Defeated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney resurfaced at the Conservative Political Action Conference -- we assume his Viagra ad is in the works. Romney said he wanted to be America's coworker in the months and years to come, though coworker Romney would undoubtedly leave passive aggressive notes in the office fridge about America taking his yogurt. And we know that all of this is moot because CPAC attendees are just killing time until ShamrockFest. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, March 15th, 2013:
RNC TO FIX ITS GOTV OPERATIONS ... FOR REAL THIS TIME (REALLY!) - This will end up relying heavily on Jitterbugs. Just you wait. Roll Call: "The Republican National Committee is moving forward with a comprehensive overhaul of its antiquated voter turnout operation, including a focus on fixing a collection of broken state parties, CQ Roll Call confirmed Friday. The effort will be directed by the RNC's political department, under the supervision of political director Chris McNulty and a full-time state party director -- a new committee position created as part of the get-out-the-vote overhaul. The modernized national field operation will focus on improving voter registration, identification and turnout through a 'bottom-up' approach that reinvigorates the party organization at the precinct, congressional district and state levels. Under this strategy, the RNC plans to immediately reform its training program for grass-roots activists to encompass the committee's new attention on data gathering, technology and analytics with a complete revamp of its political education department slated to conclude by May 1. Similar to President Barack Obama's successful formula, the RNC wants to transform its GOTV into an ongoing national program that relies on 'peer-to-peer' contact where people live, work, worship, learn and buy their coffee." [Roll Call]
THAT TIME CHRIS CHRISTIE CALLED A BLACK MAN 'BOY' - America's greatest heckler handler just own-goaled big time. Christie was responding to an African-American man, identified by the Associated Press as Mike Henry, who shouted that the governor should focus on fixing the public schools. "You can yell all you want about 'fix the public schools.' Yeah, I hear ya, boy, I hear ya. I hear what you're saying, but let me tell you something else. What I hear is the despair, I hear the despair of folks all over this state," Christie said at the event on Tuesday. Christie then went on to engage the man in an argument over the virtues of school choice. Kenneth Clayton, pastor of St. Luke Baptist Church in Paterson, told HuffPost Hill that he thinks Christie meant no harm with his use of "boy." "I've told people in the community the same thing [that he told HuffPost]. They don't agree with me," he said. HuffPost asked if those offended have been swayed by his reasoning. "Most people have not. They heard what they wanted to hear," he said. "That's a sensitive word to be used, and in the context of the discussion, him using the word made it more sensitive." [HuffPost]
CPAC: MITT ROMNEY RETURNS - [Look right, blink twice, flash wistful look] [Look left, blink twice, flash wistful look]. Jon Ward: "First he gave a subtle rebuke to the organizers who had invited him to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and who decided to exclude New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell because of a perceived lack of conservative bona fides. 'We particularly need, by the way, to hear from the governors from the blue and purple states, because those are the states we're going to have to win to be able to get back the Senate and the White House,' Romney said...He also jumped back into the political debate within the Republican Party over America's role in the world. Romney criticized Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) foreign policy views without mentioning him by name. Romney urged the GOP not to cede global influence to other powers, even citing the Vietnam War as an example of positive America's global influence." [HuffPost]
He resisted quoting "America the Beautiful," which was impressive.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - According to Mitt Romney, the misery of working people is what makes America great. (Not coincidentally, it's also what makes him and his private equity firm rich.) "I met heroes in the homes of the nation: single moms who are working two jobs so that their kids will have clothes like those that the other kids wear, dads who almost forget what a weekend is, because of all the jobs they've taken on to keep the house. We are a patriotic people. The heart of America is good. Our land is blessed by the hand of God; may we as a people always be worthy of His grace, and His protection." As Amanda Terkel notes, "Most Americans like the ones Romney described likely aren't working multiple jobs out of patriotism; they're trying to make ends meet at a time when average wages are plunging even as overall productivity goes up." [HuffPost]
PARANOID SELF-LOATHING GOP LOBBYIST WANTS DIVERSITY ON THE AIRWAVES - HuffPost Hill's Paranoid Self-Loathing GOP Lobbyist, who cares so much about diversity he covers all his windows with United Colors of Benetton print ads, is disappointed by Chris Hayes' ascension to MSNBC's 8:00 pm weekday timeslot. "PSLGOPL thinks MSNBC is racist and pays white people a lot more than people of color but pretends it's forward thinking," PSLGOPL writes, referring to himself in the third person because he's crazy. "I'd like to see Melissa Harris Perry or that woman from the Grio get at least mentioned so they can say the process was open." Thanks, PSLGOPL!
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CPAC: WAYNE LAPIERRE SPEAKS - Only in the country home to the War on Christmas could a bloc of heavily armed individuals -- most of whom belong to the country's racial and religious majority -- turn themselves into victims. Amurica. Christina Wilkie: "Entering the stage to a standing ovation and showing a video montage of his opponents' attacks, LaPierre delivered a fiery rebuttal that garnered a half-dozen standing ovations from the staunchly conservative, and generally young, crowd at CPAC. Gun control advocates 'insult [us], they denigrate, and they call us 'crazy' for holding fast to [our opposition to gun control]. In their distorted view of the world, they're smarter than we are; they're special; they're more worthy than we are; they know better than we do,' he said. 'The liberal media can keep hating on me, but I'm still standing.'" [HuffPost]
@BenjySarlin: OK, CPAC event on racial tolerance has gone nuts, there are neo-Confederates asking why whites are being systematically disenfranchised... To be fair, they are getting some pushback look like they came here to make a scene, but damn... This is actually insane
GRAND JURY INVESTIGATING MENENDEZ - WaPo: "A federal grand jury in Miami is investigating Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), examining his role in advocating for the business interests of a wealthy donor and friend, according to three people aware of the probe. Menendez has intervened in matters affecting the financial interests of Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, seeking to apply pressure on the Dominican government to honor a contract with Melgen's port-security company, documents and interviews show. Also, Menendez's office has acknowledged he interceded with federal health-care officials after they said that Melgen had overbilled the U.S. government for care at his clinic...As part of the grand jury investigation, the three people said, federal agents have questioned witnesses about the interactions between Menendez and Melgen, who contributed $700,000 last year to Menendez and other Senate Democrats. The grand jury has also issued subpoenas for Melgen's business and financial records, according to two people briefed on the probe who, like the others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation." [WaPo]
'ROB PORTMAN GAY' DOMINATES GOOGLE SEARCHES, BUT NOT FOR THE REASON YOU THINK - The Ohio senator's son came out of the closet in 2011 and now Portman is this first Republican in the Senate to support same-sex marriage. From Portman's Dispatch op-ed: "Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay. He said he'd known for some time, and that his sexual orientation wasn't something he chose; it was simply a part of who he is. Jane and I were proud of him for his honesty and courage... At the time, my position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years. I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible's overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God." [Columbus Dispatch]
@rebeccaberg: Asked about Rob Portman's reversal on gay marriage, Paul Ryan pulls a printed copy of the op-ed out of his blazer. "I haven't read it yet."
AL FRANKEN GOES HOLLYWOOD, AGAIN - National Journal: "Facing a competitive Senate reelection in a year, Al Franken is turning to a celebrity friend to help raise money for his 2014 campaign. In an e-mail sent Friday, Franken offered supporters who donate to his campaign a chance to have brunch at Conan O'Brien's house in Los Angeles on April 7. 'Imagine how much fun it would be to hang out at Conan's house. Imagine how jealous your ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend/boss/parents/neighbors/cousins will be. Imagine how ridiculous your friends will look when they compete to be your plus-one," Franken said in the e-mail. Franken and O'Brien both graduated from Harvard and worked together on Saturday Night Live. In 2008, when he first ran for the Senate, Republicans criticized Franken as unserious for public office. In that race, Franken downplayed his celebrity connections." [National Journal]
Mary Landrieu Is Not To Be Effed With: Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) won't challenge Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) in 2014, citing a desire to remain in his current position... Other possible GOP challengers to keep an eye on include Reps. Bill Cassidy and John Fleming, and former congressman Jeff Landry. Last week, Rep. Charles Boustany (R), a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said he would not challenge Landrieu." [WaPo]
MARYLAND POISED TO BAN DEATH PENALTY - Martin O'Malley, the Democratic Tim Pawlenty, is poised to sign the bill. Reuters: "The Maryland House of Delegates voted on Friday to overturn the state's death penalty, putting it a step closer to becoming the 18th U.S. state to abolish executions. By a vote of 82 to 56, the House agreed to replace capital punishment with a sentence of life without parole. It approved the measure a week after the Senate passed the bill...The bill was O'Malley's second attempt to overturn capital punishment since 2009. When he introduced the legislation in January, he said the death penalty was expensive and did not work...Since Maryland reinstated the death penalty in 1978, some 58 people have been sentenced to death, while only five sentences have been carried out, according to Jane Henderson, executive director of the nonprofit Maryland Citizens Against State Executions. Henderson said the vast majority of sentences were changed to life without parole. Maryland's last execution took place in 2005." [Reuters]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Cub bears climb trees
- Japan is weird/awesome part 452,772: An remote controlled urinal. [http://bit.ly/Zu3x7X]
- Gentleman picks his nose on live television. YOLO, man. YOLO. [http://bit.ly/ZtHbTY]
- Saint Paddy's Day through the eyes of a jerk in Google Glasses. [http://chzb.gr/WqxhUe]
- An exploding basketball is incredibly gunshot-like. [http://bit.ly/10V6BP6]
- If someone singing "Somebody That I Used To Know" in a Gollum voice does it for you, today is your lucky day. [http://bit.ly/Z3Kor2]
- What the Los Angeles Times Magazine thought its city would like like in 2013, in 1988. [http://bit.ly/ZQQ4sT]
- "Which episode of "Maury" describes your life?" a most important quiz. [http://bit.ly/15QKWqn]
@AndyCobb: Bobby Jindal is a great antidote for a party exhausted by the soaring oratory and rhetorical fireworks of Mitt Romney. #cpac
@disalmanac: Today in 44 BC, Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by Brutus and others. This became the basis of the great Shakespeare play, "Thundercats."
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