President Obama held a press conference to divert media attention from Super Tuesday but failed spectacularly when he didn't sing. DSCC operative Rush Limbaugh continued to help Democrats shore up the women's vote. And Newt Gingrich looked very peaceful while sleeping during his AIPAC appearance. "Thinking about the book deal you'll land after your failed presidential candidacy" is the new "counting sheep." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, March 6th, 2012:
DEMS HEART GAS NOW - A growing alliance of Democratic leaders and the natural gas industry looks like it's bearing fruit for both sides, with Democrats looking to attach the natural gas subsidy bill as an amendment, by Bob Menendez, to the highway thing in the Senate. It can't hurt that George Soros now owns more than $130 million worth of Westport Innovations, a leading natural gas engine company (which could get up to $200 million in the bill). The partnership is also the result of years of work by tycoon T. Boone Pickens to shed a well-earned partisan image and work productively with Harry Reid. Earlier today, Democrats failed to muster the needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, but Senate aides said negotiations were continuing and the bill was likely to return to the floor. Pickens' effort shows the power that money can wield in Washington -- sometimes without even being spent. At a fundraiser last month for a Nebraska Republican Senate candidate, the candidate told some of those gathered that Pickens told him he couldn't financially back his bid because he had promised Reid that, because the majority leader had agreed to push his natural gas bill, he would not target races that might cost him his majority. One of the people at the event then told HuffPost Hill. And now HuffPost Hill told you. [HuffPost]
SUPER TUESDAY AND WHY THE MEDIA SHOULD READ 'MONEYBALL' - Mark Blumenthal, our polling guru/resident subject for a would-be Michael Lewis book, basically telling us to focus more on on-base percentage and slugging (if politics is Major League Baseball, then Mark is Billy Beane... or maybe the Red Sox guy that offers Billy Beane a job at the end, um... we didn't really suss this one out): "With all eyes focused on the closest Super Tuesday Republican primaries, such as those in Ohio and Tennessee, the most critical states for the all-important race for delegates may instead be Virginia, Massachusetts and Idaho -- states that receive relatively little attention but could provide Mitt Romney with a huge boost in convention delegates. Although much of the news coverage has focused until now on the symbolic importance of victories in early primary and caucus states, the Republican nomination battle now becomes mostly a fight to win the 1,144 convention delegates necessary to secure the Republican nomination." [HuffPost]
ROMNEY'S FORECLOSURE FLIP - Mitt Romney has apparently abandoned his earlier belief that the government should stand back and allow foreclosures to happen as quickly as possible so the housing market can bottom out. And his latest plan for staving off foreclosures is indistinguishable from the Obama administration's. "We need those banks to be willing to renegotiate with people who are underwater in their homes to make sure people can stay in their homes," Romney said Saturday at a campaign event in Dayton, Ohio. "If you have someone who has an income and can meet payments that are a little lower than their current mortgage, then work with them, renegotiate, don't put the home into foreclosure if those people are able to stay in the home and meet those obligations." But last year Romney had struck a different tone when he said the government shouldn't interfere in the housing realm. "Don't try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom," he said. [HuffPost]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Arizona legislators declined last year to change state law in order to preserve 20 weeks of federal jobless aid for their long-term unemployed constituents, opting instead to spend the final days of the legislative session naming a state gun. This year they're working on something even better: The state senate just passed a bill to make unemployed people pee in cups. "Most people get benefits now even if they were fired for something like drug use and it isn't fair to the others," Republican Senator Ron Gould said, according to AP. [AP]
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'HUGE TRANSPORTATION BILL STALLS, HITS SENATE ROADBLOCK' - A delightful, 7-car metaphor pileup from Mike McAuliff: "A transportation bill worth $109 billion and an estimated 3 million jobs stalled in the Senate on Tuesday amid battles over amendments that have little or nothing to do with transportation. Efforts to begin considering the measure were delayed by a failed 52-44 vote to end debate, when 60 votes were required. Republican sources said that their side had settled on the amendments they want -- including certain unrelated ones -- but that Democrats could not agree on their amendments. Democrats declined to elaborate. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said before the vote that it was time to move ahead and blamed the GOP for pushing a stack of amendments that would, among other things, ease air pollution restrictions on incinerators." [HuffPost]
OBAMA ATTACKS REPUBLICANS FOR 'CASUALNESS' OF WAR VIEWS - War is hell. Casual war is hell in jeans. Jen Bendery: "In his most direct attack to date on the Republicans vying for his job, President Barack Obama on Tuesday knocked his GOP challengers for their 'casualness' in talking about the prospect of going to war with Iran, suggesting that their tough talk is devoid of any real substance. During a White House press conference, Obama said there is still time for dealing diplomatically with Iran as the country signals it may be trying to develop a nuclear weapon. That is the view of U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials, he said, and as such, he said he plans to keep working with the international community to impose sanctions on Iran. Then, without naming names, the president slammed Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, who have criticized him for being too passive on Iran by not endorsing military action." [HuffPost]
EAT UP - On HuffPost DC: "Pepe, Jose Andres' new food truck is getting great early reviews. Also, 'Top Chef' Mike Isabella is expanding his restaurant empire with two new spots off 14th Street NW and another in Georgetown."
President Obama also wondered aloud about Rush Limbaugh's soul, which we're pretty sure is on loan from Skynet: "I don't know what's in Rush Limbaugh's heart, so I'm not going to comment on the sincerity of his apology. What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree on, that the remarks that were made don't have any place in the public discourse. And the reason I called [Fluke] is because I thought about Malia and Sasha, and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about --even ones I may not agree with them on. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way, and I don't want them attacked or called horrible names because they are being good citizens." [HuffPost's Laura Bassett]
@mkraju: Spotted: Roland Burris in the Senate, quips that we have "no one to beat up on" now that he's gone
Tragic metaphor enthusiast Newt Gingrich fell asleep during an AIPAC satellite appearance today.
SCOTT BROWN PROBABLY OWES LISA MURKOWSKI A BEER (OR TEN) - This happened: "Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) regrets voting for a controversial birth control amendment by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and wouldn't vote for it again if given the chance, she told the Anchorage Daily News this week. 'I have never had a vote I've taken where I have felt that I let down more people that believed in me,' she said in a Sunday interview with the newspaper. Asked if she would vote for the amendment again if she could do it over, Murkowski said, 'No.'" [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]
"Potheads for Kerrey" probably won't appear on Bob Kerrey for Nebraska-sanctioned bumper stickers anytime soon. Mike McAuliff: "Kerrey, a Democratic senator for Nebraska in the 1990s, has a scant public record of support for marijuana legalization so far. But several longtime advocates for rewriting pot laws point out that he has a history of advising his old friend Peter Lewis, the billionaire founder of Progressive Insurance and the leading financial backer of marijuana policy reform, on Lewis' efforts. Kerrey has known Lewis for decades. His role in advising Lewis on pot policy was first reported two years ago. In a Huffington Post blog post in 2010, Kerrey called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to let doctors inform veterans about medical marijuana." [HuffPost]
REP. DONALD PAYNE PASSES AWAY - "U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, the elder statesman of New Jersey's congressional delegation, died after a months-long battle with colon cancer today. The longtime politician was 77. Payne announced last month he was under treatment for colon cancer but said that he expected to make a full recovery. Last week, though, his health took a turn for the worse. He was hospitalized at Georgetown University Hospital, but on Friday was flown back to New Jersey on a medical transport. After arriving at Teterboro airport, he was taken to St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. Payne, a Democrat who represented New Jersey's 10th congressional district for 23 years, was placed in hospice care and died at roughly 2:30 this morning. The state's first -- and before his death its only active -- black congressman, Payne headed one of Newark's most powerful political dynasties. His son Donald Payne Jr. is the Newark City Council president, as well as an Essex County Freeholder. His brother and lifelong political partner, William, is a former state assemblyman." [Star-Ledger]
That sound you don't hear is the DSCC popping one less Xanax: "Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., the only statewide elected Democrat, said Monday she will be seeking a fourth term in the 2014 elections. 'I am definitely running for re-election,' Landrieu told reporters after a luncheon speech to the Press Club of Baton Rouge. 'My numbers are moving in the right direction.' She said she is not aware of any opponent yet although the Republican Party is expected to field a strong candidate,possibly U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, to run against her." [Times-Picayune]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Cute spastic dog befriends mechanical toy.
JOE THE PLUMBER TO ANNOUNCE THAT HE WILL RECEIVE THE MOST DISPROPORTIONATE MEDIA ATTENTION THIS CYCLE - "Joe the Plumber is back, possibly as a congressman. America's most famous (former) plumber, whose real name is Joe Wurzelbacher, is running on Tuesday against local auctioneer Steve Kraus for the Republican nomination in Ohio's newly created 9th Congressional District. Wurzelbacher became an overnight star during the 2008 presidential campaign after he asked Barack Obama a question about taxes. Republicans nicknamed him Joe the Plumber, and the McCain-Palin camp propped him up as a symbol of middle-class Americans. Wurzelbacher told the Toledo Blade that he's spent the last two months going around knocking on doors to show that he's not 'a mean old Republican.'" [HuffPost]
- "Three Things You Didn't Know About Dulles Airport." [http://huff.to/wwb8hS]
- No one is safe from Godzilla, the disgruntled turkey. [http://huff.to/xuCdu7]
- Behind the scenes from Jurassic Park [http://huff.to/w5mG6Y]
- "Cameraman John Ingalls describes capturing a drug drop from the air on camera... something never before seen on video." [http://huff.to/wvpFvT]
- Be proud of your afro, young man. [http://bit.ly/xWlILM]
- "Super Morrissey Bros." is an eight-bit cover of The Smiths' "This Charming Man." [http://huff.to/yXEKuP]
- Kitten versus baby monkey. OH IT'S ON. [http://huff.to/A4W03K]
- Why did it take so long to invent the wheel? A must read for fans of wheels. [http://bit.ly/xSFzRb]
@brianbeutler: Reminder that it's 2012 and "salivate for war" remains a perfectly respectable thing to do within the establishment.
@ Travis_Waldron : Dick Morris says there's no way Obama will win, which means there's now no way Obama will lose.
@jamespmanley: @mmcauliff my god, does everyone at huff post write about weed?
6:30pm: Come smell the desperation at Newt Gingrich's election night party. Just don't get too close, cuz he's got Secret Service now. Blam! [2450 Galleria Pkwy., Atlanta]
6:00pm - 8:00pm: Endangered Senate Dems quietly cheer the horrendous GOP presidential field at their Spring Reception. [Top secret location]
6:00pm - 8:00pm: There's a crawfish boil that should be OK, as long as you ignore the for-profit pesticide consultants sponsoring it. [Longworth Cafeteria]
6:00pm - 8:00pm: The Hellenic Institute's reception to laud Greece's role in the Marshall Plan, ignore Greece's role in f***ing up the global economy. [2255 Rayburn]
8:00pm: Rick Santorum's Ohio election night party could turn out really depressing if, well, you know... [420 North Fourth St., Steubenville Ohio]
9:30pm: Mitt Romney's Super Tuesday rally in Boston gives his prepster fans a chance to par-tay in Beantown. [10 Huntington Ave.]
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