POLITICS
04/10/2012 05:57 pm ET Updated Jun 10, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - Possible Daytime Republican National Convention Speaker Bows Out

Rick Santorum positioned himself to be the leading Republican contender in 2016... for a 700 Club correspondent gig. Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen expressed his deep admiration for Fidel Castro, alienating himself from his Cuban-American fans and crushing his chances of ever unseating Rick Scott. And Chris Christie strengthened his position with New Jersey's turnstile jumper vote when he lied about the cost of a proposed Hudson river train tunnel. Cheer up, Garden State commuters: the PATH train isn't THAT soul-crushing. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, April 10th, 2012:

NEWT GINGRICH BOUNCING CHECKS - Womp womp: "Five Republicans have filed the necessary papers and $500 fee to qualify for the June 26 Utah presidential primary election, but with Rick Santorum dropping out of the race Tuesday, only four will be on the ballot. Newt Gingrich's check bounced. Utah Elections Director Mark Thomas said a designated agent for the Gingrich campaign brought the filing papers and a check for $500 in March, but after the check was deposited, the state was notified by the bank that the check had bounced. He said the office has tried to contact the Gingrich campaign through the telephone number and email provided on the application, but have not received a response." [Salt Lake Tribune]

ARIZONA LEGISLATURE DOES VERY CONSERVATIVE THING - According to Arizona's Republican lawmakers, zygotes should be treated with the utmost respect and care, but if you and/or the place you originally come from has a tilde in it, you best be sure to carry your papers. John Celock: "Arizona lawmakers gave final passage to three anti-abortion bills Tuesday afternoon, including one that declares pregnancies in the state begin two weeks before conception. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill to prohibit abortions after the 18th week of pregnancy; a bill to protect doctors from being sued if they withhold health information about a pregnancy that could cause a woman to seek an abortion; and a bill to mandate that how school curriculums address the topic of unwanted pregnancies. The 18th week bill includes a new definition for when pregnancy begins. All of the bills passed the Senate and now head to Gov. Jan Brewer (R) for her signature or veto. Passage of the late-term abortion bill would give Arizona the earliest definition of late-term abortion in the country; most states use 20 weeks as a definition." [HuffPost]

WANT LIES WITH THAT? - ColorOfChange's campaign to pressure corporations to rid themselves of the plague of ALEC honed in on McDonald's today. We contacted the company and were told that CoC was too late, they'd fled the right-wing coop at the end of 2011. CoC then sent us a letter dated Feb. 29, 2012, from McDonald's, defending their ongoing membership in ALEC. So McDonald's said they left the last week of March. [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter wants the government to recognize the 'true' unemployment rate, a more accurate measure of joblessness Hunter says is being suppressed by politicians who can't handle the truth about the economy. "In order to effectively address the economic challenges we face, and confront the national unemployment situation, we must know the full extent of the problem," Hunter said. "As some pundits and politicians cite a near 8 percent unemployment rate, they are purposely avoiding a subset of Americans who are not counted." This more truthful unemployment rate Hunter's seeking is already released alongside the official rate every month by the U.S. Labor Department. Nevertheless, Hunter actually said this: "We need real numbers, not D.C. numbers." [HuffPost]

RSC DEFENDS (?) DELTA - Delta Airlines has been working in coalition with the tea party to try to slow reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. Today, Jim Jordan, head of the House Republican Study Committee, sent out a note slamming the bank that included this data point: "Appeasing Critics? One of the most vocal corporate critics of the Ex-Im Bank has been Delta Airlines. Well, look who just got a windfall from the Bank: Delta Airlines! Coincidence?" The RSC thinks it a payoff, apparently, but the Ex-Im move had more to do with embarrassing the bank. More on this fun fight.

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

SANTORUM OUT: MITT ROMNEY'S FUTURE DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF RELIGIOUS OUTREACH CONCEDES - Sam Stein: "In a surprise decision Tuesday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) announced that he is suspending his presidential campaign, all but putting an end to the Republican primary. 'We made a decision to get into this race at our kitchen table, against all the odds, and we made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race is over for me, and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting,' Santorum said during an address in Gettysburg, Pa...During his 14-minute speech, Santorum notably did not endorse Mitt Romney....According to Yahoo! News, Santorum called Romney earlier in the day to inform him of his decision to suspend his campaign. The former senator also made a call to campaign operatives to relay his decision." [HuffPost]

Romney's statement: "Senator Santorum is an able and worthy competitor, and I congratulate him on the campaign he ran. He has proven himself to be an important voice in our party and in the nation. We both recognize that what is most important is putting the failures of the last three years behind us and setting America back on the path to prosperity." [Ibid.]

RNC honcho Reince Priebus: "Today, Senator Santorum has made a commendable decision. He has decided to put his country, party, and desire to defeat President Obama ahead of any personal ambition. I applaud his decision and congratulate him on the campaign he has run." [Ibid.]

@FixRachel: Ron Paul statement: "Dr. Paul is now the last -- and real -- conservative alternative to Mitt Romney."

@jamiedupree: Newt's website finally loads w/new fund raising plea: "LAST CONSERVATIVE STANDING" - yfrog.com/od75uwhj

Jason Linkins on Newt Gingrich's non-departure departure: "As it turns out, Gingrich is 'quitting the campaign' with the same level of decisiveness that he got into the campaign -- which is to say, 'no decisiveness.'" [HuffPost]

Michael Calderone: "How Bloomberg Broke The Washington Post's Rick Santorum Scoop"

The news cycle spent a few hours fixated on Rick Santorum dropping from the race -- until George Zimmerman's lawyers called a press conference to say they can't reach their client because he would rather talk to Sean Hannity. It was deeply crazy.

Herman Cain: Still Around. Elise Foley: " Former presidential candidate Herman Cain said on Tuesday he expects Mitt Romney to be the nominee and that he'd get behind the front-runner if he won the nomination. 'The numbers are on Mitt Romney's side, and, yes, I have always said I will support whoever the nominee is,' he said on Fox News' 'America's Newsroom.' 'And it looks like Mitt Romney's going to be the nominee and we do need to get behind him,' Cain added." [HuffPost]

Donald Trump: Still around. Sam Stein: "On Tuesday morning... Trump spent several minutes plainly questioning the political chops of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and declaring, with characteristic conviction, that the Ryan budget would be an abject disaster for Romney. 'It is catastrophic what he's done,' Trump told CNBC. 'If they lose, it will be the single biggest reason why the Republicans lost: the Ryan plan.'" [HuffPost]

TODAY'S 'CHUCK GRASSLEY AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN SOCIAL MEDIA' AWARD GOES TO CINDY MCCAIN - Washington Examiner: "Fans of President Obama were out to get Cindy McCain, or so she thought Sunday, when she tweeted and put this warning on her Facebook page. 'I open my Facebook page [and] the Obama campaign has posted a picture and [added to] my timeline. My account is locked. Outrageous!' She added another warning to her Facebook as well: 'If you are seeing Obama [ads] on my FB page I DIDN'T DO IT! Obviously I am not supporting him! Whoever posted it on my page is really twisted.'" [Examiner]

GAME CHANGER: PRESIDENT OBAMA TO WIN DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION - National Journal: "President Obama is up for renomination in his own presidential primaries and is just two weeks away from getting the inevitable party nod. While Mitt Romney has battled for delegates in state after state, the president will have racked up enough delegates to secure the nomination on April 24, following primary contests in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, according to the Democratic National Committee. At that point, the DNC said, Obama will have the 2,777 delegates needed to win the nomination through pledged delegates, those who are secured when a candidate wins a primary or caucus." [NJ]

A new poll finds that the American electorate trusts the single mom-raised, middle class guy more than the guy who reminds them of John Kerry's Mormon cousin. Political Wire: "A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds President Obama has double-digit leads over Mitt Romney on who would do a better job of protecting the middle class, handling international affairs and dealing with health care. On personal traits, the president's edge is even bigger: He has a better than 2-to-1 advantage as the more friendly and likable of the two, and nearly that margin as 'more inspiring.'" [Political Wire]

IT'S BUDGET TIME!!!!!11 - Which might explain why wonk bloggers across the Washington, D.C. metro area have recently begun to sit up straight and dart their heads left and right, alert chipmunk-style. Roll Call: "The Senate Budget Committee is prepared to mark up a budget next week, potentially as early as April 17, according to sources close to the panel. The move to proceed with a budget resolution in committee is counter to the initial desires of Democratic leaders, who are reluctant to bring a resolution to the floor. Though leaders rarely state this publicly, they have feared political repercussions, such as the threat of a limitless number of show votes or forcing vulnerable Members up for re-election to take politically undesirable votes. But aides in both parties suggested today that they have been instructed to expect a markup to begin as early as April 17 and to stretch as long as April 19...Sources close to the committee but not its leaders suggested they have been advised the panel will take up a budget in regular order, however, and that Members have been influencing the budget framework with recommendations for weeks." [Roll Call]

WHEREIN CHRIS CHRISTIE LOSES *ALL* HIS SUPPORT IN HOBOKEN, UNION CITY - And Secaucus? Fuggedaboutit! Bloomberg: "A federal report released Tuesday found that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie exaggerated the projected cost overruns of a tunnel to Penn Station, which had been the largest infrastructure project in the U.S. before the governor killed the project. The Government Accountability Office concluded that cost estimates for a tunnel beneath the Hudson River hadn't changed significantly in the two years prior to Christie's decision in 2010 to cancel it. At that time, Christie said he was concerned the project's cost could rise to more than $14 billion based on Federal Transportation Administration estimates. But the report found that NJ Transit officials disagreed and continued to project a lower range -- with a maximum final cost of $10 billion." [WSJ]

Recall madness! The northern Midwest caught it! "Opponents of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder have received clearance to start their latest recall campaign. The Washtenaw County Election Commission voted 2-1 Monday to approve the language on a petition brought by the group Michigan Rising, CBS Detroit reports. Michigan Rising says Snyder should be recalled because of his support for emergency managers, push for cuts to schools and implementing a tax policy favorable to corporations. Last week, Snyder spokesman Ken Silfven told The Huffington Post the governor believed he could survive a recall attempt." [HuffPost]

MARLINS MANAGER SUSPENDED BECAUSE OF FIDEL CASTRO - America's enemies! Possible campaign fodder! Sports! It's like our country ran off to the desert, dropped peyote and this news item bubbled up from its subconscious. Times: "While Ozzie Guillen apologized repeatedly in a news conference for his recent remarks that he admired the longtime Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, the Miami Marlins also tried to undo the damage their manager had wrought by announcing that Guillen would be suspended for five games. Guillen, whom the Marlins directed to leave the team in Philadelphia to fly back to Miami, appeared at a televised news conference and called his comments, 'the greatest mistake of my life'...Guillen's comments appeared in a Time magazine article, in which he said he 'loved' and 'respected' Castro, the longtime Cuban leader. Time reported that Guillen said: 'I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years,' but Castro is still here, he added, referring to Castro as an expletive." [NYT]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - target="_hplink">Kitty so cute, can't concentr--

VERIFY THIS - HuffPost DC: "D.C. elections officials are 'investigating James O'Keefe's Project Veritas for its new undercover video at a Northwest D.C. voting precinct.'"

OOPS - HuffPost DC: D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) 'got herself into a "pretty epic butt-tweeting' incident."

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- Instagram is now officially uncool, unless you're one of the 13 employees divvying up a billion dollars. [http://bit.ly/IvbRiN]

- The best thing about this video of a record-setting Rube Goldberg machine is how desperate its creators' want it to work, presumably so they can go do something useful. [http://bit.ly/IvaLmX]

- Smart guy makes something like Google Glasses from stuff on his desk? [http://chzb.gr/IvcGIj]

- Nike gave the Neistat brothers some money and expected them to make a video not like this one. Hey, Nike: Do it again. [http://chzb.gr/HIAmn3]

- Here is a video of a guy taking a belt sander to a stack of paper. [http://bit.ly/IvijGi]

- The End Is Near (and now capable of chasing you down). [http://bit.ly/HIyaMq]

- Mike Wallace / CBS News 1967 report on "The Homosexuals." [http://bit.ly/Ivh9uw]

TWITTERAMA

@katlamcglynn: Santorum's late. Must be hard to decide which sweater vest really says "I give up" since all of them kind of do.

@daveweigel: Santorum won more counties! Just not the ones that more people lived in.

@BorowitzReport: Obama: US Will Respond to North Korea 'With Strongest Possible Adjectives'

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT

6:00pm: The long-awaited re-opening of the historic Howard Theatre features kick-ass live performances by Trombone Shorty and George Clinton. See you there. [620 T St. NW]

6:00pm: "Bully," Harvey Weinstein's no-longer R-rated film (it's now PG-13), premieres at the National Education Association. We'll miss all the swearing, but it's probably still worth seeing. [1201 16th St., NW]

TOMORROW

12:00pm: Tucker Carlson gives a talk on "How to Succeed in Media and Policy." There are way too many jokes we could make about this, but they would be mean. [1000 Massachusetts Ave, NW]

6:00pm: Red carpet premieres in DC are so painful. Sadly, this never seems to stop anyone. HBO's new comedy "Veep" upholds the tradition with a premiere at the Institute of Peace. [2301 Constitution Ave NW]

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com), Ryan Grim (ryan@huffingtonpost.com) or Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e

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