THE PALMETTO EXPRESS
They're feisty: The South Carolina Tea Party Coalition descends on Myrtle Beach this weekend for a bustling convention, attracting a powerful cadre of Republicans that includes Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Jim DeMint, and Reps. Mick Mulvaney, Jeff Duncan, Tim Scott and Joe Wilson. Each session opens with an invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance and "The Star-Spangled Banner," according to a schedule shared with Inside the Beltway.
But no Bain pain, no "vulture" talk, no infighting, please. Witness Mr. DeMint, who endorsed Mitt Romney during his presidential run four years ago and now says he'll win the South Carolina primary Jan. 21. But Mr. DeMint, while neutral in this race, is also vexed by Republican candidates who attack Mr. Romney's tenure with Bain Capital, noting, "I certainly don't like Republicans criticizing one of our own and sounding like Democrats."
The Palmetto State tea partyers, meanwhile, appear to have curbed certain rogue instincts. While the upcoming events will underscore their fierce traditional causes of fiscal conservatism, strong defense and appreciation of founding principles, an emerging sense of Republican harmony is also on the table.
"It's strategic unity. We all have to say, 'Let's just defeat President Obama and get it over with,' " says one close observer.
Presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are scheduled to address the crowd Monday, in advance of the 16th Republican presidential debate, which Fox News will hold at the nearby Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
The ever shrewd Mike Huckabee stages his second forum for the Republican hopefuls Saturday in Charleston, S.C., this one catering to the all-important undecided voter. Audience members, in fact, are prohibited from wearing T-shirts or buttons that favor any one candidate. Send questions please, Mr. Huckabee says, to his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Yes, the event, which has attracted every candidate except Rep. Ron Paul, airs on the Fox News Channel at high noon.
Joining Mr. Huckabee is Rep. Tim Scott, who predicts his constituents will ultimately "coalesce" behind a conservative candidate who will defeat President Obama. Mr. Scott is determined, he says, that "we get it right."
Yes, the Creator had something to do with it. Asked whether Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow's repeated success "can be attributed to divine intervention," 54 percent of Republicans said yes, uh-huh, that's true. Among Democrats, the number was 38 percent, among independents 35 percent. The Poll Position survey asked 1,076 registered voters and found the highest affirmation of the idea among blacks (60 percent) and Hispanics (81 percent).
At month's end, President Obama ventures to Hollywood to woo the famous, a traditional ritual for any Democratic White House hopeful. There will be at least three deluxe campaign events staged in Beverly Hills domiciles, "in the hopes of patching up the incumbent president's battered relationship with the entertainment industry," says Tina Daunt, a correspondent for the Hollywood Reporter.
There's gold in them there Hollywood hills. An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics found that the film, TV and recording industries shelled out close to $18 million in political donations in the first three quarters of 2011 alone, about three-fourths of it going to Democrats. Still, contributions dropped by $2.5 million compared to the 2008 presidential race, when "hope and change" was an entirely new script.
Meanwhile, a 7-page list of "confirmed and passed surrogates" has surfaced, boasting 194 famous, connected folk who might benefit Mr. Obama's re-election campaign. It's a predictable roster, including Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and Tina Fey. But Democratic heavyweights also appear, including Sens. John F. Kerry and Al Franken, plus Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
But not everyone has signed on to help, says Michael Cass, a reporter for the Tennessean in Nashville, who managed to obtain a copy of the roster. Despite the White House use of the word "confirmed," "it's a "wish list," he observes.
A THOUSAND DAYS
When President Obama delivers his State of the Union address Jan. 24, it will mark exactly 1,000 days since the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate has passed a budget. The Senate has not bothered to pass a budget since April 29, 2009, notes Americans for Tax Reform, which did all the checking.
"The Republican-led House of Representatives passed Rep. Paul Ryan's budget that reduced Obama's spending levels by 6 trillion dollars over the next decade. The Democrat-controlled Senate has not passed a budget in three years," says Grover Norquist, president of the group. "When President Obama tries to blame a 'do-nothing' Congress for his problem, he is half right. The Democrat Senate has done nothing."
WEEKEND WEB FORAY
Voila. A snappy website freshly launched by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to illuminate the "triumphs of risk taking, hard work, and innovation." It includes an interview with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, among others. Find it here: www.FreeEnterprise.com.
POLL DU JOUR
• 10 percent of Americans say they are "very conservative"; 20 percent of Republicans, 4 percent of Democrats and 8 percent of independents agree.
• 30 percent overall say they are "conservative"; 51 percent of Republicans, 16 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents agree.
• 35 percent overall say they are "moderates"; 23 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of independents agree.
• 15 percent overall say they are "liberal"; 3 percent of Republicans, 29 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of independents agree.
• 6 percent overall say they are "very liberal"; 1 percent of Republicans, 10 percent of Democrats and 5 percent of independents agree.
Source: A Gallup tracking poll of 20,392 U.S. adults conducted between January and December and released Thursday.
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