POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/14

Is Mitt Romney a Serial Liar?

Leonard Steinhorn: “Yes, politicians might fudge a statistic, mitigate a failure, embellish a story, or take a little extra credit for success, and because of that most pundits and journalists have folded Romney’s lies and misrepresentations into the big tent of exaggerated political rhetoric that reporters now take for granted even if they roll their eyes when hearing it. No big deal, we’re led to believe.”

“But Romney is different from the others. He seems to make claims that he knows are not true. This is a very smart man, a maven for details and a stickler for precision known for his data-driven business decisions, yet he looks us in the eyes and makes statements and claims that he knows to be misleading or false.”

 

Romney Super PAC Buys Time in Michigan

Mitt Romney “is getting some heavy air support in Michigan — the state where he was born and raised — as the ‘super PAC’ supporting him invests almost $500,000 on television ads there,” the New York Times reports.

Interestingly, the first ad targets Newt Gingrich and not Rick Santorum, who is leading intwo Michigan polls released earlier today.

 

Gay Marriage Signed Into Law in Washington

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) signed landmark legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington state, the Seattle Times reports.

“The historic event brings Washington in line with six other states and the District of Columbia, which allow gays to marry.”

“Opponents of same-sex marriage intended to quickly file a referendum aimed at repealing the law, and if they are able to collect enough valid signatures — 120,577 — between now and June 6, the law will be put on hold until the November election.”

 

Is Another Debt Ceiling Fight Coming?

A top congressional aide tells Huffington Post a “nightmare scenario” — where the federal government could wind up hitting the debt ceiling at the height of the presidential campaign — is definitely possible.

“The Treasury Department is now contemplating the prospect of invoking “extraordinary measures” to keep the government funded through November. Barring a major economic shock — a financial meltdown in Europe, for instance — the emergency measures should be enough to get the federal government past the election. But even under a rosy scenario, the next Congress will be forced to raise the debt ceiling as one of its first orders of business in 2013, if the lame duck outgoing body doesn’t do it. And if the Treasury does have to invoke ‘extraordinary measures’ before the election, it’s easy to imagine a re-run of last year’s political circus, magnified many times over.”

 

Independents Abandoning Romney

Greg Sargent flags a striking finding in the new Pew Research poll:

In November, Mitt Romney was beating President Obama among independent voters, 53% to 41%. Now those numbers are upside down: Obama tops Romney among them, 51% to 42%. That’s a net 19 point swing of independents in Obama’s direction in three months.

 

Romney and Santorum Very Close Nationally

The Gallup daily tracking poll shows Mitt Romney just edging Rick Santorum for the lead among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationally, 32% to 30%, with Newt Gingrich back at 16% and Ron Paul at just 8%.

A new Pew Research survey has Santorum just ahead of Romney, 30% to 28%, with Gingrich at 17% and Paul at 12%.

 

The Other “Severely Conservative” Politician

When Mitt Romney called himself a “severely conservative” governor in a speech last week, it struck many as an odd phrase.

In fact, a Nexis search finds only one other politician has used the term. Thomas Kurdy, a candidate for school board in Lewiston, Idaho in 2001 described himself to the Lewiston Morning Tribune as not only “severely conservative” but “a little to the right of G. Gordon Liddy.”

Meanwhile, Ryan Lizza finds nine other things that have been labeled “severely conservative.”

 

Quote of the Day

“We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate.”

— Grover Norquist, quoted by David Frum, making the case that Mitt Romney would be an acceptable Republican nominee.

 

What’s Up with Republican Caucuses?

First Read: “First was the controversy over the Iowa results — with the state party saying that Romney came out on top only to later reverse course and declare Santorum the winner. Next was Nevada, which held its caucuses at different times and with one special caucus site forcing participants to sign a legal declaration under the penalty of perjury that they couldn’t attend earlier caucuses because of their religious beliefs. And then on Saturday, one Maine county (Washington County) postponed its caucus — due to snow — until Feb. 18, which allowed the Paul campaign to cry foul and make the case it could have won if there hadn’t been a postponement.”

 

Romney Has Close Ties to Lobbyists

New York Times: “They have hosted fund-raisers and raised millions of dollars for his campaign. They employed some of his top operatives after his first White House run, helped create the platform for his second bid and have deployed regularly to attack his Republican rivals on the campaign trail. For a candidate running against the entrenched interests of Washington, Mitt Romney keeps an awful lot of lobbyists around.”

 

When Romney Praised ObamaCare

BuzzFeed digs up a March 2010 interview Mitt Romney did with the Emory University student run newspaper The Emory Wheel where he praised President Obama for the similarities between ObamaCare and RomneyCare.

Though he now runs away from comparisons, Romney said less than two years ago that the “best features” of the President’s plan were those similar to RomneyCare, including the “individual responsibility for getting insurance,” commonly referred to as the individual mandate.

 

Santorum Leads in Michigan

A new American Research Group survey in Michigan shows Rick Santorum leading the GOP primary field with 33%, followed by Mitt Romney at 27%, Newt Gingrich at 21% and Ron Paul at 12%.

Public Policy Polling survey finds Santorum with a huge lead over Romney, 39% to 24%, followed by Paul at 12% and Gingrich at 11%.

“Santorum’s rise is attributable to two major factors: his own personal popularity (a stellar 67/23 favorability) and GOP voters increasingly souring on Gingrich. Santorum’s becoming something closer and closer to a consensus conservative candidate as Gingrich bleeds support.”

 

Romney’s Excitement Deficit

Frank Bruni: “It’s hard to find a single Republican, including those most solidly behind him, who demonstrates true passion for him or can do even a persuasive pantomime of it. They call him effective, not inspirational. They praise his competence, not his charisma. He doesn’t exert any sort of gravitational pull on his party. There’s no full swoon.”

“Almost all of the presidents elected over recent decades have been propelled by pockets of intense enthusiasm, which can paper over so many specific political predicaments and eclipse tensions with the base. They were saviors before they were disappointments, not disappointments right out of the gate. And almost all of them had something solid — a resonant personal story or an outsize personality or a bold vision — for admirers to latch onto. Romney wafts through a voter’s fingers, a puff of presidential-looking air.”

 

Obama to Fight for Arizona

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina rallied local volunteers in Arizona over the weekend by assuring them that Obama intends to compete in Arizona, according to theArizona Republic.

Said Messina: “People said last time, ‘Oh, you can’t win Virginia,’ until we did. ‘You can’t win Florida,’ until we did. ‘You can never win North Carolina,’ until we did. And so a whole bunch of people are saying, ‘Can he win Arizona? Can he not win Arizona?’ The fact is you all are the secret weapon we have.”

The campaign will soon have four offices in the state.

 

Santorum to Visit Washington as Gay Marriage Law Signed

“Washington will become a flash point in the nation’s culture wars on Monday, as Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum brings his socially conservative message to the state on the same day Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign a bill legalizing gay marriage,” the Seattle Times reports.

“A darling among social conservatives — and a villain to gay-rights supporters — Santorum has said that gay marriage undermines society and families.”

Washington holds its caucuses on March 3.

 

Republican Race Enters Next Phase

The Republican presidential nomination remains up for grabs as the candidates transition to the national phase of the primaries, notes The Fix. “While the first month-plus of the GOP contest has been handled mostly one state at a time and has been dominated by some of the smaller states in the union, the next phase brings the race into bigger states holding their contests on the same day as one another.”

“The next two contests in the race — the Arizona and Michigan primaries Feb. 28 — will be followed a week later by Super Tuesday, in which 10 states will vote. While the first two months of the campaign divvied up about 250 delegates, that week alone will shell out about 500… We’re getting to the point in the race where national polling matters more and more, because the next stretch of the campaign will be fought in basically one-quarter of the country.”

First Read: “Looking ahead in the GOP primary race, there will be 18 different contests over a 15-day period. And here’s a good way to score their outcome: If Romney isn’t the guy with the most combined delegates, then we may very well be headed for a brokered convention.”

 

Romney’s Congressional Support

The Hill reports that “Supporters of Mitt Romney on Capitol Hill are second-guessing his campaign strategy” after Rick Santorum won three surprise primary victories and took a jump in the national polls.

“Romney’s campaign has spun last Tuesday’s losses as an incidental bump in the road to the nomination. But some of his staunchest backers in Congress worry he may have given former Sen. Santorum a crucial opening… Some Romney backers in Congress worry the media splash Santorum made this week will help him build up momentum that could be tough to squelch by the date of the Michigan and Arizona primaries, where Romney is favored.”

 

Romney Still Trying to Prove He’s Conservative

Glen Johnson: “Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign was undermined not by weakness in his deep and stellar resume; rather, it was damaged by doubts about the authenticity of a rightward shift — particularly in his social views — during the run-up to his first White House bid. In branding himself ‘severely conservative‘ four years later, Romney added fresh currency to the seemingly never-ending doubts about his philosophical core, or whether there is anything he won’t say as he tries to win his party’s presidential nomination.”

“It’s telling that immediately after Romney made his comment, his campaign had to issue a press release outlining proof of his fiscal and social conservatism.”

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