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HUFFPOST HILL - Mitt Romney: What's The Deal With Airline Peanuts And Obama Is Foreign

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Todd Akin will hold a press conference where he will neither announce a shift in policy nor make news of any kind, an event known in Washington circles as a "press conference." Chick-fil-A really stimulates Paul Ryan's appetite for chicken... and freedom. And Mitt Romney had the crowd in stitches when he riffed on how black people have their birthplace challenged like *this* while white people have their birthplace challenged like th--not at all. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, August 24th, 2012:

TODD AKIN STAYING IN RACE, DESPITE TANTALIZINGLY VAGUE PRESS RELEASE - At around 3:30 this afternoon, the Akin campaign circulated a press release stating simply, "Todd Akin will hold a press conference in St. Louis County today at 4:15pm central time. Details to follow." For a tense 15 minute or so, journalists speculated that Akin would announce he was stepping aside and Claire McCaskill, we can only assume, furiously sent out feelers to her contacts on K Street. Then, like all things, it ended. Word broke that Akin will announce that he's *staying in* the race.

@timkmak: Fox interviewer: "Shouldn't we be at the point when drugs are no longer cool?"

ROMNEY CAMP MISTAKENLY DISTRIBUTES CORRECT INFO - Mitt Romney's presidential campaign released letters Friday from nine Republican governors supporting work requirements for welfare recipients. But one governor, Utah's Gary Herbert, did not criticize the Obama administration's welfare waiver policy like the other governors did, probably because Utah was one of several states to seek welfare leeway in the first place. The 1996 welfare reform law eliminated welfare as a federal entitlement, introduced time limits and required states to maintain a certain percentage of recipients in work or work-related activities like school or training. "Some of these participation requirements are difficult and costly to verify, while other participation requirements do not lead to meaningful employment outcomes and are overly prescriptive," Herbert wrote, explaining the state's rationale for seeking flexibility. [HuffPost]

WHO DOES MITT ROMNEY THINK HE IS? TREASURY SECRETARY? - Ba dum cha. Because he doesn't pay his taxes. Anyway: "Tax experts who have begun to examine the Bain Capital documents released Thursday by Gawker are raising questions as to whether presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has paid all the taxes he owed. At issue are two tax-avoidance techniques employed by Bain Capital, the firm founded by Romney, which have been commonly used in the private equity world but have come under increasing legal scrutiny." [HuffPost]

The New York Times is getting skeptical. NYT: "Mr. Romney said last week that he had paid an effective federal tax rate of at least 13 percent over the past decade, but he declined -- as he has over months of speculation and attacks -- to release returns before 2010. 'My view is I've paid all the taxes required by law,' Mr. Romney said. Bain private equity funds in which the Romney family's trusts are invested appear to have used an aggressive tax approach, which some tax lawyers believe is not legal, to save Bain partners more than $200 million in income taxes and more than $20 million in Medicare taxes. Annual reports for four Bain Capital funds indicate that the funds converted $1.05 billion in accumulated fees that otherwise would have been ordinary income for Bain partners into capital gains, which are taxed at a much lower rate." [NYT]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - If you are attending the conventions like DDD is, know that we are making people homeless. "Big business for hotels during the Democratic National Convention could mean more homeless people on the streets. With room rates on the rise, some who stay in extended-stay motels might not be able to afford the new prices. 'I work all day for $60,' said Eric Jones, who finds himself homeless. 'Why am I going to pay $60 for a room, then I won't have enough to spend on food or anything.' Jones lost his job and then his apartment just over 2 months ago. Sometimes, friends staying at motels invite him over to get cleaned up. On this night, Jones will be sleeping across from the Days Inn on Sunset Road, in North Charlotte. 'Everybody I know lives day to day.'" Good thing these conventions are so worthwhile. [FoxCharlotte.com]

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THE ZEITGEIST FORGOT ITS ADDERALL: ROMNEY'S CAMPAIGN SIDETRACKED - Instead of a national conversation about the economy, the Romney campaign has been caught in the middle of a maelstrom of rape, homophobia and pickle-topped-chicken. Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel: "[T]he past few weeks have been dominated by continuous eruptions of debate over social policy: from the anti-gay politics of the president of a fast food chicken chain, to the racial implications of advertisements about welfare reform, to whether or not contraception should be covered by insurance. The trend peaked Sunday when Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) declared that women who suffer 'legitimate rape' have the biological means to prevent themselves from getting pregnant -- a statement almost universally ridiculed, but trumpeted, in some quarters, as proof that the culture wars are far from settled...Indeed, an election that was supposed to be tied to the monthly job numbers has, for the time being, become a litmus test on social issues. It's caused more than a few bouts of heartache for the Republican establishment, with virtually every lawmaker running to denounce Akin's comments, and Ryan being forced to soften his rhetoric on abortion. " [HuffPost]

ROMNEY'S ENERGY PLAN BENEFITS DONORS - Wouldn't you know it, Mitt Romney's plan for energy independence, which doubles as a stimulus for the oil-coated-seagull-scrubber sector, will fill the coffers of some of his political donors. Paul Blumenthal: "On Tuesday night at a $7 million fundraiser hosted by Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson and attended by 125 guests, many of them executives in the oil and gas industry, Mitt Romney declined to lay out his energy plan, stating that he didn't want to talk about it with reporters in the room... According to data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics, Romney has raised $2.2 million from the oil and gas industry, on pace to exceed the amounts raised by both McCain and Bush in the past two elections, and more than $600,000 from mining interests, already more than what McCain or Bush raised for his entire campaign. The Republican National Committee has pulled in $4 million from oil and gas, likely on pace to pass the $5.9 million they raised in 2008." [HuffPost]

NYUCK NYUCK NYUCK: ROMNEY MAKES BIRTHER CRACK - That is, he made a birther joke. He didn't grind down an Orly Taitz newsletter, mix it with some baking powder and then smoke it in a pipe. The optics of that would've been terrible. "No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate," he said during a campaign stop in Commerce, Michigan. "They know that this is the place that we were born and raised." The audience cheered and Twitter's eruption might best be compared to the final scene of Animal House when the parade goes haywire. [HuffPost]

The Obama campaign, after collectively orgasming for three straight hours, responded. "Throughout this campaign, Governor Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them," spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement. "It's one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio, and Kris Kobach. But Governor Romney's decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America."

@BarackObama: Our take: Gov. Romney's decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter

RATIONAL VOTERS ABSENT FROM ROMNEY RALLY - In case you think this birther stuff is so stupid it has no real potency, check out McKay Coppins' report from the rally: "[T]he reaction from the crowd of Republicans here was largely enthusiastic, with some laughing it off as a politically incorrect joke, and others treating it as a welcome attack on what they believe to be the coverup of the president's birthplace. Asked what he made of Romney's line, Jim Barzakov, a retiree from Berryville, MI, expressed frustration with reporters' fixation on the issue. 'What is it with this birth certificate? It's every question I get from you guys!' he said. 'You must be all liberals! What kind of a question is that?" He then said the meaning of the line was simple: 'It says Romney has his birth certificate; Obama can't find his.' Asked about the certificate the White House released last year, Barzakov dismissed it as a 'photoshop certificate.' Terese Cayline, who works at a real estate management company in Waterford, MI, said she doesn't consider herself a 'birther' -- but raised several of the talking points espoused by skeptics of the president's birth certificate. '[Romney] was born and raised in Michigan and as far as Obama goes, his grandma was there at his birth and his grandma has never been outside Kenya,' Cayline said. 'So I find it ironic that he won't show the real birth certificate.'" [BuzzFeed]

OBAMA CAMPAIGN: HEEEEEYYY LAAAAAADIIEEEESSSSS - The Obama campaign renewed its push for the women's vote, and because it can't purchase every woman in the country a "Gilmore Girls" box set and certificate for couples yoga -- thats what you all like, right? -- it will instead take its message to the media and the campaign trail. WaPo: "The president's campaign on Friday is releasing a Web video featuring several women who say they have left the GOP because of the party's antiabortion stance. Democrats will feature a host of female speakers at their national convention next month. Democrats also will hold a 'Women Vote 2012 Summit' in Las Vegas on Saturday. And several Democratic congresswomen and Obama supporters will head next week to Philadelphia, Richmond, Cleveland, Tampa, Manchester, N.H., and Raleigh, N.C., to talk about reproductive rights and women's health. The campaign has dubbed it the 'Romney/Ryan: Wrong For Women' tour." [WaPo]

ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SQUASHES THE RELOVEUTION - Mitt Romney's campaign has implemented changes to the Republican National Convention's rules that would prevent Ron Paul supporters from running amok, replacing Marco Rubio's introductory speaking role with the president of Goldline and what not. Jon Ward: "The rule seeks to stop activists from exploiting the multi-tiered selection process that happens mostly in caucus states, such as Iowa, where Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney were the first- and second-place finishers in the popular vote on Jan. 3, but Paul ended up winning most of the delegates to the national convention." [HuffPost]

The Republican convention will include a video tribute to Ron Paul, who has/is wrapping up his final presidential campaign. We can see it now: The lights dim. The audience goes quiet. And then... NOW I'VEEE HAAAD THE TIME OF MY LIFEEEEEE..... It'll be so cool!!!. The announcement by campaign officials Friday came after months of vocal, grassroots advocacy by supporters of the libertarian-leaning Texas congressman, Romney's former rival in the GOP primary," Christina Wilkie writes. "The video tribute will follow on the heels of a formal nominating event Monday, during which a few hundred Paul supporters are still expected to vote for him." [HuffPost]

THE DAY ROMNEY PRETENDED TO BE A BUTCHER, A MECHANIC, AND A FARMER - A Jason Cherkis instant classic: "Back in 2002, when Mitt Romney began running for governor of Massachusetts, his campaign managers thought it would be a good idea to have the millionaire perform various blue-collar jobs around the state. In a move that presaged 'Undercover Boss,' strategists put Romney in blue jeans, gave him a long, shiny wrench, and had him play at being a mechanic for a photo op. The campaign called these events 'work days.' He served sausages outside Fenway Park. He donned a hard hat. He hammered nails. He drove a tractor on a farm, bumping along stiffly in the seat. It was, at times, painfully forced. Then again, every day was basically his first on the job. 'Just keep on doing some stuff?' Romney asked as the cameras whirred before turning back to the engine block. He mumbled under the hood about power steering fluid and stabbed at the engine with a wrench as if unsure where to put it. At one point, he wondered to the crowd, 'Whose Bichon Frise is that over there? Is that a neighbor? Oh, that's great.'" [HuffPost]

Paul Ryan on poultry, politics: During an interview with a reporter from WDBJ in Virginia, the Republican vice presidential candidate was asked to free associate when the interviewer mentioned the chicken sandwich purveyor. "Good chicken," Ryan replied. "Free people exercising their free speech rights." So if anyone is in the vicinity of the Wisconsin congressman and can slap together a chicken-pickle-copy-of-the-Bill-of-Rights sandwich, you'll make the guy a very happy customer. [Politico]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Dogs. In. Sunglasses.

STEVE KING: HOW CAN WE LET CONTENT MUSLIMS ONTO OUR AIRPLANES, WILLY NILLY? - The outspoken Iowa Republican is deeply upset that old ladies are having their upper thighs groped while obvious terrorists SAUNTER THEIR SMARMY ASSES through security. Patrick Svitek: "During a town hall meeting in Le Mars, Iowa, King told attendees that he disagrees with federal officials who think that airport security should follow a uniform procedure for passenger screening. 'As America, we've decided that we're going to process everybody the same," King said. 'So that means the 75-year-old grandmother gets the spread-eagle search and while that happens, maybe the 20-year-old Middle Eastern male waltzes through with a smirk on his face. I'm not making that up. I've seen that. That image will not ever leave my mind.'...During the same event, King criticized multicultural groups at Iowa State University, recalling a time he browsed through the school's directory of student organizations after speaking on the campus several years ago." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- If you've gotten into "Gangnam Style," the K-Pop video that's blowing up the internet, here are ten more bizarre Korean music videos for your enjoyment. [http://bit.ly/RJA4HH]

- HD video of the Curiosity rover plummeting to Mars. Naturally, the aircraft brought its iPhone and uploaded it to its YouTube page... or something. [http://bit.ly/MQCd14]

- Richard the Third's grave might be buried under a parking lot. Cue the Joni Mitchell... [http://bit.ly/QysmJd]

- Snazzy little supercut of people being inappropriate in fictional offices. [http://bit.ly/PgOjxu]

- When Harry Met Sally mashed-up with Inception because those two titles were bound to show up eventually on the MASHUP-A-TRON 5400's random generator. [http://bit.ly/P80WiT]

- Dog is not familiar with the whole escalator thing. [http://bit.ly/RJzdGV]

- Bently the Bulldog is taking the internet by storm. Get informed. [http://chzb.gr/MQtGeH]

TWITTERAMA

@delrayser "It's good to be back in Michigan, where the me's are just the right white." - Mitt Romney, basically

@evanmc_s: also, droning. #BoringSpeeches #HumorLikeTweets RT @ryanjreilly: Drones are coming to the RNC tinyurl.com/97asx6d

@indecision: No one's asked to see Mitt Romney's birth certificate. Also, no one asked to see Mitt Romney in general.

ON TAP

Tonight: 6:45 pm - 8:30 pm: Y'know, man, he's just a guy with a truck with a lot of mileage on it standing up for women, so why don't you attend Scott Brown's champagne reception in the Bay State? [Groton, MA]

Today - Sunday: Here's your chance to fulfill your lifelong dream of riding Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster with New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte! The lawmaker takes some of her most generous donors on a weekend trip to Universal Studios Florida. [Orlando, FL]

Tomorrow, 5:45 pm: Maybe it's just, but Joe Biden strikes us as an awful loud chewer. If you find yourself in the Chatham, Mass area, and have $5,000 to spare, you can find out for yourself at a dinner reception featuring the vice president. [Chatham, MA]

Tomorrow evening: On the other hand, we suspect Paul Ryan took his Catholic upbringing to heart and eats whisper quiet. Again, if you're in the Manchester, New Hampshire area and have a few large you want to part with, find out yourself. [Manchester, NH]

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