POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/22

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.”

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