Today is Leap Day or, as conservatives like to call it, Calendar Overreach Day. Mitt Romney was for opposing the Blunt amendment before he was against it. And Harry Reid's idea of cocktail conversation involves long digressions about the politics of funding highway interchanges. Harry Reid probably doesn't get invited to too many cocktail parties. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, February 29th, 2012:
ROMNEY GOES FULL KERRY (AND THEN SOME) - Mitt Romney actually flip flops at the pace of footsteps. Laura Bassett: "In an interview with Ohio News Network on Wednesday, Mitt Romney said he opposed a controversial amendment that would allow employers to opt out of covering any kind of health benefit for moral reasons. But minutes after his answer was broadcast, the Romney campaign was insisting he actually backed the bill. 'I'm not for the bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I'm not going there,' Romney said....But within the hour, the Romney campaign was insisting that the opposite was true. 'Regarding the Blunt bill, the way the question was asked was confusing. Governor Romney supports the Blunt Bill because he believes in a conscience exemption in health care for religious institutions and people of faith,' said Andrea Saul, a spokesperson for Romney." [HuffPost]
PINGREE IS (PROBABLY) RUNNING, PT 2 - Here's what she told us this afternoon: "I can't think of anything right now that's holding me back. I mean, I love being in the House, I'm on the Ag[riculture] Committee and I'm working on all kinds of issues I care about, but there aren't too many opportunities that come along in life where you feel like you can have this big an impact on the future of politics in the Senate. So I'm not likely to say no."
Go, members of Maine's Democratic delegation! File those papers! Fulfill your dreams! "Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, this morning took out papers for the Senate seat, while state Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth -- who had announced she was running for the Senate against Snowe -- instead took out papers for the 1st Congressional District, the seat currently held [and being vacated] by Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine. State House Minority Leaders Emily Cain, D-Orono, took out nominating papers for the 2nd District House race, while former secretary of state Markham Gartley, also a Democrat, took out papers for the 1st District congressional seat." [Morning Sentinel]
Why does Chellie Pingree have a good shot? Check out this disclaimer at the bottom of the Sentinel piece: "Pingree's husband, S. Donald Sussman, is a financier and philanthropist and frequent Democratic donor who recently purchased a 5 percent equity stake in MaineToday Media through Maine Values LLC. MaineToday Media owns and operates The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and other media outlets in Maine." $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
OLYMPIA SNOWE HAS A VERY ANGRY EXIT INTERVIEW ON MSNBC - Being able to go on national television and complain about your soon-to-be old job and your soon-to-be old coworkers -- and NOT have your career ruined -- is one of the things that makes being a senator sooooooooo awesome. ABC News: "Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, today leveled some tough parting words at the United States Senate. 'It's dysfunctional and the political paralysis has overtaken the environment to the detriment of the good of this country,' Snowe, who won't be running for re-election, said to Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC of the political climate in Washington D.C. 'It's very, very difficult to resolve major issues.' Snowe waxed nostalgic about the political compromise of yesteryear, harkening back to the days of then-Majority Leader Bob Dole, who she recalled would put a bipartisan group together in his office to work out a specific problem without the fanfare of today's public political battles." [ABC News]
Lindsey Graham, professional senator: "I think she lost hope. All of us need to believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And if you lose that belief, why are you going to spend seven years of your life -- in her case that's what was in the commitment -- to do something that there seems no hope? Well, I haven't gotten there. I believe there is hope. I very much respect her decision, but somewhere in all this mess there's a pony. We just need to find that pony." Via Mike McAuliff.
DAILY DELANEY DENTAL DOWNER - Bernie Sanders has a terrible tooth trouble roundup today. Among the highlights: More than 130 million Americans don't have dental coverage. Seventeen million kids miss out on annual dentist visits. Emergency room visits for dental problems increased 16 percent from 2006 to 2009. And one quarter of adults over 65 has no teeth at all. "Last year, I had a toothache that was so painful I had trouble eating and sleeping," wrote Shawn Jones of Brattleboro, Vt., according to Sanders. "My girlfriend's dentist ... wouldn't see me. So I called 12 more dentists in the area, but they all said the same thing: they weren't taking new Medicaid patients. A few said to call back in three months, which seems like a long time to live with a bad toothache." [Bernie]
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HARRY REID HAS A 'GUNS AND RELIGION' MOMENT... BUT WITH MORE POETRY - Today's Senate is such a dysfunctional mess that its own leader has no problem ruthlessly belittling it during a Media Matters book party... or, to put it another way, being a ginormous liberal stereotype. "We're having our usual productive time in the Senate. Monday, no votes. Tuesday, no votes. Wednesday, no votes," he complained. "But I'll tell you, we're going to have a great Thursday morning. I finally figured out a way to -- [the Republicans have] been stalling for a long time, since February 7, when we tried to move the highway bill. They've been holding this up because of contraception. They wouldn't bring it up, couldn't work anything out. So I did. I filed the -- I brought the amendment up myself, and we're going to vote on that on Thursday and get rid of that, and we'll be able to do a highway bill. So, you guys, thank you very much for all you do." Reid made his remarks during a party celebrating "The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network Into a Propaganda Machine," by David Brock, Ari Rabin-Havt and the rest of M-squared gang. Hear that? Do you hear it? Do you hear that sound? That sound is Tucker Carlson's dreams being fulfilled. [HuffPost]
The man just wants to build highways!!!
YOUNG GUNS NO LONGER COOL???? Say it ain't so. Warren Rojas: "It's not every day that a wannabe GOP pol tells the National Republican Congressional Committee to suck it. But Dr. John McGoff has wrapped himself in the formal rejection -- a badge of honor that he hopes will set him apart from the eight other contenders eyeing retiring Rep. Dan Burton's Indiana seat. McGoff, a three-time Congressional aspirant who first burst onto the national scene by slicing off a surprising 45 percent of the primary-vote pie when he challenged Burton in 2008, recently declined the NRCC's offer to join the burgeoning Young Guns program. 'We're gonna politely turn it down ... because the voters are tired of people who are tied up with Washington,' a McGoff aide tells HOH." [Roll Call]
DREIER OUT - David Dreier -- proud member of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus -- announced today that he will not seek reelection. AP, via the San Francisco Chronicle: "Dreier's retirement would end a three-decade-long career representing his Los Angeles County district that began in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan entered the White House...Dreier said he had considered leaving three years ago but chose to return to focus on cutting spending, getting free trade bills passed and enhancing national security." [AP]
Or he could do this: "The unsurprising announcement that powerful GOP Rep. David Dreier is retiring has been predicted ever since the new redistricting lines came out last year and Dreier was left standing in the game of political musical chairs. His LA-area district got sliced up in ways that were too Democratic for him to win...Does Dreier plan on running against Sen. Dianne Feinstein for U.S. Senate?" [Also The Chronicle]
"Constant optimist." Heh. @davisusan: Constant optimist Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., says in retirement announcement that Congress "is as great as it has ever been."
BOB KERREY FINALLY, ACTUALLY, FOR REAL, DECLARES - Can't wait for the "Things About The New School That Creeped Me Out" issue page! Mike McAuliff: "Former Nebraska senator and New York City college administrator Bob Kerrey completed a remarkable turnaround Wednesday, declaring he will run for the Democratic nomination for his old seat. Just three weeks ago, Kerrey, who left the Senate to become president of the New School, said he would not get into the race, citing family concerns. But he let it be known he had changed his mind Monday, and on Wednesday he made it official, releasing a low-key statement and declining to hold a press conference. 'This afternoon, I will file to become a candidate for the United States Senate in Nebraska,' Kerrey said. 'I came to realize that my previous decision was the easy one, not the right one. My commitment to serve Nebraska and America, and to be part of the debate about the challenges we face was too strong to dismiss. My family supports this decision 100 percent. I look forward to seeing you in the coming weeks. We have a lot of work to do.'" [HuffPost]
SANTORUM CAMPAIGN NOT ATTACHED TO REALITY, INTERESTINGLY - Elise Foley: "Rick Santorum campaign adviser John Brabender said Wednesday the Michigan primary was a virtual tie in delegates, citing results online but not any official data from the state's Republican primary. 'I heard that there's a Lansing [Mich.] paper that put out it showed it was a virtual tie,' Brabender said in a call with reporters about the primary results. 'I have not seen that myself, but someone from our campaign shared that with me... These are the reports we're getting and I understand that I'm not giving you hard data.' The call was held to try to shift the narrative on the Tuesday Michigan primary, in which former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney narrowly beat former Sen. Santorum (R-Pa.). Brabender insisted that the two men had received the same number of delegates in the state. But Brabender gave little proof, citing online reports vaguely. He later implied that the Michigan Republican Party might slant their results because some people there support Romney, but said the Michigan Secretary of State had not confirmed those claims." [HuffPost]
NEW ENGLAND REPUBLICANS SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT MITT ROMNEY DOESN'T GIVE TWO SHITS ABOUT SOCIAL ISSUES LIKE MITT ROMNEY - Interesting: Harvard faculty are donating to Mitt Romney. Daily Beast: "Mitt Romney might like to dig at President Obama for relying on the 'Harvard faculty lounge' for advice, but Obama's fellow Harvard alum has received the most donations from the prestigious school's employees of any current GOP candidate. According to the university's newspaper The Harvard Crimson, a group of 17 Harvard staff members have donated a total of $25,000 to Republican candidates during this presidential-election cycle, the majority of which--$23,150--was donated to Mitt Romney. " [Daily Beast]
Mitt will appear on "Fox News Sunday" this weekend. We're guessing it's part of his campaign's super inconsiderate -- but super effective -- press strategy of mostly ignoring the media until things are going well. You know, it's as if the Romney campaign were the media's terrible, backstabbing friend, but the friend whom the media keeps inviting over for movie night because the media has no self esteem.
FamousDC with an item on Steve King and Sheila Jackson Lee's.. verbosity: "Have you ever wondered which Member of Congress has the best vocabulary? Or the worst? A new interactive map helps to crack the mystery."
Congressman Roscoe Bartlett is helping the community. Press release, via Jen Bendery: "Congressman Roscoe Bartlett was happy to help WTOP reporter Paul Shinkman's serious effort to raise money towards improving mens' health and medical treatment with an interview about his moustache that became part of Paul's series of four "mournful" reports for Paul's participation in Movember 2011. Paul participated in Movember in memory of his late father who had succumbed to prostrate cancer. His father had been well known for his prominent moustache."
The good folks at the Examiner have been combing through old New York Times corrections -- natch -- and came across this doozey: "A previous version of this article misstated how many of the president's proposals to reduce the country's reliance on imported oil were new in his speech on Wednesday. None of them were, not one of them." They assume it's from a "conservative mole." And if by "mole" they mean "lefty Times reporter who wrote a check to OFA in 2008 but now regrets it," they're probably correct. [Examiner]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - I can haz attention?
JIM MORAN IS MAD - On HuffPost DC: "The Northern Virginia Democrat wants Metro to remove an ad that says "Go to Hell Barack" from the Clarendon station."
- Here are some happy animals. [http://bit.ly/x9ILOq]
- Live feed of a polar bear cub. (Requires Flash :C) [http://bit.ly/zf3cYl]
- Our future overlords play musical instruments. Don't be fooled; they seek only destruction. [http://bit.ly/AfWlnz]
- There's a new record for the greatest distance flown by a paper airplane. [http://bit.ly/wYi6oq]
- Orange you glad you watched this ad? [http://bit.ly/wacBER]
- Trailer for Neighborhood Watch, sci-fi comedy coming to theaters July 27. [http://bit.ly/zgocrj]
- The Smithsonian will soon host an exhibit called The Art of Video Games. [http://bit.ly/wirklU]
@brfreed: Editorial aside: If "amongst" is acceptable, then the sweater I'm wearing is grey.
@BenjySarlin: Democrats: Romney Hits Blunt, Passes To Left RT @woodhouseb: Unreal. 4pm Romney's against Blunt Bill. 5pm he's for it.
@dceiver: Did anyone think to do any exit polling on who voted for Romney just for bringing all of the debates to an end?
6:00pm - 7:30pm: Rep. Niki Tsongas hosts donors at a Champagne and Chocolate reception. Romance optional. [230 Second Street SE]
6:30pm - 8:00pm: Sen. Jay Rockefeller hosts a fundraiser at his house, which we're guessing doesn't suck. [2121 Park Road NW]
6:00pm - 8:00pm: The auto parts industry hosts a congressional reception in the suitably charmless Rayburn Cafeteria. Grab your free beer ticket and get outta there. [RHOB]
6:00pm - 8:00pm: The Idaho State Society's Welcome Back Congress reception is three months late, but seriously, no one's counting. Enjoy the spuds. Beware the "oysters." [Capitol Hill Club, 300 1st St. SE]
6:00pm - 8:00pm: Cell phone app designers now have a lobby, so their cocktail party is just about the best place ever to complain about annoying features. [Lounge 201, 201 Massachusetts Ave, NE]
6:30 - 8:00pm: In the next room over from the app designers, angry progressives discuss "The War on Women." Great combo! [Lounge 201]
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