- - Wednesday, January 25, 2012

CAMPAIGN

Pro-Romney super PAC spends $5M in one day

The super PAC that has provided much of the muscle for Mitt Romney’s presidential bid spent $5.3 million on Tuesday alone, disclosures filed Wednesday showed. Even in a state with multiple major media markets, the sum will be tough to reckon with.

The one-day splurge exceeds the amount given to a super PAC supporting rival Newt Gingrich by Mr. Gingrich’s chief patron, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Adelson’s wife also contributed $5 million, according to reports.

As Romney rivals focus on Mr. Romney’s income to cast him as out of touch — tax disclosures show he earned $21 million in 2010 — the figure is dramatic in another way: The one-day spending is equal to a quarter of Mr. Romney’s earnings over the year.

Tuesday’s buy will go mostly to television ads attacking Mr. Gingrich in Florida before the state’s Jan. 31 primary. It will also pay for direct mail and phone calls, signaling that the super PAC is coming closer to traditional campaigning. Previously, they have focused on major ad buys.

The pro-Romney super PAC has now spent $16 million attacking Mr. Gingrich. It has spent $750,000 on positive ads. About $10 million of its spending has been in Florida. The super PACs are independent from the campaigns and fueled by a few wealthy donors.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama, Brewer have terse encounter in Arizona

During his brief stop in Arizona to sell his plan for boosting the nation’s manufacturing base, President Obama delighted in the balmy Arizona weather, but he probably wasn’t expecting a hot-tempered exchange with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer right after Air Force One touched down in Phoenix.

Mrs. Brewer greeted the president on the tarmac, and the two engaged in a testy encounter witnessed by reporters. At one point, she wagged a finger at him, and in another, they were talking at the same time, seemingly over each other, according to one reporter’s White House pool account. He then appeared to walk away while she was still talking.

According to a White House account, the governor handed the president a letter and said she was inviting him to meet with her. Mr. Obama said he’d be glad to meet with her again, but asserted that after their last meeting, a cordial discussion in the Oval Office in 2010, the governor inaccurately described the meeting in her book “Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Border,” which was released in November.

Speaking to reporters after Mr. Obama walked away, Mrs. Brewer appeared a bit flustered and taken aback by the conversation.

“I said to him that I have all the respect in the world for the office of the president,” Mrs. Brewer said. “The book is what the book is. I asked him if he read the book. He said he read the excerpt. So.”

Mrs. Brewer said the president told her “that he didn’t feel I had treated him cordially.”

TREASURY

Geithner: Obama won’t ask me to stay in post

Timothy F. Geithner said Wednesday that he doesn’t expect to serve a second term as Treasury secretary. He said he doesn’t think President Obama would ask him to remain if Mr. Obama won re-election.

“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,” Mr. Geithner said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another Treasury secretary.”

Mr. Geithner is the only remaining top official on Mr. Obama’s original economics team. He had considered leaving in August after the congressional battle over raising the debt limit was resolved.

Mr. Obama asked him to reconsider and remain in the Cabinet, and Mr. Geithner did. But the incident heightened expectations that Mr. Geithner would serve only through the 2012 election.

HOUSE

Giffords resigns seat to focus on recovery

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has resigned from the House with a standing ovation from her colleagues, more than a year after she was gravely wounded by a would-be assassin.

The Arizona congresswoman formally resigned after a series of tributes from her colleagues. She’s stepping down to focus on her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head.

As Ms. Giffords sat in the chamber’s front row, lawmakers praised her dignity, grace and perseverance. Her mother, Gloria, and husband, retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, who is a former astronaut, watched from the gallery. Ms. Giffords stood in the well of the House as her close friend, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, read her resignation letter. Other members of the Arizona delegation surrounded her.

SENATE

Democrats promise to push tax agenda

President Obama’s Democratic allies in the Senate promised Wednesday to press ahead this year with legislation drawn from his plans to require millionaires pay at least 30 percent in taxes and curb tax preferences for companies that ship jobs overseas.

Senate Democratic leaders promise votes soon on such tax “fairness” initiatives, which were a key theme of Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. They include the so-called Buffett rule, named for a recommendation by billionaire financier Warren Buffett that he be required to pay a higher rate than his secretary. He currently benefits from a low 15 percent tax rate on investments.

The Democratic drive would build on last year’s push to renew the payroll-tax cut. The initiative is laced with politics, coming immediately after GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney revealed that he pays an effective tax rate of less than 15 percent despite income exceeding $20 million a year.

“The president’s blueprint for restoring economic fairness for the middle class will be the basis of our agenda for this year,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

From wire dispatches and staff reports