“Mitt Romney, you’ve just had your head unceremoniously handed to you in three states, annoyingly recurrent doubts raised about your conservatism and a fresh wave of confused media speculation about whether your inevitability is actually inevitable – what are you going to do next?”
“I’m going to CPAC!”
Into that right-wing ganglion Romney steps, and what better chance for the besieged front-runner to attempt, once again, to lay to rest concerns on the right that he is not of them? It’s a stage for Romney to assail President Obama over the hot birth-control controversy, to amplify his attacks on Rick Santorum’s record in Congress (debt-ceiling votes and earmarking), tout his aggressive foreign policy and confrontational stance toward China, maybe hum a few patriotic bars.
It’s not Romney’s wheelhouse crowd, but they’re teed up for an affirming address that will quell his flank’s discontent, and Romney could use the shift in conversation.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Romney’s Washington Fundraiser Expected to Pull Over $1M
Romney has run against former House Speaker Gingrich, former Sen. Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul s the only candidate in the race that has spent his life outside Washington, but he hits the JW Marriott tonight for a fundraising bonanza that some expect will bring in more than $1 million from the who’s who of K Street.
Super PAC? What Super PAC? NEW!
Santorum's already got this whole surging candidate thing figured out, especially the part where he denies all knowledge of the super PAC underwritten by Foster Friess and any involvement in its acts. He did, however, acknowledge his 20-year friendship with Friess.
Romney's Rivals Seem Content to Concede Arizona
Arizona and Michigan hold their primaries on Feb. 28, and they represent the final opportunity for the candidates to pick up some momentum heading into the all-important contests on Super Tuesday. But thus far, all the candidates have indicated that they're not trying to compete in Arizona, perhaps because Romney has a significant advantage there.
Santorum Says He's Most Consistent Social Conservative NEW!
In Oklahoma, Santorum found himself in front of a crowd of 4,000 at Oral Roberts University, trying to distance himself from the rest of the field in terms of his social viewpoints.
Energized Santorum Unloads on Romney's 'Gotcha Politics'
At a campaign event in Oklahoma City, Santorum tailored his message to his audience in the major energy-producing state by affirming his support for hydrofracking. But, returning to old refrains, he slipped in a jab at front-runner Romney.
Rand Paul Mocks Obama at CPAC NEW!
Though Ron Paul isn't at the Conservative Political Action Conference due to "travel" issues, his son, Rand Paul, is speaking out against Obama in his stead.
Perry: I’m Afraid of Obama as ‘Quarterback’
He's back! At CPAC, that is. At the conservative gathering, a gaffe-free Rick Perry used a football metaphor to argue against re-electing Obama as "quarterback" for the nation. Though he's endorsed Newt Gingrich, Perry's speech was light on mentions of the former House Speaker.
Four Ways Romney Is Prepping for the Next Round
Romney is getting personal in order to show voters a softer side, breaking the Reagan Rule by upping attacks on his rivals, pushing back against the White House, and fundraising to keep his money advantage.
McCain: GOP Race Not ‘Wide Open’
Sen. John McCain said Mitt Romney's campaign is moving beyond the “setback” of Tuesday night – when Romney lost three contests that did not immediately award delegates – and focusing on primaries that award delegates immediately. “To call it wide-open I think it is a little bit inaccurate,” the Arizona Republican said.
Santorum: Fundraising Has Jumped Since Recent Wins
Santorum says he's taken in an estimated $500,000 between Tuesday morning and Wednesday, in part due to his sweep of three states Tuesday night. He says this haul will help him compete with the deep-pocketed Romney. CNN reports the figure is now closer to $1 million in 24 hours.
Romney Fires Back at White House, Aims at Santorum
Well into damage-control mode, Romney pushed back against claims that he supported a contraception policy in place in Massachusetts during his time as governor that is nearly identical to President Obama’s. He also lashed out at Santorum and brushed off the former Pennsylvania senator's Tuesday-night wins.
The Case for Renewed Reform
Thanks to movements inside both the Republican and Democratic national committees, 2012 may mark the end of the caucus system. This could mean Iowa and Nevada are the two states most likely to lose their coveted positions at the front of the calendar.
Romney’s New Campaign Slogan: What Happened?
Watch Jay Leno poke fun at the thumping Romney took in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota on Tuesday night in National Journal’s Play of the Day: “I haven't seen Rick Santorum so happy since they cancelled Will and Grace.”
PRESIDENTIAL RACE NEWS SUMMARY
Conservatives: Romney's OK If Obama Is Alternative NEW!
[Associated Press, 2/9/12] Though Romney's having the toughest time with the most conservative voters, the AP found that most of the people they spoke with at the Conservative Political Action Conference today were begrudgingly willing to support Romney, if they had to choose between him and Obama.
Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry Speak To CPAC, As Conservatives Call For Unity NEW!
[Washington Post, 2/9/12] Wondering what your favorite former presidential candidate has been up to lately? Look no farther than CPAC, where Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry spoke today, both addressing different issues under the same message: let's beat Obama in 2012.
CPAC Organizers Trying to Avoid Another Ron Paul Straw Poll Win
[Huffington Post, 2/9/12] Ron Paul has won the CPAC straw poll by large margins in the last two years, but organizers are trying to prevent the hat trick – especially considering the weight of the poll results this year. Paul has already declined an invitation to attend the conference this year.
Mitt Romney's Message From GOP: Step It Up
[Politico, 2/9/12] Top Republicans on the Hill are dissatisfied with Romney's attempts to brush off his Tuesday-night losses, and they're starting to clamor for the candidate to quit making excuses and try a little harder.
Path to a Brokered GOP Convention Emerges NEW!
[Real Clear Politics, 2/9/12] Many Republicans dissatisfied with the current GOP field have their fingers crossed for a very rare occurence: a brokered convention, in which the current candidates can't get enough delegates individually to take the nomination, so they either negotiate or an entirely new candidate is chosen. RCP's Sean Trende finally sees a real potential for such a thing to happen in 2012.
Mitt Romney's CPAC Adventure
[Politico, 2/9/12] One of the biggest conservative conferences in the nation is going on in downtown D.C. this weekend, and Romney's task on Friday is to convince a legion of hard-right voters and pundits that he's worth their time – no small feat for the Massachusetts moderate.
The Criminal Probe of Sheldon Adelson's Casino Empire
[Reuters, 2/8/12] The man who is keeping Gingrich’s campaign afloat, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, is under a criminal probe by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for his casinos. If an investigation turns up anything illegal, it could be embarrassing for the former House speaker.
Gingrich Looks To Super Tuesday Lift
[CNN, 2/9/12] Gingrich is looking to his home state of Georgia, and the nine other states that will vote on March 6, to give him the boost he needs to regain his anti-Romney status.
Super PAC Supporting Ron Paul is Operated By a 9/11 'Truther' NEW!
[MSNBC, 2/9/12] Revolution PAC, which has spent about half a million dollars to support Ron Paul, is run by Gary Franchi, who believes that the government had involvement in 9/11 and the idea of terrorist attacks was just a cover-up.
Up Next: Maine Weighs In
[Boston Globe, 2/8/12] As the only candidates to have made much of an effort in the state, Romney and Paul are the undisputed favorites in the next state to vote: Maine.
Rove: Newt’s Southern Strategy Won’t Work
[Wall Street Journal, 2/8/12] Karl Rove weighs in on the drawbacks of Gingrich’s plan to take the South in the lead-up to the April 4 Texas primary. He concludes that it is Santorum, not Gingrich, who is Romney’s main conservative challenger.
Can Rick Santorum Ride His ‘Big Mo’ to Knock Newt Gingrich Out?
[The Daily Beast, 2/9/12] Though he's not quite polling high enough to take over Romney's front-runner position hands-down, it certainly seems like Santorum could overtake Newt Gingrich in the near future. What's he going to need to do to accomplish that feat?
Missing: Surge in Voter Turnout Expected by GOP
[Wall Street Journal, 2/9/12] GOP leaders hoped that antipathy toward Obama and aggravation over the slow economic recovery would send a wave of Republican voters to the polls. But turnout in the contests so far has been mixed.
A Wealthy Backer Likes the Odds on Santorum
[New York Times, 2/8/12] Few people played a more pivotal role in Tuesday’s turn of events than millionaire investor Foster Friess, the chief backer of a super PAC that has helped keep Santorum’s candidacy alive by running television ads on his behalf. The Daily Beast reminds readers of Friess’s connection to conservative news outlet Daily Caller.
Report: Some Super PAC Money Is Untraceable
[Roll Call, 2/8/12] Six of the top 10 super PACs active in the 2012 elections have received money from untraceable sources, such as nonprofits, social welfare groups, and shell corporations, according to a report released by progressive advocacy groups Demos and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.
Mitt Romney: Cartoon Millionaire
[Politico, 2/9/12] Democrats may be able to pigeonhole the GOP front-runner into the narrative Obama laid out in his State of the Union address: the rich versus the rest of us. And the reality is, Romney himself is helping them do it.
What’s on Romney’s Playlist?
[Washington Post, 2/8/12] Listen closely after a Romney rally and you’ll hear a very un-Romney–like soundtrack: His main campaign theme song is Kid Rock’s “Born Free,” but after speeches he often plays Toby Keith’s “American Ride.”
Obama's Crowd-Pleasing Mix Tape
[BuzzFeed, 2/9/12] The mix that the Obama camp will play at his events was released on the internet today, and it's got just about everything, from old-school Earth, Wind, and Fire to indie band Arcade Fire. The Atlantic takes a look at the meaning behind the music.
Democrats Release "Sh*t Mitt Says" NEW!
[BuzzFeed, 2/9/12] Liberal group American Bridge 21st Century launched a video today of Romney’s greatest quotes –- according to Democrats. From, “Who let the dogs out,” to “I love being able to fire people,” these clips are likely to be a staple in the upcoming general election if Romney is the nominee.