POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/29

Snowe Will Not Run Again

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) will not run for re-election, the Portland Press Herald reports.

Said Snowe: “After an extraordinary amount of reflection and consideration, I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate.”

Santorum Flips on Democrats Voting in GOP Primaries

With Rick Santorum now urging Democrats to vote for him in Michigan’s open primary, CNNnotes he took a very different position in late January.

Said Santorum at the time: “We want the activists of the party, the people who make up the backbone of the Republican Party to have a say in who our nominee is as opposed to a bunch of people who don’t even identify themselves as Republicans picking our nominee. I don’t like that. I believe that states should only allow Republicans to vote in Republican primaries.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“I am so mad at the press I could just strangle them!”

— Ann Romney, quoted by National Review, on how it was “getting harder and harder to be cheerful.”

Obama Takes the Gloves Off

In a fiery speech to the United Auto Workers, President Obama defended his decision to bail out the auto industry while ripping into Mitt Romney.

Greg Sargent: “But this speech was about more than the auto-bailout. It was Obama’s case for reelection. This speech constituted Obama’s most ambitious effort yet to weave his defense of the auto rescue into the larger contrast he will try to draw between his vision and the ‘you’re on your own’ ideology he will accuse Republicans of representing.”

Andrew Sullivan: “I worry it positions him a little too far to the left — even if he is addressing a union crowd. But it sure doesn’t make him look afraid or cautious or calculating, does it? It reminds us of the formidable orator any Republican is going to have to counter this fall, and the economic climate and real record that buttresses this president’s case. It’s why he’ll almost certainly win Michigan this fall — and maybe much more.”

See more…

Low Turnout in Michigan?

“Turn-out in today’s presidential primary election looks to be about the same or less than it was four years ago,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

CNN: “The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday estimated turnout in the Republican primary will represent between 15% and 20% of registered voters. If the prediction holds, the figure would represent a decrease from the 21% who participated in the 2008 contest.”

Santorum Way Ahead in Ohio

A new University of Cincinnati poll in Ohio shows Rick Santorum leading the GOP field with 37%, followed by Mitt Romney at 25%, Newt Gingrich at 16% and Ron Paul at 11%.

Key finding: 47% of those polled said they could change their mind between now and next Tuesday’s primary.

Carnahan Will Challenge Fellow Democrat

The AP reports that Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) has chosen to run a primary challenge against Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) after Carnahan’s district was split into a Republican-leaning suburban district and Clay’s heavily Democratic St. Louis district.

The Hill: “The race is a continuation of a fight between the two that started with redistricting, when Missouri lost one of its congressional seats. Carnahan’s district was dismantled by Republicans in the state Legislature, but after Missouri’s Democratic governor, Jay Nixon, vetoed the maps, the final votes to override the veto came from Clay allies in the statehouse. After it became clear Clay was happy to see Carnahan lose his seat, Carnahan swore at him on Missouri’s statehouse floor, according to reports.”

Wisconsin Recall Could Be Close

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Wisconsin shows Gov. Scott Walker (R) trails both of his most likely opponents in the recall election by narrow margins. Tom Barrett (D) leads 49% to 46% and Kathleen Falk is ahead 48% to 47%.

Key finding: Walker continues to be unpopular with only 47% of voters approving of him to 52% who disapprove.

Poll Shows Allen Pulling Ahead in Virginia

A new Roanoke College poll in Virginia shows George Allen (R) has opened up an 8-point lead over Tim Kaine (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 45% to 37%.

One caveat: These numbers differ from those of nearly every other survey over the last year, with most polls showing the race within the margin of error.

Michael Moore Urges Democrats to Vote for Santorum

Filmmaker and Michigan native Michael Moore told Rachel Maddow that he’s encouraging Democrats to vote in today’s Republican presidential primary.

Said Moore: “A lot of my Democratic friends are going to vote for Santorum tomorrow in something they are calling, Operation Hilarity. We do have a good sense of humor in the state of Michigan.”

Update: Moore’s office emails to clarify he “wasn’t actually encouraging Michiganders to vote for Santorum, just reporting that friends of his are doing it and that he thinks it’s funny.”

See more…

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’m very pleased with the campaign, its organization. The candidate sometimes makes some mistakes, and so I’m trying to do better and work harder and make sure that we get our message across.”

— Mitt Romney, quoted by BuzzFeed, when asked if he was satisfied with how his campaign has been run.

How Mormons Became Republicans

The Salt Lake Tribune takes a look at the early days of the Republican Party, when the founders of the fledgling anti-slavery party “saw Mormons as their enemies,” and how that evolved into the modern trend of Mormons overwhelmingly supporting Republicans.

“The GOP’s first party platform in 1856 took direct aim at polygamy, placing it in the same sinister frame as slavery in the hope of cultivating the votes of Christians wary of the spread of these dual threats to the republic… Later on, Republicans used their congressional power to wipe away any secular power Mormon leaders had in the Utah Territory and were the main backers of a law that disincorporated The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints… Republicans over the next several decades targeted the LDS Church over polygamy and suspicions that Mormons were attempting to form their own sovereign country in the Mountain West.”

“The GOP’s take on social issues, such as abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment and gay marriage, drew Mormons into the conservative fold beginning in the 1970s. Church apostle Ezra Taft Benson, who supported the right-wing John Birch Society and served as Agriculture secretary under President Dwight Eisenhower, helped further push his fellow Mormons into the conservative camp. A report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in January showed that about 74 percent of Mormons lean toward the Republican Party.”

Gingrich Holds Big Lead in Georgia

A new SurveyUSA poll in Georgia finds Newt Gingrich with a big lead in next week’s GOP presidential primary with 39%, followed by Rick Santorum at 24%, Mitt Romney at 23% and Ron Paul at 9%.

Gingrich Super PAC Gets Another Big Check

A super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich has received another “substantial” contribution from billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and will launch television ads in seven states this week, the Washington Post reports.

The ads will begin today in Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio and Tennessee, with more to come Wednesday in Mississippi, Alabama and Kansas.

The Possum Republicans

David Brooks: “All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid. This year, they have an excellent chance to defeat President Obama, yet the wingers have trashed the party’s reputation by swinging from one embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum. But where have these party leaders been over the past five years, when all the forces that distort the G.O.P. were metastasizing?”

Republicans Worry About Negativity

National Republican leaders “are voicing increasing dismay over the course of the party’s presidential primary, which has fallen into such a negative grind that they warn it could cost them the White House,” Politico reports.

“At the core of their concern is the atmosphere of daily vituperation between the top candidates. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are now engaged in a seemingly constant knife fight, interrupted by only the sparest of positive, policy-oriented debate.”

Notes former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D): “In terms of sustained negativity, there’s nothing like it in history.”

Romney Quickly Losing Conservative Vote

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds just 38% of “very conservative” Americans now express favorable views of Mitt Romney. That’s his lowest mark of the campaign among staunch conservatives and down 16 percentage points over the past two weeks.

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