It's a race against time tonight as President Obama tries to imbue the nation with a renewed sense of possibility before the nation switches to ESPN. Kirsten Gillibrand's likely challenger is so lewd it's only fitting that he wants to be a male politician from New York. And polls suggest that Newt Gingrich has taken the lead in the Republican primary, but we like to think that Mitt Romney self-deported himself from first place. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, January 24th, 2012:
PRESIDENT OBAMA TO INTERRUPT NCIS IN FRONT OF NATIONAL AUDIENCE - A preview, via Jen Bendery and Joy Resmovits: "President Barack Obama will cast 2012 as 'a make or break moment for the middle class and those trying to reach it' in Tuesday night's State of the Union address, according to talking points being circulated by the White House and obtained by The Huffington Post. Obama will frame his speech around 'the basic American promise' -- that if you work hard, you can succeed economically -- and emphasize that 'no challenge is more urgent' than preserving this promise. He will also highlight that he has created 3.2 million jobs in the last two years. On the foreign policy front, Obama will call attention to the fact that, 'for the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.'" [HuffPost]
The White House just released more excerpts, which we obtained by opening our email.
We're sorry that public service programming is keeping you from that "Last Man Standing" repeat. Might we suggest alcohol as an alternative way to turn your mind to porridge? And, wouldn't you know it, Jason Linkins has a State of the Union Drinking Game! What fun! "What is the State Of The Union? Take a sip if Obama says: "The State of the Union is strong." Take a swig if Obama says: "The State of the Union is uncertain, but hopeful." Pound a shot if Obama says, "The State of the Union is FUBAR. Google it." Finish the bottle if Obama says, "The State of the Union is 'The Hottest State,' a novel by Ethan Hawke that I Kindled after Angelina Jolie turned me on to it." [HuffPost]
"Warren Buffett's longtime secretary, Debbie Bosanek, will join First Lady Michelle Obama in her box during Tuesday night's State Of The Union address, according to a tweet by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. "Tonight President Obama will offer more details on the Buffett Rule," he adds."
DAVID VITTER GETS A SCALP -- MOTHER NATURE'S - The White House announced today that it is withdrawing the nomination of Scott Doney to be the chief scientist of NOAA. David Vitter blocked Doney's nomination back in late 2010. As the AP wrote then, "Sen. David Vitter, R- La., said in a letter to President Barack Obama that he was putting a 'hold' on the nomination of Dr. Scott Doney for chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He first wants answers to the tough new policy on offshore drilling announced earlier this month...Vitter said he wants Carol Browner, Obama's chief energy and climate change adviser, and Steve Black, counselor to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, to testify under oath before the Senate Small Business Committee on a November report by the Interior Department's inspector general."
GINGRICH'S LOBBYING-AVOIDANCE ADVISER PLAYS BOTH SIDES OF TRANSPARENCY REFORM - Roll Call: "The lawyer who a decade ago advised Newt Gingrich on how to engage in advocacy without officially becoming a 'lobbyist' is now working to close the loopholes that enable the former Speaker and other Members to avoid public disclosure. Gingrich argued in a GOP debate Monday night that he was never a lobbyist, which is true largely because the lobbying rules allow individuals to conduct limited advocacy activities before they are legally required to register. Gingrich said he had hired an attorney to make sure he never did anything that would qualify him as a lobbyist; that attorney now says the activities Gingrich was engaged in should count as lobbying." [Roll Call]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Mary Breen of Monroe, N.C. wrote DDD to say she's all out of unemployment benefits after losing her job three years ago. "I have worked all my life and I am a 53-year-old mother of two with three grandchildren," Breen wrote. "I lost a very good job in 2009 due only to the economy, and have a letter from my company stating this. I list my benefits in March of 2011 and have been looking for a job since I lost my job. I have had to rely on my savings just to keep a phone, insurance on my car so I will have a chance on finding a job. No job as of today and I have approximately $400 left to live on until something happens...I have not been able to pay my credit card bill as I have always done, so on top of everything my credit is not in good standing now.So sad that at my age I will now have to start over to make my life as it was two years ago."
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ROMNEY RELEASES TAX RETURNS: HELD A SWISS BANK ACCOUNT - That won't play well, although if the Mitt Romney brand becomes too sullied, he can always run as "Account # 4325206." That could work. "4325206/Rubio 2012" has a nice ring, dontcha think? AP: "Advisers to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are acknowledging that he once had a Swiss bank account but that it was closed in 2010 as prepared to enter the race for the White House. The Swiss account is listed on Romney's newly released 2010 federal income tax return. It had been opened by a Boston lawyer who oversees the Romney family investments and a blind trust containing millions of dollars in assets. Romney's net worth is estimated at as much as $250 million." [AP]
Via Slate, "Mitt's Income vs. Your Income: How long would it take the GOP candidate to earn what you make in a year?"
Romney spokesperson Eric Ferhnstrom spins it: "As far as we are concerned, we put it to bed...[Romney] paid a lot of money in taxes, made a lot of charitable contributions and paid 100 percent of the tax that was owed to the U.S. government. In fact, if you take his total taxes paid in 2011 and add that to his charitable contributions that amounts to roughly 35 percent of his income. I think he gives away a good deal of what he earns." [HuffPost's Sam Stein]
After John Kerry, Romney paid the lowest tax rate of any recent presidential candidate. WaPo: "The Obamas seemed to pay more in taxes than any candidate in recent memory. In 2006, Barack Obama's income was $991,296 and he paid $277,431 in taxes, or 27.9 percent...In 2006, John McCain had $358,414 in income and paid 33.8 percent of that in taxes...John Kerry's overall rate is so low -- lower than Romney's, in fact -- because his return is getting lumped together with that of his (wealthy) wife, Teresa Heinz, who had a lot of investment income. On his own, Kerry paid 22.9 percent in federal taxes in 2003 on his $395,338 salary, which included Senate income plus the sale of a 17th-century Dutch painting...George W. Bush... paid $3.8 million in taxes, or 20.55 percent." [WaPo]
GINGRICH AND ROMNEY TIED NATIONALLY - John King should really think about sending the Gingrich campaign an invoice. Gallup: "Newt Gingrich has all but erased Mitt Romney's 23-percentage-point lead of a week ago among Republican voters nationally, and the two candidates are now essentially tied, at 29% for Romney and 28% for Gingrich. Ron Paul and Rick Santorum have significantly lower levels of support, at 13% and 11%, respectively... Gingrich's gains over the last week have come mostly among conservative Republicans, one of the groups that has been most "in play" throughout the Republican presidential nomination process. Over the two-week period between Jan. 9-15 and Jan. 16-22, Gingrich's support among conservative Republican registered voters increased from 16% to 28%. Romney's support among conservatives fell between these two weeks, from 36% to 28%. By contrast, Romney's support among moderate and liberal Republicans held constant across these two weeks, while Gingrich gained six points. " [Gallup]
Gingrich is up in Florida, according to PPP. "PPP's first post-South Carolina poll in Florida finds Newt Gingrich with a small lead. He's at 38% to 33% for Mitt Romney, 13% for Rick Santorum, and 10% for Ron Paul. Gingrich has gained 12 points since a PPP poll conducted in Florida a week ago. Romney has dropped 8 points. Paul and Santorum have pretty much remained in place. Their favorability numbers show similar trendlines. Gingrich's has increased 8 points from +15 (51/36) to +23 (57/34). Meanwhile Romney's has declined 13 points from +44 (68/24) to +31 (61/30)." [PPP]
The Gallup tracking poll has Gingrich in front, 31 percent to Romney's 27 percent.
Gov. John Kasich on HuffPost: "How Do You Respond to Tebow-mania?"
MONDAY MORNING GRUMPBACKING: GINGRICH WISHES HE YELLED AT BRIAN WILLIAMS - During a morning-after interview on "Fox & Friends" this morning, Newt Gingrich bemoaned the fact that Brian Williams asked the attendees of last night debate not to boo or cheer. "I wish in retrospect I had protested when Brian Williams took them out of it because I think it's wrong," he said. "And I think he took them out of it because the media is terrified that they're going to side with the candidates against the media." Gingrich went on to add that "the media doesn't control free speech." If we had our way, the next debate will be held on a street corner, with the candidates completely encircled by onlookers, rap battle-style. [HuffPost]
Rick Santorum says he's staying in the race. Before you judge him, remember that he had a lot of time during last night's debate to think about it... and to mentally reorganize his closet... and to count to a billion. "You know, no, I'm not predicting a win. I don't have the money now to be able to do that," he said on "Morning Joe." He went on to add that, "who knows, we may even surprise here. Depending on the amount of carnage that goes on between the other two." [National Journal]
MITT ROMNEY'S MAIDS ARE NOT PAID WELL - Christina Wilkie: "Despite reporting income of $21.7 million, the [Romneys] paid only $20,603 in taxable wages for household help in 2010... According to a number of Boston-based domestic staffing agencies, the salary range for a housekeeper is between $20 and $30 an hour, which adds up to an annual salary of $40,000 to $50,000 based on forty-hour weeks and two weeks of paid vacation a year. But this number is only for one house, and the Romneys have three houses -- a 2,000 sq. ft. townhouse in Belmont, Mass., a 5,400 sq. ft. lake house on 11 acres in Wolfeboro, N.H., and a beach house in La Jolla, Calif., that is undergoing renovations to double its size. Even if the Romneys avoided spending time in La Jolla in 2010, they spent plenty of time in New Hampshire, with regular visits in the summer from five sons and their families. Yet the Romneys still paid only half of the lowest range of an average housekeeper's salary, which raises the question of who cleaned the Romney houses the other 50 percent of the time. A Romney campaign adviser declined to respond to questions from The Huffington Post about the housekeeping salaries." [HuffPost]
DEMOCRATS TO DECIDE ON WHICH STRATEGY PEOPLE WILL IGNORE NEXT - Roll Call: "House Democrats will decamp Wednesday from Washington to the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa & Marina in Cambridge, Md., to hone their jobs and economy message going into the 2012 election.According to the retreat agenda, Democrats will focus on the theme 'Reignite the American Dream' during the three-day retreat that is 'intended to highlight those goals and help prepare members of the caucus to continue to fight to restore jobs to the millions left behind by the Great Recession.' The retreat's discussions lean heavily on core policy issues, including panels entitled 'Ladies First: A Conversation on Advancing Women's issues in 2012,' 'Budget Priorities and Defense Spending,' 'Seniors Task Force' and financial, health care and tax issues, among others." [Roll Call]
"Reignite the American Dream"???
Chuck Grassley, maybe not happy about that whole Twitter hacking thing, was really fuming yesterday. Mike Sacks: "Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) took to the floor yesterday to call Assistant Attorney General Virginia Seitz a 'lackey' and threatened her chances for future Senate confirmations because of her legal opinion that green-lighted Obama's recess appointment of CFPB head Richard Cordray and three NLRB members earlier this month. 'I gave the President and Ms. Seitz the benefit of the doubt in voting to confirm her nomination,' Grassley said, predicting that the Senate's June 2011 vote in her favor to lead Obama's Office of Legal Counsel was 'likely the last confirmation she ever experiences.'"
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - What's gray, blubbery, and drifting around Florida in need of support? Newt Gingr-- just kidding. Oh, the huge manatee!
LIKELY GILLIBRAND CHALLENGER NOT GOOD AT THE INTERNET, POLITICS - Mike McAuliff and Mollie Reilly: "On [Marc Cenedella, the CEO of TheLadders.com who is mulling a challenge of Kirsten Gillibrand]'s blog, which until recently was cross-posted on his company's website, he posted about and linked freely to just about anything. Among the things he cited or referenced were explicit pornography sites, publications that objectified women, volumes of material criticizing infamous Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, and various stories about criminals that involved marijuana. In a questionable choice for a man likely planning to challenge a female senator, he approvingly tweeted a photo of a knife sharpener in the shape of a woman being sliced in half. He allows readers to ruminate on 'Skanky vs. Sexy,'...He also jokes that maybe he can "cotton to" the Bible after linking to a post that says the holy book advocates marriage between a man and one or more women." [HuffPost]
- Texting while walking may be hazardous to your health. [http://bit.ly/xopwxt]
- Stop, collaborate and listen: Ice is back with a brand new marketing strategy. [PUBLIhttp://bit.ly/wbNFtYCATION]
- Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah... am so in tune with you... [http://bit.ly/wrfWM7]
- Hobby, maybe: Animal husbandry. [http://bit.ly/zniM6w]
- Hobby, maybe: Storming the castle. [http://bit.ly/yogYR6]
- Hobby, maybe: Canine actor coaching. [http://bit.ly/AamJMK]
- Habit, maybe: Weed-roasting. [http://bit.ly/A0cTr2]
- Hobby, maybe: Finnish slot-racing. [http://bit.ly/z9CwQ2]
- Hobby, maybe: Portraitball. [http://bit.ly/yitP7d]
@seungminkim: Inbox: "REP. PASCRELL APPLAUDS ANNOUNCEMENT OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN TOUR DATES"
@aseitzwald: I wonder if Turbo Tax would explode if Romney tried to use it.
@marcambinder: Not to be outdone, Ron Paul showed reporters the two mattresses he uses to store rolls of quarters.
6:00pm - 8:00pm: Echo chamber collides with spin room, breaks DC fishbowl at the Atlantic/National Journal S.O.T.U. Party. [Library of Congress, 10 First Street SE]
6:00pm - 8:00pm: The Jefferson Island Club's S.O.T.U. Oyster Roast is hands down the best pre-game on the Hill. [2237 Rayburn]
6:30pm: The guy who started the famous Green Zone dive bar the "Baghdad Country Club" discusses war and booze. [New America Foundation, 1899 L Street NW]
7:00pm: Drew Barrymore attends the world premiere of the whale movie "Big Miracle." It's a fundraiser for TAPS, so she probably won't flash anyone. Sad. [Loews Georgetown 3111 K Street N.W.]
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