POLITICS
01/03/2012 05:53 pm ET

HUFFPOST HILL - 0.00032 Percent Of Americans Prepare To Caucus: Our Definitive Coverage

Caucuses day! Tonight, 100,000 Iowans will help determine the leader of the free world while five million other Americans watch the premiere of "Work It," an ABC sitcom about two men who find employment by cross-dressing. You can practically *smell* the democracy! Earlier, Congressman Hank Johnson giddily referenced a 5.2 magnitude earthquake near U.S. soil as proof that Guam might capsize. And, like a good Christian, Rick Santorum turned the other cheek when asked about the man who glitterbombed him. The fool! Doesn't he know how insanely difficult it is to de-glitter one's cheek??? This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012, and we'll be back later tonight with a special post-caucuses edition:

LOOK, WE'RE SORRY, BUT YOU HAVE TO MAKE UP YOUR MIND AT SOME POINT - You know it's time to pick a candidate when Romney's Super PACs prepare to pawn recycle *burn in a giant pile behind a Home Depot somewhere* their remaining "Hawkeyes for Mitt" memorabilia. Staunch social conservatives Dave and Sarah Bowman spent the day with HuffPost Hill and a video reporter, explaining their caucus thinking while their three young boys terrorized their suburban Des Moines home. Dave was in Iraq for the last caucus, so this'll be his first. Sarah, meanwhile, held her nose and voted for John McCain. This time they want a candidate they "can believe in." But like any family, nothing's simple. Gay marriage is legal in Iowa, and both Dave and Sarah were honored to be part of his sister's wedding, one son serving as a "flower bearer," Sarah says. Even beyond his sister, Dave says he met plenty of gay and lesbian service members, and, to a man and woman, they were fine soldiers. The couple had its first boy, a surprise, out of wedlock, and faced down the judgment of fellow Iowa conservatives. As you read this, Sarah's on her way to deliver remarks before a Waukee caucus in support of Rick Santorum. Dave has reluctantly decided to back him as well, but allowed for a slight possibility, due to Santorum's virulent opposition to marriage equality, that he'd back out at the last minute. Sarah reminded him that it's a secret ballot, and he's free to vote however he feels right.

HUNTSMAN: ROMNEY A WALL STREET LACKEY - Jon Huntsman, apparently making an early play for the 2016 Iowa Democratic caucuses, told HuffPost's Sam Stein that Mitt Romney won't look out for the little guy: "It is not necessarily abut the history of his involvement on Wall Street," Huntsman said. "It is the fact that he has raised so much money from the large banks, the banks that need to be right sized. If you are the largest recipient of funds from Wall Street and in particular the large banks you are not going to be inclined to want to change that model. Because those who run those banks want no change, they profit off the status quo and clearly they are not going to be inclined to want to bring about any change."

SO WHAT THE HELL IS A 'CAUCUS,' ANYWAY? - "When Republican representatives, friends, neighbors, and family members convene in Iowa gymnasiums, church basements, and high schools tonight they will also see something else: representatives for candidates. The caucus process allows candidate representatives to attempt to persuade undecided caucus-goers at the last minute, in many cases even hearing impassioned speeches before the group comes together for a vote. The same typically isn't true for primaries. Each precinct will then select a candidate they wish to have represented on the county level. The process for doing so is differs between the the Republican and Democratic parties...The GOP uses single-selection secret ballots to select a candidate in each precinct (which will happen tonight), after representatives first attempt to talk undecided voters into choosing their candidates." [HuffPost]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - For the past year, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has led a coalition of state AGs in search of a reckoning with the nation's biggest banks over homeowner abuse and rogue foreclosures. The settlement -- which could provide as much as $25 billion of relief for mistreated current and former homeowners -- is currently the biggest thing happening in the housing-policy world. The deal, which might be inked as soon as this month, has the support of every attorney general except for a handful of Democrats who have complained it's too soft on the banks. Yet even though the top cop negotiating the settlement is headquartered in the state where Republican candidates are frantically campaigning, none of them, apparently, has uttered a word about the settlement. HuffPost reporters who have been covering campaigns in Iowa for the past week or more and haven't heard a peep about foreclosures. A news database search for the terms "Iowa" and "caucuses" and "foreclosures" turns up no comments from the candidates or their surrogates on the topic. Google news searches for terms like "Tom Miller" or "foreclosure settlement" and "Iowa caucuses" yield no results.

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

@RepHankJohnson: Don't say I didn't warn y'all. "Magnitude 5.2 Earthquake - Guam Region" http://on.doi.gov/ykLyab

Context: "Rep. Hank Johnson: Guam could 'tip over and capsize'"

GOP CANDIDATES: VOTE FOR ME OR WE WILL RE-INVADE NORMANDY - Today is the longest day, but y'know, less righteous... and more tedious... and more rife with journalists traipsing about Marriotts while noshing on taquitos from 7-11. CBS News: "Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday became the second candidate to compare his presidential bid to the great battles of the 1940s. 'It is a powerful moment in America's history,' he told a group of about 200 volunteers assembled at the campaign's informal headquarters in the West Des Moines Sheraton for a last-minute training session. 'And you are on the front lines. This is Concord, this is Omaha Beach. This is going up the hill, realizing the battle is worth winning. This is about sacrifice.'...Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's national campaign director made a reference to Pearl Harbor just weeks ago after failing to meet the requirements to appear on the primary ballot in Virginia -- a misfortune that he and Perry share. 'Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941: We have experienced an unexpected setback, but we will re-group and re-focus with increased determination, commitment and positive action'...Rick Santorum, meanwhile, drew attention for a speech he gave in December to a Republican Jewish group blasting President Obama's foreign policy. "And this president, for every thug and hooligan, for every radical Islamist, he has had nothing but appeasement. We saw that during the lead-up to World War II," Santorum said." [CBS News]

The Obama campaign bought a gigantic advertisement on the Des Moines Register's homepage. Visitors to the Hawkeye state's paper of record are now greeted with the campaign's 2012 logo and the message "THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES ARE LEAVING IOWA. BUT THEIR TERRIBLE PLANS ARE HERE TO STAY." Well played, Obama campaign. Well played. [Screenshot]

"UPDATE: DesMoinesRegister.com has added PAID FOR BY OBAMA FOR AMERICA to the ad."

RICK SANTORUM FEELS 'SORRY' FOR THE GAY GUY WHO DOUSED HIM IN GLITTER - On December 30th, while Rick Santorum was campaigning in Iowa, a man yelled "STOP THE HATE! TASTE THE RAINBOW! and dumped a container of glitter on the former Pennsylvania senator. Santorum took the glitterbomb in stride -- probably because he genuinely believes that's how gays and lesbians say "hello" -- and proceeded to chat up voters. Santorum was asked about the shiny, and difficult to clean, incident (One Santorum backer told HuffPost Hill: "Glitter is the herpes of decorative products.") today during an appearance on Jan Mickelson's Iowa radio show. Santorum was... well... let's go with "pensive." Yeah, "pensive." Santorum: "It's one of those things where there are a lot of people out there who are hurting, who are struggling with a lot of different issues. My feeling is, that's part when you open yourself up to the public, you're going to get good things happen to you and not so nice things. What I'm taking the approach of is you move on. I feel sorry for that man that he felt like he was compelled he had to do that. Like I do, what I'm supposed to do, is you know, according to our faith, is to pray for them, and I hope people work that out." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

Never change, Rick! "Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, whose strong base of evangelical Christian supporters has thrust him into contention in Iowa, said on Monday that he believes states should have the right to outlaw birth control and sodomy without the interference of the Supreme Court." [HuffPost's Laura Bassett]

POSSIBLE MOVEMENT IN CFPB NOMINATION - The Hill: "President Obama is not ruling out a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), White House officials said Tuesday. Officials said the president is leaving all options on the table when it comes to recess appointments, and that includes Cordray's bid to head the CFPB. While a senior White House official said Obama would not be making any recess appointments Tuesday, the official would not say whether the president would make them in the coming days. ThinkProgress, a liberal advocacy group, reported earlier Tuesday that the White House was planning a recess appointment either Tuesday or Wednesday, citing an unnamed source. The fight over Cordray's nomination has dragged on for weeks. Liberal and consumer advocates have been pushing the White House to put him in place by any means necessary following the move by Senate Republicans in December to block the selection." [The Hill]

"White House Denies CIA Teleported Obama to Mars"

WHITE HOUSE TO BOEHNER: HI, FRIEND! - Roll Call: "The White House is kicking off 2012 the same way it ended 2011 -- pushing Speaker John Boehner(Ohio) to ditch the right wing of his GOP Conference and rely on Democratic votes to get bills passed. To that effect, a senior administration official speculated today that a broad deficit reduction deal could pass the House provided that Boehner is willing to pass it with a significant number of Democratic votes. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity. Keeping with the theme, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also asserted today that a segment of the House GOP appears to be dictating policy, leading to obstructionism that Carney said would hurt Republicans politically if they persist...Boehner’s office, however, pushed back on such an assertion." [Roll Call]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Kitten falls asleep in a tea cup.

Oh man: "Ron Paul was really milking that Kelly Clarkson endorsement at a Rock The Caucus event at Valley High School in West Des Moines on Tuesday, POLITICO's Juana Summers reports. 'Does anybody here know the name Kelly Clarkson?' the Republican presidential candidate asked the high school students. Paul, admitting he didn't know much about the 'American Idol' winner, says his supporters did make her record sales skyrocket after she came out backing his campaign." [Politico]

COMFORT FOOD

- An educational, "Well, Johnny"-style video about JOURNALISM from 1940. Some of our more lefty viewers might recognize the clips from the movie version of "Manufacturing Consent." [http://huff.to/yRPvDn]

- Newborn kittens get into a slap fight. [http://huff.to/zPUq4V]

- Hey, kids, Louis C.K. has some advice for you (NOT SUITABLE FOR KIDS). [http://huff.to/u2kWL6]

- Happy 2012! It's a new year! Now! Why? Here's why! [http://huff.to/tzo1gY]

- This elaborate LEGO contraption makes a strong case that the next Transformers movie should be made entirely of LEGOs. [http://huff.to/A2oVSW]

- Snoop Dog appeared on "The Price is Right" and helped someone win a 62 Lincoln [http://bit.ly/vBzohc]

- Nickelodeon doesn't feature enough cartoons about road ragers suffering horrible comeuppances. [http://huff.to/uHZEWx]

- 2011's memes: Where are they now? [http://huff.to/AAJpSh]

TWITTERAMA

@pourmecoffee:It's Tolkien's birthday, and GOP candidates are out campaigning for the precious. They wants it. They needs it. They must have it.

@aterkel: Sweet Valley High? RT @elise_foley: The press filing center at Valley High School twitpic.com/82qjqj

@tylerkingkade: So the @DMRegister has a new layout - I think it's a WordPress theme called "Obama Ad" desmoinesregister.com

ON TAP (IOWA EDITION)
By @christinawilkie

7:00 pm: Don't be fooled: Rick Santorum's Caucus Night Rally is being held in a hotel lobby, but it's still just a depressing conference room. [Stoney Creek Inn, The North Woods Conference Center, 5291 Stoney Creek Court, Johnston, Iowa]

7:00 pm: Ron Paul's Caucus Night Rally is a pretty good bet if you're looking to meet some of those unshaven, drunken anarchists Ron Paul is so worried about. Because we sure are. [Courtyard Des Moines Ankeny, 2405 SE Creekview Drive, Ankeny, Iowa]

7:00 pm: Rick Perry's Caucus Night Watch Party has just what he needs to feel good: a few hundred imported Texans, a garish ballroom with blue lights and a free shuttle to the airport. Wheels up for South Carolina at, oh, one-thirty. [Sheraton West Des Moines, 1800 50th Street, West Des Moines, Iowa]

8:00 pm: Michele Bachmann hosts a Caucus Night Party. However it'll take a lot more than just a case of Hypnotiq and Marcus Bachmann on karaoke to save this party. [West Des Moines Marriott, 1250 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, Iowa]

8:45 pm: You knew it was coming, so here it is: Mitt Romney's "not-a-victory-party" victory party. And yes, it's at the fanciest hotel in town. Also, six million of us are stillconvinced his first name is Mittens. God bless the two percent. [Hotel Fort Des Moines, 1000 Walnut St., Des Moines, Iowa]

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