POLITICS
02/10/2012 04:31 pm ET Updated Apr 11, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - Romney To CPAC: Baby Girl, I Can Change!


At CPAC, the rapping is a hip hop the hippie the hippie to the hip hip awful (also racist). Taking a cue from 12th century Europe, President Obama did the Catholic Church's bidding (no word on whether he'll wed his daughter to the Duke of Saxony). And if CPAC speakers were songs at a Stones show, then Rick Santorum was a rousing "Gimme Shelter" opener and Mitt Romeny was a '90s deep cut that cued everyone to hit the head. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, February 10th, 2012:

CPAC HAPPY TO SEE RICK SANTORUM - Jon Ward: "When Rick Santorum walked on stage here at CPAC, the annual confab for conservative activists, the massive hall was packed to the gills, and conference attendees lined the halls unable to get in to see the former Pennsylvania senator's speech...He went on throughout a nearly 30-minute speech to repeatedly make the case that Romney is a politician who will not match up well against President Barack Obama because he has not taken conservative positions on key issues, and because he does not excite the conservative grassroots...A few minutes before Santorum's speech, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) told the crowd why he endorsed Romney. Some in the audience applauded, but the positive response came from a small portion of those in the hall." [HuffPost]

The White House is previewing its FY2013 budget this evening.

CPAC LESS HAPPY TO SEE MITT ROMNEY - Jon Ward: "Romney acknowledged to the crowd that he did not come to conservatism as a young activist, telling them that if he had heard the names of foundational authors Friedrich Hayek or Edmund Burke when he was a young man, 'you could have told me they were infielders for the Detroit Tigers.'...Noticeably absent from Romney's remarks was a defense, or even a mention, of the health care law he passed as governor in 2006 for Massachusetts. Santorum's speech earlier in the day focused primarily on what is now known to conservatives as 'RomneyCare,' because like President Barack Obama's health care law, it included a mandate to buy insurance." [HuffPost]

Our reporters had a fun day at CPAC

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Democrats in the U.S. Senate this week firmly rejected GOP proposals to drug-test the jobless, but they signaled a new willingness to compromise on cutting weeks of unemployment benefits. The Senate Democrats' proposal, outlined in a one-page document, would cut six weeks of unemployment compensation, limiting the maximum benefits to 93 weeks. But the offer does not reflect the fact that Democrats already gave ground on the duration of benefits. Twenty weeks' worth of ground, in fact. Very sneaky, Senate Democrats! [HuffPost]

MITT ROMNEY: DUMB LAW WAS SMART - Mitt Romney said a Florida law that required drug testing of everyone who applied for welfare in 2011 was just awesome. "People who are receiving welfare benefits, government benefits, we should make sure they are not using the money for drugs. I think it's an excellent idea," he said. Never mind that the law didn't save a dime and revealed welfare applicants to be using drugs at a rate much lower than the general population. Also never mind that the success of the legal challenge that halted the law on constitutional grounds was entirely foreseeable. If you don't care about the poor, making them pee in cups probably does sound pretty smart. [HuffPost]

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ADMINISTRATION SUCCESSFULLY PROLONGS INTRACTABLE NATIONAL DISPUTE, AVERTS CRISIS - Jake Tapper: "Seeking to quell a political uproar over religious liberty and contraception, President Obama announced today that religious-affiliated institutions will not be mandated to cover birth control for their employees.
'Religious organizations won't have to pay for these services and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly,' the president announced from the White House briefing room. 'Let me repeat: These employers will not have to pay for or provide contraceptive services, but women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services just like other women.' Under the new policy, insurance companies will instead be directly responsible for providing free contraception. 'Religious organizations won't have to pay for these services and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly,' Obama said." [ABCNews]

DID SPENCER BACHUS ENGAGE IN INSIDER TRADING? - Or was he just, you know, passing along "political intelligence?" Because that's totally different. WSJ: The Alabama congressman who serves as the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee is under investigation into whether he improperly traded stocks or funds in financial markets based on inside information, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Office of Congressional Ethics began the review late last year into trading conducted by Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus. If the House's independent ethics body finds reason to believe he acted improperly, it would refer the matter the House's traditional Ethics Committee, which would then have 45 days to announce a course of action. The head of the congressional ethics body said: 'We can't confirm or deny whether we are conducting an investigation.'" [WSJ]

AMERICANS EVERYWHERE ARE INTO SANTORUM - You know what they say in journalism: Two's a coincidence, but three? Three is Santorum, baby. Political Wire: "Early indications from two polls in the field -- Public Policy Polling and Gallup -- show Rick Santorum either taking over the lead among Republican voters nationally or at least tied with Mitt Romney. A new Fox News poll also shows Santorum surging and in the last two days the poll was in the field he moved into a dead heat with Romney, 30% to 30%." [Political Wire]

Newt Gingrich + Downton Abbey = Newton Abbey

Details from that Fox poll: "For the four nights of polling, voters who are part of the Tea Party movement back Gingrich (34 percent) over Santorum (28 percent) and Romney (25 percent). Paul receives the support of 9 percent of Tea Partiers. White evangelical Christians break for Santorum (31 percent) over Romney (24 percent) and Gingrich (23 percent). Most GOP primary voters -- 80 percent -- think someone other than frequent frontrunner Romney could still win the Republican nomination, and over half say it's too soon for any of the current contenders to drop out (54 percent). Moreover, nearly half would still like to see someone else jump in the race (49 percent). Forty-eight percent of GOP primary voters are satisfied with their field of candidates. That's far fewer than the 81 percent of Democratic voters who are happy with Barack Obama as their nominee. Romney (32 percent) and Gingrich (25 percent) are most likely to be seen as the Republicans who make the 'best case' against Obama. Santorum (13 percent) and Paul (11 percent) trail on this measure." [Fox News]

People will pay money to see more Santorum: The Hill: "Rick Santorum's campaign says it has raised $2 million over the last week. '@RickSantorum has raised more than 2million since Tuesday night #gameon,' Santorum campaign manager Michael Biundo tweeted Friday. The campaign has reported an influx of donations since Santorum's victories in three Republican presidential primary contests on Tuesday: in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri." [The Hill]

THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT VIOLATES THE ENUMERATED POWERS CLAUSE, YO - This happened: "At the Conservative Political Action Conference, most of the music wafting from the stage and through the halls is country music, or some other campaign-style rock songs. But on Tuesday morning, attendees of the Red Carpet Blogger Awards received a special surprise: a conservative rap performance. Wearing track suits and colonial-style wigs, Steve Crowder, a Fox News contributor and comedian, and Chris Loesch, the husband of conservative commentator Dana Loesch, warmed the crowd up with a rap about 'Mr. America.' Behind them was their own music video of the song, in which they wore more colonial-style clothing and stood in front of a building that appeared to be some sort of fortress. The performance sure woke up the crowd, which turned out at 9:30 a.m. to honor the prominent conservative bloggers receiving awards that morning. People were waving their hands in the air like they just didn't care, and one woman even stood up and shook her hips." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

THEN THE MOST AWKWARD THING EVER HAPPENED - "There was one particularly awkward moment in the performance, when they used the word 'knickers,' which happens to sound a lot like a racially loaded word beginning with the letter 'n.' The music then stopped and they joked, 'What? Knickers? I can say knickers!' At that moment, coincidentally, a technician -- who happened to be one of the only African-American individuals in the room and was working at the front at the time -- stood up and walked away."

Politico compiled the best on-camera walk-offs, including this gem from 1993: "President Bill Clinton abruptly ended the press conference announcing Ruth Bader Ginsburg's nomination to the Supreme Court when he was asked by Brit Hume about why the selection process had seemed to have 'a certain zig-zag quality.' 'I have long since given up the thought that I could disabuse some of you turning any substantive decision into anything but political process,' objected Clinton, before walking off. (June 14, 1993)" [Politico]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Puppies, yo.

WASHINGTON CAN'T EVEN DO MONUMENTS ANYMORE - On HuffPost DC: "Rep. Frank Wolf doesn't like Frank Gehry's Eisenhower Memorial design. And MLK's "arrogant twit" quotation will be clarified."

COMFORT FOOD

- Turn any website into a @horse_ebooks website! [http://huff.to/z203DS]

- A few more drinks and this two-ton mechanical excavator wouldn't have been able to balance these beer bottles. [http://huff.to/z203DS]

- Every Apple product ever, set to music. It's like the 1990s Bulls starting lineup presentation... but with wires. [http://huff.to/zerdBK]

- Lotta snow and ice in Switzerland. [http://huff.to/x87Nc9]

- Interactive van Gogh allows you to touch "Starry Night," see what it looks like on LSD. [http://huff.to/zvtO8H]

- "15 Obnoxious Roommate Notes" -- the Mozarts of passive aggression. [http://huff.to/xFIvRt]

- Cement mixers are not toys -- they are cement mixers. [http://huff.to/yLTI2F]

- Dog takes a turn as a DJ. [http://bit.ly/y4ZeWo]

TWITTERAMA

@elise_foley: In the future, when computers record everything said by everyone, I look forward to knowing how many times "Reagan" is said at CPAC

@pourmecoffee: Romney's genius plan to go into general election alienating women and Hispanics right on schedule.

@EricKleefeld: CPAC's right-wing version of "The View" about as pointless as the original "The View."

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

THIS WEEKEND

Friday

5:00pm: Start your weekend off right with creepy lady reality TV star Michelle Duggar at CPAC. A few drinks helps. [Marriott Wardman Park, [2660 Woodley Road NW]]

8:00pm-10:00pm: Top off your buzz from the Reagan dinner at CPAC on the Rocks. Only 2,635 people signed up on FB so there's plenty of room. [ Madam's Organ, 2461 18th St., NW]

Saturday

12:00pm - 5:00pm: Because congressional staffers never learn, 2012 Cupid's Undie Run on Capitol Hill offers them an ideal chance to pose for party pix in their underwear. In public. [The Pour House, 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE]

4:30pm -10:30pm: Paging Newton Leroy Gingrich: The Annual Woo at the National Zoo is for people who love the ladies and who love zoos. And we know one such person. [3001 Connecticut Ave. NW]

8:30pm - 2:30am: 8th annual Reaganpalooza. Thank God we attended that CPAC dating course yesterday, because this party is gonna be a total babe-fest. [$10 cover, 1900 K. St. NW]

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