Romney Will Try Being Authentic This Time

Washington Post: “If he runs again in 2016, Romney is determined to re-brand himself as authentic, warts and all, and central to that mission is making public what for so long he kept private. He rarely discussed his religious beliefs and practices in his failed 2008 and 2012 races, often confronting suspicion and bigotry with silence as his political consultants urged him to play down his Mormonism.”

Said son Tagg Romney: “If he were to run again. I believe he would be much more willing to open up and share who he is — not by asking others to learn the doctrines of his faith, but by speaking of the values of love and service that it has taught him.”

Wide Open Republican Presidential Field

A new USA Today/Suffolk University Poll “finds Republican and Republican-leaning voters scattered among 18 prospective nominees when asked an open-ended question about whom they want the GOP to nominate for president next year.”

“Undecided finishes first, at 45%, trailed by 2012 nominee Mitt Romney at 16% and former Florida governor Jeb Bush at 13%. No one else gets close to double digits.”

Obama Endorses Emanuel in New Ad

President Obama endorsed Mayor Rahm Emanuel for re-election “in a radio ad that began airing Monday in Chicago, laughing off Emanuel’s ‘hardheaded’ demeanor as proof of his passion and speaking in favor of the mayor’s school policies that have become key points of controversy in the election campaign,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

“The ad comes less than a month before the election, in which Emanuel is seeking to hold on to the strong support from African-American voters who helped him win the mayor’s office in 2011 without having to go to a runoff election.”

Obama Approval Bounces Back Too Late for Democrats

“President Obama’s approval rating in Gallup’s tracking poll hit 50 percent on Monday for the first time since May 2013. This comes on the heels of a Washington Post-ABC News poll last week that showed the exact same thing — approval at 50 percent, first time since May 2013,” the Washington Post reports.

“Nearly three months after you’ve lost control of both chambers of Congress, after all, isn’t a great time to start being popular again. But this is hardly the first time Obama’s image has been less than timely for his party. The first significant ebb in his approval rating came in 2010, when he became unpopular just in time for Democrats to lose control of the House.”

Democrats Move to Push Silver Out

“Moving to exile one of New York’s most powerful and long-serving leaders, Democrats in the State Assembly agreed late on Monday to ask Sheldon Silver to step down as speaker in the wake of his arrest last week on federal corruption charges,” the New York Times reports.

“The Democrats reached the decision in a closed-door meeting that stretched for hours, rebuffing a bid by Mr. Silver to keep his post by relinquishing some of his responsibilities while he defended himself against the charges.”

Telling Rich Donors They Don’t Have Much Influence

New York Times: “As the three senators addressed the audience of rich donors — effectively an audition for the 2016 primary — they dismissed a question about whether the wealthy had too much influence in politics. At times they seemed to be addressing an audience of two: the Kochs themselves, now among the country’s most influential conservative power brokers.”

Pelosi Faces Grumbling Among House Democrats

“Nancy Pelosi has big problems in her ranks,” Politico reports.

“The California lawmaker is facing some of the most serious unrest she’s ever seen in her dozen years as the leader of the House Democrats: Members complain that the party has no message and no clear plan to retake the majority, despite good news on the economy that should have brought rewards at the polls. They also accuse senior lawmakers of failing to pull their weight in dues as they occupy coveted committee slots.”

Ehrlich Wants to Run for President

Former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) is exploring a presidential campaign, National Journal reports.

“Ehrlich plans to make his fourth visit to New Hampshire on Feb. 24, after meeting last week with more than 100 top donors in New York to discuss financing a potential campaign. At those meetings, he discussed setting up a leadership PAC, as a bunch of other probable candidates have done in recent weeks.”

Koch Brothers Will Spend $889 Million on 2016

“The Koch brothers’ political operation intends to spend $889 million in the run-up to the 2016 elections,” Politico reports.

“The spending goal, shared with donors at a Monday morning session at the Rancho Mirage Ritz Carlton, reflects the sweeping ambition of a private conservative political network that in many ways has eclipsed the power of the official Republican Party. The $889 million spending goal dwarfs the $404 million the Republican National Committee spent during the 2012 election and the $188 million it dropped during last year’s midterm campaign.”

Donald Trump and Sarah Palin Are Not Running

Time: “Both reality television stars spoke those words in 2011, in what proved to be low-cost feints designed to drum up national attention and raise their profiles before the last presidential campaign. Now they are at it again, with what appears to be a nearly identical playbook.”

“There is no evidence that either is any more serious about an actual campaign this time — no fundraising, no staff hires, no grassroots organizing in early states. But both have the same incentives to make the nation, and the political press corps, think differently. And the political press corps, struggling at the moment to interest a nation exhausted with politics in another 20-month campaign, has an incentive to write about Palin and Trump, who truth be told are simply more fun than actual presidential candidates.”