It's primary day in Florida, where busfulls of senior citizens are doing what they do best: judging people. Newt Gingrich's campaign accused Mitt Romney of denying Holocaust survivors kosher food (that's not a joke, that ACTUALLY happened). And Michele Bachmann said God told her to run for president, however she might want to find slightly more reliable counsel on how to pay down her seven-figure campaign debt. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, January 31st, 2012:
FUNDRAISING DAY! - The FEC released fourth quarter fundraising numbers and Paul Blumenthal is a pig in shit today. The truffles he sniffed out are stacked here. But better yet, just sign up for his evening newsletter, HuffPost Fundrace, which is kind of like HuffPost Hill, only useful. [Sign up]
LAST FLORIDA POLLS SHOW IT'S ROMNEY'S TO LOSE - Mark Blumenthal: "The final two polls on the Florida presidential primary are in, and they show little or no change over the last two or three days of the campaign. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appears headed for victory in the Sunshine State, with polls differing only on the size of his margin. The final poll from the American Research Group(ARG), conducted by live interviewers from Jan. 29 to 30, shows Romney leading former House Speaker Newt Gingrich by 12 points (43 to 31 percent), with Rick Santorum (13 percent) and Ron Paul (9 percent) running a distant third and fourth. And the final Florida update from the Democratic Party-affiliated firm Public Policy Polling (PPP), based on automated, recorded-voice interviewing conducted from Jan. 28 to 30, gives Romney an eight point lead over Gingrich (39 to 31 percent), followed by Santorum (15 percent) and Paul (11 percent)." [HuffPost]
A really fun election tool to bookmark.
Tonight in Roll Call, a look at Marco Rubio's influence in Florida: "Former Gov. Jeb Bush retains near iconic status among Florida Republicans and his endorsement in the presidential contest, should he grant one, could offer a candidate the kind of national credibility and fundraising assistance that is yet beyond Rubio¹s capability. But it was the unaligned Rubio who occupied more political space in the final, tumultuous days of the presidential primary campaign, as candidates fought over who was more closely -- and positively -- associated with him. One Republican insider with Florida ties referred to Bush as the state GOP's 'chairman of the board' and Rubio as 'president and CEO' -- a description echoed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who won the 2008 primary and spent the weekend campaigning for Romney. Rubio is expected to play a major role in the fall campaign -- in Florida and nationally, whether as a running mate or key surrogate that helps the GOP broaden its base with Hispanics."
Florida's top Google searches relating to Romney: "Mitt bio," "tax return," "net worth," "George." Newt's: "Callista," "Newt ethics violations," "Newt wives," "Newt scandals." [WaPo]
CANCER CURED, KOMEN FOUNDATION WADES INTO ABORTION DEBATE - AP: "The nation's leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is halting its partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates -- creating a bitter rift, linked to the abortion debate, between two iconic organizations that have assisted millions of women. The change will mean a cutoff of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, mainly for breast exams. Planned Parenthood says the move results from Komen bowing to pressure from anti-abortion activists. Komen says the key reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress -- a probe launched by a conservative Republican who was urged to act by anti-abortion groups." [AP]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER -The Indiana House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday that would drug test people who apply for welfare, along with members of the Indiana General Assembly. "I feel it is imperative that your tax dollars go to those who are truly trying to better themselves. We must provide incentives for people to bring themselves out of poverty and to do the right thing," said Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), the bill's sponsor, in a statement. "I am excited to help our state become a national leader on this important issue." [HuffPost]
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GOP BOYCOTT OF CFPB CHIEF FAILS - A proposed GOP boycott of the CFPB director's appearance before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee didn't pan out. Instead, the hearing room looked like, well, it was hearing the testimony of a guy who runs something called "The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau." That is to say, some people showed up and some people opted to attend fundraisers at the Capitol Hill Club, or what not. Mike McAuliff: "[O]nly half the GOP members skipped Richard Cordray's appearance out of pique over his recess appointment. Republican senators had vowed to block any nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but Obama went around them, putting Cordray in the job with a controversial recess appointment while senators were away for the Christmas vacation. They had been holding only "pro forma" sessions solely to prevent such appointments. Some on the GOP side had hoped for a complete boycott, but four members of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs broke ranks. Some Democrats seemed entertained that the boycott failed to materialize. 'I can't help but note the fact that we had a healthy attendance in committee this morning,' Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said." [HuffPost]
CBO PROJECTS LACKLUSTER UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR 2012 - So a lot of folks will have extra time to watch Ricki Lake, start unnecessary Tumblrs... and think about how they don't want to vote for the president. The Hill: "The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday predicted the deficit will rise to $1.08 trillion in 2012. The office also projected the jobless rate would rise to 8.9 percent by the end of 2012, and to 9.2 percent in 2013. These are much dimmer forecasts than in CBO's last report in August, when the office projected a $973 billion deficit. The report reflects weaker corporate tax revenue and the extension for two months of the payroll tax holiday." [The Hill]
GINGRICH ROBOCALL: ROMNEY FORCED HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS TO EAT NON-KOSHER FOOD - Before you get all upset, maybe Mitt Romney ran an earlier robocall accusing Gingrich of forcing people to eat Solyent Green? Just a thought. Amanda Terkel with the scoop: "The allegation made in the call, obtained by anti-robocall activist Shaun Dakin, is undoubtedly targeted at Florida's large Jewish and elderly populations...The call is referencing Romney's veto of a 2003 bill. It came at a time that some nursing homes were considering eliminating their kosher kitchens during a period of budget cuts. Their plan was to instead bus in kosher food from other locations. The bill Romney vetoed would have given an additional $600,000 in funding to nursing homes, therefore making it possible for them to continue cooking kosher food on site...The Gingrich campaign did not return a request for comment." [HuffPost]
Robocall excerpt: "Holocaust survivors, who for the first time, were forced to eat non-kosher, because Romney thought $5 was too much to pay for our grandparents to eat kosher. Where is Mitt Romney's compassion for our seniors? Tuesday you can end Mitt Romney's hypocrisy on religious freedom, with a vote for Newt Gingrich. Paid for by Newt 2012."
Gingrich responds: "I have no idea what you're talking about...You might check to see if it is true."
Muppet Newt Gingrich sings about his moon base.
OH, TO EXIST IN MITT ROMNEY'S HEAD FOR JUST FIVE MINUTES... - Speaking to reporters in Tampa, Mitt Romney said, "in South Carolina we were vastly outspent with negative ads attacking me and we stood back and spoke about President Obama and suffered the consequence of that." Romney's statement is true if you don't count the PAC money, and the contribution money and ... uh ... money: "Independent analyses show that Romney's campaign and associated super PAC spent nearly double what Gingrich's forces did in the state. Romney's spokeswomen did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the former Massachusetts governor's statement. Romney, who has blitzed Florida airwaves with a deluge of anti-Gingrich advertising and, according to sources familiar with the media buys, has outspent the former House speaker by a five-to-one margin in the state, said he'll respond to attacks and suggested it is Gingrich who is running a more negative Florida campaign." [Politico]
@jonward11: Romney press release: "NEWT PROMISED FLORIDIANS THE MOON -- WILL HE PROMISE STARDUST FOR NEVADANS?"
Michele Bachmann ended her campaign in debt, filings show. Marcus will undoubtedly have to pray away twice as much gay from his clients to make up for this. MinnPost: "Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign is more than $1 million in debt, according to a Federal Election Commission filing. The campaign raised more than $1.7 million and spent more than $2.6 million between October and December. Bachmann's campaign ended with $1.05 million in outstanding debt, and nearly $615,000 in cash-on-hand between her main presidential campaign committee and a secondary authorized committee." [MinnPost]
Well played, America: "Satirist Stephen Colbert's 'super PAC' has raised more than $1 million since it was formed last summer, the committee's treasurer said in a letter to the Federal Election Commission. The letter accompanied required financial filings for 2011, which show that the committee raised $824,305.46 and spent $151,521.01 last year. The PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, 'would like it entered into the record that as of January 30th, 2012, the sum total of our donations was $1,023,121.24,' wrote treasurer Shauna Polk. 'Yeah! How you like me now, F.E.C?' Colbert said in a quote that was included in the letter. 'I'm rolling seven digits deep! I got 99 problems but a non-connected independent-expenditure only committee ain't one!'" [LA Times]
HAS HERMAN CAIN RENOUNCED '999'??? - Not quite, but this is like the flat tax equivalent of when Lennon started denouncing the Beatles. Sam Stein: Former presidential candidate Herman Cain nearly stormed off the set during a commercial break while doing an MSNBC interview Tuesday, after a panelist said he would question him about the regressive nature of his flat tax policy. Cain appeared as an in-studio guest on 'Now With Alex Wagner' to discuss the state of the Republican primary race. The first segment stayed largely on that topic, with the former Godfather's Pizza CEO defending Newt Gingrich -- his candidate of choice -- on charges ranging from racial insensitivity and influence peddling. When the crew went to commercial break, things combusted. Fellow panelist Ben White, the Wall Street correspondent for Politico, said that he told Cain during the break that when the panel returned he would press him on the fact that his 999 tax plan 'raises taxes on 84% and 1000 percent on poor.' The former presidential candidate, according to White's twitter feed, 'Said he'd walk if I did.'" [HuffPost]
Just two guys, strongly accenting their 'o's: "President Barack Obama knew he would be getting questions from people all over the country in Monday evening's video chat with the public, but one thing he didn't know was that he would get a question from himself. At least, from someone who looks and sounds a lot like him. 'Dear Mr. President. It's me, your premier President Barack Obama impressionist of the United States of America,' began the video clip submitted by Obama impersonator Iman Crosson, who appeared in a suit and seated behind a mock Oval Office desk surrounded by photos of the Obama family. President Obama, the real one, can be heard laughing in the background...The video cuts off as a red phone on the desk rings and Crosson says, 'Oh, I gotta get that.'" [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Check your local weather. We have reports of scattered sheepstorms.
- Groundhog Day, explained in two minutes. [http://bit.ly/xKzvY2]
- Game of Thrones, season 2 full trailer. 60 days and counting... [http://chzb.gr/x0YCjx]
- An infographic-y animation, set to a Bill Maher book excerpt, connecting the NFL to socialism. [http://bit.ly/zrW1oS]
- Bueller is back. [http://bit.ly/zyoCtv]
- That's not where food is supposed to go. [http://foodonmydog.tumblr.com/]
- Street musician plays electric violin, with a loop pedal. [http://bit.ly/wNJEBy]
- Happy dogs! [http://bit.ly/xBXeUz]
- Beautiful bookstores! [http://bit.ly/yHw6Sn]
@choire: Wish Al Gore would send the Internet to its room to think about what it's done.
@politicalwire: As we wait for votes to be counted in Florida tonight, what could possibly go wrong?
@PaulBlu: The reports that you are actually waiting for will come at the end of the day when you want to go drink a beer.
7:45pm: Mitt Romney's Victory Party should be finished early, leaving his supporters plenty of time to sample Tampa's other donations-driven industries. [Tampa Convention Center - Ballroom C, 333 South Franklin St., Tampa, Fla.]
8:00pm: Newt Gingrich's bummer-of-a-party will be held in the cruel shadow of Disney World. Of course, Gingrich won't know that -- he'll already be on a plane to Vegas. [Rosen Centre Hotel, 9480 International Blvd., Orlando, Fla.]
5:00pm: Sen. Richard Blumenthal's UCONN basketball fundraiser would be a lot cooler if Blumenthal hadn't graduated from Yale. #whiffofcharity [Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW]
6:00pm: The Split This Rock Poetry Festival's "Voices Out Loud" evening celebrates civil rights poetry with poets Chris August, Regie Cabico and Twain Dooley. [1250 New York Avenue NW]
6:00pm: Sen. Patrick Leahy (who was in a few "Batman" movies) presents the Smithsonian Bicentennial Medal to Clint Eastwood. And yeah, it's gonna make Pat's day. [National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Ave. NW]
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