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Robert Scheer | TruthDig | February 23, 2012

Here we go again. With the economy showing faint signs of life and their positions on the social issues alienating most moderates, the leading Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, have returned to the elixir of warmongering to once again sway the gullible masses. The race to the bottom has been set by Newt Gingrich, the most desperate of the lot, who on Tuesday charged that “The president wants to unilaterally weaken the United States,” because his administration has dared question the wisdom of Israel attacking Iran and proposes a slight reduction in the bloated defense budget. 

Let the good times roll with a beefed-up military budget justified by plans to invade yet another Muslim country. As Paul warned during the South Carolina primary debate as his presidential rivals threatened war with Iran: “I’m afraid what’s going on right now is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq.” Indeed, the shouting match over which of the other GOP candidates most wants a war with Iran is in sync with the last Republican president’s 2003 invasion.

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By LAURIE KELLMAN and JENNIFER AGIESTA 02/22/12 08:03 AM ET

Associated Press AP via:  Huff  Post

WASHINGTON — A surging Rick Santorum is running even with Mitt Romney atop the Republican presidential field, but neither candidate is faring well against President Barack Obama eight months before Americans vote, a new survey shows.

Obama tops 50 percent support when matched against each of the four GOP candidates and holds a significant lead over each of them, according to the Associated Press-GfK poll. Republicans, meanwhile, are divided on whether they’d rather see Romney or Santorum capture the nomination, with Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul lagging behind. It’s a troubling sign for the better-funded Romney as the GOP race heads toward crucial votes in his home state of Michigan, in Arizona and in an array of states on Super Tuesday, March 6.

“I’d pick Santorum, because it seems Romney may be waffling on a few issues and I’m not sure I trust him,” said Thomas Stehlin, 66, of St. Clair Shores, Mich. He thinks the Detroit-born son of a Michigan governor is facing a strong challenge from Santorum in his home state because of his tangled answers on the auto industry bailout.

Also, he says, there’s this: Romney, the self-described can-do turnaround artist of the corporate world and the troubled Salt Lake City Olympics, with his millions of dollars, has been unable to vanquish his political opponents.

“That may be the reason right there,” said Stehlin, a retired government worker and a Republican. “He spends lots of money and he doesn’t get anywhere.”

Nationally, Republicans are evenly split between Romney and Santorum. The poll found 33 percent would most like to see Santorum get the nomination, while 32 percent prefer Romney. Gingrich and Paul each had 15 percent support.

Romney’s fall from presumed front-runner to struggling establishment favorite has given his opponents an opening as he tries to expand his support. His Republican rivals have stepped in claiming to be a more consistent conservative and viable opponent against Obama, and each of the last three AP-GfK polls has found a different contender battling Romney for the top spot. But Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and abortion foe, has hit his stride at a key moment in the nomination contest.

Santorum’s spike comes as satisfaction with the field of candidates remains tepid and interest in the contest is cools. About 6 in 10 Republicans in the poll say they are satisfied with the people running for the nomination, stagnant since December and below the 66 percent that felt that way in October. Only 23 percent are strongly satisfied with the field and 4 in 10 said they are dissatisfied with the candidates running, the poll found. And deep interest in the race is slipping: Just 40 percent of Republicans say they have a great deal of interest in following the contest, compared with 48 percent in December.

“It seems like in the last month or so everything’s just chilled out,” said James Jackson of Fort Worth, Texas, a 40-year-old independent who leans Republican. “I just haven’t been following it lately.”

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Huff Post- First Posted: 02/12/2012 11:26 am Updated: 02/12/2012 12:44 pm

By- Sam Stein

Mitt Romney scored two minor but symbolically important victories on Saturday — a first-place finish in the CPAC Straw poll and a win in the Maine caucus — each of which set off accusations of foul play from the second place finisher.

In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) suggested that Romney had doctored the results of the CPAC contest.

“I don’t try to rig straw polls,” he said. “You have to talk to the Romney campaign and how many tickets they bought… We’ve heard all sorts of things.”

Meanwhile, late Saturday night, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) sent an email to supporters that essentially alleged collusion between the Romney campaign and the Maine Republican Party without actually mentioning Romney by name. A portion of the email is below:

In Washington County — where Ron Paul was incredibly strong — the caucus was delayed until next week just so the votes wouldn’t be reported by the national media today.  Of course, their excuse for the delay was “snow.”  That’s right. A prediction of 3-4 inches — that turned into nothing more than a dusting — was enough for a local GOP official to postpone the caucuses just so the results wouldn’t be reported tonight.  This is MAINE we’re talking about. The GIRL SCOUTS had an event today in Washington County that wasn’t cancelled!  And just the votes of Washington County would have been enough to put us over the top.

The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. And it’s hard to imagine that they will take the accusations all that seriously, at least with respect to the CPAC result. Santorum, after all, could have bought tickets just like Romney allegedly did. He didn’t.

As for Maine, the real story there is not that Romney won but that Ron Paul and his campaign have been left so aggrieved. The Paul and Romney campaigns have been in a détente since the campaign started, with each candidate expressing admiration for the other. It’s unclear whether that changes now, but it certainly doesn’t help Romney to have Paul’s legion of backers believe that he stole a caucus, no matter how minor, from their still-bare win column.

UPDATE: The Romney campaign does, in fact, choose to engage Santorum, with the following statement from spokesperson Andrea Saul.

Rick Santorum has a history of making statements that aren’t grounded in the truth. Yesterday Mitt Romney won the CPAC straw poll and won a separate nationwide survey of conservatives conducted by CPAC  organizers. Also, Mitt Romney won the Maine caucuses. Conservative voters recognize that in order to change Washington, we need someone who isn’t a creature of Washington.

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Huff Post- Posted: 2/7/12  |  Updated: 2/7/12

Last week, Jon Ralston, a veteran Las Vegas Sun columnist, dared reporters to ignore Donald Trump’s unveiling of his presidential endorsement — with low expectations about how that might play out.

“I suggest media boycott of @RealDonaldTrump event in Vegas,” Ralston tweeted. “Anyone with me? That’s what I thought.”

Ralston knew, of course, that the nation’s political reporters — the same tribe who breathlessly covered Trump’s half-hearted flirtation last year with a presidential run, his “birther” sideshow and his thwarted plans to host and moderate a GOP debate — wouldn’t ignore the real estate huckster’s “major announcement.”

And, indeed, they didn’t, thereby sparking the latest mini-drama in the reality show otherwise known as the 2012 Republican presidential primaries.

While any campaign reporter you meet will say it’s ridiculous to give any more oxygen to Trump in this election cycle (and some of them will even go so far as to mock the primaries’ circus-like atmosphere on Twitter) many of them still raced to cover the Trump endorsement.

In their haste, several major news organizations — including the Associated Press, The New York Times, Politico and CBS News — erroneously reported that Trump planned to endorse former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Countless others, including The Huffington Post, repeated those reports. All had to backtrack when it became clear former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would get the Trumpster’s nod. Come showtime, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News all had Romney live, standing at a podium featuring a Trump plaque, in a Trump hotel, accepting a Trump endorsement.

Reporters swarmed the Trump event for the same reason they have pursued and then coughed up almost every other bit of minutiae, no matter how irrelevant or meaningless, around the primaries. In a media landscape replete with Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs and myriad other digital, broadcast and print sources, nothing is too inconsequential to be made consequential.

Political junkies, political operatives and political reporters consume most of this dross, and in this accelerated, 24/7 news cycle, a day feels like a week, with the afternoon’s agreed-upon media narrative getting turned on its head by the evening’s debate. Candidates rise, fall, and rise again, all choreographed to the rat-a-tat background noise of endless minutia.

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Mitt Romney Wins: Florida Primary Results 2012

Huff Post- Posted: 1/31/12 08:00 PM ET  |  Updated: 1/31/12 08:08 PM ET

Mitt Romney was projected the winner of Tuesday’s presidential primary election in Florida by the Associated Press.

The former Massachusetts governor was running ahead in the polls going into the contest.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was projected to finish in second place. Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum was projected to finish in third with U.S. Rep. Ron Paul in fourth.

Ahead of Tuesday, Gingrich said he intended to continue his campaign for the White House regardless of the outcome of the contest.

This is a developing story… More information to come…

Check out the live blog below for the latest developments out of Florida.

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Donald Trump at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. Trump recently announced he would not be running for President. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

The Kooky Konservative Klown Kar

Tuesday 17 May 2011
by: William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

We all want to be big stars
But we don’t know why
And we don’t know how…

– Counting Crows

Say it ain’t so, Donald.

This is so depressing. I was actively looking forward to following the Trump For President crazy train for at least a few weeks longer, if not more. You couldn’t stay in long enough to participate in one debate, Donald? It would have been the show of the year. “Birth certificates the blacks love me derp derp derp…” All lost forever now. The hairpiece has moved on.

I know, I know, it was a joke campaign, a ploy to get people to watch some stupid reality show I am proud to say I’ve never even peeked at once. But you have to understand my perspective here: the quintessential excellence of Trump’s absurd pre-candidacy was the fact that it dragged the fundamental derangement of the GOP base into the light for all to see. After Mr. Obama gelded Trump with the birth certificate release, the explosion of nonsense from the hedgerows of the far right took on an almost mythical quality, and editorial cartoonists from sea to shining sea had great sport portraying Trump and his followers as tinfoil-wearing brain donors.

This is what I’m going to miss. But I guess you can’t have everything, and besides, there is plenty here to play with until the race begins in earnest.

Take Mitt Romney, for instance. Here is a man who, by any meaningful measure, should be the runaway favorite to be the Republican nominee…until, once again, you take the berserkers of the GOP base into account. They are going to be the largest voting bloc in the Republican primaries, and they consider Mormonism a cult (which cracks me up, given the cultish nature of that crew). Add to that the fact that Romney chopped his own legs off last week trying to explain away the fact that he wrote the blueprint for “Obamacare,” which is roundly despised by the party base. E.J. Dionne nailed the crux of Romney’s dilemma in a Sunday column for the Washington Post:

The candidates appear much smaller than they are because the party’s primary voters and core interest groups insist upon cutting them down to size. To win a Republican nomination, a candidate has to move right, recant absolutely any past position that violates the current conservative catechism and never dare to speak the truth that solving our deficit problem will require new revenue – a.k.a. taxes.

Thus we have Mitt Romney defending the individual mandate to buy insurance that was part of the health plan he championed in Massachusetts but then denouncing President Obama for imposing a similar mandate at the national level. This shuffle wasn’t good enough for the guardians of conservative orthodoxy. It ruled that Romney will merit salvation only by fully repudiating his greatest achievement as governor.

And then there’s Newt. I literally jumped for joy when he announced his candidacy. Trump was more entertaining, but Newt will do. Straight out of the gate, he blasted the Paul Ryan plan to destroy Medicare with both barrels, calling it “social engineering,” a loaded phrase for anyone on the far right, especially since the Tea Party freshmen in the House are going to try and roll the plan out again this week. There were perhaps ten beats of silence after Gingrich delivered his broadside before his people scrambled to walk back his comments with the predictable “The liberal media misinterpreted him” claim. Expect many more moments like this as the election approaches; one of these days, Newt is going to open his mouth too wide and fall right in.

Ron Paul is in the race, which should be an effective sop for those in the GOP base who pine for Donald Trump and his bright ideas. Paul is, after all, the fellow who voted against sending federal aid money to New Orleans after the Katrina disaster, and just recently told people along the flooding Mississippi River to build their own levies, because the federal government is too big and too controlling in his opinion. Yet this is the same fellow who wants to pass laws that will charge anyone who gets an abortion with first-degree murder. This is just the kind of obnoxious, witless, false libertarianism the GOP base can really sing its teeth into.

And then, of course, there are Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann to consider. Neither are in it yet – Palin has all but disappeared from public view after covering herself in sackcloth and ashes when Gabrielle Giffords was shot – but one can dream. The bottom of the insanity barrel has not yet been found; there is already a self-described vampire named Jonathon Sharkey running for the Republican nomination, speaking of sinking your teeth in.

How can this not be fun?

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Ron Paul 2012 Presidential Campaign Launches (VIDEO)

AP/The Huffington Post First Posted: 05/13/11 07:07 AM ET Updated: 05/13/11 07:48 AM ET

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) announced that he will run for president in 2012 during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday.

“I am officially announcing that I am a candidate for president in the Republican primary,” he said in announcing the launch of his campaign from the key early primary state of New Hampshire.

The news should come as no surprise. Paul signaled that he was “on the verge” of making a decision on whether to enter the race earlier this week. On Thursday, multiple reports indicated that the strong libertarian voice would jump into the race.

No serious presidential candidate has been bashing runaway government spending and federal overreach longer than Paul has. The Texas Republican’s nickname on Capitol Hill says it all: “Dr. No.”

He is known for holding unconventional views while keeping a smile on his face, espousing a sort of modern Republican populism without the fangs. The obstetrician has delivered more than 4,000 babies and is personally against abortion, but he doesn’t think the federal government should regulate it. That’s a function of state government, he says.

VIDEO AND MORE HERE

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