In an arresting tableau exhibiting his forceful rejection of American decline, Mitt Romney stood with Donald Trump and received the latter’s endorsement this afternoon in Las Vegas.
The media greeted Trump’s nod – the political benefit of which remains unclear – with characteristic restraint, first getting the story wrong and then getting it big.
“Please explain to us why anyone would care,” Rep. Ron Paul’s campaign requested in an e-mail taking note of Trump’s past donations to enemies of the right, among them Ted Kennedy and Charles Rangel.
Elsewhere, mercifully, there was news, including Newt Gingrich’s campaign filing a complaint with the Florida Republican Party for its winner-take-all delegate allocation. That effort, like much of what Gingrich has attempted since the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary, appears ill-fated.
And relentless message masseurs Gingrich and Vice President Joe Biden both knocked Romney for his professed – and since-walked-back – apathy toward the “very poor.”
File today's developments – along with Herman Cain’s Atlanta campaign suspension rally, the Perry dropout/Gingrich “open marriage” allegations pre-South Carolina circus, and many others – among the campaign’s most surreal moments.
NATIONAL JOURNAL'S PRIMARY REPORT
Have Democrats Succeeded in Pre-Destroying Romney?
Practically every day for months, Democrats and their allies have been hammering Romney while virtually ignoring the rest of the GOP candidates, and it appears to be working – negative views of Romney have skyrocketed according to recent polls.
Trump: Romney Best Candidate on China, Debating Obama
The real-estate mogul endorsed Romney today, despite earlier reports that he was backing Gingrich, but Trump says he never talked about endorsing the former House speaker.
Gingrich: I 'Care' About the Poor
Gingrich is already using Romney's statement that he's not concerned about the poor against him. The former House speaker said that he'd like to replace "the safety net with a trampoline."
Romney's Evolution on Women: How Deep Does It Go?
Romney's relationships with women, both professional and personal, have developed between the opposing pressures of traditional Mormon doctrine and the requests of progressive female constituents, coworkers, and relations. Newt Gingrich has his own problems with women, and The Daily Beast's Patricia Murphy wonders if Newt can win without that female support.
Why Gingrich’s Florida Challenge Won’t Work
Gingrich won’t be able to challenge Florida’s winner-take-all primary until August at the earliest, and taking the fight to court probably won’t produce a favorable outcome for the former House speaker anyway, as National Journal’s Reid Wilson writes. The Florida GOP put out a statement that made it pretty clear they wouldn't be switching their delegate allotment system, calling Gingrich's protest "a shame."
The Best Totally Wrong Predictions of the GOP Primary
Rick Perry will own the debates; Jon Huntsman will appeal to the working class; Tim Pawlenty’s got this; Sarah Palin’s endorsement will matter a lot; and other wayward predictions.
Zombie Super PACs
Super PACs draw a lot of attention when they're smearing opponents with vicious advertisements, but what happens when the dream dies and the committee's candidate drops out?
Poll: Romney Well Ahead in Nevada
A new poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and KLS-TV in Las Vegas shows Romney headed for a blowout victory in Nevada's caucuses on Saturday, with 45 percent of those surveyed.
Jon Stewart on Romney's Safety Net
The comedian on Wednesday mocked Romney's remarks on the very poor: "Being in a net is bad, whether you're a butterfly or a fish … or a poor person," Stewart said. "If you're in a net, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong."
Romney and the Poor: An Unforced Error
After a blowout victory in Florida, Romney committed what in tennis is known as an unforced error, setting off on a mission of declaring solidarity with the middle class but ending up in a thicket of class politics.
Romney Bashes Announcement on Afghan Troop Withdrawal
Romney on Wednesday slammed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for being "misguided and naïve" after Panetta's announcement earlier that the U.S.-led NATO coalition would end its combat role in Afghanistan next year.
Romney Playing With Fire on Afghanistan
Romney said that the Obama Administration was naive to end combat operations in Afghanistan, but with a majority of Americans in support of withdrawing troops, Romney's tactic may not be the best idea.
Rocky Terrain: Obama's Electoral College Map Grows Steeper
National Journal's Ron Brownstein crunches the Electoral College numbers to find that although Obama's approval standing may be improving, he'll still have a rough road to a second term in the White House.
The split-ticket voter, ravaged by decades of hyperpartisanship, is becoming an endangered species. Now presidential approval ratings matter more than ever, as National Journal’s Reid Wilson writes.
Republican Presidential Endorsements of 2012 -- PICTURES
Do you remember when Rick Perry dropped out of the race and endorsed Newt Gingrich? Refresh your memory on that and the rest of the biggest endorsement moments of the 2012 primary season with our slideshow.
Slot Machines and Gin Endorsements: Political Moments in Las Vegas -- VIDEO NEW!
National Journal correspondent Major Garrett and The Atlantic staff writer Molly Ball know Las Vegas well. Here, they share with you their insider knowledge of the city's political terrain.
PRESIDENTIAL RACE NEWS SUMMARY
How To Win Nevada
[Las Vegas Sun, 2/02/12] The Las Vegas Sun’s Jon Ralston outlines some pointers to help the GOP candidates woo Nevada voters.
Editorial: What Mitt Really Meant
[Wall Street Journal, 2/01/12] Romney's "I'm not concerned about the very poor" remark is actually supported by a half-century of creative conservative thinking on antipoverty transfer programs, but the front-runner’s repeated failures to communicate are politically painful.
Romney's General Election Weaknesses (And Strengths) NEW!
[Washington Post, 2/2/12] Though voters perceive him as the most electable GOP candidate--and he may well be--Romney still has some kinks to work out of his campaign before he enters the general election.
Downturn and Upstarts Transform Nevada's GOP Caucuses
[New York Times, 2/01/12] When Romney won the Republican presidential caucuses in Nevada in 2008, it was a different state: Unemployment was at 5.5 percent, compared with 13 percent today, and there was no such thing as the tea party.
Romney Budget Proposals Would Require Massive Cuts in Nondefense Programs NEW!
[The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 1/25/12] Though this review is a little over a week old, it remains relevant following Romney's statements that he's not concerned with the very poor because of the safety net they have available. Well, how would that safety net fare under a Romney presidency? The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning thinktank, infers that his proposed policies reflect his stated views on the poor.
Secrecy Shrouds ‘Super PAC’ Funds in Latest Filings
[New York Times, 2/2/12] The New York Times follows the paper trail provided by FEC filings from the newest super PACs and finds that some contributions came from mysterious dead ends.
Billionaire Donors Extend Life of Lagging Candidates NEW!
[Bloomberg, 2/2/12] First it was Jon Huntsman's father who kept his campaign alive, despite consistently low poll numbers, and now billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who has contributed millions to a super PAC backing Newt Gingrich, is arguably keeping the sinking Gingrich afloat.
Carson City Prostitutes Stand Up for Paul Sharing Tips for Nevada Campaign
[Bloomberg, 2/2/12] Women at the Moonlite BunnyRanch, a brothel near Carson City, Nev. donate tips and ask for customer contributions to Ron Paul. They're just one subset of the unusual amalgam of Paul supporters in Nevada.
Endorsement: Romney, Obama are Best Choices in Missouri Primaries
[Kansas City Star, 2/1/12] Although the Republican National Committee penalized Missouri for scheduling an early primary – taking away the state’s delegates – the Kansas City Star still tells voters to cast a ballot and send a message. The best choice in their eyes: Romney.
Three Cheers for Romneycare!
[Townhall.com, 2/1/12] Although for most of the race "Romneycare" has been used as an insult against the former governor who instated it, conservative superstar Ann Coulter has stepped up to the plate to defend it.
Gingrich Faces a Rough February
[The Hill, 2/2/12] A tough electoral map, a lack of momentum, and the scarcity of free media opportunities will likely have Gingrich struggling through February in order to hold on until Super Tuesday’s friendlier ground in early March.
[The Atlantic, 2/2/12] Jon Lovett writes from a dystopian future where there is no Democratic or Republican Party, only two super PACs – GoodPAC and TruePAC – to rule the nation.
How Newt Gingrich Could Bounce Back
[Politico, 2/2/12] He's pledged to fight until the end, but he'll need to make a number of good strategic decisions to become competitive again. Here, Politico offers five suggestions.
Paul Tailors His Message to Plight of Nevadans
[Las Vegas Sun, 2/02/12] Ron Paul came to Nevada on Wednesday peddling proposals targeted specifically to the state's financial woes, for instance making sure the government does not tax tips and promoting tourism – two essential issues to the city of Las Vegas.
The Real Reason Mitt Romney is Accepting Donald Trump's Endorsement
[Mother Jones, 2/2/12] Trump's endorsement of Romney comes just day's after the former governor's statement that he's not concerned with the plight of the very poor, which seems like odd timing to receive a thumbs-up from one of the nation's most famous billionaires. MoJo's David Corn writes that Romney accepted it because had to take Trump's endorsement before Gingrich could.
Santorum Snags Sharron Angle
[National Review, 2/1/12] Sharron Angle, a tea party darling and the Nevada GOP's nominee for U.S. Senate in 2010, will endorse Santorum.
For Romney and Paul, a Strategic Alliance Between Establishment and Outsider
[Washington Post, 2/1/12] Romney and Paul have never attacked each other, and perhaps it's because they're so far apart in their views that it makes more sense to work together than against each other.
Romney Makes Leap with Hispanics
[Washington Post, 2/2/12] One of Romney's more remarkable turnarounds in the Florida primary was among Hispanic voters: He increased his performance in that key voter group by 40 percentage points, from 14 in 2008 to 54 on Tuesday.
Casino Mogul, Gingrich May Keep Distance
[Wall Street Journal, 2/2/12] Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has helped keep Gingrich in the presidential race, but don't expect to see the men getting too chummy in public before Saturday's caucuses in Adelson’s home state of Nevada.
The George Wallace Vote
[Slate, 2/2/12] While at a stop in Elko, Nev., Slate’s Dave Weigel talks to an Average Joe at dinner with his family. The ensuing conversation gets into many of the issues facing the Republican field and how voters feel about the candidates.