“As his limbs are progressively hacked off, the knight declares ’tis but a scratch! Then: ‘a flesh wound!’ And finally: ‘Alright, we’ll call it a draw.’ With barely a tenth of the delegates so far allocated, victories in two of 26 contests, and polling at 13 percent in Gallup’s latest survey of GOP voters, Gingrich’s rationale for remaining in the race is, to put it mildly, elusive.”
Meanwhile, a new CNN/Opinion Research poll finds 61% of Republican voters want Gingrich to exit the race.
The Fix: “The numbers serve as a reminder — for the umpteenth time — that simply because 100 percent of people who do politics for a living (the Fix included) are closely following a story, it’s no guarantee that the story is penetrating nearly as broadly among the general public.”
A new Marquette Law School poll in Wisconsin finds Gov. Scott Walker (R) is locked in a very tight recall race with two potential Democratic challengers, Tom Barrett (D) and Kathleen Falk (D).
Walker edges Barrett, 47% to 45%, and leads Falk 49% to 45%.
Said pollster Charles Franklin: “I don’t think you need the poll to know this is going to be a very close race.”
“I promise you, there will be huge scandals, because there’s too much money washing around, too much of it we don’t know who’s behind it and too much corruption associated with that kind of money. There will be major scandals.”
— Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), quoted Reuters, on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lifted limits on political fundraising by corporations, unions and other non-campaign groups.
In a potentially shocking development, Boston Mayor Tom Menino (D) told WBZ-TV that he’s not taking sides in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, potentially signalling his support for Sen. Scott Brown (R) over Elizabeth Warren (D).
Said Menino: “When you vote, it’s a secret ballot.”
When pressed, he added: “I’m not with anybody at this time. At this time, I’m still not involved in the campaign.”
A new Marquette Law School poll in Wisconsin shows Mitt Romney leading Rick Santorum in the Republican presidential race, 39% to 31%, with Ron Paul at 11% and Newt Gingrich at 5%.
The Wisconsin primary is April 3.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) came to President Obama’s defense saying that Mitt Romney’s recent criticism of the president was inappropriate while Obama was abroad, National Journal reports.
Said Boehner: “Clearly while the president is overseas, he’s at a conference, and while the president is overseas I think it’s appropriate that people not be critical of him or our country.”
“This was a train wreck for the Obama administration. This law looks like
it’s going to be struck down. All of the
predictions including mine that the justices would not have a problem
with this law were wrong.”
Toobin, author of The Nine, is considered a leading authority on the current court.
“With the fate of President Obama’s health care law hanging in the balance at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, a lawyer for the administration faced a barrage of skeptical questions from four of the court’s more conservative justices,” the New York Times reports.
Wall Street Journal: “The most worrisome remarks for the plaintiffs–the side arguing against the Obama health law–came from Justice Kennedy, who wavered over the claim that when it came to health care, a bright line could be drawn between those engaged in commerce by buying insurance and whose wholly outside the market by declining to do so.”
SCOTUSblog: “If Justice Anthony M. Kennedy can locate a limiting principle in the federal government’s defense of the new individual health insurance mandate, or can think of one on his own, the mandate may well survive. If he does, he may take Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and a majority along with him. But if he does not, the mandate is gone.”
A new Public Policy Polling survey in Nebraska finds Democrats are actually in a much worse position with Bob Kerrey (D) as their U.S. Senate candidate than they would have been with Sen. Ben Nelson (D), and that Jon Bruning (R) is now a strong favorite in the general election.
Bruning leads Kerry by a stunning 17 points, 54% to 37%.
Key finding: “Kerrey’s campaign rollout has not been a success. In October his favorability rating in the state was a +5 spread at 39/34. Since then it’s dropped 20 points on the margin to -15 at 36/51.”
Mitt Romney tells the Weekly Standard that he’d eliminate some federal agencies if he’s elected president, but he won’t say which ones.
Said Romney: “One of the things I found in a short campaign against Ted Kennedy was that when I said, for instance, that I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, that was used to suggest I don’t care about education. So I think it’s important for me to point out that I anticipate that there will be departments and agencies that will either be eliminated or combined with other agencies… but I’m not going to give you a list right now.”
Jonathan Chait summarizes: “One of the things I have found in previous elections is that announcing my plans makes people want to vote against me!”
National Journal notes that if Mitt Romney “ends up falling just short of the votes he would need to win the nomination, he can turn to an unlikely, if somewhat ironic, source of untapped delegates: The members of the Republican National Committee — the closest thing Republicans have to super delegates.”
There are still 81 RNC members who have not yet said how they will vote when the gavel comes down in Tampa, including the entire delegations of Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington state.
Politico has more details on the renovation of Mitt Romney’s California beach house — previously found to have a planned 3,600 square foot basement — and notes he’s also looking to build a “split-level, four-vehicle garage that comes with a ‘car lift’ to transport automobiles between floors.”
“A project this ambitious comes with another feature you don’t always find with the typical fixer-upper: its own lobbyist, hired by Romney to push the plan through the approval process.”
“Political yard signs and bumper stickers are plentiful in Wisconsin these days. They just don’t carry the names Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum,” Bloomberg writes.
“Wisconsin Republicans are more focused on protecting their incumbent governor, Scott Walker, from recall than on the April 3 presidential primary in their state. Romney and Santorum have to convince party activists to focus some attention on them rather than solely on trying to protect Walker’s job in the recall election tentatively set for June 5, a vote triggered by anger over anti-union legislation the governor signed last year.”
Jon Karl flags a Danish television clip showing how President Obama welcomed Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt to the Oval Office last month by noting the Danes “punch above their weight in international affairs.”
But the video also cleverly shows how President Obama has — in the same Oval Office setting — found that “Norway punches above its weight.” Ireland, too. And the Netherlands. And even the Philippines.
First Read: “Yesterday’s oral arguments were simply the opening act in the Supreme Court’s consideration of President Obama’s signature health-care law. But today’s discussion — over whether or not the individual mandate to purchase health insurance is constitutional — is the main event. And there’s plenty of irony (and even hypocrisy) on this issue. After all, it was then-candidate Barack Obama who railed against the individual mandate, which was supported by Hillary Clinton. What’s more, the individual mandate was once a conservative-leaning idea (championed by the Heritage Foundation, Newt Gingrich and, yes, Mitt Romney).”
“The final bit of irony: Only a small percentage of the public would even be subject to the individual mandate, if it’s found to be constitutional. A new Urban Institute study finds, per Huffington Post, that 98% of Americans ‘would either be exempt from the mandate — because of employer coverage, public health insurance or low income — or given subsidies to comply.’ So there you have it, folks: The central issue before the Supreme Court was once opposed by Obama, supported by conservatives and Republicans, and won’t even affect most Americans.”