POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/10

Santorum Leads in Pennsylvania

A new Tribune-Review/WPXI-TV poll in Pennsylvania finds Rick Santorum’s support has more than doubled in his home state from 14% six weeks ago to 30% putting him just ahead of Mitt Romney.

Santorum leads with 30%, followed by Romney at 29% and Newt Gingrich at 13%. The survey was taken before Santorum’s big wins earlier this week.

The Pennsylvania primary isn’t until April 24.

Santorum Unloads on Romney

Rick Santorum “launched a full-throated attack on front-runner Mitt Romney” saying he “has been about serially tearing down opponents without offering any kind of vision for what he wants to do for this country,” National Journal reports.

He added: “This is the gotcha politics of Mitt Romney. He’s not interested in talking about the issues.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I love the fact that Sheldon put in about $10 million with Gingrich and I put in a lot less with Rick. I like to say I’m an investor and Sheldon is a casino guy.”

— Santorum Super PAC financier Foster Freiss, in an interview on Bloomberg TV, poking fun at Gingrich Super PAC backer Sheldon Adelson.

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Could Romney Be Denied the Nomination?

Philip Klein says that it’s “conceivable to craft the following general scenario: Romney wins states in the west and northeast, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum combine to dominate the south, Midwest and Appalachia, and Ron Paul siphons off a chunk of delegates. If such a scenario plays out, it’s possible to see how Romney could have problems getting over the top, even if analysts are broadly correct that his money and organization give him the edge.”

In fact, “if Romney were to win all of the delegates in all of the states that I identified above as solid or lean states, it would only get him to 1,008 delegates, according to the CNNcalculator — still short of the required 1,144.”

Stop Colbert

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put out a video urging Americans to rise up against Stephen Colbert to pass a law to get unlimited, secret donations out of politics.

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Giffords Aide Will Run in Special Election

Ron Barber (D), who has served as the district director for former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) and was shot twice in same shooting that wounded the congresswoman, will enter the race to finish out her term, Tucson Weekly reports.

Barber “is thought to be offering himself up as a caretaker for the remainder of Giffords’ term,” but multiple sources say he will not run in the November election.

However, sources tell First Read that Barber is not necessarily a caretaker, that he’s considering running for a full term if he wins the special.

Quote of the Day

“There is not exactly Romney-mania right now.”

— Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), quoted by Politico, point out that Romney must shore up his weaknesses with the GOP base.

House Retirements Slight Plus for Republicans

Kyle Kondik: “Ultimately, the retirements so far have hit Democrats a little bit harder than Republicans; Team Blue is weakened in a handful of districts where the exit of predominately conservative members boosts Republican chances. Republican retirements do also open a few opportunities for Democrats, though those opportunities aren’t quite as obvious. So far, the overall effect of these House retirements could help Republicans net a few open seats next November. That could be decisive if there is a very close race for the House, but it’s also not a huge, added advantage for the GOP. Nor are those potential gains anywhere near guaranteed.”

Three Week Lull

ABC News: “The next big GOP primaries won’t come until Feb. 28, when Arizona and Michigan take to the polls, leaving little to talk about in the way of GOP vote results, except drawn out caucuses in the small states of Maine and Wyoming.”

Also on the calendar: Republicans will next debate in Arizona on Feb. 22.

Romney Ahead in Michigan

A new Mitchell Research poll in Michigan finds Mitt Romney comfortably ahead in one of his “home” states with 31%, followed by Newt Gingrich at 16%, Rick Santorum at 15% and Ron Paul at 15%.

However, the poll was conducted before Romney lost contests in three states earlier this week.

Obama’s Legacy Depends on Re-Election

James Fallows: “If Barack Obama loses this fall, he will forever seem a disappointment: a symbolically important but accidental figure who raised hopes he could not fulfill and met difficulties he did not know how to surmount. He meant to show the unity of America but only underscored its division. As a candidate, he symbolized transformation; in office, he applied incrementalism and demonstrated the limits of change. His most important achievement, helping forestall a second Great Depression, will be taken for granted or discounted in the dismay about the economic problems he did not solve. His main legislative accomplishment, the health-care bill, may well be overturned; his effect on America’s international standing will pass; his talk about bridging the partisan divide will seem one more sign of his fatal naïveté.”

“If he is reelected, he will have a chance to solidify what he has accomplished and, more important, build on what he has learned. All of this is additional motivation, as if he needed any, for him to drive for reelection; none of it makes him any more palatable to those who oppose him and his goals.”

Romney Plans Big Economic Speech

Mitt Romney “is now set to deliver an economic speech at Ford Field — where the Detroit Lions play — on Feb. 24,” First Read reports.

“You don’t create a setting like that unless you have something new to say. Don’t be surprised if this economic speech is used to make a better sale with conservative voters.”

Romney’s Big Test

John Podhoretz: “It is still the case that Romney will almost certainly be the GOP nominee. The structure of the party’s process — with most delegates awarded proportionally — really does favor organization and long-term viability over momentary spasms of victory. But if Romney handles the next six weeks badly, he’ll do himself a great deal of damage on the way to accepting the nomination. And it’s not beyond imagining he could cause so much harm to himself that someone else will limp into the nomination.”

Edwards Still Spending Despite Owing $2.1 Million

John Edwards “owes taxpayers more than $2.1 million in public matching funds improperly received after he dropped his 2008 run for the White House, yet disclosure reports show his failed campaign is still spending freely,” the AP reports.

“Edwards’ hopes for the Democratic presidential nomination imploded in a sex scandal four years ago that left him facing criminal charges. But reports filed last week show his 2008 primary campaign spent $836,712 in 2011 on airfare, hotel rooms, cell phones and other expenses.”

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