A new Des Moines Register poll in Iowa finds Gov. Scott Walker leading the GOP presidential pack with 16%, followed by Sen. Rand Paul at 15%, Mitt Romney at 13%, Mike Huckabee at 10%, Ben Carson at 9%, Jeb Bush at 8%, Ted Cruz at 5%, Chris Christie at 4%, Rick Santorum at 4%, Rick Perry at 3% and Marco Rubio at 3%.
Gov. Chris Christie and Jeb Bush “plunged into all-out battle this weekend for the biggest unclaimed prize in American politics and the decisive advantage that could go with it: the billion-dollar donor network once harnessed by Mitt Romney,” the New York Times reports.
“In hundreds of phone calls that began even before Mr. Romney formally announced on Friday that he was forgoing a third bid for the presidency, allies of Mr. Christie and Mr. Bush began putting polite but intense pressure on Mr. Romney’s supporters to pick a side. And now donors have nowhere to hide, since virtually every contender for the Republican nomination has established a leadership PAC or other fund-raising vehicle in recent weeks, and the candidates are leaning on them to make a commitment.”
“While criticizing state spending and state worker salaries as too high, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) is paying top members of his administration significantly more than their predecessors in Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration,” a review by the Associated Press has found.
The review of state payroll records “found nine of ten top administrative posts paying more under Rauner, who took office earlier this month. On an annual basis, those Rauner staffers will make more than the equivalent Quinn staffers by nearly 36 percent, or roughly $380,000.”
“Mitt Romney’s exit from the 2016 presidential campaign pushes the GOP race back where it was three weeks ago, before his brief flirtation: a wide-open contest among the establishment, religiously oriented, and libertarian wings of the Republican Party,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
Wall Street Journal: “Republican donors could finally exhale Friday, as onetime GOP nominee Mitt Romney told supporters he wouldn’t run for president in 2016, resolving a dilemma for fundraisers who gravitate toward the party’s so-called establishment wing.”
“The decision boosts the money-raising prospects for other pro-business Republicans weighing a presidential campaign, primarily former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie , donors said.”
Politico: “Romney’s exit from the 2016 presidential race sets up a critical challenge for Jeb Bush, top Republicans say: If the former Florida governor can scoop up many of Romney’s big donors, he would set himself up as the dominant front-runner in the establishment wing of the party — and make life much more difficult for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.”
A new Fox News poll suggests that Jeb Bush stands to gain the most from Mitt Romney’s decision not to run for president for the third time.
“Although Mr. Romney would have led the field with 21% of Republicans surveyed by Fox, the poll found that in his absence Mr. Bush rose to No. 1 spot with 15%, followed by Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky tied with 13% each.”
New York Times: “The news on Friday that Mr. Romney would opt out of the race revealed as much about the party in 2015 as it did about the former Massachusetts governor’s weaknesses as a candidate. Republican leaders, especially the party’s wealthiest donors, are in an impatient and determined mood. They are eager to turn to a new face they believe can defeat what they anticipate will be a strong, well-funded Democratic opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
“The campaign to deny Mr. Romney another chance began almost immediately after he mused to donors at a Friday get-together in New York City on Jan. 9 that he was open to the possibility of another run. By that Sunday afternoon, William Oberndorf, a prominent California investor who supported Mr. Romney in both of his previous presidential campaigns, had emailed a group of 52 powerful Republicans, including former Secretary of State George Shultz, the investor Charles Schwab, Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois and the Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos with a blunt message: we need to support someone else.”
Scott Brown (R), “who won a Senate seat in Massachusetts and lost one in New Hampshire, is ready for retirement. Brown has applied for his state pension, in Massachusetts, based on his nearly 17 years of state, county, and municipal service, which also entitles him to retiree health benefits,” the Boston Globe reports.
“Availing himself of the public pension to which he contributed during his time in office clouds Brown’s political future, particularly if he chooses to remain in New Hampshire… Part of Brown’s core argument in last year’s campaign was that he had roots in the state, and was more philosophically aligned with its residents than with those in Massachusetts.”
“He should be ashamed. And I think people really need to know what type of person he is. To bring as much pain as he did, to me and my family, that should be an issue.”
— Michael Schiavo, quoted by Politico, on how Jeb Bush handled a “contentious, drawn-out conflict” over his brain dead wife, Terri Schiavo while serving as Florida governor.
The Boston Globe runs a profile of Jeb Bush during his high school days at Andover, where both his father and older brother attended.
“But this Bush almost ran aground in those first, formative prep school days. He bore little resemblance to his father, a star on many fronts at Andover, and might have been an even worse student than brother George. Classmates said he smoked a notable amount of pot — as many did — and sometimes bullied smaller students.”
“Resolutely apolitical despite his lineage, he refused to join the Progressive Andover Republicans club and often declined even to participate in informal bull sessions with classmates. In a tumultuous season in American life, he seemed to his peers strangely detached and indifferent… Meanwhile, his grades were so poor that he was in danger of being expelled, which would have been a huge embarrassment to his father, a member of Congress and of the school’s board of trustees.”
Pennsylvania State Treasurer Rob McCord (D) “will plead guilty to federal charges that he used the lure of state business to strongarm political contributors during his failed gubernatorial bid last year,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
McCord, in a video statement, apologized for the mistake: “I stepped over the line by trying to take advantage of the fact that two potential contributors hoped to continue to do business with the Commonwealth – and by developing talking points to remind them that I could make things difficult for them. The mistake and fault here is mine and mine alone.”
A new Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll finds that just 40% of Republicans likely to participate in the 2016 Iowa caucuses viewed Mitt Romney unfavorably, while his approval rating dropped was just 57%.
Likely caucus-goers were also skeptical about Romney running again as 45% didn’t want him to do so.
London Mayor Boris Johnson described men who go to fight with Islamic State as “literally wankers” who watch porn because they can’t meet women, the Guardian reports.
Said Johnson: “If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are literally wankers. Severe onanists. They are not making it with girls and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort – which of course is no comfort.”
He added: “They are just young men in desperate need of self-esteem who do not have a particular mission in life, who feel that they are losers and this thing makes them feel strong – like winners.”
One day after President Obama mocked him in front of House Democrats, the White House “struck a gracious, conciliatory tone” about Mitt Romney‘s decision not to pursue a 2016 presidential campaign, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Said White House press secretary Josh Earnest: “Romney is a man of great faith and a man who has tremendous loyalty and commitment to his country, and that is something that is worthy of our respect. I’m confident that the announcement that he made today was a difficult one. I think he acknowledged as much. But it’s also an intensely personal decision that candidates and their families make.”
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) will run for the U.S. Senate next year, the Youngstown Vindicator reports.
“Attempts to reach Strickland, a Democrat, by The Vindicator today have been unsuccessful. However, those sources say he told political allies Thursday that he would run in the 2016 Democratic primary for the seat and was spending today talking to high-level donors about his decision.”