- The Washington Times - Monday, January 30, 2012

MITT AND MARCO

Even the most connected Democrats are not above handicapping the potential Republican ticket and the likeliest team to seriously challenge President Obama come November. The best bet? It’s Mitt Romney and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, says Don Peebles, a prominent Miami real estate developer and political fundraiser who also serves as a member of Mr. Obama’s finance committee.

“While I think it’s still a very tall order to defeat President Obama, Mitt Romney’s economic background plays well at a time like this, and the excitement that Marco Rubio brings to the table, along with Florida’s 27 electoral votes, presents a formidable opponent for the president,” Mr. Peebles tells Inside the Beltway, naturally asserting that Mr. Obama will triumph.

Meanwhile, both Predictwise and Intrade — a pair of “prediction markets” that aggregate and forecast political, sports and financial results — say Mr. Rubio has the greatest likelihood of being selected as Mr. Romney’s running mate, with a 24 percent chance. The senator is followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 13 percent and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell at 7 percent.


HANDICAPPING JEB

Other than some recent speechifying, Jeb Bush has been a low-key presence in the Florida primary. But this reclusiveness has convinced Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes that Mr. Bush has not one, but three possible roles in the 2012 race.

“First, having not endorsed a candidate, Bush could emerge as an acceptable compromise nominee in the unlikely event there’s a deadlock between Romney and Gingrich at the GOP convention in August. In other words, a brokered convention might turn to him, thus unifying the party,” Mr. Barnes says.

“Second, he could play a unifying role as a vice-presidential choice of either Romney or Gingrich. It’s significant he’s from Florida, a state that President Obama won in 2008 — and Republicans must capture in 2012 to defeat Obama’s re-election. With Bush on the ticket, winning Florida would be all but assured.”

Mr. Barnes adds, “Third, Bush could play a kingmaker role in the Republican presidential race. He would have the credibility to promote an agreement among leading Republicans about choosing the best nominee. Again, this would occur only if neither Romney nor Gingrich had won a majority of the delegates at the end of the primaries and caucuses.”

APPROVED NACHOS

Buffalo wings and chili dogs? Uh, we’ll see. Nachos? For sure. First lady Michelle Obama reveals that Super Bowl Sunday at the White House this year likely will feature a healthy version of the Tex-Mex snack, with some extra guacamole.

“Super Bowl food. You know nachos are always good, as long as it’s fresh tomato sauce and you get it on sort of a good-quality tortilla. You can do it. Yeah, I love nachos, and the president loves avocado — that’s his favorite snack food, a chip dipped in some guac,” Mrs. Obama tells celebrity chef Rachael Ray in an interview on her syndicated program, which airs Wednesday.

Mrs. Obama anticipates watching the big game “at home,” adding “it’ll probably be a quiet Super Bowl this year.”

ROCK THE NEWT

Well, so much for certain classic rock anthems at Newt Gingrich fundraisers. The Republican presidential hopeful is being sued by Rude Music Inc. for unauthorized use of the 1982 tune “Eye of the Tiger” during public appearances — even at CPAC and the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. The company in question is owned by a member of the band Survivor, which originally recorded the song.

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