Inside the Beltway: Independents give an edge to Romney

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Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s got the edge on President Obama, thanks to those fickle independents and voter motivation. The Gallup Daily Tracking poll of general-election preferences among registered voters from April 11 to 15 reports that Mr. Romney garners 47 percent of the vote, Mr. Obama 45 percent. The previous findings gave Mr. Obama the lead, 49 percent to 45 percent.

Ninety percent of Democrats support the president, 90 percent of Republicans support Mr. Romney. The “crucial voting bloc of independents” breaks toward Mr. Romney by 45 percent to 39 percent. Romney fans also appear more eager to get to the polls: 76 percent of Mr. Obama’s supporters say they “definitely” will vote; the number is 80 percent among Romney backers.

IN JEOPARDY

It’s official. They’re all contestants on “Jeopardy!” set to compete for a $50,000 donation to their favorite charities during the quiz show’s Power Player Week. Among those players: Fox News anchorman Chris Wallace and correspondent Dana Perino, CNN’s Lizzie O’Leary and Anderson Cooper, MSNBC host Chris Matthews, NBC correspondents Kelly O’Donnell and Chuck Todd, the BBC’s Katty Kay, Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page and former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. The show tapes Saturday at historic DAR Constitution Hall before “an audience of thousands,” producers say.

SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY

The space shuttle Discovery flies piggyback atop a modified Boeing 747 in an undated photo. It will take a similar ride, its last, along the Potomac on Tuesday morning on its way to the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport. (Photograph provided by NASA)

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The space shuttle Discovery flies piggyback atop a modified Boeing 747 in ... more >

“Wow. This is great. Something’s going to be louder than the jerks in Congress,” said one visitor to the Mall upon hearing that the nation’s capital will get a jumbo-sized visitor Tuesday morning.

Behold, it’s the Space Shuttle Discovery on its final flight, scheduled to pass directly over Washington atop a modified Boeing 747 jet. We’re talking a historic 20-minute flyover here — the 698,000-pound spacecraft and carrier a mere 1,500 feet above the squawking din of Capitol Hill and the White House, not to mention the federal buildings and the sparkling Potomac River. The big moment, weather permitting, is 10:20 a.m.

Many eyes along the East Coast will be trained upon noble Discovery, from the moment it departs the Kennedy Space Center in early morning until it lands at Washington-Dulles International Airport and a permanent berth at the Smithsonian Institution’s nearby Udvar-Hazy Center, at about 10:40. The event, NASA says, is “the world’s greatest piggyback ride.” Follow the big doings here: www.nasa.gov.

PALIN PATROL

“If Sarah Palin had danced all night in Colombia, media would have said it was scandalous. Hillary Clinton? Nada.”

- Tweet from Dan Gainor, vice president for business and culture at the Media Research Institute, regarding recent public photos of the secretary of state in casual mode.

GROVER PATROL

A simple pledge for lawmakers that certifies they will oppose increases in income tax and decreases in deductions and tax credits has irked progressives. Many Republican lawmakers agree with it: 236 representatives and 40 senators have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge offered by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). Just three Democrats — Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Reps. Robert E. Andrews of New Jersey and Ben Chandler of Kentucky — have signed the pledge.

ATR founder Grover Norquist can expect demonstrators outside his office a few blocks from the White House at high noon Tuesday. Americans for Democratic Action have declared they’ll rally on “behalf of the 99 percent against the author of the notoriously irresponsible ‘No Tax’ pledge, signed by half of Congress.”

They have muscle. Nineteen rally sponsors include AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, Americans for Democratic Action, Campaign for Americas Future, Center for American Progress and Coffee Party USA.

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