MICHIGAN HIGH JINKS
MoveOn.org., the Michigan Democratic Party and President Obama's re-election campaign are among the well-funded, manipulative forces behind an anti-Mitt Romney ad and email campaign across the Woverine State, culminating in the Republican primary Tuesday. Markos Moulitsas, founder of the progressive Daily Kos blog, credits this million-dollar "Democratic meddling" with producing a nail-biter race between Mr. Romney and rival Rick Santorum.
"This is a multipronged effort to deliver Santorum the victory in Michigan — the first is the big-money campaign to drive Romney's numbers down among independents, who can obviously vote in this primary, and the second is our modest — and yes, controversial — effort to get Democrats to cast very legal and proper votes for Rick Santorum," Mr. Moulitsas says.
"This race is obviously so close that a few thousand votes could make the entire difference. Either Romney wins and takes a big step toward sewing up the nomination sooner rather than later, or Santorum wins and the GOP nomination contest remains in chaos, and indefinitely so. It's clear that Democrats and the Obama campaign prefer the latter option."
THE SANTORUM SURPRISE
"The Obama team may be thinking a Santorum candidacy is good for them, but they should be careful what they wish for. A Santorum candidacy will very likely push the Obama team much harder than a Romney candidacy would," observes Tim Blessing, professor of history and political science at Alvernia University in Pennsylvania.
"Many Republicans, particularly 'mainstream' Republicans, say that Rick Santorum is unelectable. But the mainstream punditry may have missed something very important: the electoral map," he says. "A Santorum candidacy, with its emphasis on both Catholic orthodoxy and evangelical commitment, and his blue-collar appeal, could tip the balance in a cluster of swing states which went for Obama last time — tightening the race considerably and forcing Obama to spend more money and time in certain states than he is presently expecting to."
Rep. Michele Bachmann has not lost her edge: The former Republican presidential hopeful recently delivered a speech titled "Obama Administration's Arab Spring Turns Into Radical Islamic Winter" at the Ronald Reagan Ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif. Mrs. Bachmann rued the White House decision to issue a public apology after U.S. servicemen mistakenly burned 70 Korans in Afghanistan, sparking anti-American riots and attacks.
"The United States is not the problem in this equation. The American soldier is not the problem in this equation. President Obama had no business issuing an apology in this equation," Mrs. Bachmann said. "This is a serious situation. Recognize, as Ronald Reagan did, the evil in the world. Do not ever put duct tape over your mouth, and not talk about or point out what this evil is. That is the beginning of defeating evil. By pointing it out, and ultimately taking it out."
AND IN ARIZONA
"Mitt Romney's already won the Arizona primary. Almost half of those planning to vote have already cast their ballots, and Romney has a 48-25 advantage over Rick Santorum with those folks. That lead makes it nearly impossible for Santorum to make up the difference on election day, and Romney has a 39-27 advantage with those planning to vote on Tuesday anyway," sums up Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, which surveyed 515 likely Republican voters in Arizona on Sunday and released the results Monday.
TRUE TO THE BREW
Time flies: Fiscal conservatives are marking the third anniversary of the first nationwide tea party protests, inspired by CNBC analyst Rick Santelli's spirited rant on Feb. 19, 2009, against the state of the economy, the Obama administration and a need for a "tea party" revolution. Eight days later, 35,000 people who agreed with Mr. Santelli took to the streets in 39 cities to protest "government run amok," says Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, the nation's largest umbrella group for the cause.
"I was an early organizer. We held our protest in Sacramento, Calif., at the state capitol," he recalls. "We had no experience, no money, no website. We had never protested before. But on that day, with my wife, my two children and my retired parents, we drove down from the foothills into an uncertain day, and a totally unforeseen future."
The Meckler family found 150 like-minded people who had responded to their call.
"I was astounded. ... More importantly, we knew we were no longer alone," Mr. Meckler says. "To those of us who were there, in all those cities, one thing was for sure: There was an American spirit taking to the streets that could not and would not be quelled."
POLL DU JOUR
• 51 percent of likely U.S. voters say former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the most likely Republican presidential nominee.
• 21 percent cite former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, 11 percent are undecided, 8 percent name former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, and 8 percent pick Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
• 38 percent of voters say those earning more than $250,000 should pay a tax rate of 20 percent or less, 23 percent said they should pay 25 percent, 14 percent say they should pay 30 percent, 13 percent cited 35 percent.
• 31 percent of voters say corporations should pay a tax rate of 20 percent or less, 25 percent say corporations should pay 25 percent, 17 percent say they should pay 30 percent, 11 percent cited 35 percent.
• 36 percent of voters say the recent contraception debate made them more likely to vote for the Republican nominee.
• 35 percent said the debate made them more likely to vote for President Obama; 28 percent said it made no difference.
Source: The Hill poll of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted Feb. 23; the survey sample included about 350 Republicans, 330 Democrats and 310 "other" voters.
• High jinks, meddling, second thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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