POLITICS
02/15/2012 05:45 pm ET Updated Apr 16, 2012

HUFFPOST HILL - Rick Santorum: Progressive

In Washington, D.C. only escalators on the Red Line are less popular than Newt Gingrich. Megadeth's guitarist endorsed Rick Santorum, but don't expect Santorum to adopt "Symphony Of Destruction" as his campaign song. And John Boehner had to postpone a vote on a bill so he could find more Republican support and/or figure out if Jeremy Lin can fix it. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, February 15th, 2012:

RICK SANTORUM: LIBERAL - Here's an interesting snippet from a November 3, 1990 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article on Rick Santorum: "Santorum insisted that he was the one who is more in touch. 'From child care to taxes, we're right for this district. This district has had enough of government sticking its nose constantly in our business,' he said, insisting nonetheless that he is not a Reagan Republican." Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis with more: "Making his first run for Congress in the early 1990s, this candidate promised not to be a Reagan Republican, fashioned himself a progressive conservative, said he was impartial on unions, and stayed vague on abortion rights ...Santorum reportedly made a similar statement on a separate occasion. According to an October 28, 1990 piece in the Pittsburgh Press, the afternoon newspaper that eventually became part of the Post-Gazette, he described himself as a 'progressive conservative' in his campaign manual." [HuffPost]

Zach Carter's best (?) moments from live video-casting CPAC, via Famous DC.

PAYROLL TAX LATEST: CONGRESS TO TACKLE UNEMPLOYMENT WITH MASSIVE DRUG DRAGNET - The maximum duration of unemployment insurance would gradually fall from 99 weeks to 73 weeks over the course of the year under the payroll tax deal sought by congressional negotiators, according to an outline of the proposal. And the deal would allow states to drug test those applying for unemployment benefits, according to Democratic and Republican congressional sources. A GOP aide said the deal would overturn a federal law that prevents states from screening and then drug testing people who apply for unemployment insurance. States would be permitted to screen claimants who lost their jobs because they failed or refused a drug test and people seeking new jobs that generally require drug tests. According to a 2006 survey cited by Republicans, 84 percent of employers required new hires to pass a drug test. Federal law currently does not allow states to deny benefits for reasons other than misconduct, fraud or disqualifying earnings. Prepare to pee! [HuffPost]

VICTORY LAP - "I'm glad that it's in there," Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), foremost Republican proponent of drug testing the jobless, told HuffPost Hill. "I think that it will be a helpful tool for states."

DENNIS KUCINICH'S PROSPECTS ARE NOT ROSY: LARRY FLYNT - Running in tomorrow's Roll Call from Shira Toeplitz: "[T]wo Members -- Kucinich and fellow Democrat Marcy Kaptur -- want to represent the redrawn 9th district, which stretches 120 miles along Lake Erie's shoreline. The new district's numbers aren't in Kucinich's favor, but that's never stopped the two-time failed presidential candidate from running before. Yet even the west-Cleveland Congressman admits he's not sure who will win the March 6 primary.
'This is a contest, and I think one must be optimistic, but at the same time cautious about the outcome,' Kucinich said in an interview. 'I don't know how this is going to turn out.'... 'I've supported him ever since he was Mayor of Cleveland,' Larry Flynt, a longtime Kucinich backer and former Ohio resident, told Roll Call. 'I hope he does [win], but you have to call them as you see them, and it doesn't look too good for him.'"

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Steve Bachman lost his job in March 2011 and is watching to see whether Congress will mess up his benefits. He is not exactly living large. "I am a product manager with an engineering degree and a MBA who has been out of work for 10 months in California," he said in an email. "I lost a $111,000 a year job which I had for 4 years. Since then, I have been runner up on 3 jobs in the last 10 months but each time I lost out to another candidate. My unemployment benefits are $1800 a month which pays my mortgage and my health insurance. I am still going negative each month about $2,000 even with unemployment benefits... What really ires me is the total lack of compsasion Republicans have for the unemployed. They sit in their cushy offices and treat me me like I am a druggie who will take my unemployment check and use it to buy drugs. They don't care if I lose my house and end up on the street. I am fortunate that I saved a considerable amount of money when I was working so I will not lose my house. Because I am going negative each month, I can see how easily it could happen if someone did not have savings. I will NEVER, NEVER vote Republican again. Their position on unemployment benefits has made me a Democrat from now on."

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AMERICANS' APPETITE FOR WAR STILL SATED - David Wood: "The threat of punishing U.S. military strikes underlies Washington's campaign to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program. But there is no enthusiasm evident within the U.S. military for a war many believe would be messy, bloody, unpredictable and ultimately inconclusive...Their combined real-world experience in combat, with its casualties and uncertain outcomes, infuses the debate about Iran with a sense of caution...Iran is credited with the ability to hit American military bases in the region, including the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain and the critical U.S. air hub in Qatar...But it is Iran's ability to escalate a conflict with the United States that concerns military experts. Iran might, for instance, use Hezbollah to attack Israel with hundreds of rockets a day." [HuffPost]

BOEHNER DELAYS VOTE ON HIGHWAY BILL - The Hill: "Speaker John Boehner is delaying a vote on the $260 billion transportation bill that was scheduled this week. Boehner (R-Ohio) told his conference Wednesday morning that it was 'more important that we do it right than that we do it fast' in explaining his decision, a clear signal GOP leaders lack the votes to win approval of the package. 'Given the volume of amendments and the need for a full, fair, open and transparent process, we may not finish energy/infrastructure this week,' Boehner told his conference, according to a source in the room. 'If we need more time to debate and consider amendments, that's perfectly fine with me. It's more important that we do it right than that we do it fast.'... A Congressional Budget Office report on Monday, however, said the bill would leave the highway trust fund $78 billion in the red over 10 years. Republicans contend CBO underestimated increased federal revenue from expanded drilling." [The Hill]

IF MONEY IS SPEECH, THEN MONEY IS SAYING THAT NEWT GINGRICH IS BAD AT MAKING FRIENDS- Politico: "Newt Gingrich spent more than 30 years building relationships in Washington, but relatively few of his old colleagues in town have ponied up for him. His campaign reported pulling in just $278,000 from the Washington metro area last year -- a drop in the bucket compared with the $2.5 million raised in Washington by his chief rival, Mitt Romney, who has spent little time there. Those numbers, compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, are for checks of more than $200. Gingrich's weak showing in Washington is not surprising to many of the former Hill staff, lobbyists and members of Congress who say his behavior has rankled colleagues along the way in his 20 years in the House and 12 years in Washington consulting. And those personal clashes aren't helping him overcome Romney, a candidate whose fundraising draws heavily on old friends in the banking world, supporters from his days as Massachusetts governor, and elsewhere." [Politico]

POLL: ROMNEY LOSING WITH SANTORUM-LIKE DEFICIT ... TO RICK SANTORUM - Rasmussen: "The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters finds Santorum with 39% support to the former Massachusetts governor's 27%. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich follows from a distance with 15% of the vote, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul runs last with 10%. Three percent (3%) like some other candidate in the race, and six percent (6%) are undecided...Forty-one percent (41%) continue to view Romney as the strongest potential candidate against President Obama, but that's down from 49% last week. Twenty-five percent (25%) now see Santorum as the strongest general election candidate, up from 10%. Paul remains the candidate that Republican voters by far consider the weakest national candidate." [Rasmussen]

The NRA is launching a "Trigger the Vote" campaign, presumably because "Pump the Vote Full of Lead" was taken. "The NRA is launching a voter registration program aimed at signing up pro-Second Amendment voters from both parties. The multi-million dollar 'Trigger The Vote' program is chaired by action star and Internet meme Chuck Norris, who endorsed Newt Gingrich for president. Norris will also appear in some of the campaign's ads, along with Ted Nugent and R. Lee Ermey from 'Full Metal Jacket.' The first ad features Ermey encouraging library patrons to 'get your butt over to that computer station right now, log on to triggerthevote.com and register to vote!'" [HuffPost]

Adele sings about Newt Gingrich.

Megadeth guitarist Dave Mustaine has endorsed Rick Santorum. A. You read that right. B. Newt Gingrich is going to have to work doubly hard now to secure Gwar's support. C. You read that right. TPM: "Mustaine made the endorsement in an interview with Music Radar, saying 'You know, I think Santorum has some presidential qualities, and I'm hoping that if it does come down to it, we'll see a Republican in the White House... and that it's Rick Santorum.'" [TPM]

I, ER, AH PT. 1,000,00,000,000 - "Joseph P. Kennedy III, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and the son of former US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II, plans to formally declare his candidacy for Congress tomorrow morning with a video statement followed by a district tour, the Globe has learned. The announcement is perhaps the least surprising in recent Massachusetts political history, coming after Kennedy quit his job as a district attorney, moved to Brookline, arranged fund-raisers in Washington, and even received several high profile labor endorsements." [Boston Globe]

MICHELE BACHMANN WON'T APPEAR ON DANCING WITH THE STARS, NO WORD ON FEAR FACTOR - Also, Marcus and Michele Bachmann would make the best Amazing Race team ever...just sayin'. Daily News: "The former Republican presidential candidate squashed rumors on Wednesday she'll compete on the upcoming season of ABC's 'Dancing with the Stars.'...Bachmann is just the latest GOPer to turn down the opportunity to shimmy on reality show's dance floor. Herman Cain, who suspended his campaign in December amid allegations of sexual harassment and a long-term extramarital affair, also said no to the show's producers on Tuesday." [Daily News]

UTAH LEGISLATURE FEELING IFFY ABOUT THE 17TH AMENDMENT - If we're bringing back things from the early 20th century, can we also bring back apple carts and those funny bicycles with the one small wheel and the one HUGE wheel*? Salt Lake Tribune: "In a course reversal, state senators apparently are ready to act a bit as if they have moved the clock back 99 years to the era before the 17th Amendment was ratified -- and legislatures, not the voters, chose U.S. senators. The Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee voted 3-0 to endorse SR1 by Sen. Casey Anderson, R-Cedar City, and sent it to the full Senate. It would order a secret-ballot poll among state senators each election year to show the public which U.S. Senate candidate they prefer." [Salt Lake Tribune]

*They are called Penny-farthings. In ye olde times they were called "boneshakers."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are animals rocking out.

SAFE TRAVELS: On HuffPost DC: "Metro has settled most of the train death lawsuits stemming from the 2009 Red Line crash."

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- Soccer, fixed improved. (Jump to 0:50 in video) [http://bit.ly/yu8G6M]

- The Atlantic digs up what might be the oldest cat "video" ever. [http://bit.ly/xwW4vf]

- Here are lots of puppies running after some guy. [http://bit.ly/wAfQh8]

- Seth Casteel photographs dogs chasing balls underwater. [http://bit.ly/yYdsqt]

- If you really want to, you can make a balloon entirely out of apples. [http://bit.ly/zDYo7D]

- Gonzo-science: "Westminster Dog Show... On Acid!" [http://bit.ly/ybjTLI]

- Apes and monkeys see themselves in a mirror. [http://bit.ly/yy6jMb]

- World Press Photo Contest 2012 [http://bit.ly/AesVW0]

TWITTERAMA

@jimgeraghty: NOTICE FROM TWITTER: ALL TWITTER USERS CRITICIZING OR MOCKING @TruthTeam2012 PLEASE REPORT TO ROOM 101 IMMEDIATELY. THANK YOU.

@Jim_Brunner: Accidentally searched for "Tron Paul" web site. And yep there are some images...

@JoshuaGreen: If he's still alive, I bet Romney's dog Seamus hires Gloria Allred

ON TAP
By @christinawilkie

TONIGHT

5:30pm - 7:30pm: There's a chiropractors' reception in Canon. If you need an opening line, ask them if they're real doctors. [Canon 345]

7:00pm - 9:30 pm: CBC fundraiser for African American Voices in Congress at Eatonville. Worth going just for the frickles (fried pickles. Try them). [2121 14th St. NW]

7:00pm - 10:00pm: California State Society's Ahhhscar Night party. Yes, it'll be jazzy, but it's also California, so you're gonna pay a lot more for the same thing. [Eastern Market, 225 7th St. SE]

TOMORROW
12:00pm - 1:30pm: Book lunch for the Tea Party Partiots' new autobiography, with proceeds to help pay down the hundred mil or so it owes the Koch Foundation. [Cato, 990 Massachusetts Ave, NW]

7:00pm - 9:00pm: Fishbowl DC hosts a party they wanted to keep a secret. Just like hundreds of journos felt about the news that they'd been fired. Oops. [2001 14th St., NW, invitation only]

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