- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

There’s a big to-do list on Mitt Romney’s desk now that he’s advanced into the I’m-maybe-sort-of-running category of presidential hopefuls, which is viable enough to command major news coverage — and a poll, of course.

A Townhall/Gravis poll of 404 registered Republican voters released Tuesday reveals that Mr. Romney leads a field of hopefuls with 21 percent of the vote — followed by 18 percent who said they were “uncertain.” Then came Jeb Bush (14 percent), Scott Walker (10 percent) and a half dozen more. Pollster Doug Kaplan credits the victory to Mr. Romney’s name recognition and residual voter affection for the two-time contender.

There’s work to be done. Mr. Romney must recalibrate his fundraising apparatus, check on the happiness of major allies and float a new and improved campaign message. But an old school, tried and true strategy has already begun. He’s on the phone.

Mitt Romney is not only telling big donors that he is seriously considering running for President for a third time, he is also personally telling key Granite Staters,” says John DiStaso, a columnist for the New Hampshire Journal.

Those who’ve gotten a Romney ring in the last 72 hours include Sen. Kelly Ayotte, his former state adviser Tom Rath plus former campaign manager Jim Merrill. John Sununu and Scott Brown also received calls, along with several local legislators Mr. DiStaso says.

“He has relationships and friends and knows his way around here. Having won the primary once, and having lost once, he knows this is a state where you have to win one voter at a time,” adviser Mr. Rath says.


SEE ALSO: Dems double down on liberal populism, push bolder wealth redistribution


The list goes on, though. The Washington Post also reported that Mr. Romney also reached out to Sen. Rob Portman and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, and to such former lawmakers as Tim Pawlenty, Jim Talent and Newt Gingrich, who advised the would-be candidate, “We have runners, but no front-runners” currently in the 2016 race.

THAT’S A SHAME

“No evidence that bourbon was served.”

— From Wall Street Journal correspondent Byron Tau’s White House pool report following President Obama’s meeting with congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday. There was a time when the concept of a bourbon summit between Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell created such hubbub that bourbon manufacturers and industry groups immediately volunteered their services. Another time, perhaps?

Mr. McConnell himself recently told CNN that he will still clink a tasteful glass with Mr. Obama, though he added, “Drinking bourbon in the middle of the afternoon would not be good for either of our careers.”

THE BIG BOTTOM LINE

As the State of the Union speech looms, the Competitive Enterprise Institute will offer a reality check to one and all; the tenacious public interest group soon will issue an agenda for Congress on government regulations and the incredible toll such rules take on the economy through squandered productivity and time — and in real money.

“In 2014 alone, 3,541 new regulations hit the books, and the burden is constantly growing. If federal regulations were a country, they would be the world’s 10th largest economy,” the researchers note. Previews of the agenda are out Wednesday, the really big analysis will be published later this month.

ONE FOR THE HEROES

There are currently 79 Medal of Honor recipients living in America; now along comes some legislation to help them out. From Rep. Tim Walberg, it’s the Medal of Honor Priority Care Act, which grants those heroes the highest priority when it comes to health care from the Department of Veteran Affairs. The recipients are currently allocated to Priority Level 3; the bill would place them in the highest priority group.

“Medal of Honor recipients not only answered their nation’s call to service but they bravely went above and beyond the call of duty when put in harm’s way. We have a sacred obligation to make sure that these distinguished heroes have access to the high-quality care they deserve whenever they need it,” says the Michigan Republican.

PERSISTENT PROGRESSIVES WOO WARREN

They won’t give up. Despite a new report in Fortune magazine that indicates Sen. Elizabeth Warren has no interest in running for president, her fans insist otherwise. Democracy for America and MoveOn.org are going ahead with big plans to launch a “Run Warren Run” effort in ever-poplar New Hampshire; a flock of excited progressives will descend on Manchester on Saturday.

“We understand that reporters are required to follow every twist and turn of the 2016 race, but let’s be clear: This isn’t a new position for Senator Elizabeth Warren. Sen. Warren has been clear for years that she isn’t planning on running. If she were running, there wouldn’t be a need for a draft effort. We launched the Run Warren Run campaign to show Elizabeth Warren the tremendous amount of grassroots enthusiasm and momentum that exists for her entering the 2016 presidential race and to encourage her to change her mind,” the two organizations say in a joint statement released Tuesday.

WHAT MR. VAN HOLLEN HAS IN MIND

On Monday, a Maryland Democrat stepped out to claim the middle class for his own party, right when the Republican majority was just starting to strut their stuff in that coveted territory. Rep. Chris Van Hollen introduced an “action plan” proposal that offers $1.2 trillion in tax breaks to middle class earners, the difference made up through a new financial transaction fee for the wealthy. Predictable acrimony ensued between the parties. But there’s some strategery afoot, and some potential vexation.

The Democrats are “calling dibs on the middle class,” says Russell Berman, associate editor of The Atlantic. This is sure to spark a shoving match on the political playground, and some high jinks on the monkey bars. But Republicans might be advised to spar like adults here.

“With the GOP firmly in control of Congress for the next two years, Van Hollen’s proposal has no chance of going anywhere immediately. But it lays down a marker for Republicans, who have talked increasingly about wanting to move away from their budget-slashing reputation and toward policies that can win over the prized middle class. And it can also be seen as an offering to Hillary Clinton, who will need a platform to run on in 2016 as well as a way of attracting the liberals who are disappointed that the more populist Elizabeth Warren won’t challenge her. So while it won’t become law, Van Hollen’s plan is likely to help shape the economic debate both in Congress and on the campaign trail,” Mr. Berman observes.

POLL DU JOUR

72 percent of Americans give the government’s “anti-terror efforts” a positive review; 63 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of independents and 85 percent of Democrats agree.

26 percent overall give those efforts a negative review; 36 percent of Republicans, 29 percent of independents and 14 percent of Democrats agree.

49 percent say U.S. anti-terrorism policies have “not gone far enough” to protect the nation; 57 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of independents and 48 percent of Democrats agree.

37 percent overall say the policies go too far in restricting civil liberties; 30 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 36 percent of Democrats agree.

27 percent overall say use of torture to obtain information “can never be justified”; 11 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,504 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 7-11.

Hue and cry to jharper@washingtontimes.com. Oh, and please follow her on Twitter @HarperBulletin.

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