Another. Primary. Day. American democracy's favorite oxymoron -- Washington, D.C. voters -- went to the polls. Eager political junkies waited anxiously to see how Mitt Romney will comment on the height of Maryland's trees in his victory speech. And Rick Santorum ... well ... bless his heart. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012:
FINAL PRIMARY PREVIEW: IT'S MITT'S TO LOSE - And, as Mark Blumenthal has it, it'll be hard for even Mitt to, uh, lose: "As Republicans head out to vote in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia, the final pre-election polls show former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney poised to sweep all three contests and gain at least four out of five of all delegates chosen by Tuesday's vote. The Republican race enters April having just passed a significant milestone. As of the Louisiana primary on March 27, GOP presidential primaries or first-round caucuses have been held in 29 states and five territories, enough to account for just over half (52 percent) of the 2,286 delegates who will attend the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., in August...The official count produced by the Republican National Committee, which includes only formally bound delegates, gives Romney 504 delegates to 195 for Santorum, 135 for Gingrich and 27 for Paul. Santorum's campaign and the pro-Santorum super PAC have disputed both estimates, claiming that he is on track to win 520 delegates. Their estimates assume that the candidate will gain ground by winning unpledged delegates selected in state conventions, sweep in the delegates pledged to Gingrich, and convince the Republican Party to allocate delegates from Florida and Arizona on a proportional basis. As The Huffington Post's Jon Ward has reported, those highly optimistic projections are based on a number of shaky assumptions, including continuing momentum for Santorum at the grassroots level." [HuffPost]
THERE'S ALSO AN ELECTION IN DC TODAY - You know, that city a lot of us live in? Michael Grass updates: "There's been low turnout reported at precincts across the nation's capital today, meaning it's hard to make firm predictions on how local District of Columbia races might shake out. What should you watch for tonight? Keep an eye on the incumbent D.C. Council members who want to keep their jobs. While Ward 2's Jack Evans is unopposed, At-Large member Vincent Orange, Ward 4's Muriel Bowser, Ward 7's Yvette Alexander and Ward 8's Marion Barry face crowded Democratic fields. While there's plenty of discontent in the local electorate amid the drumbeat of scandal-tinged headlines, feeble turnout and splintered opposition might mean that the future D.C. Council will look a lot like the current one. The U.S. attorney's office, which has been closely examining the various local campaign-finance scandals, could prove to have the biggest influence on the political landscape as we approach the November general election. [HuffPost DC for more]
In a long HuffPost Hill tradition of offering endorsements after they're useful for most people, we suggest you check the box for Sekou Biddle over Orange.
CORPORATE PERSONHOOD A GOOD THING, FOR ONCE - Paul Blumenthal: "Progressive activists angered by the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission allowing corporations to spend freely in elections often point the finger of blame at the legal doctrine that corporations have certain protections as legal persons. Ironically, that same concept of corporate personhood was just applied by a district court judge in reversing an FEC rule that had permitted the non-disclosure of donors to groups spending money on certain political ads. Many such secret donors are believed to be corporations." [HuffPost]
THIS IS UPSETTING - Florida Independent: "No beating around the bush: It's true. The American Independent News Network announced today that it will be shutting down The Florida Independent effective Fri., April 27. It's no secret that times are tough for journalists all over, and there's no exception for online-only publications, or for nonprofits. Since we launched in May 2010, we have simply been unable to build a strong enough donor base to sustain our operations past the end of April. The site will remain live, but we will cease publishing new content after April 27." [Florida Independent]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - All across America, unemployment insurance is getting stingier. More than a dozen states this month will "trigger off" the second of two federal extensions, which provides up to 20 weeks of benefits for the long-term unemployed. The phaseout represents a compromise between congressional Republicans, who wanted even fewer weeks of benefits, and Democrats, who wanted to preserve federal programs in their entirety for the rest of the year. At the same time federal programs are expiring, state lawmakers are pursuing bills to make unemployed people pass drug tests in some states and to shorten benefits in others. Arizona and South Carolina are currently mulling drug test bills, while Georgia recently slashed the duration of benefits. Hang in there!
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BIG OBAMA SPEECH! BIG OBAMA SPEECH! - Howard Fineman on the aforementioned big speech: "Obama... essentially kicked off the general election season on Tuesday at an annual gathering of newspaper editors, was a grim-faced candidate.... But the main reason for Obama's grim mood Tuesday was the political strategy that he and his aides have decided to pursue. The president did not much bother to tout his administration's achievements. Instead and not by accident, he spent most of his podium time crying havoc about the GOP candidates, the Republican House budget and even what he regards as the danger the Supreme Court will act irresponsibly on health care." [HuffPost]
ENVIRONMENTALISM UPDATE! WHITE HOUSE IN BETWEEN A ROCK AND A CALCIFIED LOCATION - Consider...
1. These excerpts from the president's speech today: "It was Richard Nixon who created the Environmental Protection Agency...Investments in clean energy technologies that are helping us reduce our dependence on foreign oil would be cut by nearly a fifth... Cap and trade was originally proposed by conservatives and Republicans as a market-based solution to solving environmental problems."
2. Then this news, announced today: "The Obama administration is unveiling new procedures to speed up drilling on public lands. The move comes as Republicans and the oil industry have criticized the administration for policies that they claim have diminished oil and gas production on public property -- and contributed to high gasoline prices. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday that the new automated systems will reduce permitting time by two-thirds and expedite the leasing of public lands for drilling, without jeopardizing safety." [Fox News]
The green thing is even harder for the GOP, via Lucia Graves: "After 16 years of trying to marry their party's support for drilling and climate change denial with environmental protection, Republicans for Environmental Protection is dropping the word 'Republican' from its name. The group's new name, ConservAmerica, is designed to 'explain the connection between conservatism and conservation' and underscore the group's ethic of stewardship." [HuffPost]
MAJOR MEDIA FIGURE: MITT ROMNEY IS NOT FOND OF MAJOR MEDIA OUTLETS - Michael Calderone: "'Face the Nation' host Bob Schieffer sat down with two Republican presidential candidates last Sunday, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, and he has interviewed Rick Santorum a few times during the primary race. But he's still waiting for Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney. 'We try every week,' Schieffer told The Huffington Post Monday night, during a party rolling out a new partnership between CBS and Google to hold video chat 'hangouts' on Google+. 'I call at least two or three times a week, and they keep saying maybe, maybe, maybe next week. But they never do.'" [HuffPost]
RUTHLESS, CHICAGO-STYLE POLITICS MEETS SNAZZY POP CULTURE REFERENCES - HuffPost: "Top Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod slammed GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney Tuesday, accusing him of being unaware of everyday Americans' concerns and being stuck in the decade of AMC's 'Mad Men.' 'In his basic orientation toward these economic issues, he seems to be oblivious to the experiences of everyday people,' Axelrod told Charlie Rose on CBS' 'This Morning.' Axelrod later said, 'Romney seems to look at the world through the rearview mirror. I mean, he wants to go back to the policies of the last decade on economics. And on other stuff, he says Russia's our greatest foe, he thinks employers ought to be able to decide if women should be able to get contraception coverage or not, any employer. If we drill for oil, that will solve our energy problem, no higher fuel efficiency.'" [HuffPost]
"Boy, President Obama is really terrible." "Yeah, I know; and such small portions!" Mojo: "The Public Religion Research Institute released the results of its comprehensive survey of American Jews on Tuesday. The group found that President Barack Obama retains 'nearly identical to levels of support...among Jewish registered voters' to 'a comparable point in the 2008 campaign.' That's despite incessant, unending, shrieking speculation that Obama's fumbled attempts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would cause American Jews--one of the most liberal demographics in the country--to suddenly decide they're anti-abortion rights or want to see Social Security privatized." [MoJo]
@elisefoley: FWIW, Reagan was the last president of either party to give amnesty to undocumented immigrants, which would kill him in this GOP primary.
STEVE KING: MARCO RUBIO COMMUNICATES WITH A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF MY BODY - His heart. His heart. WaPo: "If Mitt Romney wants a vice presidential running mate who will warm the hearts of conservatives, let there be no doubt: Marco Rubio is the guy. Need proof? Spend a few minutes with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) -- one of the most outspoken conservative members of Congress and a frequent critic of President Obama's presidency who maintains a loyal national following thanks mostly to his frequent appearances on cable news talk shows -- and he'll tell you there are only two names Romney should consider: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Rubio, the Florida senator...But King reserved his most effusive praise for Rubio. When the senator speaks, King said, 'he speaks to my heart in a way that I think is important. He understands ... about the pillars of American exceptionalism, the underpinnings of what made this a great country.'" [WaPo]
HILLARY CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL SPECULATION IS PREMATURE, POINTLESS - But TREMENDOUSLY addictive! Allow us to feed you some! "In an interview with USA Today, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) discussed her background and political origins, citing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a major source of inspiration. Haley, who was elected governor in 2010, attended a speech that the former first lady gave in 2003 while serving in the U.S. Senate. 'She said, 'There will always be people who say you shouldn't do something, but the only thing you should... think about is why you should do something,'' Haley recalled." [HuffPost]
And now, a political update from North Carolina, a state that had absolutely no basketball teams in the NCAA championship. News and Observer: "The Democratic campaigns for governor are preparing to launch an ad war later this month. With early voting starting in two weeks and the primary about 35 days away, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton has apparently reserved time on broadcast TV from April 17 to May 7 for an ad campaign. GOP operatives report the buy is starting at $315,000. Dalton's campaign refused to confirm the numbers or talk about its TV strategy. But the advertisement is apparently not yet filmed. His rival Bob Etheridge, who is showing an early lead in the polls, recently filmed his first ad of the campaign. It is expected to hit the airwaves later this month, the campaign says. The former congressman hired consultant Steve Murphy to produce the ads." [Via National Journal]
Sorry, none of us won our office bracket -- we're a little upset...not that any of us would EVER pick a team from North Carolina to go all the way.
CHENEY RELEASED FROM HEART UPGRADE - Former Vice President Dick Cheney -- who recently received a heart transplant in lieu of eating the hearts of others, which is his preferred method of cardio-rejuvenation -- was
disconnected *released* from the hospital today. Wall Street Journal: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney was released from a Northern Virginia hospital Tuesday morning, 10 days after successful heart transplant surgery. In a brief statement, his office said the 71-year-old Mr. Cheney and his family 'want to again express their deep gratitude to the donor and the donor's family for this remarkable gift.' He also thanked physicians and nurses from Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia, as well as doctors at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, where he also has been treated for heart-related health problems." [WSJ]
SPOTTED - History's greatest wet pavement signature on 18th and Willard in DC: http://bit.ly/Hlkgj1.
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Millennials: File your taxes in one easy step!
TOOBIN TOOBIN' - Jeffrey is standing by his whole-kit-and-kaboodle assessment of the Obamacare case. TPM: "A week after oral arguments led him to predict that the Supreme Court will strike down a key piece of President Obama's health care law, the legal commentator stands by his gloomy forecast, and explained his reasoning in full detail in an interview with TPM. 'I'm not wild about being so far out on a limb, but all I can do is call it the way I see it, and I did,' Toobin said by telephone Monday evening." Keep Toobin', Jeffrey! [TPM]
- Thanks to Reddit, we can be reminded of tremendously strange YouTube videos like this one. [http://bit.ly/akj3vS]
- Some dude made the April Fools version of Google Maps into a tower defense game. [http://bit.ly/HlAWHd]
- Frisbee trick shots! Frisbee trick shots! Attention all disc fanatics! Frisbee trick shots! [http://bit.ly/HHZqNE]
- The 1970s were odd. These pictures support that conclusion. [http://huff.to/HQgRJ8]
- This runner didn't fall. He clearly meant to do that. [http://bit.ly/HGLfeZ]
- Cats hate water...melon. [http://bit.ly/HGMWsR]
@aterkel: Game over. RT @HuffingtonPost: KISS frontman Gene Simmons endorses Mitt Romney http://t.co/IoaoKCDF
@daveweigel: TONIGHT: Will Diebold machines steal victory from Ron Paul?
@BenjySarlin: Click RT @BuzzFeedAndrew: Newt Gingrich pets a goat! twitpic.com/9570ke
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Nothing screams "good time" quite like the gentlemen Democrats of Delaware. John Daniello and Governor Jack Markell host a "Chairman's Club Reception." Tom Carper, John Carney and Chris Coons are scheduled to appear. Fun. [Harry's Savoy Grill, 2020 Naamans Road, Wilmington, DE]
8:00pm: Mitt Romney's zombie-like inevitability lurches forward at an Election Night Party in Wisconsin. [225 E. Michigan St., Milwaukee, Wisc.]
5:30pm - 7:30pm: Republican Frank Antenori, running for Gabby Giffords' seat, holds a steakhouse Red Meat Fundraiser. His campaign slogan, "Right Here, Right Now!" makes us gag a little, though. [N. Swan Road, Tucson, Ariz.]
6:00pm - 9:00pm: The Lupus is Lame fundraiser is a helpful reminder that there are some things you shouldn't trivialize with alliterative slogans. [201 Mass. NE]
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