Welcome back to Hotline Sort. Romney and Paul lead the pack in Iowa in a new poll, as Santorum inches his way up. Gingrich raises $9 million in the 4th quarter, Kucinich will challenge Kaptur in Ohio, and Arlen Specter takes the stage. Here's today's rundown:
9) Former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter tries his hand at a little stand-up. Enjoy.
8) Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., says he is the underdog against Elizabeth Warren. "I've always been the underdog and I will be the underdog again,'' he said in an interview. Brown and his aides have been downplaying expectations and repeating the word underdog in interviews. It's true that in the blue state in a presidential year, it's very tough for a Republican to win statewide. But it's also a testament to the early success of Warren; Brown's still an incumbent with populist appeal and a very well-stocked warchest. Not your typical "underdog" profile.
7) Out of the hospital, Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., didn't make any definitive announcements about his political future on Wednesday, but he did say this: "If the decision were today, I'd be leaning toward re-election."
6) In case you missed this on Wednesday, Ohio Democratic Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich will face off in the state's 9th District. Kaptur has the early edge, since more of the district is in her current Toledo-area district than Kucinich's Cleveland-area seat.
5) Rep. Ron Paul's making a strong push to win the Iowa caucuses, and the New York Times looks today at the strict orders the enthusiastic wave of Paul volunteers descending on Iowa are under:
And they say they are under strict orders: To look, dress, shave, sound and behave in a way that will not jeopardize Mr. Paul's chances. Even before flying here on their own nickel, some students said they had been instructed to cover up tattoos and told that their faces should be fresh-shaved or beards neatly trimmed, wearing only nice clothes that one described as "business casual."
4) Newt Gingrich raised about $9 million
during the fourth quarter and has purchased $500,000 worth of television time in Iowa. But is it too little too late? Gingrich's numbers have tumbled in the latest polls, as scrutiny over his record has intensified. And if he turns in weak showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, he'll need a dominant performance in South Carolina to have a shot at rebounding.
3) Despite the frustration Hispanic voters have shown with President Obama
's policies, they still view him in a much better light
when compared to the GOP frontrunner. In the latest Pew Poll, he leads Mitt Romney
68 percent to 23 percent among Hispanic voters.
2) The media buzz surrounding Romney's Iowa prospects is only going to be hyped up more following the release of a new CNN/Time/ORC poll
on Wednesday that showed the former governor leading the pack in the Hawkeye State with 25 percent, right alongside Paul who is at 22 percent. The surprise in the poll? Rick Santorum
, who placed third with 16 percent. Gingrich continues to fade, placing fourth with just 14 percent support.
In Iowa kicking off his three-day bus tour on Wednesday, Romney -- without naming him -- took a swipe
at Paul's foreign policy stance. Meanwhile, Paul picked up the support
of Rep. Michele Bachmann
's state chairman.
1) Here's a nugget in the Des Moines Register
that has Romney supporters smiling today:
At midday Wednesday, his aides realized they'd seriously underestimated how many folks would come out to see him at Homer's Deli and Sweetheart Bakery, which holds fewer than 200. About double that many had shown up...