POLITICS
01/19/2012 06:43 pm ET Updated Mar 20, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - The Four Least Interesting GOP Candidates Convene For A Debate


Rick Perry is dropping out of the race to focus on his real passion: walking around in meadows, wearing tight jeans and denouncing gay rights. Taking a page from the Oprah playbook, Herman Cain endorsed EVERYBODY for president ("YOU get a director of national intelligence! YOU get a director of national intelligence! YOU get a director of national intelligence! EVERYBODY GETS A DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE!!!"). And the official results from Iowa's mismanaged caucuses were published today: Rick Santorum was first, Mitt Romney was second and, finishing a VERY distant third... Democracy. Good hustle, Democracy! You'll get 'em next time! This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, January 19th, 2012:

RICK PERRY MIGHT WANT TO THINK OF THIS PART OF HIS LIFE AS THE 'CHARACTER BUILDING' PART - His political prospects aren't looking so hot. Jason Cherkis: "Perry will be picking up the fight in a much different arena than the one he left when he began his failed campaign last August. But he comes back to the Lone Star State less like Tim Tebow -- the popular religious-minded quarterback to whom he once compared himself -- and more like Tony Romo -- the Cowboy QB whose late-game gaffes have bewildered Texans. Put simply, it's tough for Perry to go home again. A recent poll had him losing in the state to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Today, the hashtag #welecomehomegoaway became a popular trending topic on Twitter in Austin. His one-time Tea Party rival Debra Medina endorsed the sentiment, tweeting "Gov. Perry, welcome home. Now, please retire." After a decade vanquishing foes with relative ease, there's a sense among Austin politicos that the presidential run exposed Perry as unsure, easily distracted, and out-of-his-depth. Democrats now have a treasure trove of debate foibles to use in future campaign commercials. Republicans now don't fear his once intimidating inner circle."

@danbalz: Perry not ruling out a 2016 presidential run or 2014 reelection campaign, says spokesman Ray Sullivan.

Debate tonight in South Carolina. Tune in to CNN at 8:00 pm. It's now down to Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul. Sangria and dip at Buddy Roemer's place... we guess.

MARIANNE GINGRICH INTERVIEW AIRS AT 11:35 - "Newt Gingrich lacks the moral character to serve as President, his second ex-wife Marianne told ABC News, saying his campaign positions on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family values do not square with what she saw during their 18 years of marriage...In her most provocative comments, the ex-Mrs. Gingrich said Newt sought an "open marriage" arrangement so he could have a mistress and a wife. She said when Gingrich admitted to a six-year affair with a Congressional aide, he asked her if she would share him with the other woman, Callista, who is now married to Gingrich." [ABC News]

What Marianne Gingrich knows

HERMAN CAIN ENDORSES 310,000,000 PEOPLE FOR PRESIDENT - Herman Cain literally endorsed "we the people" for president today. And we say literally because he said it, though we're pretty positive he didn't mean it. Although, hey, maybe he did mean it? Who knows?! It's Herman Cain! "I am endorsing 'we, the people,'" he said during his appearance at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. "It was the people who started this country, and we have allowed the politicians to take it from us." Also, we're somewhat confident that having everyone be president would result in something approximating anarchy in its purest form -- and Republicans tend not to elect anarchists (except for that time in 1888 when they nearly nominated Thaddeus B. Jimenez Bernstein PeaceFire for president in lieu of Benjamin Harrison). "I am not going to die not having done something to take our people back," Cain added, referencing the fact that "there are skeptics, just like there were skeptics when I made the decision to run for president." Ain't that the truth. [Examiner]

Zut alors!

DAILY DELANEY UPSIDE DOWNER - New claims for unemployment benefits dropped all the way to 352,000 -- their lowest level since 2008 and a ridiculously huge drop from the previous week's revised estimate of 402,000, the threshold for everything-sucks. Stocks are up, Treasury yields are up, everything's looking up! [Labor Department]

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

RICK PERRY HITS THE OL' DUSTY TRAIL - Get your "Perry Out!" jokes in now. Rick Perry dropped out of the presidential race today. That wasn't surprising. During his concession speech, he was able to mention three states he visited during the campaign. That was surprising. He endorsed Newt Gingrich. That was... well, not surprising but... interesting. "What's broken in America is not our people. It's our politics. And what we need in Washington is a government that's humbler, Perry said, at times sounding less like a man winding down his candidacy for president and more like Coach Taylor giving the Dillon Panthers a pep talk. "I believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country" he said of Newt Gingrich. "Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?" Fair enough. Also, the intensity of Perry's squints and the oddness of his syntax both reached George W. Bush-like levels. It was great. [HuffPost]

Gingrich: "I am humbled and honored to have the support of my friend Rick Perry. His selflessness is yet another demonstration of his deep sense of citizenship and commitment to the cause of limited government, historic American values and greater freedom for every American."

@dave_jamieson: Rick Perry won a mere 14K votes total in Iowa and NH... while his homophobic ad earned 747K 'dislike' votes on YouTube

For the record, it also had 25,758 'likes.' Go Rick!

RICK SANTORUM DECLARED WINNER IN IOWA ... MAYBE - No, they said. We can't install LoJacks on ballots, they said. That'll cost too much money, they said. Who let you into this party meeting, anyway? they said. WELL LOOK WHO'S LAUGHING NOW!!!! "More than two weeks after the 2012 Iowa caucus, a final certified tally showed former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum finishing with 29,839 votes and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 29,805. After the initial results came in following the Jan. 3 Iowa event, Romney was believed to have won the caucus by a mere 8 votes. -Republican officials indicated Santorum finished ahead of Romney by 34 votes on Thursday. The Des Moines Register reports that votes from eight precincts will never be counted, however, and therefore the ultimate tally remains inconclusive." Obligatory "did you check between your couch cushions?" joke **here**. [HuffPost]

@jeffzeleny: Romney called to concede Iowa to Santorum, according to Hogan Gidley, a spokesman for Santurm. An Iowa muddle no more?

MITT 'MY MONEY IS SO CARIBBEAN, ITS HAIR IS BRAIDED' ROMNEY ONCE WENT AFTER TAX HAVENS - Sheesh, why not just tell people to stop buying Just for Men: Touch of Gray? Sam Stein: "Faced with the need to replenish state coffers, then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney chose on multiple occasions to target corporations that lowered their tax liabilities by transferring profits outside of his state. The move helped raise tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue and, on occasion, put Romney at odds with anti-tax advocates, both in Massachusetts and nationwide. It also appeared to go directly against the business practices being conducted by Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney started and in which he maintained investments. According to an ABC News report released Wednesday night, Romney continues to hold roughly $8 million of personal wealth in as many as 12 Cayman Islands-based funds. Bain Capital itself has 138 offshore funds in the Cayman Islands alone, designed for the firm to benefit financially from the island's lenient tax structure, according to tax experts. Reuters, meanwhile, reported on Wednesday that 'Bain funds in which Romney is invested are scattered from Delaware to the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, Ireland and Hong Kong.'" [HuffPost]

GINGRICH CONTINUES ANGER-FUELED ASCENT IN SOUTH CAROLINA - "Three new polls released Thursday have Newt Gingrich in the South Carolina over Mitt Romney, while a third poll showed the former House Speaker received a boost from his debate performance Monday. Gingrich leads Romney by 34 percent to 28 percent, according to Public Policy Polling. Gingrich has risen from 23 percent over the last two weeks as other candidates faltered. Rasmussen has Gingrich at 33 percent versus Romney's 31 percent. Romney held a 14-point lead in a Rasmussen poll taken just before Monday's debate. American Research Group puts Gingrich with 33 percent, narrowly ahead of Romney at 32 percent. In a poll released by NBC/Marist, Romney has 34 percent over Gingrich's 24 percent. But the poll was taken before and after the debate in Myrtle Beach." [The State]

Presented without comment: this photograph of Newt Gingrich grabbing an elderly woman's nose

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Baby reacts to unfamiliar noise.

OBAMA'S FIRST REELECTION AD COULDN'T BE MORE DEVOID OF HOPE AND CHANGE - Four years ago, Barack Obama invigorated a nation that was emotionally exhausted by its toxic politics. The charismatic and whip smart young senator from Illinois vowed to do away with the fearmongering and partisan rhetoric that had polarized America. Now, the harbinger of sunshine and group hugs' first campaign ad is basically 30 seconds of everything he claimed to repudiate in the first campaign. It's a sequence of paranoia-confirming attacks on opponents (they're technically responses to attacks but it's set to scary music so the end result is the same) contrasted with cherry-picked facts about the president. Also: terrible graphics. AP: "The ad, released Wednesday, responds to a $6 million ad campaign by a group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers accusing Obama of conducting pay-for-play politics in the bankruptcy of California energy company Solyndra, which imploded despite a $528 million federal loan. Obama's ad opens by citing 'secretive billionaires attacking President Obama with ads fact-checkers say are not tethered to the facts.' It says that the president has added 2.7 million clean energy jobs while reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil, calling Obama's record on ethics 'unprecedented.'" [AP]

History's greatest tweet reporting #fail

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- RIP Johnny Otis, of "Willie and the Hand Jive" fame. [http://bit.ly/w6QZCH]

- Rick Perry learns to drive a police robot. [http://bit.ly/xxIIEf]

- One Ohio TV station is working around a courtroom camera ban by reenacting the proceedings with puppets. [http://huff.to/wg8KBV]

- This record player makes weird music from trees. [http://bit.ly/zF0VfR]

- Shit DC People Say. [http://bit.ly/ykJLYg]

- Shit New Yorkers Say. [http://bit.ly/zQySOI]

- This is literally the party rock anthem. [http://bit.ly/zHmlqS]

- Executive coming to visit? This handy corporate slogan generator will see you through. [http://huff.to/wUgqjU]

TWITTERAMA

@jaketapper: no offense to the Iowa GOP but how does one "lose" the vote results from 8 precincts? are they in its other pair of pants?

@TeresaKopec: Can't really picture Callista agreeing to share Newt with his ex-wife. Three people in bed ups the chances of your hair getting mussed.

@daveweigel: Anyone want a cheap copy of "Fed UP!"? I'll throw in "Courage to Stand," "America by Heart," and whatever Mitch Daniels's book was called.

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT

6:30pm - 8:30pm: Skip the debate to meet the youngest Major General in KGB history, for a briefing on 20th century espionage in Vienna. [International Spy Musem, 800 F Street NW]
8:00pm: Oh man, not another GOP deba.... Yep! The Republican candidates (minus Perry!) will gang up on Mitt Romney at the CNN/SRLC Presidential Debate. [Carolina First Arena, 66 George St., Charleston, S.C.]

TOMORROW

12:00pm - 1:00pm: If you want free lunch on the Hill, you'll have to listen to some smarmy lawyer explain why asbestos victims are overcompensated. [Rayburn Room 2237]

7:30pm: The world premiere of "Necessary Sacrifices", a play about Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. Perfect for anyone whose New Year's resolution was "get more culture." [Ford's Theatre, 511 10th Street NW]

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