POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/9

Huckabee Begins Radio Show

Mike Huckabee will be hosting a radio show weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. for Cumulus Media Networks starting April 2, the New York Times reports.

When asked if he would contemplate a presidential bid again, he said the show was “an opportunity to comment on issues that are of great importance to me and, I think, the country… If, a few years down the road, I see an opening, I don’t rule it out, but I’m not plotting a political return either.”

Huckabee will continue his weekend talk show on Fox News as well as the short radio commentaries that Cumulus already distributes each day.

Banks Near Deal to Settle Foreclosure Probe

“Government officials are on the verge of an agreement worth as much as $25 billion with five major banks, capping a yearlong push to settle federal and state probes of alleged foreclosure abuses by lenders,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The deal would represent the largest government-industry settlement since a mammoth, multistate deal with the tobacco industry in 1998.”

The Other Big Loser Tues. Night

When former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the GOP presidential race andendorsed Mitt Romney, many assumed he’d be on the short list for vice president if Romney won. Not after Tuesday night.

John Miller: “His endorsement delivered nothing. Romney finished third in Minnesota — a distant third, no less. So if Romney wins the nomination, will anybody say that choosing Pawlenty for veep will turn Minnesota from Democratic blue to Republican red? Not after what just happened.”

Limbaugh Warns GOP Establishment

Rush Limbaugh warned the “insulated” Republican establishment that conservative voters sent them a message.

Said Limbaugh: “They’re doing it because they genuinely have a problem with Romney. And they’re doing it because in Santorum’s case, as I’ve been saying the past couple of weeks, if you’re looking for a conservative who is the least corrupted, who has the least number of periods of wandering off the reservation, if you’re looking for a conservative who’s never sat down with Nancy Pelosi on the couch for any reason, you get Rick Santorum. And people know this. There may be some protest votes in this, but the establishment had better wake up and understand that Republican primary voters are doing this not just to stick a finger in the eye of the establishment, not just to be frivolous here. They’re sending a message. They think Santorum can win.”

Congressional Approval Sinks Even Lower

A new Gallup Poll finds a record-low 10% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, down from the previous low of 11% set in December 2011.

“It is difficult to pinpoint any specific recent actions that may have led to the continuing deterioration in Congress’ image, particularly because much of the political attention in January and early February has focused on the Republican presidential race. Congress at this point is again wrangling over the extension of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits — both of which were temporarily extended late last year in a short-term fix that expires at the end of February. It is notable that President Obama has continued to make criticism of Congress a part of his broad presidential re-election strategy.”

Untraceable Political Contributions

“Six of the top 10 super PACs active in the 2012 elections have received money from untraceable sources, including nonprofits and shell corporations,” Roll Call reports.

“A third source of untraceable donations was money transfers from one super PAC to another… in cases where the super PAC making the contribution had itself received funding from one or more nonprofits.”

Trump Confused About Santorum

Donald Trump, who claimed his endorsement gave Mitt Romney victory in Nevada, toldCNN he was perplexed about Rick Santorum.

Said Trump: “Rick Santorum was a sitting senator who in re-election lost by 19 points, to my knowledge the most in the history of this country for a sitting senator to lose by 19 points. It’s unheard of. Then he goes out and says oh ‘okay’ I just lost by the biggest margin in history and now I’m going to run for president. Tell me, how does that work? … That’s like me saying I just failed a test. Now I’m going to apply for admission to the Wharton School of Finance. Okay? He just failed a test…. And now he’s going to run for president. So, I don’t get Rick Santorum. I don’t get that whole thing.”

See more…

Random People Preferred Over Current Congress

A new Rasmussen survey of likely voters shows that 43% believe a group of people randomly selected from the phone book would do a better job than the current Congress, while 38% disagree with that assessment and another 19% are not sure.

The Culture War is Back

First Read: “You know the economy must be improving when cultural and social issues come roaring back into the national spotlight. Just days after the unemployment rate decreased to 8.3%, we’ve seen a raging debate over funding to Planned Parenthood, a skirmish between the Obama administration and Catholic Church over contraception, and now the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that California’s Prop. 8 — which outlawed gay marriage in the state — is unconstitutional. As we’ve said before, the economy will likely remain the top story in November’s general election. But events overseas, as well as inside this country, can change the issue matrix in the blink of an eye.”

Brad Phillips says the issue of religious freedom in particular is a dangerous one for President Obama because he “is already viewed by millions with skepticism over his own religious faith” and the “most dangerous moments for politicians are often the ones that reinforce a widely-held narrative.”

A Long Race Ahead?

Nate Silver: “These are not the hallmarks of a race with a dominant candidate. Nor, even, of a race with a candidate like John Kerry, the best of a somewhat weak lot of Democrats in 2004, but one whom the party settled upon fairly quickly. Instead, this race bears more resemblance to something like the 1984 Democratic contest or the 1976 Republican race. There was a favorite in each of those contests — Walter Mondale in 1984 and Gerald Ford in 1976 — and they were ahead in the delegate count more or less from start to finish. But both contests progressed through all 50 states and were not that far from going to the convention.”

270 to Win

Special one day sale: 270 to Win for your iPad.

Republican Enthusiasm Gap is Real

The weak voter turnout in most of the Republican presidential contests most likely reflects an enthusiasm gap for Republicans that is confirmed in recent DailyKos/Public Policy Polling survey.

The poll finds that 58% of Democrats were “very excited” about voting in this year’s election, as compared to 54% of Republicans. Six months ago, enthusiasm tilted towards Republicans, 54% to 48%.

“Generally you would expect voters to get more excited as the election gets nearer. That trend is occurring on the Democratic side, but not for the GOP.”

Santorum Heads to Michigan

Rick Santorum told Morning Joe he will “plant his flag” in Michigan in an attempt to upend Mitt Romney as supposed GOP frontrunner.

First Read: “On paper, this may seem like an odd decision, but Santorum is banking on: 1) that his blue collar conservative message has a better chance of resonating in Michigan than Arizona; and 2) that he can actually win some delegates in Michigan since Arizona is winner-take-all and second place gets you squat. That said, Romney has two built in advantages in both states. In Arizona, it’s the large Mormon vote. In Michigan, it’s the fact that his father was governor and he is a favorite son of sorts. Santorum’s gambling that it’s easier to potentially shock Romney in a virtual home state than contend with Romney’s strength in the Mormon community.”

The Michigan primary is on February 28.

Kasich Gives Bizarre Speech

Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s (R) second State of the State speech “was rambling and at times bizarre,” the Cincinnati Enquirerreports.

“Among his head-jerking references, Kasich told the first three winners of a newly-created state courage award not to sell the medals on eBay; pointed out his ‘hot wife;’ and imitated someone with Parkinson’s disease when he talked about ‘deep brain massage.'”

“Kasich, as usual, did not write out his speech and used no teleprompter. He spoke from pieces of paper and offered frequent shout-outs to legislators… It reveals Kasich’s style — often impromptu, surprising, and from the heart. He teared up at several points in the speech, including once when he declared that Ohio needed to stop human trafficking.”

Virginia Senate Race a Persistent Tossup

The latest Quinnipiac poll in Virginia finds George Allen (R) and Tim Kaine (D) hopelessly deadlocked in the race for Senate, with Kaine leading by an insignificant 45% to 44%.

Of the five polls that Quinnipiac has released on this contest since June 2011, only one has shown either candidate leading by more than one percentage point.

Lose, Regroup, Repeat

After Mitt Romney lost his lead in the South Carolina primary almost overnight, his campaign regrouped and used relentless attacks against Newt Gingrich to win in Florida. Now, with Rick Santorum surprising everyone with his victories in Missouri, Minnesotta, and Colorado, the Romney team is likely to repeat the same tactics.

Amy Walter: “Look for Romney and the pro-Romney Super PAC to start to reload and regroup in Arizona and Michigan – the next two major contests on the docket on Feb 28. Romney is hoping his money and organizational muscle will pull him through in these states, much like money and organization helped him win Florida.”

First Read: “If anything has summed up this GOP nominating race so far, it’s the tale of the on-again, off-again front-runner Mitt Romney. The rivals, contests, and events might change, but this storyline has been pretty consistent over the past several months: Just when it looks like Romney is about to pull away with the nomination, he comes back down to earth.”

Gingrich Storyline Collapses

John Avlon says that Newt Gingrich’s narrative of a two-man race collapsed under Rick Santorum’s trifecta win last night.

“Because right now, angry and almost broke, Newt is no longer the leading candidate to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. That man is Rick Santorum. And what makes Gingrich especially grumpy is that the man he is losing to was once just a pimply backbencher in the 1994 Republican Revolution… So for now Newt is left broke and unloved, facing the long road ahead with a raised fist. There probably will be better days ahead — Super Tuesday offers southern states, and Newt has already proven his ability to rise from the political dead. But Rick Santorum just had his best night of the campaign. For all his faults, he has none of the personal baggage of Newt that might offend the faithful.”

Obama Takes Back Lead in Virginia

A new Quinnipiac poll in Virginia shows President Obama pulling ahead of Mitt Romney in a general election match up, 47% to 43%. In late December, Romney was ahead by two points, 44% to 42%.

Obama also leads Rick Santorum 49% to 41%, tops Ron Paul 47% to 40%, and crushes Newt Gingrich 51% to 37%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “The keys are the president’s improved standing among independent voters and women in the Old Dominion.”

(Ya think the Republic overreaching in the Gen. Assy. may have something to do with that?)

 

Santorum Sweeps

“His candidacy all but dismissed just days ago, Rick Santorum won the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses and a nonbinding primary in Missouri on Tuesday, an unexpected trifecta that raised fresh questions about Mitt Romney’s ability to corral conservative support,” the New York Times reports.

“The results on Tuesday shook the political world, which appeared to once again make the mistake of believing the Republican race for the presidency was finally set on a stable trajectory.”

Craig Crawford: “It was such a bad night for Mitt Romney that getting glitter bombed again was the best part. Rick Santorum humiliated the supposed frontrunner in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. Every time Romney starts winning, voters rebel in the next states.”

Nate Silver: “Whatever your perspective on how likely Mitt Romney was to lose the Republican nomination race prior to Tuesday evening, it should be acknowledged that he had about the worst results conceivable.”

Obama Gets Lucky

Dana Millbank says President Obama just might be the luckiest man alive.

“At the last possible moment to save his reelection, the economy is beginning to hum, as evidenced by Friday’s jobs report. And Obama’s Republican opponents are shaping up to be as formidable as, well, marshmallows. While Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are making each other unelectable, the president is singing Al Green, congratulating Super Bowl winners, playing with science projects, raising obscene amounts of campaign cash and watching his poll numbers soar.”

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