After a morning spent deflecting questions about Barack Obama's flashy car choices and squashing false rumors about his wife's pricey lingerie, the White House's communication staff is definitely ready for some celebrity clients. Much to Mitt Romney's chagrin -- and Petco's delight -- David Axelrod implied that we all must treat our dogs like Bo Obama. And David Vitter compared the anchor who asked him about his prostitution scandal to John King -- an obvious reference to the debate when John King asked Newt Gingrich if he ever retained the services of the D.C. Madam. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, January 30th, 2012:
@davidaxelrod: How loving owners transport their dogs. bit.ly/xGeJuZ
SENATE ADVANCES 'LET'S QUIT BEING DIRTBAGS' BILL - Mike McAuliff: "The Senate advanced a bill Monday that aims to curb potential insider trading by Congress. The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act, easily passed a procedural vote 93 to 2, clearing the way for a debate and amendment process that insiders expect will end with passage of the measure by the end of the week. The measure would require members of Congress and higher ranking staffers and federal employees to specifically abide by insider trading rules that apply to everyone, with the added protection of requiring members of Congress and their top aides to reports significant financial transactions within 30 days."
MARIJUANA ADVOCATES TO ASK PRESIDENT ABOUT POT LEGALIZATION, SNACKS - HA HA!!! Get it!? Stoners like snacks!!! Anyway, we jest -- they'll probably just ask him about whether Trey Anastasio's solo stuff was horrible, or just really bad...and snacks. Roll Call: "When President Barack Obama tonight takes voters' questions submitted via YouTube, the marijuana lobby could be his toughest audience. Many of the top-ranked questions -- as voted on by the public -- for Obama's post-State of the Union 'conversation' titled 'Your Interview with the President' have come from people who urge pot legalization. It's just the latest example of drug policy dominating a presidential request for questions or proposals from the public. And it reveals how advocacy organizations of all types work to gin up questions or public support for their queries to get their message in front of the president." [Roll Call]
Some of the stranger questions submitted to YouTube: "dear president obama which pony is best pony? my favorite is rainbow dash - Anonymous," "What is your favorite animal? Do not say great egret. - kmscmt, 'merica," "Why don't you build a colony on the moon and send all the Republicans there? - krobertr," "Are there aliens in Area 51? - lordbalmung1" [Politico]
NEWT GINGRICH SUED FOR USING 'EYE OF THE TIGER' - It's the eye of the tiget / it's the thrill of the fight / it's the lawfirm of McNally, Bernstein and Smith, etc. TMZ (yep): "Newt Gingrich is being sued by the company which owns the rights to the 1982 song, 'Eye of the Tiger -- claiming Newt had no right to use it as part of his campaign. Rude Music Inc. -- owned by a member of the band Survivor -- filed the suit today infederal court in Illinois ... claiming Newt has jacked the song made famous in "Rocky III" to push his political agenda. According to the lawsuit, Newt has been using the song at various political events since 2009. In the suit, Rude Music claims Gingrich used the song at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2009, 2010 and 2011 ... as well as the Southern RepublicanLeadership Conference in 2010." [TMZ]
GINGRICH'S SUPER PACS TOTALLY UNSUPER - Running tomorrow in Roll Call from Eliza Newlin Carney: "In tomorrow's paper, Roll Call's Eliza Newlin Carney reports on Newt Gingrich's less-than-Super PACs. Super PACs backing Newt Gingrich have dominated media coverage of the GOP Florida primary that will be decided [Tuesday], but their impact is starting to look less than super. Two pro-Gingrich super PACs appear to have dropped out altogether. The biggest Gingrich-friendly super PAC spent $6 million in Florida backing the former Speaker, but a big chunk of it went into a ground operation that some argue was too ambitious for an independent group. The role of super PACs in Florida may underscore the limits to how much can be accomplished on the presidential campaign trail by such unrestricted groups, some political observers say. The landmark Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission freed up these groups to raise big money quickly. But super PAC organizers must keep candidates at arm's length, making it harder to round up volunteers and turn out voters in the field."
Joe Lieberman has a bad case of senior-itis. Mike McAuliff: "Joe Lieberman, whom some have likened to Elmer Fudd, brought up Dr. Seuss's Thidwick the Moose, in an appeal to members of the Senate to not kill the STOCK Act, apparently by piling too much crap on it. Scott Brown responded: 'I love hearing your stories and that's why I'm reading your book'"
@davidaxelrod: How loving owners transport their dogs. bit.ly/xGeJuZ
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - As promised, Indiana Republican Rep. Jud McMillin has come up with a new version of his welfare drug testing bill with a provision to require testing members of the Indiana General Assembly. He'd withdrawn his drug testing bill last week after a Democrat amended it to test lawmakers, saying the way the amendment was written would be unconstitutional. Curiously, in the new bill welfare applicants who miss meetings will arouse "reasonable suspicion," but lawmakers who miss votes won't. "I just think it's a complete joke," state Rep. Ryan Dvorak, the Democrat who wrote the original lawmaker drug testing provision, told DDD. Developing....
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ONE DAY BEFORE FLORIDA, ROMNEY IS STILL UP - Mark Blumenthal: "Six new polls released late Sunday or Monday found that Mitt Romney's lead over Newt Gingrich ranges from five to 20 percentage points...A Quinnipiac University poll conducted from Jan. 27 to 29 shows Romney leading Gingrich by 14 points (43 to 29 percent). Rick Santorum and Ron Paul received 11 percent each. A SurveyUSA/WFLA poll conducted over the same dates puts Romney ahead by 15 points (41 to 26 percent). Santorum and Paul received 12 percent each. An NBC News/Marist College poll released on Sunday but conducted a few days earlier, from Jan. 25 to 27, shows Romney leading Gingrich by 15 points (42 to 27 percent), followed by Santorum at 16 percent and Paul at 11 percent. The largest Romney lead to date comes from a Suffolk University poll released on Monday, which shows the former Massachusetts governor leading the former House speaker by 20 points (47 to 27 percent), followed by Santorum (12 percent) and Paul (9 percent)." [HuffPost]
Mitt Romney bonus: We're all talking about Paul Tsongas now.
MITT ROMNEY WAS FOR SOMETHING BEFORE HE WAS AGAINST IT, PART 529,316 - Laura Bassett: "The Mitt Romney campaign sharply criticized President Barack Obama's recent decision to require most religiously affiliated employers to offer their employees birth control coverage in an email toThe New York Times Sunday, calling it a 'direct attack on religious liberty.' But in 2005, Romney made an almost identical decision as governor of Massachusetts. Romney vetoed a bill that would require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims, but the Massachusetts legislature overturned that veto. He then changed his position on the issue, denying Catholic and other private hospitals an exemption that would have allowed them to refuse to offer the pill to their patients. Although Romney had already begun opposing abortion rights at that point and had written aBoston Globe op-ed arguing that he opposed the morning after pill because he believed it could cause abortions, he said his lawyers had advised him to scrap the old Massachusetts law that barred the state from forcing private hospitals to dispense contraception." [HuffPost]
@samyoungman: Romney: Newt not doing well. Crowd cheers. Romney: "I know, it's sad,isn't it?" Says Newt "flailing about" has been "painfully revealing"
Newt Gingrich is fond of reminding everyone that A) he knows how to use the internet and B) Mitt Romney changes his political positions a lot. Now he is doing both at www.TalesofMitt.com
GINGRICH VOWS TO STAY IN RACE - If ever there's a debate moderator who needs to be belittled, he'll be there. If ever a poor child needs to be goaded into entering the workforce, he'll be there. If ever there's a campaign stop in a politically crucial state, he'll... maybe be on vacation. Amanda Terkel: "At a rally with supporters early Monday morning at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront, which featured an appearance by Ronald Reagan's son Michael Reagan, Newt Gingrich made fun of the media for continually asking him what he was going to do after the Florida primary, saying he was in it for the long haul: 'The last three national polls, I am ahead of Romney. Why would people have any doubt about what I'm going to do? I remember Michael's father in 1976, he lost the first five primaries. He didn't actually find the key issue that galvanized the conservative movement until North Carolina. He came within 70 votes of beating the incumbent president of the United States. The idea that the conservative movement is going to roll over and give up -- not going to happen!'" [HuffPost]
Jon Ward's latest report from the campaign trail reads like a well-written Yelp review of Gingrich's campaign operation: "As I stood there, another journalist came through the blue curtain from the other side, and motioned that Gingrich was there. I started to go through the curtain, when a man in a brown suit placed his hands on me and held me back from walking through. I told him, motioning to the 50 or so reporters about 50 feet away who were standing around Gingrich, 'Do you see all those reporters over there?' The man grew frustrated. 'I'm law enforcement. Do you want to go to jail?' he said, laying his hands on me again.'" [HuffPost]
@ZekeJMiller: Cops say they were told to expect crowd of 500-5000 at Gingrich event. With press he was still way short of the low end.
FLATTERING STORY ABOUT THE PRESIDENT'S LEADERSHIP SKILLS LEAKED, INVESTIGATION TO PROBABLY NOT FOLLOW - File this one alongside "EXCLUSIVE: Details of President's Pick-Up Game Revealed." ABC News: "Vice President Joe Biden confessed this weekend that he advised President Obama not to launch the mission that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden last spring. During remarks at a Democratic congressional retreat this weekend, Biden explained that when it came time to make the final decision, he had some lingering uncertainties about whether the 9/11 mastermind was in the suspected compound in Pakistan. When the president asked his top advisers for their final opinion on the mission, all of them were hesitant, except for the former CIA director, now Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Biden said." [ABC News]
President Obama's old 2005 Chrysler Series 300C is for sale on eBay. The current owner is selling the vehicle for $1,000,000 -- which no one has offered. The car, which looks like something a 1920s mobster would drive if he were transported to the early 21st century, is perfect for anyone who wants onlookers to think they own several mid-rate nightclubs. [eBay]
CNN ANCHOR ASKS DAVID VITTER ABOUT DAVID VITTER, BLOGOSPHERE ABUZZ - You do not ask Senator Vitter about A) his double chin, B) his middle name ("Bruce") and C) you know... that other thing. "CNN's Ashleigh Banfield waded into a very awkward minefield on Monday's 'Early Start,' quizzing Louisiana Senator David Vitter about his past issues with prostitution in the light of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign... 'I'm going to do a right turn here,' Banfield said... 'So, and it's awkward for me to even ask it but I got to, and I think you know where I'm going with this.' 'I don't, but go ahead,' Vitter said. Banfield dug in, quoting Vitter saying he had committed a 'serious sin.'... This got Vitter a little riled up. 'You're personally, in my opinion, outdoing John King, but go for it,' he said, referring to Banfield's CNN colleague who infamously tangled with Newt Gingrich about his infidelities." [HuffPost]
Also this: "In an interview with CBS 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta revealed more about the secret process the Obama administration uses to kill American citizens suspected of terrorism without trial. According to Panetta, the president himself approves the decision based on recommendations from top national security officials." [MoJo]
We fell for it (and should know better than to believe anything the British press reports that wasn't obtained via wiretap): "The White House communications staff must have had a fun Monday as they denied rumors that Michelle Obama spent $50,000 on lingerie during a private shopping spree with the Queen of Qatar at a British boutique. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney surprised no one when he said the story was 'irresponsibly false.' But whither these rather frivolous rumors?" [Atlantic Wire]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Pudgy puppies crawl around and squeak and such.
ICYMI: K Street is bailing from Egypt. No matter, we give it a few months until GPG is sending email blasts promoting Kim Jong-un's work on behalf of a charity that provides low-cost cleft palate surgeries. (Kidding!) Foreign Policy: "The Livingston Group, run by former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA), the Moffett Group, run by former Rep. Toby Moffett (D-CT), and the Podesta Group, run by Tony Podesta, unanimously severed their combined $90,000 per month contract with the Egyptian government, Politico reported late Friday, quoting Livingston directly. The three firms had formed what is known as the PLM Group, a lobbying entity created to advocate on behalf of the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, who was deposed in February 2011 after 18 days of massive street protests. According to the disclosure filings, Egypt has paid PLM more than $4 million since 2007." [Foreign Policy]
- Maru haz new house! [http://bit.ly/w7LYfD]
- Twitter's hiring more people, maybe to help out censoring stuff. [http://bit.ly/Ae5pAf]
- Mama Otter is grateful for a few minutes of peace. Also, fish. [http://bit.ly/w2Hsof]
- Sh*t Politicians Say. Is this a cowboy hat state? [http://bit.ly/y8X54F]
- Here's a gorgeous computer-animated short about flying books and their caretaker. 15mins. [http://bit.ly/zRkfin]
- The tech rehearsal for the Fla. CNN debate offers a glimpse behind-the-scenes. Holograms must've had the day off. [http://bit.ly/ynbels]
- T-Rex tries to do things, generally fails. [http://trextrying.tumblr.com/]
- Getting a perfect score in an event called "SuperPipe" may not mean anything to you, but the video of Shaun White's X-Games run is damn impressive. [http://bit.ly/x2HZjm]
@NYTFriedman: The only way to prevent the U.S. horse from being overtaken by 8,000 Chinese with minimal caloric needs is via a 21st century G.I. Bill.
@aseitzwald: Watch news anchor awkwardly ask Thad McCotter if he's designated survivor when clip doesn't roll. youtu.be/c6CEDECs0ms
@jmhattem: After all these diner lunches on the campaign trail, I'm afraid I'm going the way of grease
Tomorrow, 8:30 am - 10:00 am: Coming as she does from the poorest, most Volvo-deprived district in America, Montgomery County's own Donna Edwards gets a much-needed fundraising boost. Remember the neediest! [National Democratic Club Townhouse, 40 Ivy Street SE]
Tomorrow, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm: Larry Kissell celebrates his birthday with a four-figure-a-head fundraiser and an appearance by Kay Hagan. At what point will lawmakers start throwing fundraisers in honor of their wedding anniversaries? Actually, we're sure someone has, we're just too afraid to look. [National Democratic Club Townhouse, 40 Ivy Street SE]
Tomorrow, TBA: Mark Udall, Jeff Merkley and Mark Begich compete to see whose state contains the most survivalists in cabins... at a reception at the DSCC headquarters. [DSCC]
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