Mitt Romney has a weird history with mothers, so his handlers should be on guard for any super awkward yo mama jokes. If you still think that Newt Gingrich is actually trying to win, take into account the fact that his social media people are gawking at zoo animal slideshows. And both John Boehner and Mitch McConnell *coincidentally* endorsed Mitt Romney on the same day. No word on whether both sighed and muttered, "Well, here goes nothing" before doing so. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, April 17th, 2012:

ROMNEY HAS AWKWARD HISTORY OF BEING AWKWARD ABOUT MOMS - Sam Stein: "The former Massachusetts governor has been involved in the oft-dicey politics of motherhood since his first run for public office... In June 1994, as a U.S. Senate candidate, Romney filled out a questionnaire for the Boston Globe in which he argued that welfare recipients should go back to work in order to keep receiving benefits -- not because they needed to understand the upside of employment, but because it would set a good example for their kids. 'Once there are no preschoolers at home, parents should work to receive welfare support,' Romney wrote. 'A child needs to see first hand the dignity of work.' ...As governor, meanwhile, Romney dealt routinely with legislation that had ramifications on mothers, whether welfare recipients or not. His streak of fiscal discipline meant millions of dollars in cuts to education and women's health programs." [HuffPost]

DEMS WANT TO TAKE ROMNEY AT HIS 'MOST RECENT WORD' - Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and a host of Democrats tomorrow will introduce the WORK Act -- that's the Woman's Opportunity to Raise Kids Act -- that will try to put into law what everyone from Romney to Obama says they believe -- that being a stay at home mom should count as "work." If that's the case, reasons Stark, then mothers on welfare should be able to raise children three-and-under and not have it counted against their TANF "work requirement." It's all about choice, right Ann? Mitt Romney, says Stark, "was for forcing mothers into the workforce before he decided that 'all moms are working moms.' I think we should take Mr. Romney at his most recent word and change our federal laws to recognize the importance and legitimacy of raising young children. That's why I'm introducing the WORK Act to provide low-income parents the option of staying home to raise young children without fear of being pushed into poverty." Story tomorrow.

ALLEN WEST WILL TOTALLY RSVP FOR YOUR PARTY... FOR $10,000 - Maggie Haberman: "Rep. Allen West was expected as the special draw for a Long Island GOP congressional hopeful -- but his team pulled the plug on his appearance because his fellow candidate couldn't direct $10,000 of what was being raised to the Florida congressman's campaign, emails obtained by POLITICO show. The invitation for the April 22 fundraiser for candidate Stephen Labate, bearing West's name, had already gone out when West's camp pulled the plug." [Politico]

SENATE GOP GETTIN' LITIGIOUS - Jen Bendery: "Senate Republicans are joining a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of some of President Barack Obama's recess appointments in January, when Congress may not have technically been in recess, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday. 'We inside the Republican Conference had a number of discussions about the appropriate response to this unconstitutional action on the part of the president. We concluded the best course of action was for us to join an appropriate lawsuit,' McConnell told reporters. 'I have asked -- and he has accepted -- that Miguel Estrada, a name that might be familiar to some of you, represent Senate Republicans in an amicus brief related to the president's unconstitutional action.'" [HuffPost]

GOP CANDIDATE OUT DEFENDING SECRET SERVICE HAS BROTHER WHO WAS IN COLOMBIA WITH THOSE DUDES - Maryland Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Dan Bongino has been making the TV rounds. A former Secret Service agent, he's been criticizing the hooker-procuring-agents who got in trouble in Colombia for making bad decisions, but defending their overall integrity, etc. What he hasn't been saying is that his brother is in the Secret Service and was on that trip to Colombia. We had a phone chat with Bongino while he was in a green room this morning, and told him that we knew his brother Joe was Colombia on the trip. "I'm aware of that, yeah," he said. Well, um, wouldn't that be something to say on the teevee? "It's not my place," he said. Besides, nobody asked. "If someone asked, I certainly would've said it," Bongino said. "He was on the team that made some bad decisions, but multiple witnesses have said he was not a part of the prostitution," Bongino promised. [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is extremely sad about congressional proposals to slash the safety net. Their letter on food stamps urges Congress to restore reserve funding it has already cut: "The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps), received a $2 billion cut made to the reserve fund in the 2010 child nutrition bill. Restoration of funding is necessary as families continue to struggle with joblessness and poverty." Republican proposals would slash SNAP even further. The Bishops don't want to sound partisan, so they don't name party names in their lobbying letters, but Politico's David Rogers has a stellar column on the GOP's plan for Bombs Not Food: "From food stamps to child tax credits and Social Service block grants, House Republicans began rolling out a new wave of domestic budget cuts Monday but less for debt reduction -- and more to sustain future Pentagon spending without relying on new taxes." [Politico]

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

LAWMAKERS IN THE POCKET OF BIG NUKE(S) - Rural senators are worried about nuclear disarmament, probably because of all those MIRVs that donated to their campaigns. Andrea Stone: "North Korea's failed rocket launch and new arms talks with Iran have thrust the issue of nuclear proliferation back into the headlines. But while President Barack Obama faces obstacles around the globe to his vision of 'a world without nuclear weapons,' pork-barrel politics and campaign cash are slowing disarmament at home. Far from world capitals where international arms control treaties are negotiated, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators from rural states comprise an influential caucus against reductions in America's nuclear arsenal. Named for the intercontinental ballistic missiles planted in silos that dot their windswept prairies, the ICBM Coalition has written letters and worked behind the scenes to protect military bases and local jobs as diplomats in Washington labor to negotiate reductions in the number of nukes poised for war." [HuffPost]

Worth a read: "Why the Huffington Post doesn't equivocate on issues like global warming" [Nieman Lab]

ROMNEY'S AWFUL, TERRIBLE, NO GOOD LIE ABOUT A POOR, DEFENSELESS DOG - Since 2007, Mitt Romney has said that his rooftop-ready dog, Seamus, lived to a ripe old age at Romney's sister's house in California following the 1983 incident in which Mitt put Seamus on the car roof for a 12-hour drive. But the New York Observer's Hunter Walker has a source contradicting that story: Jane Romney's ex-husband, who says they returned Seamus to Massachusetts before the year of the roof ride. "Mr. Robinson said he's certain they gave the dog back to the Romneys when he and Jane got divorced in 1980." Walker previously reported that Seamus ran away after the family arrived in Canada, so this dog story is awfully fishy... [Observer]

THIS VIDEO WILL EMBARRASS MITT ROMNEY - And it doesn't even involve puffy windbreakers, dancing and/or weird moments involving people whose skin color isn't beige! Sam Stein: " Unaware that reporters were listening, Mitt Romney offered a private gathering of fundraisers on Sunday night more details than normal as to which government agencies he'd axe as president...He didn't say he would eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He said it 'might not be around later...' Romney has candidly admitted that he's keeping his plans for eliminating government agencies secret so that they don't come back to haunt him in the general election.. As he told the fundraising crowd on Sunday, he's still smarting from the ad Ted Kennedy ran against him in the 1994 Senate race, which homed in on Romney's call to eliminate the Department of Education... The Huffington Post obtained that ad, which seems almost tame by today's attack-ad standards." [HuffPost]

"Establishment to Romney: FINE," pt. 963: "After weeks of dodging the issue, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday endorsed Mitt Romney as his party's most likely presidential nominee. 'It's clear now that Mitt Romney is going to be our nominee,' Boehner said during a press conference. 'I think Mitt Romney has a set of economic policies that can put America back to work and, frankly, contrast sharply with the failed economic policies of President Obama. I will be proud to support Mitt Romney and do everything I can to help him win.'" [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]

"Establishment to Romney: FINE," pt. 964: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday became the latest high-ranking Republican to endorse Mitt Romney as his party's presidential nominee. 'Yeah, I support Gov. Romney for president of the United States. He is going to be the nominee,' McConnell told reporters. 'If you'll notice, the party is in the process of unifying behind him. I think it's going to be an incredibly close, hard-fought race.'" [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]

Two polls suggest that Mitt Romney is benefiting from his recent uptick in media attention (and maybe a little of Hilary Rosen's). Mark Blumenthal: "Another day brings two more dueling national polls on the presidential election. A new survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted April 4 to 15, shows President Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by just four percentage points (49 to 45 percent). Pew Research reports that Obama's lead 'has narrowed since last month, when he had a 12-point advantage, though it is comparable to leads he held earlier this year.'" [HuffPost]

CONFIDENT SCOTT WALKER PROMISES TO DEFEAT NON-EXISTENT DEMOCRATS - State politics: When won't they be utterly depressingly Machiavellian?!? HuffPost: "Wisconsin election officials voted Tuesday to allow six Republicans running as Democrats in the state recall elections to remain on the ballot. The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board voted unanimously that the six 'protest candidates' recruited by Republicans be allowed to run as Democrats because state law doesn't require candidates to prove that they belong to a party.The decision followed a recommendation by GAB staff to allow the fake Democrats on the ballot. 'In general, Wisconsin election laws do not require an individual to be a member of a political party to seek that party's nomination in a primary election,' election staff wrote in a memo Monday. 'Wisconsin law does not permit the board to deny ballot access to the protest candidates,' the memo concluded...Fake Democrats were recruited to compete in six of the May 8 Democratic primary elections as candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and four state senate seats. A GOP spokesman said the strategy was intended to make sure Republicans did not face a general election on the day of the primary, which would occur if a primary candidate ran unopposed." [HuffPost]

ALEC -- which liberals hate so much that we half-expect Michael Moore to dress up like a pimp and walk into one of their offices -- is in the news. Dan Froomkin: "The American Legislative Exchange Council, the controversial corporate-sponsored lobbying group whose push for "stand your ground" gun laws and voter ID legislation ignited grassroots protests, announced Tuesday that it is getting out of the social policy field to focus on core economic issues. Corporations associated with ALEC had been under siege from public interest and civil rights groups who demanded they cut ties with ALEC, most recently because of its successful push to pass 'stand your ground' legislation in multiple states. Florida's version of that law has been cited as a reason why neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was not initially charged in the deadly shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin." [HuffPost]

ROMNEY PASSES ON ANOTHER SISTER SOULJAH OPPORTUNITY - Ted Nugent has reportedly won the attention of the Secret Service for saying at the recent National Rifle Association convention that "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail this time next year." Less concerned, apparently, is Mitt Romney. Romney himself has not addressed the comments and his campaign has responded with a vague statement about civility and divisive language. Uncivil conduct is one thing. Threats that draw the Secret Service's attention are a different matter. President Obama is the object of intense hatred, some of it rooted in blunt racism, and his life is in constant danger. Nugent is wildly popular with the subsection of people where hatred of Obama is at its most intense and irrational, among those who believe he is a Muslim born in Kenya, an illegitimate usurper of the presidency. "Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from," said Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman. "Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil." [HuffPost]

@BenjySarlin: Today's Nugent news day was easily predicted last month when Romney personally reached out to him: http://bit.ly/ySFWCR

Naturally, the Democratic Party and Democratic "strategists" are enjoying this immensely: "The DNC followed up with an online petition encouraging people to tell Romney to denounce 'Nugent's hateful speech.' They also released a web video hammering Nugent's position as a 'surrogate for Mitt Romney.'" [Ibid.]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - This cat-powered alarm clock would be both effective and terrifying.

LAZYASS SPACE SHUTTLE PIGGYBACKS ON 747, ASKS 747 TO FLY OVER CAPITOL DOME - HuffPost: "Flying from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Space Shuttle Discovery piggy-backed on a jumbo jet bound for Dulles International Airport in Virginia on Tuesday morning en route to retirement at the Smithsonian. Since Discovery's exact flight plan was not released prior to its arrival in the D.C. region, it was hard to predict exactly when and where to to be in position to see the space shuttle. But NASA said that places like the National Mall and Alexandria waterfront were good bets to spot the shuttle. Downtown, people streamed southward mid-morning toward the Mall and Potomac waterfront as others flocked to office building roofs as reports that Discovery, which weighed roughly 700,000 pounds at takeoff, was making passes through the nation's capital." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- Kitty lulled to sleep by a ukulele. [http://bit.ly/HG5NjQ]

- "The 13th rule of Fight Club is, my wife has made some cookies. We're not going to eat them until after we fight. Snickerdoodles." [http://bit.ly/HG63PK]

- Context-Free Patent Art [dot tumblr dot com]

- First episode of Julian Assange's talkshow includes interview with Hassan Nasrallah, chief of Hezbollah. [http://bit.ly/HG5pSj]

- Video of a firefighting robot that the Navy is developing, seemingly narrated by a golf announcer. [http://bit.ly/HG4sJP]

- DARPA's stair-climbing robot climbs stairs, gets bullied by some guy, and does pushups. [http://bit.ly/HG4YaI]

- Sorry for the robots. Here are silly cat photos. [http://bit.ly/HG5ipW]

TWITTERAMA

@delrayser: Update from Dulles: #Discovery has finally made it to the terminal after several hours on a mobile lounge.

@newtgingrich: This is fun. Thx for sharing. RT @BuzzFeedAndrew: The top 25 photos of Newt Gingrich with zoo animals. http://t.co/gAjzYxy8

@dceiver: This "Two Secret Service Agents, One Cup: Cartagena Nights" video is pretty gross.

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT

5:30pm - 7:30pm: The beautiful and talented Hunter Biden, Ashley Biden and Joe Biden will remind you why you're just some schlub at an OFA fundraiser. Clinton Portis and DJ Nice are also on tap, so prepare to feel bad about yourself. [620 T St. NW]

7:00pm: Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) serves as the honorary quizmaster for the Political Pursuit Qualifier, aka your chance to compete against pros like Chuck Todd at the main event later this month. Just be careful not to ask McCarthy any of the really hard questions. [319 Penn. Ave NW]

TOMORROW

5:30pm - 7:00pm: The Government Efficiency Caucus (hahahaha) holds a congressional reception sponsored by management consulting lobbyists. At least now we know where we're not going to be. [CVC H137]

5:30pm - 8:00pm: Unlike Monday's Taco Bell food-poisoning reception, the Cattlemen's Beef Association offers a bunch of steak. Get it to go, though - the Rayburn Cafeteria is a depressing party venue. [Rayburn Cafeteria]

6:45pm - 8:00pm: Screening of "Brothers On The Line", a documentary about labor leaders in the early days of the UAW. If you go. expect to see mostly interns from rust-belt Democrats' offices. Or just wait to watch it on PBS. [Rayburn 2226]

7:30pm: It's DC United's Capitol Hill Night. Provided the weather keeps up, you just might be able to forget that you're at RFK Stadium watching soccer. [RFK Stadium]

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