Tales from the Trail

Santorum courts Texas conservatives

By Judy Wiley

Roughly  1,000 supporters filled the Fairview Farms Corral Barn in Plano, Texas and spilled out the door  of the party hall where they’d come to see the man in the day’s political spotlight — Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum.

Those who stood outside in the cold could only hear bits and pieces of Santorum’s talk, but that didn’t stop them from cheering after he raised his voice to declare, “Now is the time for America to rise up and say, “Enough!”

They took up a chant of “We pick Rick,” after he asked, “Are you going to give me the opportunity?”

Santorum’s  visit  to The Lone Star State opened  14 miles away in McKinney at a forum with  local pastors. Between the Bella Donna Chapel  and the barn at Fairview Farms, there was a stop at a Plano hotel ballroom where some 300 supporters turned out to “meet-and-greet” Santorum.

The Wednesday night rally at the Corral Barn  capped a  Texas campaign swing, with an exuberant Santorum buoyed  by  his three-state sweep in Tuesday’s GOP  nominating contests.

Washington Extra – A great gift

At the Bella Donna Chapel in McKinney, Texas today, a resurrected Rick Santorum reveled in his underdog role in this riveting Republican primary season.

“Nobody ever thinks I can win anything,” Santorum told a gathering of pastors. “The gift of being underestimated is a great gift.”

Santorum may not have robbed Mitt Romney of his top dog status with a triple primary win on Tuesday. But days after being dismissed as an also-ran, he now gets some serious consideration from key constituents.

Washington Extra – Looking for love

Is three a crowd?

Republican candidates wooing voters are hoping for a “Yes” in three nominating contests tonight.

Mitt Romney went looking for votes in Loveland, hoping Colorado will give him an early Valentine.

The walls were lined with stuffed animals including a bobcat and raccoon and the candidate kept ‘em waiting.

Romney endorsed by Citizens United adviser Bopp

 

The morning after President Barack Obama’s campaign said it would start supporting Priorities USA, a Super PAC fundraising group designed to keep him in office, Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign announced it had been endorsed by James Bopp, a lawyer who advised Citizens United in the Supreme Court case responsible for the creation of the outside fundraising groups.

“Mitt Romney is a true conservative,” Bopp wrote in an “open letter” explaining the endorsement. “One does not have to guess what Mitt Romney would do in office. He served for four years as Governor of Massachusetts and has a record that conservatives should be proud of.”

Obama opposed the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in a case that erased limits on corporate and union money in federal elections. His campaign said he had made the switch because Republicans had raised and spent so much Super PAC money.

Santorum seeks “strong showing” in two caucuses and a primary

Mitt Romney may have secured frontrunner status in the race for the Republican presidential nominee to take on Democrat Barack Obama in the general election –  but don’t count Rick Santorum out.

The former Pennsylavania senator has not won a Republican  nominating contest since he edged Romney in the Iowa caucuses. And the  “frontrunner” title briefly held by other  Romney rivals  has eluded Santorum.

But he’s still  standing and apparently planning on  sticking around for a bit longer –  even if he doesn’t pick up a triple win in two  caucuses (Colorado,  Minnesota)  and a primary (Missouri) on Tuesday.

Romney goes after Obama on healthcare, contraception

Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney on Monday joined a battle over a part of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law that has outraged Catholic bishops.

Under new provisions outlined by Obama’s administration, Catholic hospitals, schools and charities will be required to provide health insurance for their employees covering contraception even if though it violates the church’s teachings.

Catholic bishops’ complaints about the law have filtered onto the Republican campaign trail to find a challenger to Obama in the presidential election next Nov. 6.

Washington Extra – God awful

As welcomes go, this might be one of the most colorful (and perplexing) in recent memory. One week before he is to help host Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden took a double jab at China’s economic growth prospects and its one-child policy.

“Because of that God-awful one-child policy they have, what happens now is in the next 20 years they’re going to have such an inverse proportion of the number of people working to the number of people retired that there is no way they can sustain that growth,” Biden said.

The apparently unscripted remarks came during a speech about college affordability in Florida. He was trying to make the case that the United States remains the world’s largest economy and is “better positioned than any other country in the world to lead the 21st century.”

Obama – “I deserve a second term”

President Barack Obama said on Sunday he deserves to be re-elected despite having said three years ago that he’d be a one-term president if he didn’t turn the economy around.

“I deserve a second term, but we’re not done,” Obama told NBC’s Matt Lauer in an interview broadcast before the Super Bowl game. Obama listed his administration’s economic achievements but said they weren’t finished.

“We’ve made progress, and the key right now is just, make sure that we don’t start turning in a new direction, that could throw that progress off,” Obama said.

Newt’s moon colony — the gift that keeps on giving

Comedians everywhere surely could not have been more thrilled last week when Republican White House hopeful Newt Gingrich laid out his plans for a permanent colony on the moon, with the long-term goal of making it the 51st U.S. state. “By the end of my second term we will have the first permanent base on the moon,” Gingrich said to thundering applause at the NASA stronghold of Cocoa, Florida.

That includes the copywriters at Team Mitt Romney, for whom Gingrich’s proposed moon program is the gift that keeps on giving. Following up on an email over the weekend entitled “Earth to Newt: Tell the Truth,” the Romney Press Shop sent out the following missive on Thursday: “Ground Control to Major Newt: Nevada needs jobs, not a moon colony,” which reminded the former U.S. House speaker that unemployment in the Silver State is still running at 12.6 percent and nearly six in ten mortgaged homes in the state are under water.

Predictably, Comedy Central political satirists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were quick to ridicule the moon colony. Stewart accused Gingrich of wanting to be “Lunar Trump” by starting a colony the size of a condo development. “And like Earth Trump, you will not be President,” he said. Colbert mocked Gingrich’s idea that the moon could become a manufacturing hub. “America will bring manufacturing to the moon. Ohio? Out of luck.”

More grief for “The Mitt” with backing from The Donald?

Mitt Romney, Donald Trump said in a surprise endorsement from Las Vegas this afternoon, would make a “tough” and “smart” president who wouldn’t “allow bad things to continue to happen to this country we all love.”

But it wasn’t clear that backing from Trump, a real estate mogul who cultivates an aura of glitz and glamour, would help Romney, the former private equity executive who has a net worth estimated at some $270 million and fights charges by critics that he is out of touch with the concerns of average Americans.

Democrats pounced on the opportunity to draw parallels between Romney and the television personality, claiming in a video that alluded to Trump’s starring role on the reality television program, “The Apprentice,” that Romney nabbed Trump’s endorsement because “they both like firing people.”