Tales from the Trail

Romney goes after the South Pacific vote

If Republican Mitt Romney is playing his “away game” in the southern United States this weekend, his son Matt is playing the “really, really away” game as he looks to prop up his dad’s support in the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, which hold their caucuses on Saturday. Romney is truly leaving no delegate unturned in his quest for the magic 1,144 needed to clinch his party’s nomination.

Matt (the second oldest Romney son, said to be known within family circles as “the smart one”) attended a lunch on Friday with the Northern Marianas Republican leadership on the island of Saipan, and on Saturday will hold a meet-and-greet and address caucus-goers at the Sheraton Hotel in Tamuning, Guam.

Matt’s winter junket evidently stirred up some sibling rivalry. Tagg, the oldest Romney son, said on Twitter: “Matt pulls all the tough assignments. Check him and wife Laurie out in this photo in the N Mariana Islands.” Tagg’s hometown of Boston is forecast to be 42F on Saturday, so Tamuning, at 86F and sunny, would presumably sound intriguing.

Guam’s governor, Eddie Calvo, has endorsed Romney, which is likely to help the former Massachusetts governor lock up most of the island’s nine delegates. The Northern Mariana Islands also have nine delegates up for grabs.

“He’s a business guy, so he understands how federal regulations can really hamper economic growth. When I told him about all these different federal regulations that make no sense for an isolated island like ours, he got it. He understands. … He didn’t have to call. He didn’t even have to send his son here. But, he’s going out of his way to let us know that we count as well,” Calvo said.

Newt’s home field advantage was among the weakest

Newt Gingrich faces some do-or-die primary contests in Dixie, his supposed home turf, over the next few days. Alabama and Mississippi hold their respective Republican primaries on Tuesday with Gingrich, the former U.S. House Speaker, and former Senator Rick Santorum expected to compete for, and potentially split, the conservative/evangelical vote.

Gingrich, though, didn’t do that well on his actual home turf – Georgia – during the Super Tuesday contests. Sure, the former history and geography professor at the University of West Georgia and 20-year representative of the state’s 6th Congressional district won 47.2 percent of the Republican vote in the Peachtree State. But according to political scientist Eric Ostermeier, that was one of the worst home-state primary performances by a Republican in decades.

Ostermeier, from the Humphrey School’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, writes the blog Smart Politics, which plumbs the political data for noteworthy facts and trends.

The 99 percent comes out to protest Romney in Seattle

Republican Mitt Romney has rarely faced a critical mass of protesters during his months-long campaign for the White House. But then, he doesn’t often visit the Left Coast. And protesters were out in force in Seattle on Thursday night when Romney held a fundraiser at a civic center in Bellevue, Washington, near Seattle, attended by the local political establishment and well-heeled locals.

The complex holding the event also contained the upscale “Shops at the Bravern” mall. After the event fund-raisers could have slipped out to pick up a few items at Hermes, Louis Vuitton or Jimmy Choo.

About 100 protesters turned up for a spirited but peaceful demonstration with signs, props and inventive chants, including some of those who have participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement. A cardboard cutout of the candidate was on the scene, holding a sign that said “Of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent.” Various protesters were dressed as buildings to illustrate Romney’s “corporations are people” meme.

Pro-Gingrich Super PAC hits Romney in new ad

Winning Our Future, the Super PAC supporting Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, is back at it again — animated advertising, that is.

The Super PAC has been on something of a TV hiatus since Gingrich’s stunning South Carolina win in late January, in part because it appeared to be running out of money. The group has been almost exclusively funded by Las Vegas Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who we now know wrote a new “substantial” check to the group a few days ago.

The money is in part funding three new ads, one of which brings back the cartoon rendering of Romney and Obama we met in the Super PAC’s first animated creation in January.

Economy should be focus of 2012 election, GOP governors say

By Samson Reiny

As the battle for the Republican presidential nomination rages on between front-runner Mitt Romney and a resurgent Rick Santorum, governors from their party today said that economic recovery – not social issues – would be the main concern among voters heading to the ballot box in November.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, speaking after the National Governor’s Association’s annual meeting at the White House, said the divergent fiscal beliefs between Republicans and Democrats would be decisive for voters this election season.

“This president, President Obama, believes in a larger centralized government,” Jindal said, underscoring three straight years of trillion-plus dollar deficits undertaken under the current administration. “You’re going to contrast that with the Republican philosophy of limited government, of lower spending, of balancing our budgets, of growing the private sector economy.”

Why Romney’s parents are buried in Brighton, Michigan

Kalamazoo, Michigan – Sometimes one story leads to another for Mitt Romney.

At Western Michigan University, the Republican presidential candidate told a packed house his parents, George and Lenore Romney, had campaigned in the same conference room when George ran for Michigan governor and Lenore ran for a U.S. Senate seat decades ago.

This reminded him that his campaign bus had taken him past Brighton, Michigan, where his parents are buried, on the way to Kalamazoo.

Hispanic activists protest Romney on Dream Act ahead of debate

Campaigning in Iowa late last year, Mitt Romney said he would veto a proposal granting U.S. citizenship to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children.

While turning his back on the so-called Dream Act won him support from grassroots conservatives in the Midwest, it brought out Hispanic activists in protest against him ahead of the debate on Wednesday.

“I just want a president who is going to be good for my community, for people who have a dream and want an education,” said Carla Uiquidi, one of a dozen or so protesters in the street opposite the Mesa Arts Center toting placards that read “Veto Romney Not the Dream Act.”

Washington Extra – Tax time

If President Obama did indeed schedule the release of his corporate tax revamp Wednesday to steal the spotlight from Mitt Romney’s tax plan rollout – as some critics charge – it just might have worked. The Obama plan was the top story of the day.

But perhaps more importantly, Obama neutralized corporate taxes as an election year issue by aligning himself with Republican positions.

Sure, there may be differences in the tax rates each candidate backs – Obama at 28 percent, Romney 25 percent, Santorum 17.5 percent and Gingrich 12.5 percent.

Obama sings again, this time blues with B.B. King, Mick Jagger

President Barack Obama gave what appeared to be an impromptu performance of “Sweet Home Chicago” during a blues concert Tuesday night at the White House in celebration of Black History Month.

At the end of an evening of performances from the likes of B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Derek Trucks, Shemekia Copeland and others, Obama grabbed a mic from the stage and crooned, “Come on, baby don’t you wanna go,” part of the popular blues standard.

A month ago, Obama sang a little Al Green — a moment captured on video and viewed thousands of times over. It was seen as having added cool points to the president. Afterwards First Lady Michelle said Obama sings to her all the time.

Gingrich offers “dream team” to supporters

For a $100 donation, this free poster of Newt Gingrich and his conservative “Dream Team” can be yours.

The poster — featuring the Republican presidential candidate flanked by endorsers of his White House bid  — was offered to supporters Tuesday in a new fundraising appeal.

The Dream Team photo was unveiled at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington last week. The Gingrich campaign said it was hit, and now conservatives across the  country are clamoring for a copy of their own.