POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/7
Jon Huntsman told the Salt Lake Tribune he’s ruling out another political bid this year but is leaving open the possibility of a future run.
In his first public comments since abandoning his presidential race, Huntsman said that he “plans to serve on some corporation boards, do some volunteer work and go on a speaker circuit as well as possibly taking some yet-to-be-named news media gig. But, for now, he’s taking a break from the political scene.”
Disgraced superlobbyist Jack Abramoff said that “he knows of still more skeletons that are buried on Capitol Hill, but he’s not saying where,” the New York Times reports.
Said Abramoff: “I can’t be the agent of causing someone to go to prison. Prison was horrible.”
Abramoff is promoting his memoir, Capitol Punishment, “along with his story of personal redemption and his newfound view of what he now calls a culture of ‘legalized bribery’ in Washington.”
The Hill reports that Mitt Romney is turning his campaign’s firepower away from Newt Gingrich for the time being — after a brutally successful takedown in Florida — instead turning his attention to Rick Santorum, who may be emerging as the larger threat to Romney’s chances at the Republican presidential nomination.
“Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), a top Romney surrogate, will attack Santorum by way of a noon conference call for his history of supporting earmarks… The campaign also emailed ‘a summary of Santorum’s false attacks on Massachusetts healthcare’ that provides a laundry list of nonpartisan fact-checking websites’ analysis on some of Santorum’s statements.”
Despite having $424,000 in unused campaign donations from her failed 2010 U.S. Senate bid, Christine O’Donnell’s (R) “fledgling political organization could soon go broke,” theWilmington News Journal reports.
“She has nearly exhausted her leftover funds, has reportedly had lackluster book sales and is being sued by a longtime supporter who claims she’s trying to stiff him out of pay for political consulting and legal research. Her political action committee, ChristinePAC, and Senate campaign had a combined $36,100 left in the bank at the end of 2011.”
Just 3,000 copies of O’Donnell’s book, Troublemaker, have sold since its release in August including those copied purchased by her PAC for $19,912.
Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) reposted an article from The Onion which satirically claimed that Planned Parenthood had announced the opening “of its long-planned $8 billion Abortionplex.”
An image of the post was captured by Literally Unbelievable, which tracks Facebook users who think Onion articles are real. The original post has since been deleted.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said that he tries to keep a good relationship with President Obama so that he can have “an influence” with the president, the Oklahoman reports.
Said Coburn: “You have no idea the tough conversations I’ve had with him and my disagreements. Nobody votes against him more than I do.”
He added: “The point is I can chastise him for that and create a wall where I can’t talk to him or I can say, ‘Can you explain to me what you’re thinking on this?’ I can still disagree with him and I disagree with him without hating him.”
Washington Post: “More than a third of the advertising tied to the presidential race has been funded by nonprofit groups that will never have to reveal their donors, suggesting that a significant portion of the 2012 elections will be wrapped in a vast cloak of secrecy.”
These groups are not Super PACs. They are “politically minded nonprofit groups are under no obligation to disclose the corporations, unions or wealthy tycoons bankrolling their advertising, much of which is almost indistinguishable from regular political ads run by campaigns.”
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow told the Golf Channel that he might run for public office someday.
Said Tebow: “For me, it could be something in my future. It’s something I’ll have to think about and definitely pray about. I have no idea right now, but yeah, possibly.”
The Washington Post reports that Newt Gingrich’s campaign has made substantial progress on paying off its debt from the early days of the campaign, but remains in the red to the tune of $600,000.
“By early fall, Gingrich had already racked up serious debts with lavish spending on private jets and luxury hotels, but at the time was largely dismissed as an unlikely Republican nominee for president… As Gingrich’s poll numbers have risen, so has his fundraising. While he raised just $800,000 in the third quarter of 2011, he brought in $9.8 million in the fourth quarter, according to records. His campaign has reported that he raised $5.5 million in January.”
Donald Trump told Fox News that his endorsement was key to Mitt Romney’s big victory in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.
Said Trump: “There was a lot riding on that particular race in Nevada and it was interesting, because the numbers were much, much greater than you thought. And a lot of people are giving me credit for that. And I will accept that credit.”
He added: “There was a lot of confusion as to who I was going to endorse, and frankly, that made things more exciting.”
(I’M SURE IT’S NEVER OCCURRED TO HIM THAT WHEN HE WALKS IN A ROOM THERE IMMEDIATELY ARE MORE RECTAL ORIFICES THAN RECTUMS – FVM)
New York Times: “No matter what happens on Election Day in November, when Mr. Obama wakes up the next morning, he will no longer be the future of his party. If he loses, attention will immediately turn to which Democrat might be able to pick up the pieces from the deep disappointment of his one term. If he wins, the party will begin turning to who might be able to accomplish the difficult task of winning a third straight term for one party. Already, the jockeying for 2016 has begun.”
Las Vegas Sun: “In the casinos, they call it going bust. After months of reassurance that they could play with the big boys despite a trail of mishaps, the Nevada GOP played all of its cards Saturday and lost big time in a messy, disorganized election that saw low turnout and complaints of voter fraud and unexplained ballots.”
“But the biggest tell that the volunteer-run caucuses didn’t go as planned was that more than 24 hours after voters finished casting their ballots, no one officially knew who had won.”
The Washington Post maps out Newt Gingrich’s strategy to stay in the GOP presidential race.
“He will focus heavily on upcoming contests in Southern states, where he expects his Georgia roots and conservative rhetoric to play well. And he will step up his attacks on his leading rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, for being too liberal to take on President Obama in the fall.”
But Politico says Gingrich “is starting to look a lot like Mike Huckabee. Running a seat-of-his-pants campaign that was short on cash but long on one-liners, the former Baptist preacher enjoyed early 2008 success, hit a rough patch and then had what turned out to be a meaningless rebound when the race turned to his native South.”
Despite several convincing early wins for Mitt Romney and his remaining challengers flailing, Rick Klein notes the Republican presidential race is far from over.
“But this is where delegate math is not Romney’s friend, not this year. The proportional allocation of delegates — as opposed to the winner-take-all format that dominated previous cycles — combines with a back-loaded calendar to leave virtually no chance for Romney to end the race quickly, unless his rivals cooperate.”
“As of today, only 143 delegates have been awarded — barely 6% of the full complement of 2,286 who will be selected to cast ballots at the Republican National Convention. Fewer than 200 additional delegates are up for grabs through the remainder of February.”
Chrysler “courted controversy and won kudos for a two-minute Super Bowl advertisement that was less a car sales pitch than a political message in a presidential election year,”Reuters reports.
“Rugged Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood proclaimed it was ‘Halftime in America‘ in the spot that did not mention a Chrysler car or truck but intoned that the automaker’s successful turnaround could be used as an example for the United States as it struggles with high unemployment and a slow economic growth rate.”
Mitt Romney answered his last question from a voter three weeks ago, the Washington Post reports.
“Out are 55-minute town hall meetings. In are 15-minute stump speeches at buffed-up rallies. There are rope lines and hot lights, giant flags and Secret Service agents with wires in their ears. The objective: appear presidential, avoid gaffes and convince Republicans that they have no reasonable option left but to rally around Romney’s winning candidacy.”
“He has pivoted from a retail campaign based on convincing people at his events that he has a command of the issues to a made-for-television spectacle where the people are simply props helping project an aura of momentum and inevitability to a national audience.”
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) “appears to have been paid twice for flights between Washington, D.C., and his Congressional district, receiving reimbursement from taxpayers and also from a network of political and nonprofit organizations he controlled,” Roll Call reports.
Paul was reimbursed twice for the same trip at least eight times and there were “dozens more instances of duplicate payments for travel from 1999 to 2009, totaling thousands of dollars’ worth of excess payments, but the evidence in those cases is not as complete.”
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds Mitt Romney has solidified his position for the Republican nomination and now leads Newt Gingrich by a substantial margin, 39% to 23% but he’s lost ground in a general election match up with President Obama and now trails 51% to 45%.
“Two chief factors are at play. One is the economy’s gradual but unmistakable improvement… The president’s approval rating on handling the economy, while just 44 percent, is its best in 13 months… The other: questions focused on Romney’s wealth, his low tax burden and, relatedly, his ability to connect with average Americans. Notably, 52% in this poll say the more they hear about Romney the less they like him — double the number who like him more.”
Key findings: 50% of Americans approve of Obama’s job performance and 50% say he deserves re-election, better than Bill Clinton at the start of his re-election year and as good as George W. Bush a month before he won a second term.
It’s the time of year again for budgets, as President Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, prepare to release dueling budget proposals that will frame the election year political battlefield, The Hill reports.
“One year later, Ryan is showing he can adjust after taking a punch, which would be a good thing, as the president is going to present his fiscal 2013 budget next Monday… The Wisconsin Republican has partnered with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) on a new proposal that could inoculate Republicans from last year’s political hits. The Ryan-Wyden approach on Medicare closely resembles GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney’s proposal. Including it in the House budget would align congressional Republicans with their likely standard-bearer in 2012.”
“The move would also give politically vulnerable GOP members more cover going into the elections. House Democrats, aware of the change in the political dynamic, have privately grumbled over Wyden’s decision to partner with Ryan… Passing the non-binding budget measure is a must for House Republicans, who have ripped Senate Democrats for not passing a budget resolution in more than 1,000 days.”
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