Inside the Beltway

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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HUNTSMAN‘S HARLEY

The former ambassador rides. We’re talking a Harley-Davidson Road King here. Who knew? Presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. hones his he-man image in deep New Hampshire territory in the next 24 hours. He’ll appear at local meet-and-greets, then board his Harley in Manchester, bound for Laconia and Weirs Beach on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee to the north. Which also happens to be Mitt Romney territory. He’s a homeowner in these parts, busy honing his own presidential image as man-of-the-people — tieless and in blue jeans and cotton shirts.

But Mr. Huntsman is on a roll. A real one. Saturday marks the beginning of the inimitable Laconia Motorcycle Week, a classic crowded biker rally established in 1916, with all the black leather trimmings. Will the inevitable photo-op of Mr. Huntsman’s Harley rival Sarah Palin’s big biking moment at Rolling Thunder? We’ll know soon.

MAYOR BALDWIN

Yes, there’s truth in all the breathless chatter that Alec Baldwin could run for New York City mayor. Fans already are bandying about campaign slogans gleaned from the actor’s most famous movies. Mr. Baldwin, who says he’ll retire from NBC’s “30 Rock” next year, is striking a few political poses. He has deemed that Mitt Romney has “the best chance” of triumphing in the Republican field of candidates for president. He has weighed in on the economy and Weinergate. So. Does the ultimate role of “hizzoner” beckon?

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” the actor’s spokesman Matthew Hiltzik tells Inside the Beltway.

“It’s a long way till November 2013,” Mr. Baldwin notes in a tweet.

WEINER BABY WATCH

For better or worse, how instant is news? At 5:11 p.m. Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Huma Abedin, wife of Rep. Anthony Weiner, is three months pregnant. Within 30 minutes, the newest revelations about the New York Democrat had been repeated in 400 news stories. Within an hour, the number reached 4,000, according to Yahoo News.

But reaction is also instant. Gleaned from messages left by the Gray Lady’s readers, a few zingers: “Weiner’s got a bun in the oven,” “Please stop making me dumber by continuing to talk about this guy” and “Stop blogging and send her a baby shower gift.”

INDEPENDENT TEA

Tea party = Republican? Not so, say the Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest tea party organization that boasts more than 3,300 affiliated groups.

“A pledge of allegiance to the Republican Party, or any other party, violates what the tea party movement is all about and is completely out of touch with grass-roots Americans,” says co-founder Jenny Beth Martin.

“The tea party movement grew out of disillusionment with both political parties who have rejected the principles of fiscal responsibility, limited constitutional government and the free market. We are independent and will remain so,” she adds.

Mark Meckler, the other Patriots co-founder, says he’s seen little support for Mitt Romney, noting, “It’s premature to say whether anyone would support him if he were the nominee, and anyone who says that tea partyers would support him is certainly not speaking for the movement at large.”

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