Senate colleagues. Only six Republicans — Chris Smith of New Jersey, Tim Johnson of Illinois, Justin Amash of Michigan, Ron Paul of Texas, Steven LaTourette of Ohio, and Walter Jones of North Carolina — compiled a slightly more “liberal” voting record than the most conservative Democrat, Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma.”

POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/24

February 24, 2012

Gay Marriage Back on Ballot in Maine

“Advocates for same-sex marriage turned in enough valid signatures to get a question on the November ballot,” the Portland Press Herald reports.

“Maine voters rejected gay marriage by a 53-47 percent vote in 2009. But recent polling shows more Mainers and Americans support gay marriage than they did three years ago.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post notes a same-sex marriage bill passed the Maryland Senate, sending it to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) who said he’ll sign the bill into law.

Bretton Woods Uncovered

Daily Telegraph: “Students of economic history are in for a treat. An official studying deep in the bowels of the US Treasury library has recently uncovered a prize of truly startling proportions — an 800 page plus transcript of the Bretton Woods conference in July 1944, the meeting of nations which established the foundations of today’s international monetary system.”

“All previous accounts of Bretton Woods have been second hand, with historians apparently completely unaware that a full, and one must presume faithful, transcript of proceedings, had been taken.”

Leaker of White House Memo Identified?

Jake Tapper reports the memo White House economic adviser Larry Summers didn’t want President Obama to see was almost certainly leaked to journalist Noam Scheiber by former budget director Peter Orszag.

By making the original memo available to readers on the web, Scheiber also allowed people to see the document properties which indicate the document last resided on Orszag’s computer.

Whose World View is Closer to Yours?

A new SurveyUSA poll finds that 49% think President Obama’s view of the world is closer to theirs while 35% pick Mitt Romney’s world view.

Asked to choose between Obama and Rick Santorum, Obama’s view of the world is seen as closer to their own by 52%, while Santorum’s was chosen by 37%.

Of those who chose both Romney and Santorum, 51% of these voters said Santorum’s view of the world was closer to their own while 43% said Romney’s.

Romney Mocks Santorum

In an appearance in Arizona, Mitt Romney mocked Rick Santorum for his attempts to “explain why he repeatedly voted against his conscience while in Congress,” theWashington Post reports.

Said Romney: “We saw Senator Santorum explain most of the night why he did or voted for things he disagreed with. And he talked about this as taking one for the team. I wonder what team he was taking it for. My team is the American people.”

Expect to see the “taking one for the team” line in an advertisement very soon.

See more…

Gingrich Still Holds Small Lead in Georgia

A new Rasmussen survey in Georgia finds Newt Gingrich with a small lead in the GOP presidential race with 33%, followed by Rick Santorum at 28%, Mitt Romney at 20% and Ron Paul at 9%.

The Georgia primary is on March 6.

Strickland Could Seek Rematch

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) has not ruled out a rematch with current Gov. John Kasich (R), the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Said Strickland: “I haven’t ruled it out, haven’t ruled it in. I continue to be interested in, engaged in Ohio politics. I certainly want to keep my options open at this point.”

Rubio’s Mormon Past

Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) forthcoming memoir has a title: An American Son: A Memoir.

The Miami Herald has an interesting tidbit from the book: “When Marco was 8 years old and living in Las Vegas, the Rubio family attended a Mormon church for a few years.”

BuzzFeed confirms Rubio was baptized in the Mormon church and says it “could complicate his political future at a time when many Republicans see him as the odds-on favorite for the 2012 vice presidential nod. Vice presidential candidates are traditionally chosen to provide ethnic and religious balance to a ticket. Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and Rubio’s Catholic faith would already mean the first two members of minority traditions on a Republican ticket in American history. Rubio’s Mormon roots could further complicate that calculation.”

Santorum Goes Negative in Michigan

Rick Santorum launched a new negative ad in Michigan hitting Romney on his past statements on abortion, guns, taxes, earmarks and RomneyCare.

See more…

How Obama Won

Here’s a must-read: The Magic Number: Inside Obama’s Chase for the Presidential Nomination by Jeff Berman, who led the effort to create and execute the delegate plan that Barack Obama used to capture the presidential nomination in 2008.

Ben Smith: “Rich in procedural detail, the book will be a textbook for the small cadre of mechanics who steer the arcane process of delegate selection. But The Magic Number …is also a kind of secret history of the Obama campaign and an antidote to the sweeping narratives that suggest Obama was the inevitable product of historical forces. Berman’s account is the tale of the little things that could have gone wrong but didn’t, and the small but crucial victories that, taken together, won the White House.”

Obama Goes After Republicans in Michigan

President Obama “is highlighting his support for the federal assistance plan that helped rescue Detroit automakers in a new television commercial that accuses Republican presidential candidates of abandoning the industry in its darkest hour,” the New York Timesreports.

The 30-second commercial also mentions Mitt Romney’s now well-known opinion article that carried the headline “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

See more…

Santorum Keeps Lead in Michigan

A new American Research Group poll in Michigan finds Rick Santorum continues to lead the GOP presidential field with 38%, followed by Mitt Romney at 34%, Ron Paul at 12% and Newt Gingrich at 7%.

Will McDonnell’s Shift Hurt Republicans?

First Read points out that the retreat by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and other state Republicans on that ‘transvaginal’ ultrasound bill “was the worst of all worlds for the GOP in this very important battleground state.”

“The good news for Republicans: It’s over; they’ve folded. The bad news: The retreat has disappointed their base, the original legislation fired up Democrats, and the whole matter took Republicans away from the one issue that won them success from 2009-2011: the economy.”

King Sees a Vilsack Plot

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) speculated that Christie Vilsack’s (D) campaign against him has as much to do with her husband’s political ambitions as her own, the Des Moines Registerreports.

Said King: “I’ll just tell you what I’m being told, and that is that it’s likely that Tom Vilsack is positioning himself to run for United States Senate here in Iowa in 2014. That means that if Christie Vilsack wins this race, they have now knocked down a guy that could be a potential challenger.”

Romney Aide Guarantees Michigan Victory

Mitt Romney campaign adviser Stuart Stevens was so confident after the GOP debate last night that he guaranteed his candidate would win the Michigan primary next week, CNNreports.

Said Stevens: “We are going to win Michigan. We are going to win Michigan.”

“He also dismissed as a ‘parlor game’ the chatter among some Washington insiders that a savior candidate might swoop in at the Republican National Convention in Tampa and rescue the party from doom in November.”

Lawmaker Caught Voting for Absent Member

Wisconsin state Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R) was caught on video voting on behalf of an absent lawmaker despite a rule that only the members present in the Assembly Chamber may vote.

WTMJ confronted Kleefisch who responded, “It depends on how you interpret the rule. The rule says you have to be present in the chamber. The bathroom counts as the chamber. And the parlor counts as a chamber if you are going to eat.”

See more…

Florida Senate Race Gets Testy

Florida’s Republican U.S. Senate primary is off to a nasty start.

The Miami Herald reports former Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL) ripped into Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) after a report showed he had a history of financial troubles and fights.

Said LeMieux: “Connie Mack IV is the Charlie Sheen of Florida politics. Mack IV does not have the temperament or the character to serve in the United States Senate.”

He also drew attention to what he called Mack’s “rap sheet:” four physical confrontations when he was in his early 20s, one arrest and then a host of financial troubles that became clear during his divorce shortly after he was elected to Congress.

Do Romney and Paul Have a Deal?

After a debate in which he was attacked from two sides, Rick Santorum told Byron York he suspects something is up between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

Said Santorum: “You have to ask Congressman Paul and Gov. Romney what they’ve got going together. Their commercials look a lot alike, and so do their attacks.”

Santorum aides are convinced Romney and Paul have some sort of deal by which they attack other candidates but not each other.

Said strategist John Brabender: “Clearly there is a tag-team strategy between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. There’ve been 20 debates, right? Why don’t you go back and see how many times Ron Paul has ever criticized anything Mitt Romney has done.”

Quote of the Day

“My greatest fear is it seems that Mr. Romney has set his path to the nomination based on carpet-bombing his opponents to oblivion with false negative advertising… that’s the kind of thing that engenders a third-party candidacy, which would be a disaster for us.”

— Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), quoted by Politico.

More Debate Reaction

Miss the GOP presidential debate? I thought it was easily one of the worst of the campaign.

The Daily Beast has video clips of the seven best moments.

Paul Begala: “Santorum was clearly thrilled to be in the spotlight. But he spent way too much time splitting hairs and explaining the protocol and procedures of Washington in defense of earmarks and defending his support for Specter. As he has done in the past, he couldn’t resist picking a gratuitous fight with Ron Paul. That’s called punching down, and it rarely works. He played too much defense and too little offense. His job should have been to use every opportunity to define Romney as a feckless liberal and himself as a principled conservative. He didn’t accomplish that.”

Roger Simon: “This was the first debate in which Santorum sat atop the national polls. And he was nervous. Very nervous. So nervous that he looked like a graduate of the Bob Dole School of Debating, in which you are allowed to speak only in the impenetrable language of Capitol Hill.”

Howard Kurtz: “In the end, the debate did little to shake up the race, perhaps because the candidates–seated this time, close to one another–muted their criticism in what was the last such face-off before Super Tuesday. Even moderator John King, famously roughed up by Gingrich in their last encounter, emerged unscathed.”

Andrew Sullivan: “Maybe I’ve lost my mind after all these debates, or maybe I secretly want him to win (because he would finally expose all the insanity that has been building in this party and needs venting). But I thought Santorum was on form tonight. My sense is that he will not lose his current momentum after tonight. I didn’t feel Newt tonight. Romney doesn’t wear well. Paul was great and funny and human.”

See more…

POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/23

February 23, 2012

GOP Debate Reaction

Tonight’s Republican debate was easily one of the worst of the presidential campaign.

Mitt Romney was armed with opposition research on Rick Santorum but didn’t come close to a knock out. The audience — which was definitely slanted towards Romney — helped cover for many clumsy mistakes. His attempts to throw red meat to conservatives exacerbated his in-authenticity. Nonetheless, Romney did not lose and at the very least held his ground.

Santorum acted as though he was still a non-contender. It’s almost as if he decided in the middle of the debate to run for vice president instead. He also showed how hard it is to run for president with a U.S. Senate voting record. However, he did real damage to Romney in their heated exchange on RomneyCare.

Newt Gingrich scored many points but it’s unclear how he gains against either Santorum or Romney. In the end, he wasn’t much of a factor.

Ron Paul, as always, was consistent on both advancing his libertarian agenda and in helping Romney by attacking Santorum.

The real winner tonight was President Obama. After 20 debates, his potential rivals have done wonders for his re-election chances.

Is Arizona a Swing State?

President Obama’s re-election campaign says they will compete hard in Arizona and a newPublic Policy Polling survey suggests they should.

Obama is now tied with Mitt Romney in Arizona at 47%, a dramatic improvement from November when he trailed by 7 points. He leads Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich each by 4 points, 46% to 42% and 48% to 44% respectively. The only Republican he actually runs behind is Rick Santorum, although only by a single point at 47% to 46%.

Stock Market Does Much Better Under Democrats

“While Republicans promote themselves as the friendliest party for Wall Street, stock investors do better when Democrats occupy the White House,” Bloomberg reports.

In fact, since John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, $1,000 invested in a hypothetical fund that tracks the S&P 500 “only when Democrats are in the White House would have been worth $10,920 at the close of trading yesterday. That’s more than nine times the dollar return an investor would have realized from following a similar strategy during Republican administrations.”

“The Democratic edge is so large that the party comes out ahead even without counting Bill Clinton (the Democrat with the biggest S&P 500 gain) and George W. Bush (the Republican with the worst market record). A hypothetical $1,000 investment under Democrats excluding Clinton was worth $3,539 versus $3,296 invested under Republicans except Bush.”

Is Mormonism Off Limits?

Rick Santorum’s aides tell Byron York it’s unfair that reporters are asking questions about aspects of Santorum’s faith and not asking similar questions about Mitt Romney’s.

“Of course, Santorum has spoken more publicly about the details of his religious beliefs than Romney has, and that is why some of the questions are popping up now… But specifically religious questioning of Romney is as rare as specific Romney statements about Mormon beliefs. Given the current grilling of Santorum, that is a source of growing frustration to Santorum’s advisers.”

Asked one aide: “Why is Mormonism off limits? I’m not saying it’s a seminal issue in the campaign, but we’re having to spend days answering questions about Rick’s faith, which he has been open about.”

Santorum Up Big in Oklahoma

A new Rasmussen survey in Oklahoma finds Rick Santorum with a big lead over Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential race with 43%, followed by Newt Gingrich at 22%, Mitt Romney at 18%, and Ron Paul at 7%.

The Oklahoma primary is on March 6.

Radioactive Rhetoric

John Avlon notes that for all the entertainment of the GOP presidential debates “there is a civic cost to the radioactive rhetoric that gets thrown out to excite the conservative crowds.”

“It’s not just that the most irresponsible candidates can play to the base and get a boost in the polls, while more sober-minded candidates like Jon Huntsman fail to get attention. The real damage is to the process of running for president itself. Because when low blows get rewarded, the incentive to try to emulate Lincoln — holding yourself to a higher standard — is diminished. And one barometer of this atmospheric shift is in the increasingly overheated rhetoric by candidates attacking the current president. This serial disrespect ends up unintentionally diminishing the office of president itself.”

Gingrich Urged to be Himself

(But that would be a horse’s a _ _! fvm)

The New York Times notes that Newt Gingrich, “more than any other candidate, has seen his fortunes ebb and flow with debates, and there is a consensus in his team that his big loss in Florida’s Republican presidential primary last month was in no small part because of debates in which he strained to look above the fray. According to one top aide, Mr. Gingrich’s two daughters had advised him to strike a presidential pose, but that was not the Newt Gingrich voters craved.”

Five Money Men

National Journal analysis of January’s campaign-disclosure filings reveals that 25% of all the money raised by Super PACs came from just five donors.

Georgia Democrats Propose Limits on Vasectomies

As a Georgia lawmakers weigh a ban on most women getting abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, Democratic lawmakers protested the move by introducing a bill that would drastically limit vasectomies, the Augusta Chronicle reports.

The biil calls for no more vasectomies that leave “thousands of children… deprived of birth.”

Said state Rep. Yasmin Neal (D): “Women’s reproductive rights are always debated. No one ever talks about the male side of the issue. We just want them to know how it feels just this once… It’s about fairness and showing how preposterous the abortion bill is.”

Cantor’s New Leadership Style?

The Hill provides a behind-the-scenes look at how House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) successfully navigated the STOCK Act, the bill that would apply insider trading laws to members of Congress, through the House with bipartisan support.

“Cantor…wanted to study, expand and build support for an insider-trading bill that would garner support from a large majority of House GOP legislators. In doing so, the majority leader read Throw Them All Out, the book by Peter Schweizer that served as the basis for the ’60 Minutes’ report… As the House deliberated, the Democrat-led Senate pounced. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) bypassed committee action and quickly passed the chamber’s version of the STOCK Act. ”

“Cantor, who is not shy in mixing it up with Democrats, refrained from responding to the attacks and worked to win over skeptical House Republicans. From late December until its passage in February, Cantor met with scores of members, talked with the counsels on six of the committees with jurisdiction and briefed the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC) and the entire House GOP conference… In an unanticipated twist as the measure neared consideration on the House floor, Cantor praised Walz and Slaughter in a press release. He also called Walz for help to pass the insider-trading bill.”

Trump Does Robo-Call for Romney

Mitt Romney enlisted Donald Trump for a robo-call in Michigan which is highly critical of Rick Santorum, ABC News reports.

Says Trump on the call: “This is Donald Trump and I have to tell you that I’m tired of Rick Santorum pretending that he’s some kind of DC outsider.”

He notes Santorum is a “career politician” who has “never had a job in the private sector” and also accuses Santorum of working as a lobbyist.

Perry Leaning Towards Re-Election Bid

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) told the Texas Tribune that he is leaning toward running for re-election in 2014 and possibly another stab at the White House two years after that.

“There are no term limits in Texas… If he does run, Perry could wind up serving a total of 18 years in the governor’s office and he would complicate the plans of a host of other statewide elected officials.”

The Memo Summers Didn’t Want Obama to See

Noam Scheiber has a memo from the early days of the Obama administration in which chief economist Christy Romer argued that a more substantial economic stimulus was needed. However, top economic adviser Larry Summers thought it politically impractical and made sure the larger recommendation was never shown to the president.

“When Romer showed Summers her $1.7-to-$1.8 trillion figure late the week before the memo was due, he dismissed it as impractical. So Romer spent the next day or two coming up with a reasonable compromise: $1.2 trillion. In a revised document that she sent Summers over the weekend, she included the $1.2 trillion figure, along with two more limited options: about $600 billion and about $850 billion. At first, Summers gave her every indication that all three figures would appear in the memo he was sending the president-elect. But with less than twenty-four hours before the memo needed to be in Obama’s hands, Summers informed her that he was inclined to strike the $1.2 trillion figure.”

Roemer to Launch Independent Bid

Buddy Roemer will end his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and announce he’ll seek to run as an independent candidate.

Said Roemer in a statement: “I have decided to take my campaign directly to the American people by declaring my candidacy for Americans Elect. Also, after many discussions with The Reform Party, I am excited to announce my intentions of seeking their nomination.”

Santorum Leads GOP Field in Wisconsin

A new Marquette Law School Poll in Wisconsin finds Rick Santorum leading the GOP presidential field with 34%, followed by Mitt Romney at 18%, Ron Paul at 17% and Newt Gingrich at 12%.

The Wisconsin GOP primary, which allows any registered voter to participate, is scheduled for April 3.

In general election match ups, President Obama leads each of his GOP rivals by double digits.

Republicans Losing Interest in Presidential Race

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds nterest in the Republican presidential race is slipping: Just 40% of Republicans say they have a great deal of interest in following the contest, compared with 48% in December.

Key findings: Only 23% are strongly satisfied with the field and 40% said they are dissatisfied with the candidates running.

Barbour Says Brokered Convention Unlikely

Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour (R) tells National Review that a contested Republican convention is a possible, though “highly unlikely,” scenario.

Said Barbour: “There is an outside chance, unlikely though it is, that you could get to the convention and have three or four candidates still in the race, none of them close to having a majority of delegates. But the idea that there would be a contested convention, where you actually arrive in Tampa and nobody has the votes, would defy decades of history.”

He added: “The operative word is ‘could.’ Could? Yeah. Likely? No.”

Meanwhile, a new Quinnipiac poll finds that if none of the candidates currently running wins enough delegates to earn the nomination, Republicans prefer New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over Sarah Palin, Jeb Bush and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Sink Floats Rematch with Scott

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, failed Florida gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink (D) floated the possibility of a rematch against the man who defeated her, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), who remains unpopular in the state.

Said Sink: “Of course, I’ve thought about it. Many, many people are encouraging me. Even strangers who I’ve never met before would like to see me back.

Neck-and-Neck in Michigan

A new NBC News-Marist poll finds Mitt Romney edging Rick Santorum in the GOP presidential race, 37% to 35%, followed by Ron Paul at 13% and Newt Gingrich 8%.

Romney Hold Solid Lead in Arizona

A new NBC News-Marist poll in Arizona finds Mitt Romney leading the GOP primary with 43% of likely voters, followed by Rick Santorum at 27%, Newt Gingrich at 16% and Ron Paul at 11%.

Santorum Still Leads Nationally

A new Quinnipiac poll finds Rick Santorum leads the Republican presidential field with 35% among Republican voters, followed by Mitt Romney at 26%, Newt Gingrich at 14% and Ron Paul at 11%.

Santorum leads Romney in a head-to-head match up by 50% to 37%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Santorum’s lead among Republican voters and GOP-leaning independents is built on the votes of Republican men, Tea Party supporters and white evangelical Christians.”

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds Santorum at 33%, Romney at 32%, Gingrich at 15% and Paul at 15%.

Obama Spends More, Raises Less

An analysis by the Boston Globe shows that President Obama “did not raise as much money from supporters last month as he did during January 2008 in his first campaign for the White House,” and he is also “using up cash at a far greater rate than the last incumbent to seek reelection, George W. Bush in 2004.”

The numbers: “Contributions to Obama and the Democratic National Committee combined were down 30 percent last month compared with January four years ago. Together they raised $29.1 million in January. That is down from $41.7 million in January 2008… The Obama campaign spent $17.2 million last month, leaving $76 million cash on hand. Eight years ago, Bush raised $12.9 million in January, spent $7.6 million, and had $104.4 million in the bank heading into February… But the campaign also had a payroll of nearly 360 employees in the last quarter of 2011, about 200 more than Bush-Cheney during a comparable period eight years earlier.”

POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/22

February 22, 2012

Romney Says Obama Has a “Secular Agenda”

Mitt Romney attacked President Obama’s “secular agenda” during a town hall in Michigan, ABC News reports.

Said Romney: “You expect the president of the United States to be sensitive to that freedom and protect it and, unfortunately, perhaps because of the people the president hangs around with, and their agenda, their secular agenda, they have fought against religion.”

Washington Post: “Romney rarely ventures into social issues in his campaign speeches, but people participating in a town hall-style meeting one week before the Michigan primary asked how he would protect religious liberty.”

Trump May Reconsider Presidential Bid

Donald Trump told CNBC he would “seriously, seriously” consider jumping into the White House race if Rick Santorum wins the GOP presidential nomination.

Said Trump: “Honestly, if Santorum got it, I would seriously, seriously consider it. We need someone that’s really going to be great. This is the most important election in my opinion that this country has ever had. Santorum is not the right person.”

He added that he is a “free agent” after his Apprentice show ends its season on May 16.

See more…

Romney Has Weak Appeal Among Small Donors

TPM looks at the campaign finance reports and finds that nearly 90% of Mitt Romney’s total haul is from contributions greater than $200.

“By contrast, only around 40% of Obama’s donations are from individuals who have given more than $200 total and his smaller contributors alone raised more money in total than Romney’s entire fundraising operation. For the rest of the Republican field, the ratio is somewhere closer to 50-50.”

Romney Says Cutting Spending Will Slow Growth

Mitt Romney said that cutting spending slows growth in the economy — the “sort of comment was sure to raise the eyebrows of fiscal conservatives in the GOP, who have long preached a message of fiscal restraint as a path to economic growth,” NBC News reports.

Said Romney: “If you just cut, if all you’re thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy. So you have to, at the same time, create pro-growth tax policies.”

It’s another fine example of a Kinsley gaffe.

Bachmann Will Run Despite Redistricting

A Minnesota judicial panel released new political district lines that place Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Betty McCollum (D-MN) into the same congressional district, the Minnesota Star Tribune reports.

However, Bachmann said that “she will run for her old 6th district seat even though newly drawn congressional maps put her home in the 4th District, currently represented by McCollum… Members of Congress don’t have to live in the district they represent, so Bachmann is free to run wherever she likes in Minnesota. She said she has not yet decided if she will move her home into the new district.”

Interestingly, Bachmann claimed she went to college in the new 6th district but DailyKos points out her college is actually in the state’s 1st congressional district.

Santorum Keeps Small Lead in Michigan

A new Rasmussen survey in Michigan shows Rick Santorum is holding on to a small lead over Mitt Romney, 38% to 34%. They are followed by Ron Paul at 10% support and Newt Gingrich at 9%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“The expectations for him were absurd. And they were wrong. They expected him to be something he couldn’t possibly be given his level of experience. It was impossible to ask him to be all the things that people poured into him.”

— Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), in an interview with GQ, on whether President Obama has lived up to his promise.

Paul Helps to Take Out Santorum

In addition to the Ron Paul campaign’s latest TV ad blasting Rick Santorum, NBC News finds more evidence of an alliance between Mitt Romney and the Texas congressman: The Paul camp is now passing around opposition research on Rick Santorum.

See more…

Romney Will Unveil Tax Cut Plan

Larry Kudlow: “Team Romney tells me there will be a bolder tax-cut plan released either at the debate tomorrow night (if Mitt gets it in) or more formally at his Detroit Economic Club speech on Friday. I’m embargoed from releasing details until tomorrow. But I can say that the new plan will be across-the-board with supply-side incentives from rate reduction, and that it will help small-business owners as well as everyone else.”

Santorum Leads in Washington

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Washington finds Rick Santorum leads Mitt Romney in the state’s upcoming GOP caucuses, 38% to 27%. They are followed by Ron Paul at 15% and Newt Gingrich at 12%.

Key finding: “Gingrich’s continued presence in the state is a boost to Romney. If he pulled out before Washington 59% of his supporters say they’d move to Santorum, compared to only 13% who would go to Romney.”

The caucuses will be held on March 3.

Republicans Have a Tax Problem

A new YouGov poll finds a big difference between the way Democrats and Republicans think about tax fairness — but also shows that independent voters side with Democrats.

Jonathan Bernstein: “The dilemma for Republican politicians here is clear: their primary voters are pushing them into a position on taxes which embraces a version of fairness that few outside the GOP base share. So something such as Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan can be wildly popular among Republican voters, but electoral poison in November. Repeat across enough issues, and you wind up with a Mitt Romney, backing his way into a presidential nomination of party that doesn’t really like him very much while at the same time taking positions that could hurt him in November. For Republicans, there doesn’t appear to be any easy solution.”

Will Surging Gas Prices Hurt Obama?

“Just as the recovery is finally looking real, surging fuel prices are once again looming as a major threat to the financial health of U.S. consumers and the broader economy,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“That could potentially sting President Obama’s reelection efforts as well — with Republican primary hopefuls already blaming the Democratic incumbent for higher prices at the pump.”

First Read: “The politics of gas prices are always dangerous. After all, this is something that almost every American consumer sees, and every news organization (local or national) is ready to cover it (and usually LEAD their broadcasts with it). The one silver lining for the Obama administration: Given that gas prices were at highs just last summer, were consumers already pricing this in their budgets?”

Obama’s Whopping Cash on Hand Advantage

The volatile Republican presidential primary has given President Obama an opportunity to take full advantage of an incumbent’s fundraising advantage, according to The Fix.

“Obama’s campaign had $76 million cash on hand at the end of the month; the four GOP candidates had less than $13 million combined. Even better for Obama is the fact that Romney’s opponents closed the fundraising gap significantly, which will reduce Romney’s spending advantage going forward.”

Meanwhile, The Hill notes that Mitt Romney started January “with $19.9 million on hand and ended it with $7.7 million in the bank, as expenditures were nearly triple the amount the campaign was able to raise… The pro-Romney super-PAC, Restore Our Future, which by law cannot coordinate with the campaign, also announced its January fundraising figures on Monday, taking in nearly $7 million while spending twice that amount.”

Very Close Race in Georgia

A new Insider Advantage poll in Georgia finds Newt Gingrich with a slim lead over his GOP presidential rivals at 26%, followed by Mitt Romney at 24%, Rick Santorum at 23% and Ron Paul at 12%.

The Georgia primary is on Super Tuesday March 6.

Big Week for Romney

First Read: “The next seven days until Michigan’s primary may very well be the most important of Mitt Romney’s political life. They could determine if he becomes the GOP nominee; if he does not; and if we might enter — as we’ve described it before — the political equivalent of Thunderdome, with either a ‘brokered’ or ‘contested’ convention in August. All of these things are on the line for Romney next Tuesday. And in between, he will have two big opportunities to right his campaign’s ship: 1) Wednesday night’s debate in Arizona and 2) Friday’s economic speech in Detroit.”

David Challian: “Nothing matters more for Romney than coming out on top after the votes are counted next Tuesday, but getting there will likely require a winning debate performance on Wednesday night in Arizona and a rousing economic speech in Detroit on Friday… This is the kind of week for which Romney has been spending the better part of the last six years preparing. To regain the upper hand in this nomination battle, Romney will need to turn that preparation into flawless execution.”

Romney Solidly Ahead in Arizona

A new We Ask America poll in Arizona shows Mitt Romney leading the GOP presidential primary with 37%, followed by Rick Santorum at 27%, Newt Gingrich at 15% and Ron Paul at 8%.

A new CNN/Time poll shows Romney leading Santorum by just four points, 36% to 32%, with Newt Gingrich at 18% and Ron Paul at 6%.

The Arizona primary is on February 28.

Lawmaker Chides Colleagues for Supporting Girl Scouts

In a letter to fellow Republicans, Indiana state Rep. Bob Morris (R) called the Girl Scouts a “radicalized organization” that supports abortion and promotes “homosexual lifestyles,” the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports.

Morris said he did some research on the Internet and found “allegations that the Girl Scouts are a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood, that they allow transgender females to join, ‘just like any real girl,’ and encourage sex.”

Mack’s History of Bar Brawls

As Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) gears up for a U.S. Senate bid, the Miami Herald runs a brutal piece on his problems with personal finances, his ex-wife and bar fights.

One notable incident included baseball player Ron Gant: “Gant claims a drunken Mack repeatedly bumped into him, precipitating a fight. Mack claims Gant attacked him for no reason. During the melee, Gant head-locked Mack. Mack testified that he couldn’t breath. So he starting striking and grabbing the ball player’s crotch. At a certain point, the club’s bouncers got involved and Mack broke his ankle. He sued Gant, who was held liable. But a jury awarded no damages.”

Romney Retakes Lead in Michigan

A new Mitchell/Rosetta Stone Poll in Michigan shows Mitt Romney leading Rick Santorum, 32% to 30%, with Newt Gingrich at 9% and Ron Paul at 7%. Another 22% of voters remain undecided.

Eight days ago, Santorum had a 9% lead and twelve days before that Romney led by 15% in a very volatile race.

Santorum Holds Wide Lead Nationally

Rick Santorum now holds a 10 point lead in the Gallup daily tracking poll of registered Republicans nationally.

Quote of the Day

“I’m against very wealthy ­people attempting to or influencing elections. But as long as it’s doable I’m going to do it. Because I know that guys like Soros have been doing it for years, if not decades.”

— Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, in an interview with Forbes, suggesting he might spend up to $100 million on the presidential election.

Super PACs Dominating GOP Race

New financial disclosures shows that Super PACs and other groups “dominated the race for the Republican presidential nomination last month, raising and spending tens of millions of dollars outside the traditional campaign system and playing a key role in extending an already tumultuous contest,” the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “The spending reports revealed the breadth and power of super PACs as the campaign hits a critical and perhaps decisive period, with outside groups poised to pick up a growing share of political spending during the costly primary battle that lies ahead.”

POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/21

February 21, 2012

Which Candidate is Most Charitable?

Washington Post: “President Obama and his wife, Michelle, despite having the second-lowest income of the four candidate/spouse combos, gave the highest percentage of their $1.8 million income to charity in 2010. He and Michelle gave 14.2% of their AGI, while the Romneys gave 13.8%.”

“Santorum and Newt Gingrich, by comparison, gave very little of their income to charity. Gingrich and his wife, Callista, gave 2.6% of their $3.2 million income in 2010. Santorum and wife Karen, who made the least in 2010 (less than $1 million), also gave the lowest percentage of their income to charity, at 1.8%.”

Paul Caron has charts detailing their charitable contributions,

 

Santorum Way Ahead in Oklahoma

A new Tulsa World poll in Oklahoma finds Rick Santorum leading the GOP presidential race with 39%, followed by Mitt Romney at 23%, Newt Gingrich at 18% and Ron Paul at 13%.

The Oklahoma primary is on March 6.

 

Romney Holds Small Lead in Arizona

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Arizona finds Mitt Romney leading Rick Santorum, 36% to 33%, followed by Newt Gingrich at 16% and Ron Paul at 9%.

Key finding: “One thing to keep an eye on over the next week is whether Newt Gingrich can hold his support. 16% is pretty good for him compared to what we’re finding other places right now, but only 46% of his voters say they’re solidly committed to him. 40% of his supporters say that Santorum is their second choice, compared to only 25% for Romney. If Gingrich’s supporters see he’s not viable and decide to jump ship the race could get even closer.”

 

Dead Heat in Michigan

A new We Ask America poll in Michigan finds Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum tied in the GOP presidential race at 29% each. They are followed by Ron Paul at 12% and Newt Gingrich at 10%.

 

Santorum’s Social Issues Box

The Hill notes that Rick Santorum has been “unable or unwilling to escape controversies over social issues” amid his rising prospects in the Republican presidential nomination race.

“Santorum’s response – welcoming the line of questions – reveals a side of the senator’s personality that is unwilling to shy away from topics that other national politicians fear would alienate centrist swing voters… There’s logic to Santorum’s penchant for delving into such controversies. Doing so has established his bona fides with conservative voters, signaling that he is willing to stand up for core beliefs and principles even when they’re unpopular. Relative to Mitt Romney – who has struggled to shed the image of an opportunist willing to shift his positions to suit the popular mood – that sort of conviction has proven attractive to GOP primary voters.”

 

Same Old Redistricting Game

John Avlon looks at the latest round of gerrymandering and notes “the weasel-y-ness is worse than ever, with outrages and embarrassments covered mostly by local media.”

“Legislators from both parties will continue to get away with the maximum amount of self-dealing and self-interest they can get away with – unless they feel it is no longer in their self-interest because of citizen pressure. That’s why these local tales of rigging the system of redistricting should matter to you, no matter what state you live in.”

 

Obama’s Hard Edge

The New York Times profiles White House political adviser David Plouffe.

“Fiercely data-driven, Mr. Plouffe revels in the company of spreadsheets, lists, maps and the Baseball Almanac. Fiercely competitive, he once decked a colleague in a friendly touch football game for taunting him. Fiercely unsentimental, he expends zero amazement over his career climb from selling knives door to door to a first-among-equals status in the White House’s closed circle.”

“People inside Mr. Obama’s political apparatus say Mr. Plouffe is most in tune with the President’s thinking in terms of his unsparing focus on the middle class and his abandonment of the bipartisan bridge-building efforts that have mostly failed through his first term… Mr. Plouffe approaches campaigns with a tribal sense of good-vs.-evil, rarely seeing much humanity in opponents.”

Romney’s Last Argument

Walter Shapiro: “The Mitt Romney crisis transcends the seven straight national polls showing Rick Santorum in the lead. It goes beyond the embarrassing reality that the son of an auto executive and two-term governor has been behind in every Michigan poll conducted since Groundhog’s Day. Even more devastating for Romney is that elite Republicans have begun to conclude that he cannot, if nominated, beat Barack Obama. About the only argument that still works for Romney among GOP insiders is that he would be less of a drag on the ticket than the strident Santorum or the mercurial Newt Gingrich.”

“With the exception of Mike Dukakis (what is it about governors of Massachusetts?), it is impossible to recall a top-tier presidential contender who aroused such little passion among the voters.”

 

Santorum Holds Huge Lead in Texas

A new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll shows Rick Santorum has a commanding lead in the Republican presidential race with 45%, followed by Newt Gingrich at 18%, Mitt Romney at 16% and Ron Paul at 14%.

Texas still doesn’t have all of its congressional and legislative maps in place so May 29 appears to be the earliest possible primary date.

 

Michigan Primary Tightens

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Michigan shows Rick Santorum leading Mitt Romney by just four points in the GOP presidential race, 37% to 33%, followed by Ron Paul at 15% and Newt Gingrich at 10%.

Key finding: “The tightening over the last week is much more a function of Romney gaining than Santorum falling. Santorum’s favorability spread of 67/23 has seen no change since our last poll, and his share of the vote has dropped only 2 points from 39% to 37%. Romney meanwhile has seen his net favorability improve 10 points from +10 (49/39) to +20 (55/35) and his vote share go from 24% to 33%.”

 

Trump Hits Airwaves for Romney

With just over a week to go before the Michigan primary, ABC News reports Mitt Romney “is enlisting the help of one of his highest-wattage surrogates: Donald Trump.”

“The real estate mogul is preparing to spread his pro-Romney, anti-Rick Santorum message in a series of radio interviews this week on local stations from Traverse City to Detroit.”

 

Gingrich Admits He Must Win Georgia

Newt Gingrich conceded that losing his home state of Georgia in the Super Tuesday primaries on March 6 would “badly” weaken his candidacy, CNN reports.

However, Gingrich stopped short of saying he would drop out if he fails to win Georgia.

Said Gingrich: “Given the chaos of this race, I’m not willing to say anything. I think it’s extraordinarily important to win your home state.”