Inside the Beltway: 32 names crowd GOP presidential poll

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A sleeping giant awakening? The Republican National Committee is on war footing as the competitive gleam in chairman Reince Priebus‘ eye grows ever brighter. All the proper political weaponry of the age is appearing: prowess in social media, a feisty presence online and in broadcast, strategic information gathering, image-crafting, brand-burnishing, merchandising.

Consider the committee’s new Para Bellum Lab, a data-driven Internet attack-squad, poised, they say, for a “political hackathon.” The name itself means “ready for war” in Latin. “Innovate or die,” declares Chuck DeFeo, the newly named GOP digital data officer.

Now comes another push, this one borrowed from the relentless tea party playbook, or perhaps the libertarian quest for untapped voter interest. It’s a Republican presidential straw poll. But of course. The 32 names on this poll, however, are proof that GOP management is ready to rumble, push the envelope, open the big tent, engage all-comers and get folks talking. And both “Pauls” are among the choices.

Behold the candidate cornucopia to consider: Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, John Bolton, Allen West, Herman Cain, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty and Mitch Daniels.

Among U.S. Senators: Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Tim Scott of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota and Rob Portman of Ohio; plus Reps. Peter T. King of New York and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Then there’s Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, John Kasich of Ohio, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Mike Pence of Indiana, Rick Perry of Texas and Scott Walker of Wisconsin. There is also a write-in option, which should prove interesting.

“Who would you like to see as the Republican nominee in the 2016 presidential election?” the poll asks. Find this intriguing list here: Gop.com

SOCHI’S CULTURAL MOMENT

American and Western journalists who complain about unfinished or unhygienic facilities in Sochi now have been accused of turning the Winter Olympics into the “Whining Olympics” by their press counterparts in Russia and elsewhere. “Show some respect” said one lady scribe. But the whining rolls on, with gusto.

New to Twitter: @SochiProblems, an unsavory gathering spot and compendium for all those complaints which has accrued 116,000 followers in a matter of hours. The vexed and/or amused horde of journalists continue to chart their woes — from oddly configured toilets to public signs that say, “liver pancakes” and “elevator is the equipment of increased danger.”

And as the organizers of @SochiProblems advise, “Welcome to Soch-e-e-e-e!”

OBAMACARE MYSTERY CONTINUES

Well, so much for the taxpayer-funded, $684 million public relations outreach for the one, the only Affordable Care Act, also known by its stage name of Obamacare.

“Americans’ familiarity with the Affordable Care Act has remained static since last August, even after new provisions of the law have taken effect and the Obama administration has tried to promote understanding of it,” reports Gallup analyst Andrew Dugan, who says that one-third of the public — 32 percent — still does not get Obamacare.

It has lingered at this level for six months, despite often raucous attempts to publicize the health care law, including female models parading through the streets wearing nothing but underwear marked “are you covered?”

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