06/02/2011 05:31 pm ET Updated Aug 02, 2011

HUFFPOST HILL - Mitt Romney Alerts Humans That He Is Running For President

Mitt Romney launched his presidential campaign, because Washington desperately needs a leader whose favorite food is iceberg lettuce. Shortly thereafter, the thrice married, gay-friendly, crossdressing "Saturday Night Live" host called the kettle black when Rudy Giuliani questioned Romney's conservative bona fides. Chuck Schumer is taking on Dick Wolf while Jack Reed is taking on the Sun God Ra. And we eagerly await Bill Keller's first column as a full-time Times writer: "I Was Receiving An Award The Other Day When Someone Told Me How Stupid Tumblr Is." This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, June 2nd, 2011:

DEMS MEET WITH OBAMA - A day after President Obama met with the House Republican conference, he huddled with their Democratic counterparts this afternoon. Nany Pelosi and Steny Hoyer told reporters afterward that the meeting was "very productive," adding that they stressed that Medicare not be overhauled. Responding to questions about the debt ceiling debate, Steny Hoyer said that he "welcome[s] Mr. Boehner's comments that we oughta get it done by the end of the month." A House Democrat in the meeting tells Sam Stein:
"President Obama said that uncertainty over the debt ceiling, together with all the other weakness in the economy, could lead to a worse financial crisis than the one in 2008, with an even worse recession as a result. He said housing was the main thing dragging down the economy, with Geithner nodding solemnly like they'd done everything humanly possible for the last 27 months to fix the housing market." Heh. HAMP.

"Moody's To U.S.: We'll Downgrade Credit Rating If No Deal on Debt Ceiling By Mid-July"

MITT ROMNEYBOT EXITS SLEEP MODE, ENTERS CAMPAIGN MODE - His hard drive defragmented and his processor reinstalled by members of Best Buy's Geek Squad, Mitt Romneybot today rebooted his hopes and dreams and announced his second campaign for the White House. Speaking to a crowd of human beings in New Hampshire, the former Massachusetts governor tried to recast himself as a candidate that Tea Party activists and other members of the GOP's right wing can support (he also strongly implied that he is a human being). "Now, in the third year of his four-year term, we have more than promises and slogans to go by," Romney said of President Obama's first term. "Barack Obama has failed America." His speech referenced the Tenth Amendment, allegations that President Obama doesn't promote American interests abroad and even included minijoke about illegal immigrants. He also warned that the United States is "only inches away from ceasing to be a free market economy." Somewhere, buried deep in a Massachusetts landfill, Mitt Romney's long-abandoned soul is shaking its head. [HuffPost]

Speculative candidates Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin were in New Hampshire today. Both were eager to take swipes at Romney. "In my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not a good thing, obviously," Palin said, "and I am not the only to say so, but obviously there will be more explanation coming from Gov. Romney for his support of government mandates." Rudy Giuliani, buoyed by that poll that has him in first place, also got feisty. "The reality is that Obamacare and Romneycare are almost exactly the same," he said. "It's not very helpful trying to distinguish them. I would think the best way to handle it is to say, 'It was a terrible mistake and if I could do it over again, I wouldn't do it.'" [LA Times]
89 House Democrats sent a letter to President Obama today calling on him to name Elizabeth Warren to the CFPB one way or the other, including Financial Services Committee members Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Brad Miller (N.C.) and Keith Ellison (Minn.). "Senate Republicans' threat to filibuster any nominee to head the CFPB is an abuse of their confirmation powers. They had to choose between their constitutional duties and the demands of the financial industry. Their constitutional duties never had a chance," said Miller.
Failed Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller -- remember him? -- has launched a "Stop Romney" campaign. Amazingly, it doesn't involve a squad of his personal security forces physically detaining Mitt Romney. Miller announced the initiative today, which is being run by Western Representation PAC, the group he heads. "In a matchup against Obama, Tea Party voters are looking for a consistent constitutional conservative," Miller said. "We will never get behind Mitt Romney. On issues like gun rights, gay rights, abortion, immigration, and health care, Romney has flipped more than John Kerry flopped." The bummer for Romney comes on the heels of last week's news that FreedomWorks will work to prevent him from winning the nomination. [HuffPost's Jon Ward]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Steve Clark, a computer programmer in St. Louis, Missouri, lost his job in March 2009. At 62, he was terrified he wouldn't find work, so he stayed sharp by working for free in friends' offices, and within several months he landed a new job. But he's not earning what he used to, and the new job doesn't offer insurance. Clark lost his COBRA health insurance from his previous job when it ran out last August, and he's been uninsured since then. Now he's considering applying for health care reform's Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. At his age, he could get a policy with a $2,500 deductible and a $716 monthly premium. "After my $1000 house payment, I would have $288 a month disposable income," Clark wrote. "Just to put into perspective, prior to March 2009, my net take home was about $4,600 a month and my insurance cost $130 monthly. That's what I call change. The only good news is that I didn't meet Bernie Madoff a few years back or I would have no savings either. The Tea Party and the Republicans want to repeal the healthcare reform, dispose of Medicare, and end Social Security. That would all work as long as there was universal euthanasia at 60."

An anonymous Hill staffer sends us this advice for interns: "If you're an intern and your boyfriend from back home breaks up with you, please do not sit on the ground in the hallway crying and talking on the phone. Please take it in the bathroom or outside. And by the way, I'm a conservative, but love the newsletter. But don't tell anyone ;)"

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BOB BAUER OUT AS WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL, KATHY RUEMMLER IN - Jen Bendery: "The White House announced Thursday that President Barack Obama will have new lead legal counsel at the end of the month: Kathryn Ruemmler, who made waves in 2003 as a fierce member of the legal team that brought down Enron founder Kenneth Lay and CEO Jeffrey Skilling. Ruemmler, who is currently Principal Deputy Counsel to Obama, will take over for current White House Counsel Bob Bauer when he leaves this month to return to private practice. Bauer will resume his role as counsel to the president's reelection campaign, counsel to the Democratic National Committee and personal lawyer to Obama...Ruemmler is no stranger to the White House: Prior to her current post, she joined the Obama administration in January 2009 as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General. She also served as Associate Counsel to President Bill Clinton from 2000 to 2001. In between those jobs, she was a partner at Latham & Watkins and served six years as a federal prosecutor." [HuffPost]

President Obama's disapproval ratings have dipped below 40 percent for the first time since November 2009, a new Gallup poll finds.

Russ Feingold, the poster boy of adorable activist grandmothers, will decide on a Senate run by Labor Day.

JILL ABRAMSON REPLACING BILL KELLER AS NYT'S EXECUTIVE EDITOR - The Gray Lady is undergoing a leadership shakeup. It announced today that Executive Editor Bill Keller is stepping aside and will be replaced by current Managing Editor Jill Abramson. The Times' Washington bureau chief, Dean Baquet, will be the new managing editor. Abramson will be the paper's first female executive editor and Baquet's promotion means there will not be a white male occupying either of the top two spots. The deposed Keller will stay at the paper as a full-time writer. We can't wait for Bill Keller to litter his pieces with references to bloggers in their parents' basements and lame "this is your brain on Foursquare" jokes. [HuffPost's Jack Mirkinson]

Speaking of which, "This Is Your Country On Drugs" is finally available on Kindle and paperback. Just sayin'.

Abramson spoke to Michael Calderone: "I see this job as having to seize the future and help make the right calls on how to get there," she said. Keller said that he stepped down because the job stopped being about the job. "I think the biggest kind of cosmic change was when I started out, it was probably 70/30 things that felt like journalism to things that felt like administrative business," he told Calderone. "The ratio kind of reversed itself, where at least a year or so ago, I was spending maybe 30 percent of my time on stories or who's the next Cairo correspondent and 70 percent of the time focused on the business model, the long-term survival." [HuffPost]

Also, we lost the war on drugs.

June 30th will be the last day of "The Glenn Beck Show" on Fox News. On July 1st, small woodland creatures will poke their heads out of the hollowed-out tree knots in which they've taken refuge. [Mediaite]

SUPPORT FOR LIBYA WITHDRAWAL BILL GROWS - Ohio Rep. Michael Turner today introduced a resolution stating that Congress "does not approve United States intervention in Libya." The bill already has 63 co-sponsors and has earned the support of Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich, as we mentioned yesterday, has already proposed a resolution that calls for the immediate withdrawal of military forces from the North African nation. Opposition to the U.S.'s involvement in Libya has been surprisingly strong in the House and the GOP leadership had to shelve a vote on Kucinich's resolution as there was concern that the greatest foreign policy rebuke to a president in recent memory could be unexpectedly passed thanks to the Republican party. So yeah, if you can get over the image of Dennis Kucinich and, say, Allen West, hanging out together, this is what's going on. [WaPo]

Eric Cantor: "I told the president, 'you have a real problem with our members in Libya.' I told him 'the Kucinich resolution is coming up and frankly I wouldn't be surprised if it passes, because people are upset.'" [Roll Call]

John Boehner's office is drafting its own Libya resolution that won't call for a withdrawal of forces but would ask President Obama to clarify the mission there, Russell Berman reports.

Alan Greenspan will be on CNBC's Squawk Box tomorrow morning.

CHRIS CHRISTIE REIMBURSES NEW JERSEY FOR HELICOPTER RIDE - A day after news broke that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took a cue from Brenda Fraser's character in the last scene of The Scout (high fives to the eight of you who got that) and rode a helicopter to his son's baseball game, his office says he has repaid the cost of the trip. His spokeswoman Maria Comella told the AP that Christie has paid his state $2,151 to cover it. The state GOP also said that it has paid $1,232 to cover the expenses incurred by Christie's helicopter ride to meet those Iowa GOP activists who urged him to run for president. [AP]

More and more federal workers are looking to unionize, Dave Jamieson reports. Between 2007 and 2010, the American Federation of Government Employees grew from 216,000 members to 268,000, a remarkable trend in an age when union membership is on the decline nationally. Flex Friday isn't going to save itself. [HuffPost]

@ddayen: Hoping the @atrios listing of @TheFix headlines becomes a regular feature http://bit.ly/jMVoPz

CHUCK SCHUMER STARTS CRUSADE TO BRING BACK 'LAW AND ORDER' - "In the American political system, Chuck Schumer's ego is represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the communication experts who propagate inane stories and the reporters who who disseminate these asinine publicity stunts (guilty). These are their stories....BUM BUM" It's been a while since we last reported on Chuck Schumer's attention-grabbing antics. Last time we checked, Chuck was proverbially driving axes into barrels of Four Loko, having anointed himself the nation's foremost alcohol-and-caffeine prohibitionist. Now, the New York lawmaker is trying to bring "Law and Order" back to his home state. "With 'Law & Order,' there are two separate yet equally important ingredients for success: the plot lines, which provide the drama, and New York, which provides the backdrop for hundreds of stories ripped right from the headlines," Schumer said in a statement. "Now that the L.A. experiment is over, it's time to bring 'Law & Order' home to New York, where it belongs." [Daily News]

Jack Reed tried to pull a Schumer today: "WASHINGTON, DC -- In an effort to help Americans better protect themselves from the sun's harmful rays, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today led a letter urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize new sunscreen regulations and prevent misleading labeling of sunscreen products."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - If "play tug o' war with an orangutan" isn't on your bucket list, it should be now.

JEREMY'S WEATHER REPORT - Tonight: Actually nice. Clear skies, and temps falling to the 60s. Tomorrow: 80. Beautiful. Makes you want to be doing something other than talking about Anthony Weiner's penis, no? Quite, JB!


- Hate that you can't tweet when you aren't connected to the Internet? Hate no more. [http://bit.ly/mUJmxL]

- Amphibious ice cream truck can deliver those ice cream bars shaped like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to our seafaring friends. [http://bit.ly/kPd3zF]

- Ten songs that have been tackled by everyone and their mother and should not be covered again. [http://bit.ly/mfHJHB]

- Apple is cracking down on those dubious "Win A Free iPad" web ads that always pop up, sometimes with a sound file. [http://bit.ly/lw8aNq]

- Speaking of iPads, a teenager sold one of his kidneys for an iPad 2. There is, alas, NOT an app for that. [http://gizmo.do/mknCBd]

- Guy does really stellar Bill Cosby impression while singing the theme to "The Cosby Show". [http://on.vh1.com/j7xNt1]

- Gumball machines at war. [http://bit.ly/mDjfIu]

- Stereotypes of all 50 states ... in two minutes. [http://bit.ly/lH98xE]


@DaviSusan: Unintentionally creepy lines from Obama's latest $ e-mail: "We're not just gathering donations here. We're gathering people."

@lehmannchris: Pretty sure my recent spate of porn-spam followers has to do with the frequency of "Weiner" and "Mitt" in my Twitter timeline.

@zachdcarter "We don't have a ruling class that inherits their power," says Mitt Romney, son of a Governor.

@PeterHambyCNN: John Oliver from the Daily Show asked one local reporter covering Palin: "What's the opposite of a Peabody?"



5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray takes a break from paying half-crazy transients six-figure salaries to sit down with Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff for a "Conversation with the Mayor" marking the first week of D.C.'s LGBT PRIDE celebrations [John Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW].

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Steny Hoyer marks his three-fifths golden jubilee with a "30 Years of Service" reception. Hopefully your tax dollars won't be getting him a gold watch (but that's for retirement, right? What do people get for thirty years?) [101 Constitution Ave NW 10th Floor].


8:30 am: Connecticut Fourth District Rep. Jim Hines attends a breakfast fundraiser at Johnny's Half Shell. His district does abut Long Island Sound so maybe the dude is accustomed to eating shellfish for breakfast [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW #175].

8:30 am - 9:30 am: Martin Heinrich, on the other hand, is from New Mexico, so we have no idea where he cultivated his love of A.M. crustaceans [Johnny's Half Shell, 400 North Capitol Street NW #175].

8:45 am: NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions behaves like a good Republican should and attends a campaign event at a French restaurant that serves dishes such as tarte flambe [Bistro Bis, 15 E Street NW].

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