An anti-spending group has issued an economic assessment of Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney.
The conservative Club for Growth today released its fifth white paper on the GOP candidates.
It is available at the group's website.
Just days after announcing his presidential bid, Mitt Romney says not to expect him to hit the campaign hustings too hard anytime soon.
“Right now, your greatest enemy is overexposure," he told CNN's Piers Morgan in his first major TV interview since his announcement. "People get tired of seeing the same person day in and day out."
"People are going to start focusing on the elections probably after Labor Day," he added. "And until Labor Day hits, I'm going to be pretty quiet."
Being quiet for Romney became easy tonight. In fact, he was supposed to be on the show for the full hour, but his time was more than cut in half to make room for coverage of a scandal involving Representative Anthony Weiner and his tawdry Tweets (almost as a counter-balance, Romney tonight tweeted a photo of him, his wife, Ann, and their son, Matt, eating takeout on a park bench in New York City).FULL ENTRY
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
LOWELL The six Democrats who so far have declared they want to unseat US Senator Scott Brown next year blasted the Republican and mocked his service in "the people's seat" as they rallied delegates today at their party's annual convention.
"Scott Brown didn't make a mark in the Massachusetts Legislature and he isn't leaving any footprints in the United States Senate,'' said City Year co-founder Alan Khazei. ""We need a senator who leads."
Newton Mayor Setti Warren accused Brown of voting against the interests of Massachusetts men, women, and children.
"This is our senator, who even questions the science of global climate change," Warren said. "Is that someone who represents the values of our state?"
The crowd of roughly 3,000 delegates gathered at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell replied with a robust "no."
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney tonight began a speech to a ballroom full of Christian conservatives by reaffirming his positions against abortion and gay marriage.
“We’re united tonight in a lot of things,” the former Massachusetts governor said at the start of a 13-minute address in a downtown hotel here. “We’re united in the love we have for this great country. We’re united in our belief in the sanctity of human life. We’re united in our belief in the importance and significance of a marriage between one man and one woman.”
Romney, who wrote a portion of the speech on a legal pad during a flight from Boston to Washington late this afternoon, then turned to the economic themes that are expected to drive his recently launched presidential campaign.FULL ENTRY
The head of Fiat-Chrysler said today that Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney must have been "smoking illegal material" when he argued in 2008 that the US auto industry could be resurrected without federal financial assistance.
During an interview with CNN, Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Fiat and Chrysler, said government support was pivotal.
The comment contrasted with a 2008 op-ed column in which Romney urged the federal government not to provide an industry bailout but instead force automakers into a "managed bankruptcy."
MANCHESTER, N.H. Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney was headed from New Hampshire to Washington this afternoon so he could speak tonight at the Faith and Freedom Conference.
Just don't expect much talk about social conservative issues, which were the bane of his first campaign for the presidency in 2008.
Instead, advance excerpts show a reprise of the economic focus that permeated Romney's campaign kickoff speech yesterday.
It's part of his campaign's message-management the second time around:
“President Obama said that unemployment wouldn’t go beyond 8 percent. Today it is over 9 percent. We are going backwards, and that is the wrong direction for America. President Obama has failed.
“Unemployment is not just a statistic. Unemployment means kids can’t go to college; that marriages break up under the financial strain; that young people can’t find work and start their lives; and men and women in their 50s, in the prime of their lives, fear they will never find a job again. President Obama has failed these good and decent Americans.
“Sixteen million Americans are out of work or have stopped looking for work. Make no mistake. This is a moral tragedy - a moral tragedy of epic proportion.
"President Obama should have had one central mission when he took office - put Americans back to work! Fight for every job! Because every job is a paycheck and paychecks fuel Americans dreams. Without a paycheck, you can’t take care of your family. Without a paycheck you can’t buy school books for your kids, keep a car on the road or help an aging parent make ends meet.
“The debt we are amassing as a nation and passing on to our children is immoral. It was once said that we should pass a torch to the next generation. Instead, we are passing on an unpaid bill. Throwing more money at our problems is not the answer.”
MANCHESTER, N.H. Prospective Republican presidential contender Sarah Palin will continue her "One Nation" tour beyond Washington, D.C., and the New England states.
She said this morning that she plans to take her tour to Iowa and South Carolina, two early voting states.
She made the announcement after having breakfast in Portsmouth with US Senator Kelly Ayotte.
While Palin insisted her visit to the Granite State wasn't a poke in the eye to Mitt Romney as her potential rival held two days of events in New Hampshire, news of her visit trumped coverage of Romney’s formal announcement speech yesterday.
"Palin hits the Seacoast," blared a four-column headline in today's New Hampshire Union Leader.
A story about Romney's speech was relegated to Page A3.
Massachusetts Democrats are converging on Lowell this afternoon for the fun part of their annual convention: the convention-eve parties.
Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray is throwing a bash, while Senate candidates such as Alan Khazei and Marisa DeFranco are holding smaller receptions. The host committee is also having a party organized by former Lowell City Councilor Curtis LeMay.
In addition, there's a Young Democrats bash at the Brewery Exchange.
MANCHESTER, N.H. – In the first town hall of his freshly-announced presidential campaign, Mitt Romney this morning continued to offer a sharp critique of President Obama’s handling of the economy.
“Look he’s a nice guy, he’s well spoken - he could talk a dog off a meat wagon - and yet he hasn’t delivered,” the former Massachusetts governor said in a conference room at the University of New Hampshire’s campus here. “We’ve had three years now - at the beginning it was all George Bush - we’re not hearing a lot about George Bush now, by the way, as we’re seeing unemployment at nine percent plus. It went up again today.”
“He can’t keep blaming George Bush,” he added. “This is now his economy.”
It was the first time this year that Romney has faced a group of voters in the unscripted forums that New Hampshire prides itself on. About 100 people showed up to the event, bringing written questions to ask the candidate about issues he has not brought up himself: education, climate change, and abortion.FULL ENTRY
NORTH CONWAY, N.H. - Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said today he is pondering whether to run again for the presidency and will decide by the end of summer. If he does run, he said, he would "do it the right way" this time and spend more time on person-to-person campaigning in New Hampshire.
In 2008, Giuliani led in the polls at various times and was sometimes described as the front-runner. But he made little effort in first-caucus state of Iowa, eventually pulled most of his advertising out of the first-primary state New Hampshire, and focused on Florida, where his campaign collapsed.
Giuliani placed fourth in the 2008 New Hampshire primary after doing little campaigning here. He vowed to run differently if he decides to jump into the 2012 race.
(Pat Greenhouse / Globe Staff Photo)
Even as she insisted that she was not trying to undermine Mitt Romney's presidential campaign announcement today, Sarah Palin sharply criticized Romney's universal health care law while touring historic sites on Romney's home turf in Massachusetts.
“In my opinion, any mandate coming from government is not a good thing,” Palin told reporters during a visit to the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown. The law will be one of the reasons that it “will be a big challenge” for Romney to appeal to Tea Party supporters.
“It's tough for a lot of us independent Americans to accept [the mandate] because we have great faith in the private sector and our own families and our own business men and women making decisions for ourselves, not any level of government telling us what to do,” said Palin, who is a potential challenger to Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.FULL ENTRY
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
STRATHAM, N.H. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney today publicly launched his second bid for the presidency with an outdoor speech at a farm in the lead primary state of New Hampshire.
1:16 p.m. - "I refuse to believe that America is just another place on the map with a flag," Mitt Romney told the crowd.
"We know we can bring country back," he said, before reprising a line from the movie, "The American President." "I'm Mitt Romney. I believe in America. And I'm running for president of the United States.
The declaration triggered a chorus of "Go, Mitt, Go."
With that, the speech was over.
1:12 p.m. - "Turning around a crisis takes bold action," Mitt Romney declares.
He says he will cap government spending at 20 percent of the budget and "finally, finally" balance the budget.
Then, channeling a famous Democrat, President John F. Kennedy, he says his generation will pass a torch to the next generation "not a bill."
He pledges his primary focus from Day One as president will be job-creation.
"You know, if you want to create jobs, it helps to have actually had a job and I have," he said.
Of course, Romney has joked that he has been unemployed since leaving the governor's office in January 2007.
1:09 p.m. - Unlike President Obama's European-style solutions, Romney is saying he will bring a CEO's acumen to the White House.
He recalls that he balanced the Massachusetts budget without taxes but fails to mention he also jacked up fees for a variety of services.
And, despite criticism from conservatives and some of his presidential contenders, Romney says his Massachusetts health care plan was "a state solution to a state problem."
1:04 p.m. - The speech is not much of a departure from what Mitt Romney has been saying for the past couple years.
Romney says he believes in a country of freedom and opportunity, propelled by entrepreneurship.
He complained that a newly inaugurated President Obama traveled the world, "apologizing" for America.
And he said the president is treating Israel "the same way so many European countries have, with suspicion."
1:01 p.m. - The audience applauds as Mitt Romney delivers the signature line of his announcement speech: "Barack Obama has failed America."
Three years later, he said, jobs are hard to come by, grocery and gas prices are up.
"It breaks my heart to see what is happening to our country," he said.
12:59 p.m. - Mitt Romney is lauding the country's history as a democracy, and a republic, not a monarchy.
"Who is it that rules this great nation?" he said. "You do."
The voters, in 17 months time, will choose who gives the State of the Union speech.
12:56 p.m. - Ann Romney is testfying to her husband as a partner, father, and problem-solver.
"That's why I have all the confidence in the world that this man standing next to me will be the next nominee for the Republican Party and will be the next president of the United States."
12:54 p.m. - Ann and Mitt Romney are taking the stage. She will introduce him.
"Thank-you; very generous," Mitt Romney said to Doug Scamman.
As he has said elsewhere this second campaign, Mitt Romney told the crowd, "Old friends."
12:53 p.m. - Doug Scamman, a former speaker of the New Hampshire House, is now introducing the Romneys.
The Scammans supported John McCain the last time around, and now they are with the proverbial party "next-in-line."
But Doug Scamman is citing Romney's business and civic background as the basis for his support.
"We need somebody in the White House who can work with everybody," Scamman said.
12:50 p.m. - The program is beginning with Stella Scamman saying hello and a 12-year-old leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
12:31 p.m. - Events are running behind schedule, as Mitt and Ann Romney greet their supporters amid a scrum of TV cameras...
12:22 p.m. - Former New Hampshire governor and Bush 41 White House Chief of Staff John Sununu is among those on hand.
12:11 p.m. - It IS a different kind of campaign the second time around.
Mitt Romney emerged the Doug and Stella Scamman's farmhouse clad in an open collar and lacking a suitcoat, and then he and his wife, Ann, made their way not to the stage for his announcement speech, but to a table of crockpots to serve her recipe of chicken-and-bean chili.
"Who wants some chili?" the candidate said as he served up heaping scoops.
12:04 p.m. - Ace campaign photographer Brooks Kraft reports the chili being served in conjunction with the announcement speech is fantastic.
Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom says volunteers had 36 crockpots in the campaign headquarters yesterday to cook chili according to Ann Romney's family recipe.
11:55 a.m. - They've brought the crowd in front of the stage to provide a populist scene for the announcement speech.
Old Romney hands Eric Fehrnstrom, Peter Flaherty, and Russ Schriefer are working through the crowd of supporters and reporters.
Also here is at least one of Mitt Romney's sons, Josh, a father of five who deals in real estate in Utah.
11:40 a.m. - For Republicans who like to criticize President Obama and his use of TelePrompTers, Romney will be speaking from one.
His campaign has also set-up a tripod just below his podium so it can get close-up shots for use in future videos and campaign commercials.
11:18 a.m. - It has been hard to blog from the site, with the wind whipping and the excessive glare from the sun as it jumps in and out of the clouds.
Nonetheless, the report begins: A crowd is assembling at the Scammans' farm, including New Hampshire politicos such as Tom Rath and former Massachusetts supporters including House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones Jr. He brought his father-in-law.
Groups of Romney aides, dressed in blue T-shirts with the campaign slogan "Believe in America" are racing around, completing last-minute preparations.
Mitt Romney was doing a handful a pull-aside interviews beforehand, including with the Fox New Channel's Sean Hannity and ABC News correspondent John Berman, whose network broadcasts over WMUR-TV, the dominant television station in New Hampshire.
Romey is slated to begin speaking about noon.
10:24 a.m. - The bucolic setting at Doug and Stella Scamman's Bittersweet Farm was leavened with blustery conditions in the aftermath of a tornado-laden weather system that blew through Romney's home state overnight.
Campaign workers had erected tents and sunscreens for a chili cookoff following the speech, but they dismantled them to avoid them going airborne.
In a nod to the setting, hay bales ringed the stage, media riser, and even the speaker stands.
Mitt Romney this morning is planning to announce his presidential bid by delivering a forceful speech that continues to criticize President Obama’s handling of the economy.
The former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital executive will also seek to portray himself as the candidate with the know-how to get the country’s economy back on track.
“When Barack Obama came to office, we wished him well and hoped for the best,” Romney plans to say, according to excerpts of the speech. “Now, in the third year of his four-year term, we have more than promises and slogans to go by. Barack Obama has failed America.”
Democrats, meanwhile, are poised to continue focusing most of their own attacks on Romney, with plans for conference calls and the release of a new video tagging him as a wishy-washy politician. The video, called "Romney: Same Candidate, Different Positions," is being released this morning by the Democratic National Committee.FULL ENTRY
Be sure to return to "Political Intelligence" before noon tomorrow for coverage as Mitt Romney's publicly declares his second campaign for the presidency.
My Globe colleague Matt Viser and I will be on hand at Doug and Stella Scamman's Bittersweet Farm in Stratham, N.H., for the speech and ensuing chili cookoff.
Ann Romney will be offering her signature campaign; does that stack the odds in her favor?
We plan to live-blog the pre-speech activities and announcement itself, wrap up Romney's remarks, and gather video to complement the coverage.
Massachusetts Democrats plan to focus on Republican Scott Brown and the record he has compiled in the US Senate during their annual convention in Lowell on Saturday.
According to an agenda released this afternoon, the party will also focus on building upon its 2010 achievements, including repelling a national GOP tide by reelecting an all-Democratic congressional delegation, as well as President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign.
The convention gavels to order at 10 a.m. at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.
It will include remarks by Governor Deval Patrick and the state's other constitutional officers, as well as the four Democrats who have already declared their candidacy against Brown.
Mitt Romney is publicly announcing his second presidential campaign tomorrow in Stratham, N.H., and he'll get down to work fast.
His campaign committee has announced that he will hold a town hall meeting in Manchester, N.H., on Friday.
It will take place at the University of New Hampshire Manchester Campus at 8:30 a.m.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Sarah Palin’s mystery tour/summer vacation/media scavenger hunt is headed toward Boston, perhaps as soon as this afternoon.
The former Alaska governor, who has been visiting historic sites across the Northeast (and eating pizza with Donald Trump), as part of her One Nation bus tour, spent the morning in New York City, visiting Ellis Island.
Now, reporters for ABC News, CNN, and Real Clear Politics, who have been chasing after her bus, are reporting that she’s headed to Boston en route to New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first presidential primary.
For anyone who listened to Mitt Romney during his first campaign for president, it’s no surprise that Olympic speedskater Dan Jansen attended the biggest fund-raiser to date for Romney’s second campaign.
Jansen became an international sports celebrity with his example of picking himself up after defeat and pushing on to victory.
It’s an example the former Massachusetts governor hopes to emulate starting tomorrow, when he publicly kicks off his 2012 White House bid.
In less than 140 characters, Newton Mayor Setti Warren made a big announcement.
Just after 1 p.m. today, the Democratic Senate candidate announced he and his wife had a son.
"My wife Tassy and I are proud & excited to welcome our son, John David Warren into the world," said the mayor.
The couple already has a daughter, Abigail.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Republican Scott Brown may be a US senator now, but that hasn't stopped him from rekindling his roots as a state senator as he tries to stoke support for his 2012 reelection campaign.
Twice in recent weeks, Brown has issued statements condemning local Democrats amid the ongoing federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi.
Yesterday, he did so after Governor Deval Patrick appeared on the witness stand, though Brown was careful not to single out the most powerful Democrat in the state by name.
Massachusetts Democrats and their counterparts in Washington are at odds over how best precisely to field a challenger to Republican Senator Scott Brown next year.
Governor Deval Patrick, who controls the Massachusetts Democratic Party, favors an organic process, with the candidate rising from a contested primary field.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is charged with ensuring President Obama has the party majority he needs to pass his legislative agenda, is pointed toward landing a big-name candidate who can clear the field and take on Brown with maximum resources and minimum infighting.
Some of them haven't forgotten that Massachusetts Democrats took the blame when Brown surprised the 2010 state nominee, Martha Coakley, and cost the national Democrats their filibuster-proof majority in the US Senate.
Washington colleague Mark Arsenault and I looked at the dispute for a story in today's Globe.
DES MOINES – Updated, 5:31 p.m. Mitt Romney returned yesterday to the state that delivered to him a disappointing defeat in 2008, and once again began trying to woo Iowa caucus-goers for his nascent presidential campaign.
“It’s good to be home,” he said to an audience of about 200 here. “Ah, this isn’t exactly home, but it felt like it last time I was around.”
But his first high-profile event in the state – held at the State Historical Building, with about 200 people sitting on fold-out chairs eager to hear from the former Massachusetts governor -- was cut short by burning popcorn that triggered a fire alarm and an evacuation.
Governor Deval Patrick today traded the State House for the courthouse, testifying during the federal corruption trial of Salvatore F. DiMasi that the former House speaker repeatedly pressed him for a computer software contract and that he told his staff he would support it "if we could do it within the rules."
Prosecutors allege that DiMasi and his codefendants instead got kickbacks for getting the contract approved. Patrick is not accused on any wrongdoing.
The governor also vividly recounted how DiMasi became visibly upset in 2008 and accused the administration of being a leak after the Globe began reporting about the suspect contract.
The governor said the speaker demanded that he issue a statement saying DiMasi had no interest in the contract. Patrick said he refused.
"I said we couldn’t do that, because it wasn’t accurate,” the governor told the jury.
Appearing confident as he adjusted his microphone, the Harvard-trained lawyer smoothly answered questions for about 70 minutes the first time by a sitting governor since William F. Weld also did so during a corruption case in 1995.
At that time, then-state Senator Henri Rauschenbach was accused of accepting illegal payments from an investment banker. He was subsequently acquitted.
DES MOINES – Mitt Romney is planning to announce next week what has been a poorly kept secret for months: he’s running for president.
The former Massachusetts governor is planning to make the announcement in New Hampshire, in an indication of just how vital the Granite State is to his second presidential bid.
Romney is planning to make the announcement next Thursday at an afternoon barbeque in Stratham, NH. It will be held at the Bittersweet Farm, the home of longtime Republican activists and state legislators Doug and Stella Scamman, and the menu is expected to consist of hot dogs, hamburgers, and a chili made from Ann Romney's special recipe.
"I think, by far, he's the most qualified in this race," Stella Scamman, who with her husband endorsed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 2008, said last night in an interview. "We're trying to invite a whole bunch of our friends to come and meet him."
The Scammans own a 200-acre farm that has played host to numerous political events in the past, including ones for President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, and Senator Bob Dole.
Romney's campaign activities have seen a notable uptick in recent weeks, with visits around the country to raise money and stoke a political network that remains largely in tact from his 2008 campaign. Much of his efforts have been around fundraising, with the hopes of scaring away any would-be challengers, but his formal announcement next week indicates a transition into a more aggressive public phase of his campaign.
He is planning to make his first trip of the year tomorrow in Iowa, which will hold the first nominating contest of the year.
So far, though, Romney has placed far more emphasis on New Hampshire, as indicated by his choice to make his formal announcement there next week.
Romney also used New Hampshire as the backdrop for his announcement six weeks ago that he was forming a presidential exploratory, the first step in mounting a run. He recorded a video at the University of New Hampshire and released it on his website.
News of his formal announcement was first reported by the Union Leader in Manchester, and confirmed by a Romney spokeswoman.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced this week in Des Moines that he was running for president. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former businessman Herman Cain also announced earlier this month that they was running. Several others, including former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, are expected to announce their plans soon.
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is also planning a bus tour, starting on Sunday, that will travel from Washington up through New England. Some of her recent activities have stoked speculation that she'll enter the race.
MILFORD, N.H. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty today denounced the federal stimulus program, even though under his leadership his state benefited from billions of dollars of the federal aid.
During his first trip New Hampshire as an official candidate for president, the Republican also said for the first time that he could support Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program.
Pawlenty said he would publish his own plan with some differences, but, he said, “If that was the only bill that came to my desk and I wasn’t able to pass my own plan, I would sign it.”
Senator Scott Brown pushed a multi-pronged approach to job creation today in an op-ed column for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
The Massachusetts Republican called for congressional approval of trade agreements, boosting education, and promoting job re-training are all elements of the plan.
"This year, I have worked across the aisle on a targeted approach to boost our economy," Brown wrote. "As your senator, and a member of the Senate’s Manufacturing Task Force, I will continue to look for common sense economic policies that help create jobs. With the passage of these trade agreements, we can start to tear down some of the barriers holding us back."
MANCHESTER, N.H. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich continues to back away from criticism he made earlier this month of Representative Paul Ryan's plan to overhaul Medicare, but at the same time he is stopping short of fully endorsing the plan.
Speaking at Derry Medical Center yesterday, Gingrich delivered an entire speech about health care without mentioning the overhaul, and then declined to take press questions about it.
Later in the day, at the Manchester home of former US Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne, Gingrich said his words criticizing Ryan's plan were "clumsy."
Vice President Joe Biden today marked the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's speech about reaching the moon by complaining the United States has occasionally become "too incremental" instead of pursuing similarly big dreams.
The Democrat, speaking at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, recalled being an 18-year student at a Catholic boys school when the newly inaugurated president addressed Congress and laid down a monumental challenge.
"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth," Kennedy declared on May 25, 1961.
That goal was achieved in July 1969, nearly six years after Kennedy was assassinated, when the crew of Apollo 11 visited the moon and successfully returned home.
DERRY, N.H. Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to overhaul Medicare is causing controversy in Congress and likely contributed to yesterday’s defeat of a Republican House candidate in New York’s special election.
But speaking at Derry Medical Center in New Hampshire today, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich delivered an entire speech about health care without mentioning the overhaul, and then declined to take press questions about it.
Gingrich had previously criticized Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, but the former House speaker backtracked after taking flak from his fellow Republicans.
HENNIKER, N.H. Former New York Governor George Pataki today kicked off a New Hampshire advertising campaign aimed at pressuring President Obama and Republican presidential candidates to address the mounting national debt.
“President Obama has the worst fiscal record of any president in the history of our country,” Pataki said, speaking to around 65 people at New England College. “This year, we’ll have the largest deficit than in any year in the history of our country. …It’s not sustainable.”
In a companion interview with the Globe, Pataki said he was reconsidering his decision not to seek the 2012 GOP presidential nomination out of concern over government spending.
HENNIKER, N.H. Former New York Governor George Pataki, who recently started an organization focused on reducing the federal debt, has not ruled out a 2012 presidential run.
The Republican said last month that he would not run, but he said today the recent decision of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to skip a campaign may prompt him to reconsider.
“I’m not a candidate at this point, but down the road, you never say never,” Pataki said during an interview after a speech at New England College. “I’m not running now. …We’ll see what happens over the course of the next month.”
Another New Yorker, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, is also weighing a campaign.
As the Republican presidential field shapes up, “America’s mayor” is considering another shot at becoming America’s president. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani “is still considering it very definitely,” said Wayne Semprini, Giuilani’s 2008 New Hampshire state chairman.
Giuliani plans to visit New Hampshire, home of the first primary, next month. It will be his third visit to the state this year. According to Semprini and Giuliani’s New Hampshire spokeswoman, Alicia Preston, Giuliani will meet with Republican groups, reconnect with friends and raise funds for other organizations, but not for his own run.FULL ENTRY
WASHINGTON -- There was plenty of speculation a few months ago that Mitt Romney would ignore Iowa in the 2012 election after a disastrous and expensive outcome there helped seal his fate in 2008.
But while he is not spending near the time or resources this time around – instead focusing more closely on New Hampshire and Nevada -- Romney’s strategy in this GOP presidential primary clearly does include the Hawkeye State. How much may become clearer this week as he travels to Des Moines for the first time since announcing his exploratory committee. He is scheduled to appear at a forum at noon Friday sponsored by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.
The former Massachusetts governor also announced today that he is naming Sara Craig as state director of his campaign. Craig was central Iowa field director for Romney in 2008. Romney named Phil Valenziano as state field director, according to a press release from the Romney for President Exploratory Committee.
Iowa’s caucus votes are very much up for grabs since former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee opted out of the presidential contest this month. Other candidates including Newt Gingrich have been spending far more time than Romney in Iowa. And Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who is trailing in New Hampshire polls, announced his candidacy yesterday in Des Moines.
IRMO, S.C. – Mitt Romney this afternoon assailed President Obama for not articulating a clear position on how he would reform Medicare – but then the former Massachusetts governor declined to articulate such a position himself.
The health care program for the elderly has become an increasingly hot-button issue in national politics and is bound to dominate debate in the 2012 presidential race. House Republicans recently passed a plan – spearheaded by Representative Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin – that includes drastic cuts to Medicare.
“Where’s our president’s plan? What would he do?” Romney told reporters today after meeting with small business owners at a plumbing company here. “Is he just going to sit on the side and accuse Paul Ryan of being un-America? I simply can’t understand how the president and his people can attack Republicans who are putting forward constructive ideas, when he hasn’t got an idea of his own.”
Still, Romney would not elaborate on what he himself would do, saying he’s still an undeclared presidential candidate and would give detailed proposals later. “I will be happy to describe my specific plan, but clearly at this stage that’s still a little premature,” he said.FULL ENTRY
WASHINGTON – A Massachusetts native and former Senator Edward M. Kennedy aide was tapped today to take the top post in coordinating the Democratic Party’s national convention.
Stephen J. Kerrigan, who also helped coordinate the Democratic convention when it was in Boston in 2004, has been named as chief executive officer overseeing the 2012 convention in Charlotte, N.C.
“It’s basically everything, start to finish,” he said in an interview.
Kerrigan, 39, grew up in Lancaster, Mass., and graduated from St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury (fun fact: Kerrigan was three years behind future Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray).
At 25, he was elected to the Lancaster Board of Selectmen, and later became Kennedy’s national political director. He was also chief of staff to Thomas F. Reilly, who was Massachusetts Attorney General.
Kerrigan is getting ready to move to Charlotte, where he’ll oversee all operations involving the convention – from security to transportation to housing.
“We’re very excited to bring the 2012 Democratic National Convention to Charlotte where we will re-nominate President Barack Obama,” Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said today in a statement. “The team we’ve put together to lead the Convention embodies the diversity and talent of the Democratic Party, and they’ll work closely with our partners in Charlotte to put on an event that showcases the progress President Obama and Democrats have made on behalf of the American people and our vision for the future.”
The Republicans are holding their convention in Tampa, Fla., and it’s no mistake that the Democrats chose Charlotte for their convention. North Carolina, which Obama carried narrowly in 2008, is expected to be a major battleground in the 2012 election.
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney is the focus of the first attack ad of the 2012 presidential race, with an independent group run by former aides to President Obama tagging Romney as both a flip-flopper and a politician who would not protect Medicare.
“Mitt Romney says he's 'on the same page' as Paul Ryan, who wrote the plan to essentially end Medicare,” a narrator says, as dark, black and white images of the former Massachusetts governor flash across the screen. “But with Mitt Romney, you have to wonder...which page is he on today?"
The ad, which also tweaks Newt Gingrich, is going to be running in South Carolina just as Romney makes his first visit of the year to the state tomorrow.
The ad is being run by Priorities USA Action, a political action committee that is headed by President Obama’s former deputy press secretary, Bill Burton. The group can accept unlimited donations and is meant to counter Republican groups that were formed during the 2010 midterm elections. Those groups were criticized at the time by top Democrats, who have filed legislation to curb the influence of outside money in politics.
" President Obama and his team are desperate to change the subject to anything other than jobs and the millions of Americans out of work,” Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney’s presidential exploratory committee, said in a statement. “With 9.6% unemployment in South Carolina, voters are looking for a jobs plan not a smear campaign."
Romney tomorrow is planning to visit South Carolina and meet with business owners. It is his first trip to the Palmetto State this year.
Romney has in fact said that he and Ryan were “on the same page,” although he has not wholly embraced the Wisconsin Republican’s budget plan, which includes drastic cuts to Medicare. Romney said last week that he would at some point present his own plan on reforming the health care program for the elderly sand said it would “not be identical but shares objectives” with Ryan’s plan.
HANOVER, NH - Former US ambassador to China Jon M. Huntsman Jr. made his debut appearance here today before a crowd of voters who packed a banquet room for their first glimpse of the likely GOP presidential candidate.
"We are humbled even to be standing here with the possibility that we might make that decision in the weeks to come -- that of running for the presidency of the greatest country in the world," he said, with his family standing behind him.
The former Utah governor wasted no time addressing one of the issues often pointed to as a potential liability among primary voters and GOP activists: his tenure working for the Obama administration. He made no apologies.
"I served my president. My president asked me to serve. In a time of war, in a time of economic difficulty in this country, I'm the kind of person, when asked by my president to stand up and serve my country - when asked, I do it," he said.
The event, hosted by a former Republican National Committee member, took place in a popular restaurant outside the heavily Democratic college town of Hanover, but some attendees traveled long distances to question the man many see as a key challenger to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who has a formidable fund-raising network and organizational structure.
Huntsman is not widely known outside of Utah and Washington, so the five-day tour of New Hampshire represents his introduction to a state where voters expect to closely question candidates.
The inaugural event was in a restaurant dining room decked out like a hunting lodge - a bear skin was draped from a rafter and an enormous moose head loomed over Huntsman's head as he spoke.
The planned choreography of the event quickly collapsed, as reporters and photographers swarmed Huntsman as he made his way around the room, introducing himself to voters. Microphone booms bobbed overhead, and senior citizens had to duck the cameras trained on Huntsman.
After some introductory remarks, those assembled began peppering him with questions. The first two were from a Dartmouth senior who asked about Israeli and Palestinian relations, and followed up by bluntly asking, "why should I work for you?"
As the crowd chuckled, Huntsman joked about being put on the spot in his first Granite State appearance.
Questions about Afghanistan, energy policy, and relations with China followed. As he later worked the room, he faced more questions, including what his views are on the House budget advanced by Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, who proposed sweeping changes to Medicare.
"The way we do it in America, we put ideas on the table, we discuss them," he said. " There is a lot that is part of the Ryan plan that needs to be considered."
When pressed, he didn't endorse Ryan's proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher system, but said "that is something like (what) we set up in Utah, where you've got a multiplicity of insurance options." Turning Medicaid into block grants for states "is a good thing, because right now Medicaid is blowing a hole in budgets throughout the United States."
Even after the crowd began dissipating, he went table to table in the restaurant to meet newly arrived diners.
Theo Emery can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @temery.
President Obama told a revved up crowd in Boston this evening that he needs to be reelected next year because "we've got more work to do."
At the first of two fund-raisers in Massachusetts, he said, "Change is hard. Change takes time ... We've got more work to do!"
He said that to-do list includes immigration reform.
A complaint by the Boston Herald about the limited access its staff would have to President Obama during his visit to Boston today prompted an Obama aide to fault the paper for its coverage of an Obama visit to Boston in March.
On that day, the Herald devoted its front page to an opinion article by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, in which he criticized the administration's job-creation record.
"I think that raises a fair question about whether the paper is unbiased in its coverage of the president's visits,'' White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told the Herald in an email.
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney announced this afternoon that a veteran public relations consultant was joining his burgeoning campaign as a senior adviser.
Mark DeMoss is currently president of the DeMoss Group, which is a large Atlanta-based public relations agency that focuses on serving Christian leaders, businesses, and non-profit organizations.
"Governor Romney is uniquely qualified and competent to lead our country out of turbulent economic times and create jobs,” DeMoss said in a statement released by Romney’s exploratory committee. “He has worked in government long enough to know how government works, but not so long that he only knows how to work for the government.”
WASHINGTON New Hampshire voters will get their first glimpse of another potential GOP presidential contender in coming days when former ambassador Jon M. Huntsman Jr. sweeps through the crucial primary state.
It starts with a Thursday afternoon meet-and-greet in Hanover, then continues Friday with back-to-back house parties in Keene and Hancock, before he speaks at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Concord late in the day.
On Saturday, he delivers the commencement address at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, then participates in photo ops at a gun shop and a country store before speaking before the Windham County GOP.
A commencement speech and missed Air Force One landing behind him, President Obama was departing New London, Conn., this afternoon en route to two fundraisers in Boston and Brookline.
The president had a more than hourlong drive to Bradley International Airport before flying on to Logan International Airport.
The campaign events were preceded by the day's "official" appearance, the president's address to graduates of the US Coast Guard Academy. He noted they collectively had the highest GPA of any class in the academy's history.
When President Obama pulls up tonight at a stately Brookline home for a campaign fundraiser, he will have two hosts in the flesh Jack and Eileen Connors and a third in spirit.
Elizabeth Minot Graves was the daughter of George Minot, a Massachusetts General Hospital physician and Harvard Medical School professor who shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1934 for his work in developing a treatment for pernicious anemia.
In the eyes of Liza Weld Graves, the daughter of Elizabeth Minot Graves, her late mother has been expecting the president.
"My mom died shortly after Obama took office," Liza Graves wrote today in an email from her current house in Sonoma, Calif.
"She had dementia, but was thrilled when Obama was elected, so much so that through her dementia haze, she demanded that my brother call the president-elect to invite him to tea with her father... She was quite upset when we told her this was not to be.
"In an odd way, her wish is being granted tonight," she wrote.FULL ENTRY
A trip that will bring President Obama to Boston got off to a rocky start this morning.
Air Force One executed a missed approach as it neared its first destination, Bradley International Airport outside Hartford.
White House Spokesman Nick Shapiro said: "AF1 did a go-round at Bradley International Airport this morning because of weather. They circled around and landed safely a few minutes later, at 10:05 a.m.
New Hampshire Democrats have announced that Vice President Joe Biden will headline a party fund-raising dinner next week.
He will deliver the keynote address at the annual McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner on Wednesday in Nashua.
The appearance underscores the battleground nature of the state, which broke Democratic in 2008 but went Republican in leading races last fall.
"We are excited to welcome Vice President Biden to this year's event," Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said in a statement this morning. "Working with President Obama, Joe Biden has played a key role in turning our economy around and getting America on the right track."
The announcement was made as the president was en route for his own trip to New England. He was delivering the commencement address at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., before flying to Massachusetts for reelection fund-raisers in Boston and Brookline.
President Obama is coming to Massachusetts later today for a pair of fund-raisers in Boston and Brookline.
He arrived at Andrews Air Force Base at 8:52 a.m. and Air Force One took off at 9:01 a.m., destined for New London, Conn., and a commencement address at the US Coast Guard Academy.
The Globe's White House correspondent, Donovan Slack, is in the traveling pool, riding aboard the presidential jet and getting a front-row seat for his speech at the Cyclorama in the South End and, this evening, at the Brookline home of Boston advertising executive Jack Connors Jr.
Cornel West, a Princeton University professor and leading black intellectual, is harshly criticizing President Obama, a candidate he once supported but now calls “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.”
West, a former Harvard University professor, said during an interview with the website Truthdig posted yesterday that the president has not been true to his race.
“I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men,” West said. “It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white…When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening.”
The White House did not have an immediate comment. West did not respond to messages left at his office.
The First Hoopster will get a salute tomorrow from two prominent members of the Boston Celtics family, Hall of Fame member Bill Russell and current All-Star Ray Allen, according to a top Democrat briefed on the plans.
Both will address the audience tomorrow afternoon when President Obama visits Massachusetts for a fund-raiser at the Cyclorama in Boston, said the Democrat, who requested anonymity to speak in advance of the formal announcement.
The president will then attend a smaller event at the Brookline home of advertising executive Jack Connors Jr.
LAS VEGAS – Mitt Romney, while clearly buoyed by the $10.25 million his supporters raised today, is nonetheless not ready to rule out what could become another potent financial weapon in his all-but-certain presidential run: tapping into his own personal wealth.
“That’s counsel I’m going to keep with Ann and myself, and that’s all,” he said, referring to his wife. “So I can’t give you any more update than that. We’re just going to keep that to our own counsel.”
The decision could be significant, not only on Romney's pocketbook but also on the contours of the race. During the former Massachusetts governor’s 2008 presidential campaign, he used $42 million of his own funds. One of Romney’s potential rivals -- Jon Huntsman Jr., who comes from a wealthy family – has already ruled out self-financing his campaign.
“If we were to get in the race – no self-financing,” Huntsman told reporters recently in South Carolina. “Unless you can raise it legitimately, you’re not going to win.”
LAS VEGAS – Mitt Romney raised $10.25 million from his National Call Day here today, far exceeding the haul he brought in from a similar fund-raising day in Boston four years ago.
With around 720 supporters placing calls around the country throughout the day, he sought to put on full display one of the most important attributes for his emerging campaign: raising money.
Supporters -- gathered in a conference room at the Las Vegas Convention Center that Romney aides happily noted was the size of two football fields -- began gathering to make calls at 5:30 a.m., asking contributors to give the maximum to his campaign.
Former Olympic speed-skaters Dan Jansen and Derek Parra were on hand, and model Cindy Crawford was featured in the demonstration video teaching volunteers how to use the fund-raising software, dubbed ComMitt.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters today in Pakistan that "there is too much at stake" for the United States and Pakistan to abandon their alliance.
He said he and Pakistani officials have agreed on a series of steps that each side would take to improve relations, but declined to detail what those steps were.
"There are real differences between our two countries, but the bonds that tie us together in the fight against the threat of extremists is stronger than those differences," he said during a news conference in Islamabad.
In announcing today that he would not seek the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump made clear that for all his sound and fury, he prefers to make money above solving political problems.
"I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half-heartedly," he said in a statement. "Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."
Weeks earlier, Trump hinted at his priorities in a less-polished fashion, as he visited New Hampshire with all the atmospherics of a traveling carnival.
There's never been a shortage of people willing to lampoon Senator John Kerry, or who have delighted in him being roasted.
Kerry has inflicted some of the damage himself, from trying to register a yacht in Rhode Island in an apparent Massachusetts tax dodge, to heading out windsurfing when presidential campaign advisers said it would underscore the elitist image they were trying to overcome.
Other damage has come from piling-on, all too easy with a person who can spend nearly as much time deciding what brand of beer to drink as it takes to down the first pint.
But those thoughts, emotions, or memories can seem petty when considering the duties he undertook today: representing the United States and delivering its complaints in the aftermath of the May 2 raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden while he hid amid a Pakistani military garrison.
Jane Flavell Collins
Senator Scott Brown said yesterday the federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi highlights the dangers of one-party dominance in Massachusetts and a "go-along-to-get-along" political culture.
Injecting politics into a normally celebratory moment, Brown said in remarks delivered at the Lasell College commencement ceremony: "I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican, just as one political party can't be right 100 percent of the time, it shouldn't have 100 percent of the power. Unchallenged power grows arrogant over time. It is what has given us one case of graft after another."
The lone Republican in the Massachusetts congressional delegation, Brown is seeking reelection next year in what has historically been a Democratic state. Democrats have begun lining up to challenge him, and Brown opponents have already started pounding him with advertising campaigns.
Newton Mayor Setti Warren has outlined how far he is willing to go to become the next US senator from Massachusetts: He will shake hands in the cold outside Fenway Park, if need be.
“I love the Red Sox they're doing pretty well," he told former Globe reporter Rick Klein when he appeared on "Top Line," the ABC News online program he now hosts each weekday. "I was at a game a few weeks ago. I’m gonna be out there, and across the state. We've been to cities and towns that's the kind of campaign I'm going to run, and that's the kind of campaign that will win.”
The comment harks back to January 2010, when fellow Democrat Martha Coakley mocked her then-Republican rival, then-state Senator Scott Brown, for pressing the flesh outside the ballpark when it hosted the NHL's "Winter Classic" on a frigid New Year's Day.
Brown went on to win the campaign and replace the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Coakley went back to being attorney general.
"Mitt Romney, Belmont, Mass." penned a Letter to the Editor that appeared in today's Wall Street Journal, responding to a scathing editorial on the newpaper's conservative editorial page the day before.
In it, Romney sought to address some criticisms of the universal health care law he signed while governor of Massachusetts, a measure the Journal had argued raised questions about his fitness to be president.
The 2006 Massachusetts law became the template for the federal universal health care law signed last year by President Obama, which the Journal and others deride as "ObamaCare."
"While I have had my disagreements with the Journal's editorial board, where we find common ground is on the need to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with reforms that empower states to craft their own solutions," Romney wrote. "A one-size-fits-all plan that raises taxes and ignores the very real differences between states is the wrong course for our nation."
J.D. Pooley/Getty Images
ANN ARBOR, Mich. Mitt Romney this afternoon tried to rebut conservative criticisms of his Massachusetts health care law as he called for abolishing President Obama’s national plan and replacing it with a new, more state-based reform of the US health care system.
In his first and perhaps most significant policy speech of his budding presidential campaign, he gave the strongest defense to date of his signature Massachusetts health care plan.
“A lot of pundits around the nation are saying that I should just stand up and say this whole thing was a mistake, that it was a boneheaded idea and I should just admit it, it was a mistake, and walk away from it,” Romney said. “And I presume that a lot of folks would conclude that if I did that, that would be good for me politically. But there’s only one problem with that: it wouldn’t be honest. I, in fact, did what I believed was right for the people of my state.”
ANN ARBOR, Mich. The topic: health care. The concern: It could undermine Mitt Romney's run for president. A key critic: The Wall Street Journal. The response: A speech and a PowerPoint presentation.
That was the tack the former Massachusetts governor took today as he tried to address a key vulnerability in his expected presidential campaign. But it's also the exact tack Romney took in 2006, while he still was governor, as he geared up for his first White House campaign.
In each instance, he tried to mollify conservative critics who argued universal health care cut against their free-market and libertarian beliefs.
The following article was published in The Boston Globe on April 26, 2006:
Check "Political Intelligence" at 2 p.m. for a live stream of the health care speech being delivered today by expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney's favored communication medium in the run-up to his second presidential campaign has been the op-ed column, with sometimes unexpected results, since expounding in such a sober medium allows him to avoid distracting questions from other elements of the media.
Today, though, he is the focus of a blistering editorial in The Wall Street Journal, which carries the unflattering headline, "Obama's Running Mate."
The editorial, which included a trademark Journal stipple portrait of the former Massachusetts governor, runs across two columns and consumes two-thirds of the space usually allotted to editorials written from a conservative perspective.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
ANN ARBOR, Mich. As Mitt Romney prepares for a major address on health care here this afternoon, the likely presidential contender is still expected to continue defending what has become a third rail in Republican politics: a requirement from government that people purchase health insurance.
The so-called individual mandate was a core component of the signature health care plan Romney signed into law while governor of Massachusetts, and he has stuck by that decision even as he has decried it as part of the federal plan signed into law last year by President Obama.
During a question-and-answer period last month in Las Vegas, for instance, Romney used an example of someone without insurance getting in a car wreck and going to the hospital.
“We don’t let them die in the streets,” Romney said. “They go to the hospital and are treated. And guess who pays for that? You. Government. You all are paying for that.”
A spokesman for Senator Scott Brown refused to say if he will travel to the CIA to see photos of a dead Osama bin Laden, after the agency offered today to show them to members of a congressional committee upon which the Republican serves.
The only other member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation who would qualify under the same offer, Democrat Niki Tsongas, will decline.
“The congresswoman is convinced that Osama bin Laden was killed and will not be requesting to see the photos,” said spokesman John Noble.
Brown spokesman Colin Reed said, “No comment on this.”
Democrat Warren Tolman is considering a campaign to unseat Republican Senator Scott Brown next year.
Tolman refused to say if those people are dissatisfied with the current field, which doesn't include any of the better-known politicians in Massachusetts. Those who have already declared include Newton Mayor Setti Warren, City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, former lieutenant governor candidate Bob Massie, and Salem immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco.
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney is planning a major address on Thursday to discuss health care, in what could become a defining moment of his emerging presidential bid as he gives a prominent answer to one of his biggest perceived shortcomings.
Romney is planning to outline his plan to repeal President Obama’s health care plan and replace it with something else. The address will be given in Ann Arbor, Mich., at the University of Michigan’s Cardiovascular Center.
It will be Romney’s first major policy speech, and comes amid increasing activity in his campaign. Over the next few weeks, he is also planning to travel to Las Vegas to raise money, as well as to two early primary states, Iowa and South Carolina.
Health care has been the primary problem for Romney’s early campaign, and even his supporters have said they wanted him to address it in a prominent way. His speech on Thursday will be aimed at both winning over his critics and bolstering his supporters.
The health care plan that Romney signed as governor of Massachusetts has provided a template for the national plan signed by President Obama last year. With Republicans focused on attacking Obama’s plan, many have raised questions over whether Romney would be the right advocate for their party.
Romney has defended the Bay State plan, while saying he would repeal Obama’s national overhaul, saying it unfairly mandates a one-size-fits-all system on each state.
His campaign today provided a brief outline of his health care approach, including:
• Restore to the states the responsibility and resources to care for their poor, uninsured, and chronically ill.
• Give a tax deduction to those who buy their own health insurance, just like those who buy it through their employers.
• Streamline the federal regulation of healthcare.
• Reduce the influence of lawsuits on medical practice and costs.
• Make healthcare more like a consumer market and less like a government program.
Senator John Kerry today labeled Osama bin Laden's death "a potentially game-changing opportunity" for a political solution in war-torn Afghanistan.
Kicking off the third of six hearings on Afghanistan and Pakistan this month by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, Kerry said that could "bring greater stability to the region and bring our troops home." The Massachusetts Democrat serves as chairman of the committee.
"Let me be very clear: A precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan would be a mistake and I, for one, would take that option off the table," Kerry said in his prepared remarks. "Instead, we should be working toward the smallest footprint necessary, a presence that puts Afghans in charge and presses them to step up to that task at the same time that it secures our interests and accomplishes our mission of destroying Al Qaeda and preventing Afghanistan from ever again becoming a terrorist sanctuary.
"But make no mistake, it is unsustainable to continue spending $10 billion a month on a massive military operation with no end in sight and the good news is, we don’t have to. I am convinced that we can achieve our core goals at a more sustainable cost, in both lives and dollars," he added.
President Obama has pledged to begin removing some of the 130,000 US troops by July 31.
Matthew J. Lee / Globe Staff
(Editor's Note: This post contains math and, even more ominously, math performed by a journalist with guidance from politicians.)
Newton Mayor Setti Warren was set this morning to personally declare what he stated yesterday in a slick movie: He is a candidate for US Senate next year.
With City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, Somerville activist Bob Massie, and Salem immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco already declared candidates, that all but guarantees a contested Democratic primary in September 2012, even with some dropouts.
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney is planning to make a show of force next week in Las Vegas, expecting to bring in around 800 supporters to place calls around the country and display one of the most important attributes for his emerging campaign: raising money.
The supporters will start making calls next Monday around 5:30 a.m. (or 8:30 a.m. on the East Coast), according to a copy of the invitation obtained by the Globe. There will be an opening ceremony at 8 a.m.
The National Call Day will be similar to a daylong fundraising event Romney held in Boston during his last campaign, which drew 600 to 800 people and raised more than $1 million.
That event, held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, was meant to highlight his home state, with the Fenway Park anthem “Dirty Water” blaring from the loudspeakers after he spoke.
This time, the event is behind held 2,700 miles away, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The invitation offered group rates at two of the strip’s most luxurious hotels – The Encore by Wynn, and the Venetian (although the group rates don’t seem to offer that steep a discount: A two-night stay in a luxury suite at the Venetian costs $174 through Romney, or $189 through the hotel website).
Regardless, the volunteers should come prepared. There is one reminder at the bottom of the invitation: "Please bring with you: cell phone, cell phone charger, iPad and/or laptop.”
Pat Greenhouse / Globe Staff
Newton Mayor Setti Warren announced today that he will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Senator Scott Brown for re-election next year.
In a heavily produced video, complete with stirring music, the former Kerry and Clinton aide said: "Many of you don't know me; I'm probably about as well known as Scott Brown was at this point two years ago."
Nonetheless, Warren said the race should reduce to a debate about party values.
Massachusetts Republican Party leaders today filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the League of Women Voters, alleging the nonprofit organization failed to properly file paperwork after it launched a television ad campaign criticizing Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.
"We are calling on the League to immediately reveal their secret donors as the law requires, and to live by the same standards of openness and transparency they have encouraged others to adopt," Massachusetts Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Nassour said in a written statement.
The ads criticized Brown as well as Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, for votes related to the Clean Air Act. Responding to the complaint, Elisabeth MacNamara, the organization's president, defended the ad, saying the ad targeted one particular issue, not the upcoming elections.
"Our ad will stand up to scrutiny because it is about Senator Scott Brown's vote to weaken the Clean Air Act and endanger public health," McNamara said in a statement issued Sunday. "It is not about an election that is 18 months away or a politician who may or may not be on the ballot in that election. The allegation to the FEC is simply a charade, designed to deflect attention away from Senator Brown's vote to block the Clean Air Act."
WASHINGTON – Newt Gingrich is planning to formally announce this week that he’s running for president, one of a series of upcoming events that could put the slow-moving Republican presidential field into sharper focus.
The announcement from the former House speaker, who said two months ago that he was exploring to run for president, has been widely expected. He is planning to make the official announcement Wednesday on Facebook and Twitter, although that seems sure to be anticlimactic given that his staff is forecasting the news nearly 48 hours in advance.
Gingrich will also give an interview to Fox News that night, and is planning his first speech as a presidential candidate on Friday at a Republican convention in his home state of Georgia, according to spokesman Rick Tyler. He’ll also head to Eureka, Ill. – which happens to be Ronald Reagan’s hometown -- on Saturday to deliver the commencement address at Eureka College.
Tom Rettig / Worcester Telegram & Gazette
On Saturday morning, Scott Brown joined his Senate colleague, John Kerry, as well as Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray in Auburn for the funeral of an Air Force officer killed by a rampaging gunman in Afghanistan.
In so doing, the officeholders conferred the weight and stature of their respective offices on the event, signaling to the public in deed if not in word that this was a moment worthy of pause amid the motion of daily life.
It’s because of the esteem the public holds for such high office that people also stopped and listened last week when Brown went on television and weighed in on the debate about whether to release photos showing Osama bin Laden after he had been shot to death by US troops in Pakistan.
“Hello, I’m Scott Brown, and I have the honor of representing Massachusetts in the United States Senate.
“Last Sunday night, we heard President Obama deliver the message that Americans have been waiting for since September 11, 2001. It’s a very rare thing when so many people across the world observe the loss of life with something other than regret. But this man, the late Osama bin Laden, had chosen his fate long before in a life filled with cruelty. If he expected mercy when our forces found him that was asking much more than he was ever known to give.
“This was a man who rejoiced in the suffering and death of others, who set in motion all the horror and grief of 9/11 and considered it just a start. He was a teacher of evil, and now, for him, the lesson is over. It ends not in the fulfillment of some fanatical vision, but in the depths of the
The Massachusetts Democratic Party issued a statement today saying Senator Scott Brown "owes" Massachusetts residents an explanation after the Republican asserted and then retracted that he had seen postmortem photos of Osama bin Laden.
“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Brown owes the people of Massachusetts more details as to what led him to believe that he was shown an authentic photo, and then what led him to feel comfortable enough to speak out publicly about the photo," party Chairman John Walsh said in a statement.
"He needs right away, today to provide answers to the following questions: who showed him the fake photo; who told him it was genuine when it wasn’t; and what are the procedures he uses to make sure he has reliable information before he gives voters that information?" Walsh added.
The chairman said the senator needs to “understand that his words matter, and his assertions are taken at face value because of his position."
Brown spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom replied: "With the Sal DiMasi corruption trial going on, I'm surprised that John Walsh has the time to criticize Republicans."
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney continues to dominate in early polls in New Hampshire, holding onto a sizable lead in a state that is crucial for his presidential bid.
The former Massachusetts governor is favored by 35 percent of those polled, giving him a lead of more than 27 points, according to a poll released tonight by WHDH-TV.
None of the other 17 potential candidates included in the poll, which was conducted by Suffolk University, are in the double-digits.FULL ENTRY
US Senator Scott Brown said in several televised interviews today that he had seen perhaps the most controversial and closely guarded photos in the world: those showing Osama bin Laden’s dead body.
Brown, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, suggested he had viewed them as part of an official briefing, and he argued that they were too graphic to be released to the public and could enflame terrorists.
Brown later acknowledged that he had fallen victim to a hoax, apparently the same doctored images that were making the rounds on the Internet.
‘‘The photo that I saw and that a lot of other people saw is not authentic,’’ the senator said in a one-sentence statement issued hours after the interviews aired.FULL ENTRY
WASHINGTON – Anyone hoping for firm clues on whether Mitch Daniels will run for president would have been sorely disappointed.
The Indiana governor this afternoon spoke here in a speech that was much-anticipated, because his timeline for an announcement on his political future is expiring.
“You are here under false pretenses,” he told the crowd at the American Enterprise Institute, which included at least eight television cameras. “I just came for a meal.”
He then spoke for about 30 minutes in a policy-rich speech – complete with a slide-show presentation -- about the education reform that he was implementing in his home state.
WASHINGTON Having seen unreleased photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse, US Senator Scott Brown does not believe pictures of the dead terrorist leader should be made public, the Massachusetts Republican said in an interview on NECN.
“Let me assure you that he is dead, that bin Laden is dead I have seen the photos,” Brown said hours before President Obama declared he would not release the images.
During an interview with "60 Minutes," the president told the CBS News program that "we don't trot out trophies."
Asked directly if the pictures, which have been described as bloody and gruesome, should be made available for everyone, Brown told NECN: “If it’s to sell newspapers or just have a news cycle story, no, I don’t think they should be released. We’re still dealing with the sensitivities of the Muslim and Arab world. And we still have men and women serving throughout the world.”
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney’s former campaign chairman in the crucial state of New Hampshire says he won’t be back for a second presidential bid.
Bruce Keough, a 2002 gubernatorial candidate and a former state senator, says he opted against joining Romney’s campaign again because the candidate could not articulate consistent positions on key issues.
"He struggled with that in the last campaign," Keough told Mother Jones, which first reported Keough’s defection. “And to some extent I think he's still struggling with it."
Newton Mayor Setti Warren, a prospective candidate for US Senate, has booked the same American Legion Post where he announced his mayoral run for an unspecified event next Tuesday.
Aaron Goldman, who handles constituent services for the mayor, said Warren had reserved Post 440 in Newton for a “service breakfast,” but declined to elaborate.
"No comment," Warren told the Newton Tab, which first reported the booking, when the paper asked Warren if he planned to announce he is running against Republican Senator Scott Brown.
Deborah Shah, the mayor’s political director, said, “The mayor is hosting a service breakfast with people in his life who have done things for the community and he wants to honor them. I can’t say anything further at this time.”
Warren is a Navy veteran and a former aide to Senator John F. Kerry. City Year co-founder Alan Khazei and Somerville activist Bob Massie have already announced campaigns.
Governor Deval Patrick, just back from addressing Wisconsin Democrats, will reprise the role next month in Florida.
The Florida Democratic Party made the announcement today. Patrick will speak June 11 in Hollywood, just south of Fort Lauderdale.
“As Governor, Deval Patrick has focused on common sense solutions to bring jobs to his state. His leadership in implementing Massachusetts’ landmark health care reform law now serves as the national model for bringing affordable health insurance to all Americans,” Chairman Rod Smith said in a statement.
“We are thrilled that Governor Patrick is joining us at our 2011 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, helping us as get ready for the 2012 elections and work to hold (Governor) Rick Scott and his extreme Republican Party accountable," said Smith.
Mary Beth Cahill, once Senator Edward M. Kennedy's chief of staff, has been named director of the United Auto Workers' Washington office, as well as director of its UAW Community Action Program.
In both jobs, she will oversee the UAW’s political program nationally. She will also serve as a senior adviser to UAW President Bob King.
Cahill formerly served as assistant to the president and director of the Office of Public Liaison in the Clinton White House, as well as Kennedy's chief of staff and director of Senator John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.
She also spent five years at EMILY’s List, a PAC that supports female candidates and supports abortion rights.
“We are thrilled to have Mary Beth join the UAW leadership team especially in light of the difficult challenges ahead for our union,” King said in a statement. "As we navigate the tough political environment in this era of attacks on American working families and the middle class, and head into national contract talks for the domestic automakers, I’m confident that she will help us elect officeholders who are allies in the battle to save the American middle class."
Cahill is a Massachusetts native and the daughter of a UAW autoworker. She graduated from Emmanuel College with a degree in English and political science, and held a fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2005.
WASHINGTON -- Likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney this morning said President Obama deserved to be credited with an “enormous success” for overseeing the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.
“We’ll all remember where we were when Osama bin Laden was finally killed,” Romney told reporters this morning, according to an NECN video. “I congratulate the president, the intelligence community, our military. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment.”
“The bad guy took one in the eye,” he added.
Romney, who is considering vying for the role of occupying the Oval Office, was also eager for some more behind-the-scenes details.
“I look forward to hearing more,” Romney said. “How did we find out where he was located? What sources of intelligence were developed over the years? How many blind allies did they have to pursue until they finally found this guy?”
WASHINGTON Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican who is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said today the strike on Osama bin Laden in Pakistan raises questions about whether the continuing war in Afghanistan is worth the cost.
“With al Qaeda largely displaced from the country, but franchised in other locations, Afghanistan does not carry a strategic value that justifies 100,000 American troops and a $100 billion per year cost, especially given current fiscal restraints,” Lugar said in his opening statement at a hearing on Afghanistan.
Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who serves as chairman of the committee, called the death of bin Laden a "seminal moment." Questions about the future US role in Afghanistan are even more relevant now, he said.
"The death of Osama bin Laden is obviously an event with enormous consequence," he said. "It doesn't end the threat, however, but still it is a major victory in the long campaign against terrorism waged by our intelligence agencies and our military."FULL ENTRY
Essdras M. Suarez / Globe Staff
When Vice President Joe Biden wanted to meet the right people in March to set up the fundraising apparatus for his and President Obama's reelection committee, it was Jack Connors who greeted him at his 60th floor office in the John Hancock Tower and then took him down two flights for a reception he put together.
And when Obama comes to Boston in a couple weeks to ask for cash itself, it will be Connors again who welcomes him, this time at his Brookline home.
The president will leave with about $2 million from a dinner that is already sold out.
The back-to-back events highlight Connors's connection to the White House, as well as his expansion from the philanthropy and foundation work that has followed his successful career founding the advertising powerhouse Hill Holliday.
Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
MILWAUKEE Governor Deval Patrick flew home yesterday on a 7:30 a.m. fight from Milwaukee, capping off the first phase of the sales tour promoting his new book, “A Reason to Believe.”
Starting April 12, the memoir’s official publication date, he visited New York, Washington, his native Chicago, Los Angeles, and Milwaukee, as well as Boston, Cambridge, South Hadley, and Great Barrington, Mass.
He was interviewed by Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” show, Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” Lawrence O’Donnell on his MSNBC program, Tavis Smiley at PBS, Diane Rehm of NPR, and Bill Maher on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
He also appeared on CNN.
WASHINGTON -- Likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney is not participating this week in the first GOP presidential debate, saying it was too early to begin facing off against opponents.
The debate, being held Thursday in South Carolina and sponsored by Fox News, will feature only a handful of candidates, including former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Senator Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania.
Romney, who is planning to be in South Carolina for a visit later this month, did participate in a forum on Friday in New Hampshire. The candidates were each given eight minutes for prepared remarks, but never appeared on stage with one another.
But he has been coy about whether he would participate in the first debate. On Friday, he told reporters, "Stay tuned," when asked whether he would be there. Today, he definitively said no.
"Gov. Romney will not be participating in this week's South Carolina debate because it's still early, the field is too unsettled and he's not yet an announced candidate," Matt Rhoades, one of his top advisers, said in a statement. "Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party have both been notified of this decision. Gov. Romney is planning to visit South Carolina on May 21st and he looks forward to debating there closer to their primary."
Senator Scott Brown just issued a statement saying he requested his annual summer Massachusetts National Guard service period in Afghanistan.
“As a lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, I have service obligations that I fulfill each year.
"Following in the tradition of other lawmakers who have completed their military service requirements overseas, this year I have requested to conduct my annual training in Afghanistan.
"Doing so will help me to better understand our ongoing mission in that country, and provide me first-hand experience for my duties on the Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs committees," he said.
Brown has been in the Guard since 1979, but he has never been deployed to a war zone. His service this summer will come around the July set by President Obama for beginning to start removing some of the 132,000 US troops stationed in Afghanistan.
Typically such training periods last two weeks. It would not be considered a formal activation of his JAG unit.
The statement was issued about 90 minutes after Brown spoke with the Globe about heading to the war zone.
WASHINGTON -- Just after President Obama made the most important announcement of his presidency, the field of candidates hoping to unseat him began reacting to the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
"Welcome to hell, bin Laden," former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said, in one of the bluntest statements.
The shocking news is likely to temporarily divert away from any talk of the economy and high gas prices -- topics that Republican candidates have focused on in recent months. It could also bolster Obama's low approval ratings, and could expose a Republican presidential field that so far lacks a candidate with substantial foreign policy experience.FULL ENTRY
Senator Scott Brown issued a statement this morning saying he has requested to conduct his annual National Guard training in Afghanistan.
“As a lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, I have service obligations that I fulfill each year.
"Following in the tradition of other lawmakers who have completed their military service requirements overseas, this year I have requested to conduct my annual training in Afghanistan.
"Doing so will help me to better understand our ongoing mission in that country, and provide me first-hand experience for my duties on the Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs committees," he said.
Brown has been in the Guard since 1979, but he has never been deployed to a war zone. His service this summer will come around the July set by President Obama for beginning to start removing some of the 132,000 US troops stationed in Afghanistan.
Typically such training periods last two weeks. It would not be considered a formal activation of his JAG unit.
About 90 minutes before issuing his statement, Brown said in a telephone interview with the Globe, "I’m going to be going over at some point to do some missions.”
After President Obama told the nation last night about the death of Osama bin Laden, senior members of his administration held a conference call to brief reporters on the details of the mission.
Following is a transcript of that call, as provided by the White House, with all but one of the speakers identified as "senior administration officials."
It was led by Tommy Vietor, the chief spokesman for the National Security Council:
Following are the full texts of statements issued last night by President Obama and Massachusetts Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown after the death of Osama bin Laden:
Jason Reed / Reuters
President Bush started the search for Osama bin Laden on Sept. 11, 2001, and President Obama ended it yesterday, and each man took special pride in the accomplishment.
Bush, in a statement posted on the Facebook page of his wife, former first lady Laura Bush, said: "The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."
Obama, meanwhile, wore an American flag pin on his lapel as he strode to a lectern in the East Room of the White House to make the official announcement.
"Justice has been done," the president said in remarks that began at 11:35 p.m.
Obama also went to lengths to detail the circumstances that led to bin Laden's death, as well as his leadership of it, starting with him saying he made it his top terrorism priority since shortly after taking office in 2009.
"Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice," said the president.
Then, in his crescendo, he added: "Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan."
Obama's backers will surely argue that the achievement validates his effort to shift the focus from the war on terror from insurgents and Saddam Hussein's loyalists in Iraq to the Taliban in Afghanistan, part of a campaign pledge he made to target bin Laden, the culprit of the 9/11 attacks.
As a senator, Obama declared he would authorize US forces to go into Pakistan to get bin Laden if that was where he sought refuge. In the end, that is what happened, with uncertain diplomatic repercussions for the country.
The president himself did not have to gloat, the facts potent enough to speak for themselves.
Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
MILWAUKEE Governor Deval Patrick addressed Wisconsin Democrats last night.
Here is the full story:
MILWAUKEE Governor Deval Patrick waded into the national debate over labor rights last night, telling fellow Democrats in the union battleground state of Wisconsin that Republicans “have abandoned any sense of responsibility for our common future in order to win power at all costs.’’
Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
MILWAUKEE Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is in Wisconsin tonight, addressing state Democrats energized in the aftermath of their collective bargaining dispute with Republican Governor Scott Walker.
Patrick is the keynote speaker at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's Founders Day Dinner, which organizers proudly say sold out at 400 attendees in the aftermath of the Walker fight.
The governor flew into town this morning from Los Angeles, where he appeared on HBO as part of the book tour for his new memoir, "A Reason to Believe." He also was pulling double duty in Wisconsin, holding a book signing after the dinner. In addition, copies were available for purchase at a table outside the ballroom entrance.
MANCHESTER, N.H. Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney tread on socially dangerous ground last night as he talked about the need to "hang" a misery index around the neck of Barack Obama, the nation's first black president.
Romney almost immediately caught himself, with the English major declaring "metaphorically" speaking, but the mix of nervous laughter with applause indicated at least some in the audience realized its potency.
Romney said: "You remember during the Ronald Reagan/Jimmy Carter debates? That Ronald Reagan came up with this great thing about the 'misery index,' and that he hung that around Jimmy Carter's neck, and that had a lot to do with Jimmy Carter losing. Well, we're going to have to hang the 'Obama Misery Index' around his neck. And, I'll tell you, the fact that you've got people in this country, really squeezed, with gasoline getting so expensive, with commodities getting so expensive, families are having a hard time making ends meet. So, we're going to have to talk about that, and housing foreclosures and bankruptcies and higher taxation. We're going to hang him uh, so to speak, metaphorically with, uh, with, uh you have to be careful these days, I've learned that, with an Obama Misery Index."
A video of the remarks posted on YouTube cuts off at, "you have to be careful," without the final 10 words.
Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
MANCHESTER, N.H. Five prospective Republican presidential contenders are attending a forum tonight sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a pro-GOP group with ties to billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.
Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
MANCHESTER, N.H. Mitt Romney pulled out his own credit card and spent $38.52 today to fill up the Ford Escape owned by aide Will Ritter, before he blamed high gasoline prices on the country's inability to generate a sufficient supply of energy.
The prospective Republican presidential contender said the Obama administration's reliance on creating green technologies and renewable energy supplies is commendable, but it has also caused price increases because of the expectation that supply of existing fuels will not increase.
He called for more oil drilling and natural gas pipelines, as well as coal production.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Scott Brown is hitting back at a voter education group that began running a critical television spot today, saying the ad "reeks of political demagoguery."
The League of Women Voters’ television spot features a young girl on a respirator, and accuses Brown of siding with polluters when he voted this month for a measure that would have stripped the EPA of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases. A similar ad aimed at Democrat Claire McCaskill is airing in her home state of Missouri.
"It is outrageous for an allegedly non-partisan group to use sick children to misrepresent a vote about jobs and government over-regulation. These type of over-the-top distortions have no place in our political discourse,” Brown, a Republican, said in a statement.
Brown and McCaskill's states are the only ones where the ads are playing; both are up for re-election in 2012. The spots have the appearance of issue ads that typically pop up during election seasons that point out how candidates voted on particular issues.
Before Brown's comments, League of Women Voters President Elisabeth MacNamara said the spots were not attack ads, and did not target Brown and McCaskill because of their upcoming elections. She said that “there is an accountability piece” to running them, but said it was not related to their elections. The votes of all 100 senators are available at an accompanying Web site.
“These are not intended to at all attack these particular senators. They are designed to draw attention to the votes that were made by these two particular senators," she said.
Theo Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @temery.
MANCHESTER, N.H. – New Hampshire Democrats are preemptively attacking likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney hours before he makes his second public appearance of the year in this crucial first-in-the-nation primary state.
The state Democratic Party this afternoon criticized the former Massachusetts governor for, among other things, planning a campaign appearance this afternoon at a gas station here. The Democrats pointed to a 2-cent-per-gallon increase in a gasoline fee that was implemented in 2003 the Bay State when Romney was governor. The special fee, assessed on gasoline companies and aimed at cleaning up contamination around underground fuel storage tanks, was raised from 0.5 cents per gallon to 2.5 cents per gallon.
To drive home the point, state Democrats released a map showing all New Hampshire gas stations that border Massachusetts. The map is called “Last Stop Before the Romney Gas Tax.”
Matthew Barzun, a former Lincoln resident who is now US ambassador to Sweden, will give up his diplomatic post to work for President Obama's re-election by overseeing what some have projected could be the country's first $1 billion White House campaign, The Boston Globe has learned.
Barzun, a 40-year-old Harvard College graduate, will serve as national finance chairman for Obama for America, the president's Chicago-based campaign committee. He is replacing Penny Pritzker, the Chicago billionaire who helped raise nearly $750 million for Obama's 2008 campaign.
During the 2012 race, the Obama committee, working in unison with the Democratic National Committee, expects a fierce advertising battle after the Supreme Court struck down a ban on corporate funding of campaign commercials.
"Not only was Matthew Barzun one of the Obama campaign's top fundraisers in 2008, but he also brings strong working relationships with President Obama's supporters from across the country to this race," said a national Democrat who confirmed the appointment today.
Check "Political Intelligence" after 6 p.m. tonight for a live blog from the Americans for Prosperity forum in Manchester, N.H.
Five prospective Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain will address Republican activists in the first candidate cattle call in almost two months.
The event kicks off at 7 p.m., when Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina speaks at an hourlong dinner honoring former New Hampshire Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne as “Conservative of the Year."
Lamontagne has become something of a GOP kingmaker in the first presidential primary state, helping to explain the turnout.
At 8 p.m., the broader speaking program begins, with each prospective candidate addressing the audience for eight minutes and then responding to questions from Tim Phillips, president of the AFP Foundation.
There will not be a direct debate, as the candidates are slated to speak in this order: Pawlenty, Santorum, Romney, Cain, and Bachmann.
The gathering is billed as a "Summit on Spending and Job Creation."
The appearance comes as a new poll sponsored by New Hampshire's leading television station, WMUR-TV, finds that President Obama's approval rating has fallen to 44 percent.
The survey also found that 52 percent of respondents disapproved of his job performance.
In one potential head-to-head matchup, Obama lost to Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, by a margin of 50 percent to 43 percent.
WASHINGTON The New Hampshire Democratic Party announced this morning that it is filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Republican Mitt Romney violated campaign finance laws by using large contributions given to a series of state PACs to fund his presidential ambitions.
The complaint asks the commission to investigate and cites a Boston Globe story published earlier this month that outlined Romney's state committee fund-raising system.
By using committees set up in individual states with no contribution limits, Romney was able to get around individual federal contribution limits of $5,000 per year. Through state committees in Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, South Carolina, and New Hampshire, the former Massachusetts governor raised large contributions totaling $1.62 million from 43 individuals in 2009 and 2010. That's an average contribution amount of $37,700.
President Obama is coming back to Boston next month for a fundraiser on behalf of his newly created reelection committee.
The Democrat is scheduled to appear at a 3 p.m. event at the Cyclorama in the South End on May 18.
A Democratic official who confirmed the trip would not provide further details, but if Obama follows the practice he has used in recent weeks in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, he will attend several events for both mass audiences and more intimate groups while in the city.
The goal is to raise money for the 2012 campaign.
Obama was in Boston last month for an education event at TechBoston Academy in Dorchester, as well as a fundraiser on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the Museum of Fine Arts.
CONCORD, N.H. -- The contrast could not have been clearer. Where Donald Trump flew into this first-in-the-nation primary state yesterday on his personal helicopter, Senator Rand Paul flew in on Southwest – and had coffee spilled on him, to boot.
Where Trump was greeted by a horde of reporters, only a handful came to hear Paul speak before the Merrimack County Republican Committee at a Holiday Inn here. And where Trump is heavy on the style and oftentimes light on the substance, Paul delivered a policy-rich speech in a dry tone.
But not without tweaking Trump today for his insistence that President Obama release his complete birth certificate.
“I’ve come to New Hampshire today because I’m very concerned,” Paul said. “I want to see the original long-form certificate, with embossed seal, of Donald Trump’s Republican registration.”
“Seriously don’t you think we need to see that?” he said, adding that Trump had donated to Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick, a close personal and political friend of President Obama, today said questions about the authenticity of his birth certificate and thus his legitimacy as the country's leader represent "a new low in American politics."
“I hope and I believe that the American people are bigger and better than this," the Democrat said during his monthly appearance on WTKK-FM, his most free-wheeling regular public engagement.
Asked whether he felt race was motivating questions not only about Obama's birthplace but also his academic record, Patrick like Obama the first African-American to hold his job said: “I have no idea, but whatever is motivating it, it feels like a new low in American politics, particularly when you consider the extraordinary challenges facing this country and this president, that we would spend our time on stuff like that and attempts to marginalize our president.”
Jim Wilson/Globe Staff
Listening to Donald Trump yesterday, speaking caustically and bombastically against the backdrop of a gleaming helicopter emblazoned with the name "Trump," I was struck by the contrast between him and the late Senator Paul Tsongas.
The Massachusetts Democrat announced his candidacy for the presidency 20 years ago Saturday, on April 30, 1991, and the approaching anniversary had prompted me to reminisce in recent weeks about the first White House campaign I covered.
The difference between Tsongas and Trump could not be more pronounced.
Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert has weighed in on Mitt Romney's suggestion earlier this week that President Obama had engaged in a huge "peacetime" spending binge.
Romney's staff later clarified that in his op-ed piece Monday for The New Hampshire Union Leader, the prospective Republican presidential contender meant to blast the incumbent for the largest expenditures since World War II.
Colbert addressed the situation last night on his satirical pundit program.
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Donald Trump is well known for having a distaste for one of the most basic human rituals: shaking hands.
"One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get,” he wrote in his 1997 book, “The Art of the Comeback.” “I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible."
So as he launched on a whirlwind trip to New Hampshire today – to meet with activists, donors, and average voters – it was unclear whether he would change his habits and agree to shake hands with the uncleaned masses.
The answer became clear when he entered the Roundabout Diner and Lounge here, and began grabbing hands like it was his job.
“How are you?” he said, extending his arm to one person. “Nice to see you,” he said to another.
“It was very warm and very strong,” Brian Murphy, a 49-year-old independent from Rye, said of the handshake he received. “I was surprised.”
Trump has been known to stretch the truth a bit, and it was no different on his past position on pressing the flesh.
When a reporter commented that he was getting good at shaking hands, he said, “I have no problem with it. That’s a rumor that the enemies say.”
Bill Greene/Globe Staff
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - With his trademark New York bravado, Donald Trump today said "I'm very proud of myself" for supposedly prompting President Obama to release a copy of his birth certificate.
"I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role," the New York real estate mogul and television celebrity told reporters just after the White House announced its release.
The decision came amid lingering suggestions from so-called "birthers" that the president is not a legitimate leader because he allegedly was born in his father's native Kenya and not Hawaii, as the certificate endorses.
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. Donald Trump's New Hampshire schedule is secret no longer.
The prospective Republican presidential contender is scheduled to arrive at 9 a.m. at the Pease International Tradeport.
After a press conference in a Port City Air hangar (which won't begin until the rotors on Trump's helicopter stop - hair concern?), Trump will head to the Roundabout Diner at the Portsmouth Traffic Circle.
Then, at 10:30 a.m., he's slated to visit the Wilcox Industries Corp. in Newington, where he will go on a tour and meet with employees and guests.
At 12:30 p.m., Trump is the headliner at a fundraiser for the New Hampshire Republican Party, which is providing logistical support for his visit.
Then, at 3:15 p.m., Trump is stopping by Newick's Lobster House for what is sure to be a picturesque photo op.
He is due to fly out at 4:50 p.m.
Before this morning, Trump associates had refused to release his schedule, citing concerns about mischief-makers and "security" worries.
Real estate mogul and television celebrity Donald Trump is making his first visit to New Hampshire today as a prospective presidential candidate.
Just don't ask where.
After a press conference at the Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, the New York Republican is going to try to ditch the media pack as he makes a half-dozen secret stops aimed at introducing him to key players in the lead presidential primary state.
Alan Khazei today officially declared he is running for the Democratic nomination for the seat currently held by Republican US Senator Scott Brown.
On his website, through Twitter and Facebook, the co-founder of City Year sent out the same message.
"It's official,'' he wrote. “I’m in.''
A two-and-a-half minute announcement video posted on his website offered a more detailed look at his campaign themes.
“As I’ve traveled across our state, I’ve heard from many people who are concerned that opportunity is drying up, that the American dream is in trouble and the system is failing too many Americans,” Khazei says in the video. “It’s stacked in favor of powerful special interests and designed for a time long gone by.”
Veteran Democratic political strategist Joe Trippi has signed on with Somerville activist Bob Massie in his campaign against US Senator Scott Brown.
Massie has already declared his candidacy for next year's Democratic nomination. City Year co-founder Alan Khazei also announced today that he was running.
In a statement, Trippi noted he began his career on the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy's 1980 presidential campaign. The strategist also was instrumental in Howard Dean's surprise showing in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary campaign.
“Bob Massie has a remarkable story in which he has demonstrated insight, courage, and tenacity," Trippi said in a statement. "He will defend the American Dream, excite the Democratic base, draw in independents, and take the seat back from Scott Brown, who simply does not represent the values of Massachusetts."
Massie campaign manager Matt Wilson said: “Joe Trippi’s history motivating and engaging the grassroots is second to none. His experience in local, national, and international politics complements Bob’s vision of a better life for all.”
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Deval Patrick railed against the "Beacon Hill culture" when he ran for governor in 2006. Now he's part of a trial with the potential to expose its most unsavory elements.
Patrick is the highest-profile potential witness in the trial of former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, which begins today in federal court as prospective jurors fill out questionnaires. DiMasi, a Boston Democrat, is accused of receiving $65,000 in kickbacks for helping funnel $17.5 million in state contracts to the Burlington software company Cognos.
Richard Vitale, DiMasi's friend and former accountant, and their friend Richard McDonough, are charged with extortion and mail and wire fraud, among other charges, for allegedly misappropriating DiMasi's power as speaker.
Live by the op-ed, die by the op-ed.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney learned that today, when he made an apparent gaffe in what has become the favored form of communication in his carefully choreographed pre-campaign run-up: the newspaper op-ed column.
The former Massachusetts governor found that when you virtually limit your media exposure to written columns, as opposed to unrestricted media questions, you can control your message but you also leave no one else to blame when there's trouble.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour announced today he would not be a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
In a statement, he highlighted the grueling personal commitment that had made his wife, Marsha, wary of such a campaign.
"A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else," Barbour said. "His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required."
Brian Blanco for The Boston Globe
None of the best-known potential Republican presidential contenders has yet to formally declare his candidacy, but when they do, it's clear it'll be a two-fer.
Mitt Romney says his wife, Ann, has been the one egging him on to mount a second White House campaign.
Tim Pawlenty doesn't issue a press release without mentioning his wife Mary's assent with the news.
President Obama didn't exactly blame the American people for missing the point last night as his poll numbers have plunged, but he did state they have been so focused on their daily lives they haven't focused deeply enough on the broader, more thematic underpinnings of the great recent congressional debates.
Addressing a star-studded fundraiser audience at the Tavern restaurant in Los Angeles that included actors Tom Hanks and George Clooney, Obama said he expected the majority of voters to end up siding with him when they focus their attention on the candidates, the policies they propose, and their personal values during next year's campaign.
Massachusetts listeners can't but hear the echoes of the "values" focus that Governor Deval Patrick offered during his successful reelection campaign last fall, and which he has continued amid his recent book tour.
WASHINGTON Likely presidential contender Mitt Romney today criticized President Obama for not being clearer on the mission in Libya, saying that the United States was entering into a "mission creep" in the war-torn country.
“It is apparent that our military is engaged in much more than enforcing a no-fly zone,” Romney wrote in a blog post on National Review Online. “What we are watching in real time is another example of mission creep and mission muddle.”
“Military action cannot be under-deliberated and ad hoc,” Romney added. “The president owes it to the American people and Congress to immediately explain his new Libya mission and its strategic rationale.”
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is trying to pick and choose which media outlets he appears in before he makes any formal announcement, but there was no avoiding The Onion today.
The satirical newspaper posted a mock article in which the former Massachusetts governor ostensibly regretted signing the state's universal health care law in 2006.
"Every day I am haunted by the fact that I gave impoverished Massachusetts citizens a chance to receive health care," The Onion "quotes" Romney as saying in the satirical piece. "I'm only human, and I've made mistakes. None bigger, of course, than helping cancer patients receive chemotherapy treatments and making sure that those suffering from pediatric AIDS could obtain medications, but that's my cross to bear."
Again, it's satire. I think.
Governor Deval Patrick, pressed about his aspirations for higher
office during an appearance on national television today, said he would
not run against US Senator Scott Brown, even if President Obama urged
him to do so.
"That conversation is not going to happen, and I've been very clear I
do not want to serve in the United States Senate," Patrick said during
a five-minute interview with Matt Lauer on the "Today" show.
Patrick was appearing on the show to promote his memoir, and Lauer,
who introduced the governor as a "rising star," asked several times
whether the book was a precursor to a run for national office. Patrick
insisted it was not.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney wants President Obama to personally meet with officials from Standard & Poor's after the financial agency maintained the country's AAA bond rating on Monday but downgraded its long-term outlook from "stable" to "negative."
“If you will, they downgraded the Obama presidency," Romney said today during an interview on the San Diego-based “Mark Larson Show."
"In my own view, this is not something to be laughed off as the president’s people seem to be doing. The president really ought to personally sit down and meet with S&P. I did that when I was governor (of Massachusetts); I met with the ratings agencies and talked about our future and tried to instill confidence in our future because, look, how they rate our debt and how they rate our future as a nation will affect the interest costs that we end up paying and will affect homeowners and borrowers all over the country," said Romney.
Senator Scott Brown says people demanding he name the former counselor who allegedly sexually abused him when he attended a Cape Cod summer camp as a 10-year-old "have no clue" about working through such an episode.
The Massachusetts Republican made the allegation in mid-February when released his new book, "Against All Odds." But since then, he has refused to name the camp where the alleged abuse occurred, the counselor he says abused him, or provide authorities with information for a possible prosecution.
The senator has explained that he wants to move on with his life, even as critics suggest remaining silent has allowed an abuser to go unpunished and possibly victimized others.
Senator Scott Brown threw out the first pitch before the Patriots Day game between the Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.
Then he headed to the NESN broadcast booth and described the jealousy some fellow members of Congress feel over the success of his hometown teams.
"People don't realize when you're in a state where they have no chance of ever winning anything, the amount of jealousy amongst the senators and the congressmen, 'Oh, my gosh, you're from Boston? The Red Sox, the Celtics, the Bruins,' everyone's always in the playoffs, always in the hunt," Brown to play-by-play man Don Orsillo and color commentator Jerry Remy.
"If you're down in Washington or Baltimore, they're not quite there," said the senator, who was dressed in a Red Sox warm-up jacket for the occasion.
Nonetheless, Brown said he has attended some Washington Nationals games with his family and staff, to relax with the former and work on team-building with the latter.
Senator Scott Brown is taking a tour tomorrow of XL Hybrids, a Somerville-based company that converts standard gasoline engines into hybrids.
The tour will occur from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Afterward, Brown will hold a press conference to discuss his proposed legislation for reducing energy costs.
Potential US Senate candidate Alan Khazei has announced the first event for his campaign exploratory committee.
In a Facebook posting, the Democrat said he would meet with supporters at 6 p.m. on April 26 at the Old South Meeting House in Boston.
"I would love the opportunity to share with you my thoughts on how to get our country back on the right track and also hear your ideas and thoughts," said Khazei. "I look forward to meeting and listening to the voters of the commonwealth to hear their concerns and ideas about the challenges and opportunities facing our state and country."
President Obama's deficit-reduction speech wasn't just about numbers but what kind of country America will become, Governor Deval Patrick said this morning during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" news program.
While Republicans have criticized the partisan nature of last week's address, in which Obama proposed cutting $4 trillion over 12 years, Patrick said the critics glossed over its overarching theme.
“It’s a fiscally responsible but also mutually responsible kind of community, and I support that," the governor told host Christiane Amanpour.
Brian Blanco for The Boston Globe
ORLANDO Former Governor Mitt Romney this morning criticized President Obama’s deficit reduction plan as “deceptive and intellectually dishonest,” but largely strayed from outlining what his own proposals would look like.
He also did not fully embrace the House Republican plan to curb spending in the cherished entitlement programs Medicaid and Medicare, saying at one point that “it’s essential for us to protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as safety nets for the American people.”
Republican presidential candidates have struggled to discuss both the desire to cut spending, and whether those cuts should include the politically popular entitlement programs that make up the largest chunk of spending. Romney said he supported Representative Paul Ryan for bringing the ideas forward.
“I applaud the fact that we are now talking about this issue,” Romney said, in his first public appearance since announcing on Monday that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee. “Chairman Ryan’s plan is not identical, I don’t imagine, to what I’ll be putting forward in a campaign that will potentially go forward. But it’s the right step. We’re on the same page, to put this agenda out there and talk about spending restraint.”
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
HOOKSETT, N.H. With a 22-person media contingent outside, and only a handful of prospective voters inside, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour wasn't trying to conceal the message he was sending to New Hampshire voters as he wound down his first visit of the year as a prospective presidential contender.
I'm one of you, he said with deeds as much as words nonetheless spoken with a Southern drawl.
WASHINGTON – Senator Scott Brown’s communications director is leaving to join Mitt Romney’s emerging presidential campaign, the former Massachusetts governor announced this morning.
Gail Gitcho, who joined Brown just as he took office in February 2010, was previously a regional press secretary during Romney’s 2008 presidential bid. She later was the mid-Atlantic communications director for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, and then served as national press secretary for the Republican National Committee.
Gitcho is leaving Brown’s staff at a crucial time, as he prepares to run for reelection in Massachusetts in a race that will draw national attention. She also joins Romney at a crucial time, as he prepares for a second presidential run.
It also highlights the overlap between the advisers for Brown and Romney – two candidates whose political careers and personas are very different but who are advised by many of the same people. Both Massachusetts Republicans will continue consult a trio that has steered campaigns for both before – Eric Fehrnstrom, Peter Flaherty, and Beth Myers.
Globe colleague Glen Johnson wrote three weeks ago about the political tightrope the candidates – and staffs – will have to walk as the campaigns get underway.
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
MANCHESTER, N.H. Who knew?
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour claimed a New England connection this morning as he confessed to being a Boston Red Sox fan on the strength of his longtime friendship with a former team catcher.
Stopping by a frequent political haunt, the Chez Vachon on the west side of Manchester, Barbour told a table that included Mayor Ted Gatsas that he played on a two-time state high school championship team with future Red Sox player Jerry Moses.
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
BOW, N.H. Southern charm collided with Yankee skepticism last night as Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour made his first visit of the year to New Hampshire as a prospective presidential candidate.
With his trademark drawl and affable demeanor, Barbour worked a crowd of about 30 people at the home of former New Hampshire Republican Party chairwoman Jayne Millerick, introducing himself by saying simply, "Hi, I'm Haley."
(See my earlier post here.)
Then he was peppered with questions about everything from his views on spending cuts and entitlement reform to US intervention in Libya, as voters in the lead presidential primary state upheld their tradition as vetters-in-chief of would-be commanders-in-chief.
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
BOW, N.H. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour tonight told an audience in the lead presidential primary state of New Hampshire he would offer "casual, comfortable, plainspoken commonsense" if he decided to seek the Republican nomination.
He argued that the American people "are tired of happy talk," and need straight information about cutting government spending while also resisting the temptation to raise taxes.
He pledged a decision about his candidacy by the end of the month, as he kicked off a two-day trip that was his first to the state this year.
WASHINGTON Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney immediately pounced on President Obama’s deficit-cutting proposal, saying it didn’t go far enough and relied too heavily on tax increases.
“President Obama’s proposals are too little, too late,” Romney said in a statement released minutes after Obama today finished his speech outlining his plan. “Instead of supporting spending cuts that lead to real deficit reduction and true reform of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the President dug deep into his liberal playbook for ‘solutions’ highlighted by higher taxes.”
Obama proposed a menu of options to reduce the deficit, including cuts in defense spending, an overhaul of the tax system, and an end to Bush-era tax cuts for wealthier Americans. The plan would lower the deficit by about $4 trillion over a dozen years.
Obama’s proposal comes in response to a House Republican plan that would cut $5.8 trillion in spending over the next decade. That plan would allow the Bush tax cuts now set to expire in 2012 to be extended indefinitely, and Republicans have opposed any proposal to end the tax break.
"With over 20 million people who are unemployed or who have stopped looking for work, the last thing we should be doing is raising taxes on job-creators, entrepreneurs, and small business owners across America,” Romney said in his statement.
So when is a would-be president officially a candidate?
It's a hard question to answer, since some of the rules and regulations are gray, and enforcement of them all can depend on whether a prospective candidate faces a complaint alleging their breach.
Right now, the most prominent official candidate for president of the United States is the person who already has the job, Democrat Barack Obama.
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, setting up a fight with unions, today proposed a $30.5 billion annual state budget that cuts more deeply than Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal and goes further than the governor to strip local public employees of their right to bargain over health care.
House leaders said their plan would cut $94 million more than Patrick’s proposal unveiled in January, and would represent the biggest year-to-year cut in state spending in two decades. The Senate still has not released its proposed budget.
State leaders are grappling with the loss of $1.5 billion in federal stimulus funds and a shaky economic recovery.
Governor Deval Patrick endured some friendly ribbing about the state’s health care law and his political future from Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” last night. But Patrick mostly stuck to script and let Stewart make the jokes.
Poking fun at the governor’s declaration that he is guided by conviction and idealism, Stewart said, “This politics of conviction, this idealism, have you ever thought of giving those up to run for national office?”
“I’m not running for anything else,” Patrick said, laughing. “But I haven’t given up those ideals and those values for any job.”
“I look forward to the system corrupting you,” Stewart quipped.
“Not gonna happen,” Patrick shot back in his 8-minute spot on the show, which he flew to New York to tape.
Patrick’s appearance was part of a flurry of national media appearances he is making over the next two weeks to sell his memoir, “A Reason To Believe.”
Mitt Romney tonight pushed back against those in his party who are questioning President Obama's citizenship, suggesting his fellow Republicans should put their energy into more substantive issues.
"The citizenship test has been passed," Romney said tonight on CNBC's Kudlow Report. "I believe the president was born in the United States. There are real reasons to get this guy out of office...but his citizenship isn't the reason why."
Several prominent Republicans including Donald Trump and Sarah Palin have once again tried to stoke controversy by questioning Obama's citizenship even though his birth in Hawaii has been confirmed by officials in the state.
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson said today he will make a "major announcement" on April 21 in New Hampshire.
Since the Republican previously said he would eschew the interim step of forming a presidential exploratory committee, and instead plunge directly into a campaign itself if he were to run, that announcement most likely is of his decision to become a candidate for the 2012 GOP nomination.
The announcement will be made at 9 a.m. at the Capitol in Concord, and his followup schedule only perpetuates the thought that he will declare his candidacy.
He will meet with the media for two hours afterward, lunch with state legislators, and then hold what is billed as a "public kick-off event" in Manchester.
A similar schedule holds for the next two days.
Amid all the fluff and confection of presenting Mitt Romney with cakes celebrating today's fifth anniversary of the Massachusetts universal health care law, state Democrats also produced a video with some meat on its bones.
"Thank You Mitt" contains clips of Romney, then the Bay State's governor, touting the law during appearances on the Fox News Channel and, gasp, MSNBC back in 2006.
The most potentially problematic comment is Romney claiming he "authored" the measure, since many of his fellow conservatives view the law as a precursor to the federal universal health care law enacted last year by President Obama.
Former Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld, the Republican who launched a 16-year period of GOP rule on Beacon Hill, favored an expression apparently shared by Mitt Romney, the former governor who concluded their party's era of State House control.
"Revenge is a dish best served cold," Weld would say, quoting a phrase used in everything from the French novel "Mathilde" to "The Godfather" and "Star Trek II."
In announcing his presidential exploratory committee in a deliberately understated way, Romney declared his intentions on his terms and in his own tone with a variety of messages for an array of audiences.
WASHINGTON Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney this afternoon announced he was forming a presidential exploratory committee, allowing him to start raising money for a presidential bid he has been preparing for almost since the moment he lost the 2008 Republican nomination.
Romney made the announcement in a video posted on a new website. It was taped with little fanfare at the University of New Hampshire following a meeting between the Romney and students who said they were worried about getting a job after graduation.
“I have become convinced that America has been put on a dangerous course by Washington politicians, and it has become even worse during the last two years. But I am also convinced that with able leadership, America's best days are still ahead,” Romney says in the video. “That is why today I am announcing my exploratory committee for the presidency of the United States.”
Romney is planning to open his campaign headquarters next month in Boston – in the same building his last campaign was based, on Commercial Street in the North End. Romney aides declined to say whether he would participate in the first GOP presidential debate, scheduled for May 5 in South Carolina.FULL ENTRY
The Massachusetts Republican Party has landed two high-profile guests for upcoming fundraisers.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will appear April 28 at the Union Club on Beacon Hill.
There is a $500 charge for a private roundtable discussion at 5:30 p.m. and a $150 charge for a general reception at 6 p.m.
On May 10, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer will appear at the Union Oyster House at 11:45 a.m. There is a $75 charge, including lunch.
Details are available at 617-523-5005.
David L. Ryan, Globe Staff
Northeast Democrats will be at their most creative today and tomorrow, as they aim to tweak Republican Mitt Romney in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of the Massachusetts universal health care law.
New Hampshire Democrats are sending out an email at 9 a.m. today, urging their supporters to flood Romney's official Twitter handle, @MittRomney, with thanks and congratulations for a piece of legislation that is anathema to many of his fellow conservatives across the country.
The 2006 Massachusetts law, signed while Romney was governor of the state, became the model for the 2010 federal universal health care law signed by President Obama, the Democrat he hopes to face in next year's presidential race.
Governor Deval Patrick's planned appearance Monday on NBC-TV's "Today" show is being postponed until later this week.
The date still has yet to be set, but spokesman Steve Crawford said the Democrat fell prey to the crush of recent news, including the near-government shutdown that finally was resolved just before midnight Friday.
Instead, the governor will spend Monday in Boston.
This week is the launch of the book tour for the governor's memoir, "A Reason to Believe."
Patrick is still slated to head to New York on Tuesday for a series of stops, including Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart.
Governor Deval Patrick embarks on his booktour Monday, with a pretty good first stop: A time slot in the 7 a.m. hour on NBC-TV's "Today" show.
It's shown locally on WHDH-TV (Channel 7).
It's still unclear who will interview him, but the governor is expected to talk about his memoir, "A Reason to Believe."
As a friend and political ally of President Obama, he could also expect questions about any government shutdown, the fifth anniversary of the Massachusetts health care law (on Tuesday), and his dust-up with Senator Scott Brown at today's groundbreaking for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
The governor is coming back to Massachusetts after the show, but heading back to New York on Tuesday for a series of stops, including Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart.
Massachusetts Democrats plan to mark Tuesday's fifth anniversary of the state's universal health care law with balloons, speeches, and a sheetcake.
For former Governor Mitt Romney.
The tweak is aimed at embarrassing the expected Republican presidential contenders as he continues to criticize the Obama administration's federal universal health care law that is based on his Massachusetts law.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is delivering the inaugural Alan D. Solomont Lecture at Tufts University today.
The California Democrat, who served as the first female speaker of the House, planned to reflect on her career and the importance of public service during a 2 p.m. address in the school's Cohen Auditorium.
This lecture is part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.
WASHINGTON – He’s the (soon-to-be-former) ambassador to China and former Republican governor of Utah. And next month – in a move that will generate waves of political interest – he will be stepping more fully into his role as potential presidential candidate with his first public appearance in New Hampshire.
Southern New Hampshire University President Paul LeBlanc confirmed in a telephone interview this evening that Jon Huntsman Jr. has accepted an invitation to be graduation speaker at the Manchester school on May 21.
"The politics of the state of New Hampshire right now are so rancorous and polemical, and a lot of people like the fact that Huntsman seems to defy that ideological rigidity," LeBlanc said.
With a moderate profile and a resume that includes an ambassadorship under the current presidential administration, Huntsman – if he chooses to run for president – would be competing with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for moderates, independents, and crossover Democrats in the New Hampshire Republican primary.
Huntsman also shares Romney’s Mormon faith, which could be a factor in another early and potentially crucial GOP primary state, Nevada.
LeBlanc said the Huntsman appearance does not reflect any endorsement by him or the university. But if recent history is a guide, a graduation speech at Southern New Hampshire University could be the equivalent of political gold. In 2007, the university’s commencement speaker was Barack Obama, the senator from Illinois.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is giving $45,000 to GOP election committees in the aftermath of President Obama announcing his re-election campaign.
Romney's Free and Strong America PAC is giving $15,000 apiece to the Republican National Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The latter two are charged with electing Republicans to the US Senate and US House, respectively. The RNC, meanwhile, is ultimately charged with helping elect a Republican president.
The former Massachusetts governor said in a statement this afternoon: “President Obama and his big spending allies in Congress have confused priorities for our nation. Instead of focusing on putting unemployed Americans back to work, they have raised taxes, expanded the size and scope of government, and prolonged the recession. I believe that by electing Republicans, we will make America strong and prosperous again.”
Senator Scott Brown plans to report over $8.3 million cash on hand for his 2012 re-election campaign when he files a federal finance report on April 15, an aide said today.
The tally includes $1.7 million raised during the first quarter of the year.
By some estimates, Brown may spend up to $25 million on his campaign, in which he is seeking his first full term after replacing the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy in February 2010.
"Finally, Senator Brown, like other senators from Massachusetts and elsewhere, is registering a political action committee, 'ScottPAC,' which will allow him to respond to requests for financial support from other candidates," said spokeswoman Gail Gitcho.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, an expected candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, has the "Free and Strong America PAC,'' while former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, another potential candidate next year, has the similarly named "SarahPAC."
Such so-called leadership committees allow politicians to travel the country and build their national political base, while also developing chits by sprinkling donations on like-minded candidates.
Earlier today, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll announced she would not seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Brown, citing her current job and young family.
But all the potential challengers have cited the money they have to raise as a potentially decisive factor in their ultimate decision to run.
Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll released a statement this morning saying she will not seek the Democrats' 2012 US Senate nomination in Massachusetts.
She had explored a run against the Republican incumbent, Senator Scott Brown, but also been upfront about her concerns over running while leading a city and raising three young children.
Driscoll had been the most prominent woman to publicly express interest in a campaign.
"Plain and simple, I do think the seat is winnable, but there is a time and place for everything," she said in her statement.
Tim Pawlenty announced he was forming a presidential exploratory committee via Facebook.
President Obama announced he was seeking reelection to the highest office in the country via a YouTube video.
Mitt Romney sent out his retort via Twitter.
Collectively, those developments have highlighted the prominent role social media will play in the 2012 presidential campaign.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney today gave a Bronx cheer for the Obama administration's decision to hold trials for the top 9/11 suspect and four alleged co-conspirators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, instead of as planned in New York City.
“An inexperienced and naïve president has finally reversed himself on Guantanamo and terrorist trials; let’s hope he sees the light on his other flawed policies," the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the others will appear before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay rather than before a civilian court on Manhattan.
Another Massachusetts Republican, Senator Scott Brown, lauded the reversal, too.
Senator Scott Brown today issued a statement in reaction to the Obama administration's decision to forgo a civilian trial in New York City for alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspects.
Instead, they will appear before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Brown, a military lawyer in the Massachusetts National Guard, had opposed the New York plan and advocated for a Guantanamo proceeding.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney used his Twitter account this morning to respond to the announcement of President Obama's re-election campaign.
"@barackobama I look forward to hearing details on your jobs plan, as are 14m unemployed Americans," @MittRomney said in his cheeky post.
Romney's retort followed Obama's decision to use YouTube to release a video announcing his re-election campaign.
Romney then popped out his Twitter response, before another likely GOP presidential candidate, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, released his own response via YouTube.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty certainly isn't dithering.
No sooner had President Obama's re-election committee released its kickoff video this morning than did Pawlenty's committee release its retort.
In his own YouTube spot, Pawlenty pokes at Obama's new signature phrase by asking, "How can America 'Win the Future' when we're losing the present?"
After showing a series of dark scenes and downtrodden voices, Pawlenty himself says to camera, "In order for American to take a new direction, it's going to take a new president."
Pawlenty, a first-time national candidate, has already announced, via Facebook, the formation of a presidential exploratory committee.
Using another social medium for Obama's announcement and Pawlenty's reaction shows the rise of YouTube as an inexpensive and direct means of communicating with voters.
There's no 30-second commercial to finance, and no reporters serving as a middleman on the message.
The candidates also benefit from follow-up coverage and links to their spots that send the message virally.
As Republicans form presidential exploratory committees, or promise to do so, or hint that one is coming, the incumbent isn't dithering.
President Obama kicked off his re-election campaign this morning with a video featuring average citizens making the case for giving him a second term.
The president's team will follow-up by filing papers official paperwork with the Federal Election Committee and then a fundraising drive. The re-election campaign, as with his 2008 campaign, will be based in his hometown of Chicago.
Obama does not speak in the kickoff film, which opens with a scene featuring "Ed" from North Carolina.
It's no coincidence that someone with a Southern accent, and from a state so coveted by the Democrats they are holding their 2012 convention in Charlotte, is given such a prominent role.
His message also is an appeal to Obama true believers as well as some of his early supporters who may have lost their enthusiasm as the aftereffects of the Great Recession have lingered and, more recently, the president launched military action in Libya.
"I don't agree with Obama on everything, but I respect him and I trust him,'' says Ed.
LAS VEGAS – It was billed as a foreign policy address, but it didn’t take long before the most prominent issue that could haunt Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign came up.
The first question from the audience after his 24-minute address before the Republican Jewish Coalition here was not about Israel or unrest in the Middle East. It was about Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts.
Romney largely defended the rationale of the Massachusetts plan, saying that it helped spur greater health care coverage so uninsured residents wouldn’t simply go to emergency rooms for care.
But he sought to distinguish the plan from President Obama’s national plan by casting it as an issue of states’ rights.FULL ENTRY
NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney this afternoon toured a depressed neighborhood besieged by foreclosed homes as he continued trying to criticize President Obama’s handling of the economy.
Romney so far has staked his budding presidential bid on economic concerns, but new upticks in the unemployment rates could complicate his case.
“I’m afraid some people are becoming conditioned to unemployment rates above 8 percent,” Romney said today. “Unemployment should be around 4 percent or less. And the idea that we celebrate 8.8 percent, I’m glad for the progress, but my goodness, we’ve got a lot of people out of work.”
Senator Scott Brown has a pair of public events in Massachusetts this weekend.
Tonight, he's joining Governor Deval Patrick and other local politicians for the annual “Banned in Boston” benefit for Urban Improv. It describes itself as "an interactive program for young people that uses improvisational theater workshops to teach violence prevention, conflict resolution, and decision-making."
The show starts at 7:45 p.m. at the House of Blues on Lansdowne Street.
Tomorrow, the Republican is the keynote speaker at the annual Pioneer Valley USO fundraiser dinner.
It takes place at 8:15 p.m. at Delaney House in Holyoke.
WASHINGTON – Republicans in early-voting states today levied harsh criticisms of their counterparts in Florida for so far refusing to move their primary date, part of an ongoing squabble that could have far-reaching implications for the presidential nominating calendar.
Republican Party leaders in both Iowa and South Carolina today said that national Republicans should consider moving the national convention from Tampa, Fla., unless Florida moves its current primary date.
It is all part of an ongoing disagreement over the nominating calendar, which could prove crucial for which candidate wins. National GOP leaders had been seeking an orderly and extended primary season, in part by punishing states that scheduled their elections before March 1, 2012. They carved out an exemption for four states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.
"Or, as I like to call it, the 'People's Library,'" the Republican quipped at the South Boston St. Patrick's Day political roast.
The joke referred to the mantra of Brown's campaign to win the 2010 special election held after the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, brother to the slain president for whom the library is named.
Brown argued he wasn't filling Kennedy's seat, but "the people's seat."
He will discuss his new memoir, "Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, and Second Chances," with NECN correspondent Alison King.
This forum will be held from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Reservations are no longer available to the public.
The forum will also be webcast live at www.jfklibrary.org/webcast.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney today accused President Obama of inattention to job creation.
The Democratic National Committee responded by criticizing Romney's job creation record while governor of Massachusetts, as well as job losses in the aftermath of corporate acquisitions while he ran Bain Capital
In an op-ed piece appearing in USA Today, Romney called for tax polices that reward savings, investment, entrepreneurial risk-taking, and exports; free, open, and fair access to foreign markets; elimination of what he termed "the federal bureaucratic and regulatory stranglehold on business"; and budget restraints and entitlement reform.FULL ENTRY
A Harvard University poll released this morning found President Obama's approval rating rising among the so-called "Millennials" or "Generation Y" that spans from 18 to 29 years old.
The president had an approval rating of 55 percent, up 6 percentage points from a similar survey last fall. Both were conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, which is part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Among students at four-year college campuses, Obama's approval rating rose even more, from 51 percent last fall to 69 percent now.
Vice President Joseph Biden is visiting the University of New Hampshire on Monday to call attention to the high rates of sexual assault and violence committed against young women in schools and on college campuses across the country, the White House announced today.
Joined by US Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Biden will will introduce new guidance to help schools, colleges, and universities understand their civil rights obligations to better prevent and respond to sexual assault, a statement said.
Biden was the author of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and worked as a US senator to change the way domestic violence is handled.
Nonetheless, the statement said, young women aged 16-24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, while one-in-five will be a victim of sexual assault during college.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Obama has once again borrowed from Governor Deval Patrick, this time when it comes to nudging along prospective US Senate candidates.
Patrick created a stir in February when he bluntly told a National Journal reporter that City Year cofounder Alan Khazei, Somerville activist Bob Massie, and Newton Mayor Setti Warren were "in, for sure" for next year's US Senate race against Republican Scott Brown.
That left Khazei and Warren scrambling to clarify that they had not made any final decision. Massie had already declared his candidacy.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Likely Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty is headlining an upcoming Tea Party anti-tax rally on Boston Common.
The third annual event, sponsored by the Greater Boston Tea Party, will occur from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on April 15 the tax-filing deadline.
The speech will bring Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, to the home state of a potential rival for the 2012 GOP nomination, Mitt Romney.
It also puts him in a Tea Party spotlight enjoyed last year by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who was the event's 2010 keynote speaker.
"Governor Pawlenty's leadership in Minnesota has put his state on a course towards economic success," said a statement issued by Christin Varley, the group's president. "His is a message voters need to hear."
Also slated to appear is former state Representative Karyn Polito, a Shrewsbury Republican who waged an unsuccessful campaign for state treasurer last fall.
Politico has an interesting story this morning looking at the recent wave of political book authors, with a special focus on US Senator Scott Brown.
The story reports that Brown’s book, "Against All Odds," had sold 15,534 copies as of last week, according to Nielsen BookScan. It tracks bookstore sales but not bulk purchases that can be made by politicians and their campaign committees, as Brown and fellow Republican Mitt Romney have done.
The story notes that President Obama seemed to start the wave, selling the rights to "Audacity of Hope" just 46 days after being elected to the Senate.
One of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy's top aides is thinking about challenging Republican Scott Brown for re-election.
Gerry Kavanaugh worked for Kennedy from 1993 to 2001, the bulk of the time as his chief of staff. He has since worked for the Democratic National Committee, Senator John Edwards and his presidential campaign, and, most recently, as the owner of two software companies and the co-founder of a nonprofit.
In an interview with the Globe for a story today, Kavanaugh cited the high cost of a campaign as one of the key factors for any of the possible Democratic challengers.
He'd also have to work on name recognition, with a campaign being his first run for elective office.
Kavanaugh would have something of a built-in field operation: The Dartmouth native and New Bedford resident has five of six siblings still living in Massachusetts.
Read the full story here.
Possible presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will be in Salem tomorrow, addressing a Salem State University audience as part of an annual speaking series.
The Georgia Republican's speech is titled, “Jobs, Economic Growth, and Prosperity: Getting America Moving in the Right Direction.”
Gingrich has been traveling to Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early presidential voting states. He's also announced he's considering forming a presidential exploratory committee, another indication of his potential interest in a campaign.
Massachusetts residents who want to listen to the former House speaker can attend the 8 p.m. event at the O’Keefe Sports Complex on Canal Street for $20, or $10 if they are students at the university.
Noah Bierman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nbierman.
Third-graders in East Bridgewater and Whitman came home from school with a note last week. Typically, that’s not news. But this note included an invitation to a fundraiser for a freshman state representative, a violation of state ethics rules.
Representative Geoff Diehl, a Whitman Republican, said today he is sorry for sending the note on Thursday, and he now realizes it violated the state law that bars the use of public resources for private campaigns.
“Really, it’s a lesson learned,” he said. “I feel horrible for the ramifications.”
The note invited parents to enter their children in a lottery, with the winners participating in a reading of “The Ride of Paul Revere,” at Diehl’s fundraiser with former New England Patriots player Steve DeOssie, on Patriots’ Day, April 18.
“Kids 12 and under eat FREE,” the note reads. “Adults $25.”
The flier, which teachers handed out to students at the end of school, does not make clear that the proceeds go to Diehl’s campaign account.
Susan T. Cote, superintendent of schools in East Bridgewater, said she only realized it was a fundraising solicitation after a parent who had supported Allen McCarthy, the Democratic incumbent whom Diehl defeated last fall called the school to complain.
“Once I realized it would go to his campaign, I said, ‘Oh. I should have never sent that home,'” Cote said.
Diehl said he has also contacted the State Ethics Commission, which told him he would not be penalized if he does not continue to solicit funds through the schools. The fundraiser, he added, will go on as planned.
Michael Levenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.
Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has re-hired a policy expert from his 2008 campaign for his expected second White House run.
Though the former Massachusetts governor has not formally announced another campaign, a string of recent hirings and comments has dropped all pretense that he is undecided about running again.
His Free and Strong America PAC announced today that Lanhee Chen will join the PAC as policy director.
In 2008, Chen served as Romney's chief domestic policy adviser during his first campaign for president. He was also a health policy adviser to the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign.
Chen went on to serve the Bush administration as a senior policy and political aide at the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Most recently, Chen was the deputy campaign manager and policy director for Steve Poizner, the California insurance commissioner who made a failed bid for governor.
Chen earned a doctorate and masters in political science, a law degree cum laude, and an undergraduate degree in Government, magna cum laude, all from Harvard University.
Romney himself has business and law degrees from the school.
In recent weeks, the former governor has hired a new communications adviser and filled other top jobs at the PAC, which previously had been financing his national travels and providing a vehicle for him to make donations to like-minded political candidates.
Most recently, Romney sent $25,000 to the New Jersey Republican Party to help finance its activities.
Romney also penned a blog item last week talking about how he would change the Obama administration's health insurance program. It began, "If I were president..."
If there's one thing reporters covering the Patrick administration have come to expect, it's the Friday-afternoon news dump.
As the State House echoes with emptiness, as the public turns its attention from a week of work to a weekend of play, the administration has made a practice of stepping into the vacuum and filling it with unsavory news that can lose some of its pungency before Monday rolls around.
In a one-month span last fall, the topics ran the gamut, from tax collections that came in below expectations to the resignations of two Cabinet members, as well as the release of a well-past-deadline report analyzing the generous compensation at public-private agencies in the state.
Items that piled up amid a week focused on long-term planning for the boston.com Politics page...
For anyone who doubts if the former Massachusetts governor is going to take a second shot at the White House, Romney himself pretty much eliminated all question this week with a National Review blog post that began, "If I were president..."
It didn't say, "If I follow Ann's advice and decide to run for president...," an ode to Romney's past suggestion his wife was trying to coax him into a campaign.
Then, as Romney moved from Washington to New York for a meeting with big-money supporters, The Wall Street Journal popped up with what appeared to be a campaign-sanctioned story about Romney's effort to raise $50 million to overwhelm his potential opponents.
Follow-up reports on yesterday's meeting at the Harvard Club in Manhattan revealed that Romney may announce a presidential exploratory committee in early April, building momentum for a 15-city fundraising sweep that ends with a major event in Las Vegas on May 16.
Romney observers may recall he jumpstarted his 2008 campaign with a January 2007 telethon at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center that raised $6.5 million then a considerable sum for such a relatively unknown national candidate.
A formal campaign kickoff would come later, just as in 2007, when Romney followed up the big fundraiser with an announcement speech at the Henry Ford Museum outside Detroit.
Word also leaked this week that Team Romney had signed two operatives for any New Hampshire campaign. Jim Merrill, who served as state director in 2008, will be senior adviser in 2012. And Jason McBride, who ran Romney's winning Michigan campaign last time around, will take over as New Hampshire campaign manager.
As another Romney senior adviser, Tom Rath, recently told the Globe's Matt Viser: “It’s like a duck; there’s a lot more activity going on under the water than on top of the water."
The release of Massachusetts town-by-town US Census data this week lays the factual foundation for both legislative and congressional redistricting efforts.
That said, there is always a political overlay anytime those maps are redrawn (see: Gerry, Elbridge).
If history is any guide, the math will now be contorted to address political considerations.
Overall, the biggest mathematical fact is that the state is losing one congressional seat because of its overall population decline. It will drop from 10 to nine districts.
The other fact is that the borders of Massachusetts remain unchanged, meaning those nine districts will soon have to be stretched to cover what is currently 10 districts' worth of population.
Each will soon expand to include over 700,000 people.
From the political perspective, those redrawing the congressional lines will look for signs of candidate weakness or some figment of rationale as they force two of the current House members to square off for just one seat.
The district that had the slowest growth, and is represented by the oldest member, is the far-western District 1, where Representative John Olver serves. His district could be merged with neighboring District 2, which had more than double the growth and is represented by Richard E. Neal, the former mayor of Springfield.
But Olver sits on the House Appropriations Committee, while Neal is near the top on the House Ways and Means Committee. Forcing them to run off would inevitably hurt the state's political clout in one form or another.
The other two districts with the smallest growth Districts 6 and 10 are represented by John Tierney and William Keating, respectively.
One one level, it's a true pick-'em.
Tierney's wife just completed a jail sentence after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns for managing a banking account that collected more than $7 million in illegal gambling profits. The question lingers about how the congressman did not know about that. Keating, meanwhile, is a freshman lawmaker, with the least seniority in the delegation.
Yet Tierney represents a distinct geographical area, the North Shore, as does Keating, Cape Cod and the South Shore.
One school of thought has Tierney forced into a showdown with Representative Niki Tsongas, whose District 5 spans the neighboring Merrimack Valley and has repeatedly shown Republican tendencies. Tsongas, though, is the lone female in the delegation.
A competing school of thought has Keating forced into a runoff against Representative Barney Frank, a popular and veteran member whose District 4 stretches from Newton to Fall River. That would take some map-maneuvering, but Frank once noted that including Fall River in his current district recalls the Russians' quest for a warm-water port on the Black Sea.
It's currently hard to attach any political rationale to ousting any of the other congressmen, who have a blend of seniority, population centers, and political stature to retain a seat.
Last fall's Republican gubernatorial contender has made it clear this month he's moved on from his campaign, announcing his new job with a venture capital firm and his seat on the board of a local credit union.
Yet each could also signal he hasn't left politics behind.
Both positions will put him in proximity to small- and mid-sized businesses and job creation, a far cry from the corporate health insurance post that Governor Deval Patrick used to portray him as lacking the common touch during the 2010 campaign.
Give Baker a couple years to rebound from the more than $2 million in salary he gave up while running for governor and he'd be positioned to consider another run for the Corner Office or the US Senate.
Another sign Baker hasn't left Patrick or politics behind?
He just sent his supporters an email seeking contributions for The Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund and a tribute to Tom Kelley.
Kelley served as secretary of Veterans Affairs under both Republican and Democratic governors before Patrick, having just won re-election in November, told the Medal of Honor winner his services were no longer needed. Kelley was replaced by Coleman Nee, a Gulf War veteran the governor argued may be better attuned to the needs of more recent veterans.
"Many of us were disappointed that Tom left state service without any kind of gathering to celebrate his 40 years of service, so we decided to hold a party in his honor on his birthday, Friday, May 13th," Baker wrote in his none-too-subtle tweak to his former rival.
Net proceeds, he explained, would go to the Legacy Fund, which raises money to pay for college scholarships for the children of Massachusetts servicemen and women who have lost their lives fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq."
"Tom is a great American and a good man," Baker told his past and possibly future supporters.
The governor coldly dismissed Bernard Cohen as state transportation secretary, then backtracked on 2006 campaign criticism of the "Big Dig culture" by hiring Jim Aloisi as his replacement.
He finally seemed to hit the mark by hiring Mullan to oversee the state's road, rail, port, and aviation systems.
Mullan is part of the team that has been charged with implementing a massive transportation consolidation law, which eliminated the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority as a free-standing entity and aimed to eliminate duplication by folding a lot of transportation back-office functions into the singular MassDOT.
From aging bridges to pothole-filled roads, from commuter-rail trains that don't come on time or T subway trains that dash through a flaming railbed like a circus tiger jumping through a burning hoop, the exposure to criticism for any transportation chief is immense.
For the most part, Mullan has handled it with aplomb. His admitted and biggest mistake? This month's botched explanation about how he and his department responded after a 110-pound light fixture fell off the ceiling of a Big Dig tunnel ceiling.
First, Mullan said he had kept Patrick in the dark because he wanted to inspect the other 23,000 fixtures in the Big Dig tunnel before telling the governor about the scope of the problem and his proposed remedy.
The governor was upset with that decision, and some in the public asked what responsibility Mullan would have had if another light fell and landed on some unsuspecting driver.
Then, the Globe reported yesterday that Mullan's staff actually hadn't told him about the light falling until shortly before he told the governor. He said he wasn't lying the first time around, just speaking in the collective "we" as he outlined when his agency first learned of the problem, the steps it took to quantify the problem, and when he finally told the governor about it.
He pledged a full review of internal and external communications, with answers as early as today, but the whole episode sparked questions about whether Mullan should remain as transportation secretary.
Mullan may have blown the falling-light episode, but there's a lot to like about him as a public servant.
He's from here, having grown up in Worcester. He went to school here, at UMass-Amherst and Suffolk University Law School. He has worked here, having been a partner at the Boston law firm Foley Hoag LLP.
Perhaps most importantly, he has served the state, first in the Department of Public Works, then, after leaving his law firm, in a variety of transportation roles. On top of that, he still serves his hometown of Milton in one of local government's most thankless roles, as a member of the Board of Appeals.
When the dust settled, the story about how he learned about the falling light also was instructive: Mullan, driving through the Big Dig, wondered why engineers were up on a lift, inspecting light fixtures.
His follow-up question led to an unsettling answer and admittedly lousy communication, but that runs counter to a professionalism, plainspokeness, and selflessness that's long been on display to those who closely follow state government in general and transportation matters in particular.
Likely Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is trying to put the pieces in place so he can achieve a resounding victory in the so-called first primary: fundraising.
The former Massachusetts governor has been traveling the country he was at the Harvard Club in New York today to sign up key donors for his emerging campaign. Donors are pledging to raise at least $25,000 and up to $100,000 or more in order to help him make an emphatic statement to rivals and voters alike well before the first primaries and caucuses.
“I don’t know how to underline more that I believe what will shine through is his undeniable heartfelt enthusiastic belief about the greatness of this country,” said Lewis Eisenberg, a prominent hedge fund manager who was the finance chairman for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and is now committed to Romney.
Romney’s supporters expect him to announce an exploratory committee sometime next month, which would kick off the aggressive fundraising campaign. A Romney aide said his finance team is using a figure of at least $50 million to describe the minimum amount they believe it will take to win the GOP nomination.
Most candidates, including Romney, have been dancing around the idea of running for president, but within weeks several candidates are likely to take more formal steps. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty filed paperwork earlier this week to establish an exploratory committee, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia said he soon intends to do the same.
Others have been more coy about their plans, and have suggested they would wait until the summer to make their decisions. But if Romney forms an exploratory committee next month allowing him to start raising money for his campaign it could force other candidates to jump into the race in order to compete with his fundraising.
The warning bell will go off on April 1, the start of the second quarter.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
Newt Gingrich's consideration of forming a presidential exploratory committee and Tim Pawlenty's decision to actually take the plunge and form an exploratory committee himself signal that again, and soon, the nation's attention will return to that seminal rung of politics.
Of course, it's the presidential contest.
But as anyone who has observed politics from the bottom-up will tell you, local politics is where the real action is at.
Nowhere are the candidates as raw, or so directly in contact with voters, as they are in the cities and towns that dot the United States.
The late Paul Tsongas, who rose to US senator from Massachusetts and 1992 Democratic presidential contender, used to say, "Everything I needed to know in politics, I learned on the Lowell City Council."
While presidential candidates are surrounded with advisers, guided by polls, and protected from reporters by velvet ropes, eager aides, or Secret Service agents, most local pols have their phone number in the book and answer when you call, too.
That's the way it was until a year ago, when former Wrentham town assessor and selectman, former Massachusetts state representative, and former Massachusetts state senator Scott Brown got elected to the US Senate.
Now it's a little harder to get the Republican to pick up.
You can go from the Ipswich and Tewksbury board of selectmen to the Salem and Lowell city councils, from the Massachusetts State House to the US Capitol and a presidential campaign itself, and still find it hard to exceed the fun or feel of the local political scene.
And, for all the hype and hoopla that builds up the political ladder, not much changes beyond the number of zeroes in the budget, or the distance between the candidate and the voters.
Along the way, you'll likely encounter roughly four genres of politicians pervading the US system:
1. The good guy: Every political body (except, perhaps, some of the former leaders of Bell, Calif.) has one or two super-earnest members who try to do the right thing. Sober and direct, you can trust what they say, which explains why they are repeatedly re-elected.
2. The bomb-thrower: Every political body (including, it seems, some of the former members of the Detroit City Council) has one or two members who delight in attracting attention to themselves with brash, unvarnished speech. The meeting room is the stage, local cable the medium. They are true characters and stand for something anything which explains why they are repeatedly re-elected.
3. The media suck-up: Every political body has one or two members who feel that the best way to achieve their goals is to court the reporters who cover them. They're often willing to hand-off reports, suggest beers after a long meeting, or provide the inside dope on deadline not that there's anything wrong with most of those. They almost always have higher aspirations, which can be plainly apparent to voters, explaining why they are sometimes defeated.
4. The back-bencher: Every political body has one or two members who have no higher aspiration than their current office. They don't make waves or try to draw attention to themselves. It's not beyond them to go to Sunday Mass, shake hands on the way out, and then go back in so they can attend Mass again and shake more hands on the way out. They are often re-elected, until some upstart calls them out or they make an age-related gaffe, when they get tossed.
In one community north of Boston, Don Stewart is the prototypical local pol. He's seeking election next Tuesday as a town selectman.
He was born in town, literally, and now, at age 70, lives five doors down on the same street. He served as a selectman for 15 years before losing re-election in 2006.
On a main drag heading into town from a major highway, a supporter planted a big sign touting what passes for a platform in much of Americana: "Don Stewart cares about townies, seniors, veterans, self-employed & the disabled."
On the phone yesterday, Stewart laughed about the sign, particularly the use of the term "townie."
"There's not enough room to put down 'lifelong resident,' but it rubs some people the wrong way," said Stewart. "I asked him to take it down. If it offends one person, that's too much for me."
Stewart grew up in town and graduated from high school in 1958. While he was 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds at the time, he never played sports because he worked 40 hours a week at 50 cents an hour to help support his family. (Stewart made up for it by playing softball until he was 62.)
He segued to a mill job, before developing a house-painting business. His contact with the locals led to an additional 18-person janitorial service, which gave Stewart and his wife of 49 years enough money to send their son and daughter to college.
Along the way, though, the Stewarts opened up their home. To kids in the "A Better Chance" educational program. To battered women. And to 68 foster children over 30 years, including one who recently moved back after trouble in his own marriage.
"The one thing that's missing from that sign is 'kids,' because they've been a big part of my life," Stewart said.
Today, he is retired, at least from work. His 20-year stint as town Santa is behind him, as is his service on other local panels. He still goes to selectmen meetings just to watch, his institutional memory so valuable the current board often calls into the audience for Stewart to provide some missing historical context.
He ran for school committee in 2007 and lost a close race. He ran for selectman in 2009 and lost again, though narrowly.
Last year, he had prostate cancer, so he took a year off the campaign trail. This year, he's back to give it one more shot. Local politics, and public service, are part of his composition.
“I sit at home now and I got to have something to do. There’s no way I'm just sitting here, watching TV," he said.
Then, before hanging up, he didn't bother to say goodbye.
Embodying Tip O'Neill's maxim that "all politics is local," he encouraged participation, even if not for him.
“Make sure you get out to vote Tuesday," said Stewart.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
As Senator Scott Brown skewered leading Massachusetts Democrats with a joke-filled routine during a St. Patrick's Day political roast over the weekend, one of his top advisers delighted in a moment he helped script.
"Scott Brown at St. Patty's Day breakfast says he doesn't think John Kerry is an elitist ... and 'neither do his butlers,'" communications consultant Eric Fehrnstrom said via Twitter.
"Ha! Scott Brown says Southie parade only one where (House) speaker rides in a car for which previous speaker made the license plate," Fehrnstrom said in another of his series of tweets.
Yet as the crowd roared when Brown displayed a bipartisan flair, telling another joke that tweaked fellow Republican Mitt Romney for owning not one but three houses, Fehrnstrom's Twitter feed went silent.
No re-tweet of that dig at Fehrnstrom's original, and ongoing, boss. No basking in the glory enjoyed by his subsequent, and continued, boss.
The decision illustrates the challenge confronting Romney and Brown and some of the key men and women who have helped both reach their high stations in national politics.
Fehrnstrom and business partners Peter Flaherty and Beth Myers not only served Romney as governor of Massachusetts; they were top staffers for his unsuccessful campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
They then branched out on their own, formed the Massachusetts-based Shawmut Group, and directed Brown's upset win in the 2010 Massachusetts US Senate special election.
Now, the trio is assisting Romney as he plots a second presidential campaign and Brown as he seeks re-election to his first full Senate term.
The men's political fates could be decided the same day, Nov. 6, 2012, but the candidates and their advisers will face a challenge until then working in such close proximity to each other.
Romney was extraordinarily popular in Massachusetts when, in 2002, he returned from his successful leadership of the Olympic Winter Games and was elected governor. His star dimmed, though, as he began laying the groundwork for his presidential campaign with a move to the right, jokes before conservative audiences about his liberal homestate, and heavy out-of-state travel.
Such was his station that he was a virtual no-show for his running mate, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, as she ran to succeed him in the 2006 gubernatorial race.
Healey was happy to have it that way.
Romney also dropped out of sight during Brown's 2010 campaign, only to take the stage on election night after voters had already cast their ballots.
Brown was happy to have it that way, too.
Today, both men are complimentary but not necessarily complementary toward each other.
Brown declared early and often that Romney has his endorsement in the race for the GOP's 2012 presidential nomination. Romney has reciprocated, highlighting Brown's success as proof a strong Republican message can penetrate even the bluest of Democratic states.
Yet there is potential for future tensions.
First of all, there is time and focus for their mutual advisers. Romney will face a hydra-headed challenge for the nomination, confronted simultaneously by rivals such as Tim Pawlenty and Haley Barbour and Newt Gingrich. Or Sarah Palin.
That will occur this fall and next spring, well before Brown's re-election campaign begins (he almost assuredly won't face a Republican challenger for the GOP's Senate nomination). So far, so good.
But if Romney wins the nomination, and Democrats succeed in their effort to recruit a challenger to Brown, both of their campaigns will reach their peaks the following fall.
Who gets the Shawmut Group's best effort? Best commercial ideas? Debate prep? Political roast jokes?
Secondly, as Romney veers rightward nationally to win the nomination, while Brown moves to the center to win re-election in Massachusetts, conflicting views are inevitable. Each is his own man, but it's only natural for two people with similar political pedigrees to face questions about the other's policy views.
After all, if Romney and Brown were to win their campaigns, Brown would have to vote on Romney administration programs.
Currently, both men express similar views about Libya: They say US air strikes were justified because Moammar Khadafy was slaughtering his own countrymen.
Recently, though, they differed on the New START Treaty: Romney vehemently opposed the pact President Obama signed with Russia, while Brown voted for its ratification.
Both will also have to stage an artful dance as they call for repealing Obama's universal health care program, which was modeled after a 2006 Massachusetts bill that then-state Senator Brown voted for and then-Governor Romney signed into law.
Advisers argue that despite their shared party, geographical roots, and team of advisers, Romney and Brown are individual candidates with their own views. On some points they agree; on others, they don't.
You can also argue that Brown will benefit if Romney is at the top of the Massachusetts ballot come the fall of 2012, or, perhaps more likely, that Romney will benefit from being on the same ballot as a senator consistently polling as the most popular politician in Massachusetts.
And should Romney run, Fehrnstrom, Myers, and Flaherty are not expected to be paid staff members again but consultants. Fehrnstrom, for example, doesn't plan to be on Romney's plane again as traveling press secretary; rather, he intends to work from the home office and focus on message development and television commercials.
In Massachusetts, a relatively shallow Republican talent pool also doesn't give Brown many other options with Shawmut's breadth of local experience or national contacts.
Finally, Fehrnstrom and the other advisers note that they are hardly the only political consultants with more than one client. Their roster includes other politicians and businesses they prefer not to name.
"Our consulting business is not unlike other firms that have more than one client," said Fehrnstrom, readying himself for another Democratic tweak. "In this economy, we’re just thankful to have any clients at all."
Former Governor Mitt Romney is marking the first anniversary of President Obama's universal health care law by vowing to dismantle it state-by-state.
"If I were president, on Day One I would issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states," the would-be Republican presidential candidate said Tuesday night in a blog post for the "National Review."
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who announced Monday he was forming a presidential exploratory committee, released his own statement this morning saying he would support the law's repeal. While governor last year, he joined a lawsuit seeking to do just that.
"The law infringes on individuals' and states' rights by forcing individuals to purchase a good or service," he said. "If courts do not do so first, as president, I would support the immediate repeal of 'Obamacare' and replace it with market-based health care reforms."
Romney's statement used his most aggressive language yet regarding a potential presidential campaign. He insists publicly he has yet to decide whether to seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, yet nearly all of his actions for the past two years have been geared that way.
A formal kickoff is expected later this spring.
Romney presided over Massachusetts when, in 2006, it enacted the nation's first universal health care law. Now over 98 percent of state residents have private, government, or government-subsidized private coverage.
Last year, Obama signed a federal law modeled on the same principles, including a mandate that all residents obtain whatever coverage they can afford, as well as penalties for not doing so.
Romney said in his blog post that his executive order would direct the secretary of Health and Human Services and all relevant federal officials "to return the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design health-care solutions that work best for them."
The former governor argues states should be free to enact what Democrats have countered is "Romneycare."
He said in his statement: "As I have stated time and again, a one-size-fits-all national plan that raises taxes is simply not the answer. Under our federalist system, the states are 'laboratories of democracy.'"
Romney said his ultimate goal is to repeal the Obama program "and replace it with free-market reforms that promote competition and lower health-care costs."
Acknowledging such a repeal would take time, "an executive order is the first step in returning power to the states," he said.
The Menino administration is disputing US Census figures released today by Secretary of State William F. Galvin that purported to show that Boston lost population during the past decade.
Galvin released the figures this morning at a widely attended State House news conference, where the figures were immediately broadcast by reporters from a number of media outlets.
Moments later, Menino's office reached out to reporters, saying Galvin was mistaken about the Census numbers and that Boston had actually gained population, growing to 617,594 from 589,141, a 4.8 percent increase.
"We are confident that our population continues to grow," said Dot Joyce, a Menino spokeswoman. "Boston is a growing, vibrant city." Joyce said city officials are reviewing the new figures.
The official Census figures are due to be released this afternoon.
The data will be used to determine the shape of legislative districts, as well as to remap the congressional districts in Massachusetts.
Earlier figures already showed that the state would lose one of its 10 congressional districts.
Globe colleague Noah Bierman represented the Boston-area media today as he served as pool reporter for Vice President Joseph Biden's appearance at what Governor Deval Patrick termed a "friend-raiser" in the Hancock tower.
My preview story is here.
In his pool report, which the White House relayed to other reporters, Bierman said Biden addressed about 110 major Democratic donors on the building's 58th floor.
He also said the vice president spoke for 21 minutes, during which he tried to rally core financial supporters; recited administration accomplishments; and talked about the need to work with Republicans while repelling some policy goals he said would damage
the nation’s economic recovery and enlarge the deficit.
A storified version of the report's highlights:
“Thank you on behalf of Barack and myself for all the hard work you did," Biden told his Boston audience. "I would not be standing here. He would not be representing the United States of America in South America right now, were it not for the work of you folks in this room and probably another 1,000 like you all across America.”
He added: “It’s not just that we couldn’t have won without you. We will not be able to win
again without you.”
Biden also spoke about new Republican majority in US House of Representatives.
“The cuts that the Republicans are talking about would not only cripple the economy, but they would also enlarge the deficit," he said.
Biden said of the more conservative members elected recently, “They mix up the Tea Party that took place in Boston Harbor and the Tea Party they represent.”
But Biden also called it a “myth” that the White House cannot work with Republicans,
pointing to the 17-day lame duck session as more productive “than any time in
the last two years.”
Biden was introduced by Governor Deval Patrick, who is planning to serve as a surrogate campaigner for Obama and Biden in the coming campaign.
“We stopped the red tide here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and we have
many of you to thank for that," Patrick said.
Offering what what could be his own stump speech, Patrick said of Republicans: “They
have set as their goal, not how to make a better country, but to stop this
Among those spotted in the crowd were advertising executive Jack Connors, Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
The food included passed hors d'oeuvres of miniature beef “Wellington” and warm melted-brie tartlets.
Massachusetts Republicans are branding Newton Mayor Setti Warren as "not ready for primetime" after the potential US Senate candidate incorrectly labeled a potential colleague as dead.
During a weekend broadcast of WCVB-TV's "On the Record," Warren was asked to name the San Francisco mayor assassinated in 1978 along with city supervisor Harvey Milk.
"Dianne Feinstein," Warren said after a brief pause, providing the name of the future mayor.
Making the mistake all the worse is that Feinstein is a fellow Democrat who has served alongside Warren's former boss, John Kerry, in the US Senate since 1992.
Co-host Ed Harding laughed at the reply, prompting Warren to backtrack.
"Dianne Feinstein became mayor after, and then became US senator, after Harvey Milk was assassinated," Warren replied.
For the record, the mayor who was assassinated was George Moscone.
Even as it tweaked Warren in a press release, the Massachusetts Republican Party raised questions about its own readiness for the spotlight.
Both times the release incorrectly spelled Moscone's name as "Mascone."
WASHINGTON Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is taking the first formal step today toward a presidential run, putting him in front of the pack of potential candidates.
Pawlenty announced through a video posted on his Facebook page this afternoon that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee. The committee allows him to begin raising money for a presidential race, even while not technically being a formal candidate.
The video shows Pawlenty in St. Paul, Minn., dressed in a beige jacket that is strikingly familiar to the barn jacket Scott Brown wore to victory in Massachusetts (Brown’s was made by Golden Bear Sportswear; Pawlenty’s clearly has a Carhartt label).
The heavily produced video also shows Pawlenty shaking hands, posing for pictures, and skating on an ice rink.
“There is a brighter future for America,” he says at one point, with soaring music in the background. “We know what we need to do: grow jobs, limit govt spending, and tackle entitlements.”
“Today, I’m announcing the formation of an exploratory committee to run for president of the United States,” he says toward the end, as fighter planes blast through the sky and fireworks go off. “Join the team, and together we’ll restore America.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich previously declared he intends to form an exploratory committee at some future date, likely in May.
Pawlenty has already traveled to New Hampshire and hired aides to work on a campaign, but the committee step is the next available to candidates to earn free media coverage in advance of a pomp-filled formal announcement.
The announcement also reflects the new-media tools available to candidates, in how they choose to make major political news. Rather than staging a press conference or addressing supporters in a ballroom, Pawlenty is choosing to weigh in on the most popular social networking site.
“Be sure to visit my Facebook page today at 3 p.m. ET for a special message exclusive to Facebook supporters,” Pawlenty posted this morning on his Facebook page.
He sent a similar message out on his Twitter feed.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vice President Joseph Biden is visiting the Hancock tower in Boston this evening for a pair of events, including one that Governor Deval Patrick says is a "friend-raiser" ahead of the 2012 presidential election.
One of the two meetings is taking place in the personal offices of Jack Connors, the local advertising executive who has been spearheading the fundraising effort for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, according to a Connors assistant and a top local Democrat who saw the invitation.
"Massachusetts has been good to the Obama-Biden ticket, and was the last time around, and the administration has been good to Massachusetts, and the vice president is here to refresh those relationships and rally some of the organizers for the coming election," Patrick told reporters at the State House.
The trip is coming almost exactly two weeks after President Obama visited the city for a fundraiser on behalf of the committee charged with helping elect Democrats to the US House of Representatives.
The back-to-back visits underscore the party's emphasis on strengthening itself in the aftermath of the mid-term election, when the Democrats lost their House majority. Obama and Biden also are gearing up for what The Washington Post projected in December could be the first $1 billion presidential campaign.
Obama himself met last week with top donors in Washington, although he did not directly solicit contributions at that time.
Instead, the president told the group: "As 2012 unfolds, I expect that we’re going to have a lot of questions and there are going to be vigorous debates, but I don’t want us to lose sight of the huge opportunities we have to seize the moment and make sure that America is not just changed, but is changed for the better."
He added: "And my hope is that the same spirit that helped change this country in 2008, that that spirit is still in each and every one of you.”
Massachusetts was one of former President Bill Clinton's most reliable fund-raising states, but two area Democrats who helped him raise money Steve Grossman and Alan Solomont are now in different roles.
Grossman was elected state treasurer in November and just started his term in January; Solomont is serving as US ambassador to Spain and Andorra after an appointment from Obama himself.
"My understanding is it's a 'friend-raising' meeting getting ready for the 2012 elections," said Patrick.
Earlier in the day, Biden joined US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, US Senator Chris Coons, and other officials from his home state of Delaware to tour the Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington.
According to a pool report, "they visited a classroom of students who were learning about physical science."
Biden told reporters he is hopeful that Howard High School's turnaround plan will help students, saying that "part of it is believing in them and setting the bar high," the report said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who previously served as the first female speaker of the US House of Representatives, will deliver the inaugural Alan D. Solomont Lecture at Tufts University on April 8.
The California Democrat will reflect on her career and the importance of public service during a 2 p.m. address in the school's Cohen Auditorium, according to a university statement.
This lecture is part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.
It is intended to serve as a catalyst for active citizenship at Tufts and is the only university-wide program of its kind. Serving undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students, the goal is to prepare young people to be lifelong active citizens.
Pelosi's speech will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Alan D. Solomont, for whom the lectureship is named.
A prominent Democratic fundraiser and activist from Massachusetts, the former nursing home executive now serves as US ambassador to Spain and Andorra. He also is a member of Tufts' Class of 1970.
Dina Rudick/Globe Staff
The South Boston St. Patrick's Day political roast has long had the reputation as the preeminent place to hear political wit, but lately it's also veered toward a cross between "American Idol" and a politicians' gag slide show.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo showed yesterday and last week in an expletive-filled appearance in Salem he's among those who still get the drill. And so did Senator Scott Brown.
In a joked-filled routine, the Republican skewered both Democrats and the GOP alike, as well as himself.
Read my full story here.
In the first of two moments that triggered laughs but actually were full of meaning, Brown mentioned the state's traveling governor, Deval Patrick, and said of the Democrat: "Honestly, really, I’m so glad that the governor is here, because if he wasn’t here, he'd actually be out trying to recruit another candidate to run against me.”
At another point, as the crowd laughed at some of his tart criticism, Brown alluded to his coming re-election campaign as he said with a laugh himself: "I figured I might as well start. I’m going to get the you-know-what kicked out of me soon, so hey, why not?”
The 12-member Massachusetts congressional delegation, all Democrats except for Republican Senator Scott Brown, offered an array of positions today in reaction to the launch of US air strikes on Libya over the weekend.
Here are the comments they or their spokesperson made to the Globe or, in Kerry's case, as well as on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Senator John Kerry, Democrat:
"Well, the goal of this mission ... is not to get rid of (Libyan leader Moammar) Khadafy, and that's not what the United Nations licensed. And I would not call it going to war. This is a very limited operation that is geared to save lives, and it was specifically targeted on a humanitarian basis. It is not geared to try to get rid of Khadafy. He has not been targeted. That is not what is happening here. So, in my judgment, we have to see where we go from here."
In an interview with the Globe, Kerry added: "I believe very, very deeply that America's strategic interests and our values require us to support people's aspirations. ...I think you have to have some faith in what the possibilities of diversity and pluralism can produce."
Senator Scott Brown, Republican:
"I support the administration's involvement at this point. Obviously, it gets to a point where you have to draw a line in the sand, and when innocent civilians are being killed, it's important for the world community to step forward, and we're doing it in a coalition manner, and I'm supportive of that."
Representative John Olver, Democrat, 1st District:
A spokeswoman said "he supports the steps the president, the UN, our European allies, and the Arab League are taking."
Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat, 2nd District:
"I welcome the passage this week of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 implementing a no-fly zone over parts of Libya. I also support the establishment of an international coalition, working together with the Arab League, to prevent further atrocities from happening in flashpoints like Benghazi. It is clear that Colonel Khadafy and his regime were not going to stop the campaign of terror and violence against their own people. For the safety of innocent civilians, and to encourage the pro-democracy movements across the Middle East, I support the actions of the international coalition."
Representative James McGovern, Democrat, 3rd District:
"I just have this uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. . . None of us know who is really calling the shots in terms of the opposition. It's very dicey and very dangerous. I am hoping and praying for success. I am deeply worried."
Representative Barney Frank, Democrat, 4th District:
"If our role is limited to Tomahawk missiles from the ships, and the airplanes are French and British, I will support it. ...Our opposition is for America picking up the entire tab. The fact that you have such a multinational, multicultural support for this, I hope it is a new paradigm. "
Representative Niki Tsongas, Democrat, 5th District:
"I am concerned that our military action in Libya lacks a clear objective. It is critically important that our commitment there not extend beyond the scope of UN Resolution 1973 and under no circumstances should American ground troops be inserted into that country."
Representative John Tierney, Democrat, 6th District:
"These are the lingering questions: Why Libya? Why now? There are certainly other dictators acting badly toward the own citizens. And who is the opposition? If you're picking sides in a civil war you better know who you're siding with."
Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat, 7th District:
“The current government of Libya has lost all legitimacy. Left unchecked, Khadafy will commit unspeakable brutalities against his own people. ...The more nations involved in this multilateral effort, the more the people of Libya will know that the movement for democracy that is spreading throughout the Middle East has global support. We are watching a watershed moment not only in Libya but throughout the Middle East. History is on the side of these 21st century young, educated people who are calling for the end to this 20th century oil-fueled dictatorship. Seventy percent of Libya is young people, but they represent 100 percent of the future of the country. The message to Colonel Khadafy is clear: the entire world community is united in protecting the Libyan people. Libyans must be able to chart their own future, free from violence and intimidation.”
Representative Michael Capuano, Democrat, 8th District:
"So far, the only stated goal is to protect civilians, the civilian population, which is a laudable goal, but if that's the new measure of when military power's going to be put in play, well then I suspect we'll be going to the Congo and Sudan, Ivory Coast, Yemen, maybe Bahrain, very very soon, if that's the measure."
Representative Stephen Lynch, Democrat, 9th District:
"I was very troubled by the decision to use US forces and to do so without consulting with Congress. I don't believe that Libya presents a direct threat to the United States. Lacking those circumstances, I think it was incumbent upon the president to talk to Congress. We have got two wars going on right now. We are tremendously over-extended."
Representative William Keating, Democrat, 10th District:
"Since the humanitarian issues surrounding the non-engaged Libyan civilians have not been fully vetted to Congress, I'm forced to view this on a step-by-step basis. I feel strongly, however, that our involvement should not expand beyond that purpose."
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
12:33 p.m. - Senator Jack Hart closed by recognizing family members, as well as friends who organized the breakfast.
He also asked that guests keep the family of the late Middlesex Sheriff James DiPaola, who committed suicide in November, in their prayers.
Then Irish tenor Ronan Tynan closed with, "God Bless America."
He said it took on special meaning for him not as he sang it at Yankee Stadium, as he famously did for years, but when he did so for U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.
12:22 p.m. - Following a tradition from the Roman Catholic Mass, host Senator Jack Hart read a long list of those who are sick or recently died, asking that they be remembered.
The finale will be Irish tenor Ronan Tynan singing, "God Bless America."
12:16 p.m. - The step dancers, who include Senator Jack Hart's three daughters as well as his sister's triplets, are on stage as we near the even finale.
12:09 p.m. - The newly elected local state representative, Nick Collins, noted during his debut appearance at the roast that he was single and Senator Scott Brown's elder daughter, Ayla, was, too.
He asked Brown, who had already left for another St. Patrick's event, if Ayla was available for singing lessons.
12:05 p.m. - The first person to bring up Auditor Suzanne Bump's decision to claim a tax break on two residences simultaneously was Bump herself.
She said despite having a home in South Boston for the past eight years, her neighbors woke in October to read a story revealing they were her "principal" friends, not her "primary" ones.
That was the distinction Bump, an attorney, tried to make as she claimed the two breaks.
The rest of her routine suffered, as she held up posters too small for the audience to see, but Senator Jack Hart, the host, threw her a lifeline by crediting her effort.
"That's the first time out. I thought she was excellent," Hart said, urging applause from the crowd.
11:59 p.m. - The show is running through the scheduled ending time, but Treasurer Steve Grossman is now at the microphone.
His wife, Barbara, is joining him for a song. It's "There's Nothing Like a Dem," to the tune of, "There's Nothing Like a Dame,'' from the musical, "South Pacific."
Somewhere this show has turned into a local version of "American Idol."
Auditor Suzanne Bump also has her turn, and Irish step-dancers are making their way to the side stage.
11:48 a.m. - Irish tenor Ronan Tynan called Boston "truly a piece of Ireland," marking the end of the first year he's been in the city since decamping New York.
For his second song, he sung, "Grace," in honor of Grace Gifford, an Irish artist and cartoonist active in the movement to create an independent Irish republic.
11:42 a.m. - Irish tenor Ronan Tynan is absolutely rocking the house from the side stage with a rendition of, "The Fields of Athenry."
11:34 a.m. - Much to Governor Deval Patrick's chagrin, House Speaker Robert DeLeo just revealed he's taking another international trip next month: to Italy, to meet the parents of the man who married one of his daughters.
Patrick, who has been pummeled with criticism for spending time out of state, was surprised by such a public declaration and tried to say that nothing had been confirmed.
DeLeo didn't back off, but dug the hole deeper, telling the governor that first lady Diane Patrick had told DeLeo herself they were making the trip.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo took the stage. Technical difficulties digested my recap of his remarks.
11:23 a.m. - Auditor Suzanne Bump is in her "principal" residence this morning.
Or is it "primary?"
Whatever, the newly elected auditor is in South Boston for the breakfast. Clad in a solid green dress, she joined state Representative Michael Moran at the microphone to sing, "The Wild Rover."
Surprisingly, Bump has escaped criticism so far over claiming two tax breaks for her eastern and western Massachusetts residences.
11:21 a.m. - The Tommy Butler tribute is ending with the singing of, "The Wild Rover."
11:16 a.m. - They're playing a video tribute to Southie's own Tommy Butler, a former Massport executive who died earlier this month.
He's also being remembered with mentions on lanyards distributed at the breakfast, and with a photo page on the inside cover of the program.
11:12 a.m. - Former host and current US Representative Stephen Lynch is at the microphone.
He joked that MIT scientists decided to test the Jeopardy-winning IBM supercomputer "Watson" against the math whiz in Massachusetts, Secretary of State William Galvin.
Lynch joked that Galvin, who is famously droll, tied with Watson, but the computer won "based on personality."
11:09 a.m. - Senate President Therese Murray proves that with the great success of oversized photos of Scott Brown in Cosmopolitan magazine last year, no turn on stage is complete without some blown-up prop.
She had mock posters for movies supposedly made in Massachusetts, including, "Home Alone," featuring Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.
11:06 a.m. - Senator Jack Hart introduces Senate President Therese Murray.
Murray says that while House Speaker Robert DeLeo slipped on ice and broke his ankle, "There's no truth to rumors I was out in front of his house that morning with a hose."
She quickly turns on Governor Deval Patrick, saying, "How can we miss you when you won't stay away."
She also gave him a traveling kit, with books by Senator Scott Brown, former Governor Mitt Romney and their fellow Republican, former President George W. Bush, "when you're just looking for an easy read."
11 a.m. - Add to Governor Deval Patrick's many talents: He can actually sing, hitting all the high notes in his song.
The governor made a point of getting on and off of the stage, even saying at several times that he was almost done.
10:54 a.m. - Governor Deval Patrick is introduced and joked, "Good to be back with all my cousins this morning."
Patrick himself made light of the reaction to his recent travels, saying Republicans criticize him for not being here to hear their criticisms, Democrats for not being here to distract from their own inaction, and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray for not staying away for longer.
"Seriously, I missed you when I was away," the governor told the crowd, before saying he had sung himself to sleep with a rendition of "Oh Danny Boy" he wanted to repeat despite it being a Scottish tune.
"Oh, Bobby Boy, the slots, the slots are calling," he started, targeting House Speaker Robert DeLeo, an advocate of slot machines at the state's four racetracks. "From Wonderland to down by Raynham way. Those racinos in love with which you're falling, while I am gov, won't see the light of day."
10:49 a.m. - Senator Scott Brown spreads his hits around, saying of his senior colleague, Senator John Kerry, "I don't think he's elitist and neither do his butlers."
Brown then hit House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who recently broke his ankle, and who also follows three speakers who, to put it kindly, had legal problems.
He joked that in riding in a car for the Southie St. Patrick's Day parade, DeLeo would have the unique of experience being in a vehicle where one of his predecessors actually made the license plates.
Brown concluded with a quip that he was having a book signing at the Kennedy library, "or as I like to call it, 'the people's library.'"
10:45 a.m. - Senator Scott Brown, who went to Tufts University with host Senator Jack Hart, takes the stage.
He starts with appreciation to veterans and those still serving everywhere, as well as the Japanese earthquake victims.
Brown jokes that Hart tricked him into coming by telling him the breakfast was a book-signing.
The senator said to Governor Deval Patrick, "Thanks for visiting. Are you here long?"
Brown also gave Patrick a cellphone pre-programmed with phone number of Fidelity Investments, including the U.S. country code for his next foreign trip.
Obviously, it was a jab at the company's decision to ship 1,100 jobs out of Massachusetts while Patrick was on his trade mission.
The governor said he was blind-sided by the announcement.
10:42 a.m. - The band just finished a rendition of "Charlie on the MTA" reworded as a tribute to Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the city's longest-serving leader.
"The Mayor Who Would Never Retire" was the key verse.
10:35 a.m. - Mayor Thomas M. Menino jokes about autobiographies by Senator Scott Brown and Governor Deval Patrick with a three-page book of his own: he was born (complete with a photo of Menino as an infant), became mayor, the end.
Menino also hit Patrick over his trade mission to the Middle East and the United Kingdom, asking to the effect of, "Whoever thought it was possible to bring pork back from Israel?"
The mayor sounded very raspy.
10:33 a.m. - Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino taking stage as video plays recalling his many injuries this year and to images of Lee Majors turning from astronaut to the "Six Million Dollar Man" in the famed 1970s show about a bionic man.
Rocky theme also played.
"The rumors of my ultimate demise have been greatly exaggerated," Menino says. "Sorry, all you wannabes."
10:32 a.m. - Senator Jack Hart starts with bad-winter jokes, saying it was so cold, "I saw a picture of Senator Scott Brown in Cosmopolitan with his clothes on."
10:19 a.m. - Commanding officer of the USS Ross, a Navy guided missile cruiser that came into Boston for parade weekend, led the Pledge of Allegiance, and now they're commemorating the 30th anniversary of construction of South Boston's Vietnam War memorial.
There were 25 from the neighborhood who died in the war.
Tom Lyons, who led the remembrance, left with six friends. Three died.
10:15 a.m. - The priest, the Rev. Joe White, just announced that Mary Fitzgerald Finneran, the mother of former House Speaker Thomas Finneran, died last night, as he recalled Tommy Butler and others who have recently passed away.
The news sent a murmur through the crowd.
10:14 a.m. - Even the priest, in his invocation, hits Governor Deval Patrick for his recent travels.
10:07 a.m. - Senator Jack Hart, the host, delivers first tweak to Governor Deval Patrick, welcoming him "home" from his "spring break" and "sporting a new tan."
Surely more travel jokes to follow.
10:04 a.m. - Senator Jack Hart takes the stage to, "If your Irish, Come into the Parlor."
Quick segue to, "Southie is my Hometown."
10:00 a.m. - The background music and clapping kick up as NECN goes on the air...
9:58 a.m. - The remembrance of Tommy Butler extends to the lanyards all breakfast officials are wearing. They read, "In memory of Tom Butler," with a heart symbolizing love.
9:52 a.m. - Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo are seated side-by-side three and four seats to the right of the podium.
Newly elected City Councilor Tito Jackson has also qualified for stage treatment.
9:47 a.m. - Advance word that Governor Deval Patrick will sing, "Oh Danny Boy" during his turn at the microphone, while Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray will do, "On the Road Again."
A reference to the governor's many travels?
9:43 a.m. - Breakfast is down: scrambled eggs, two sausage links, and corned beef hash. Coffee, orange juice, and soda bread on the table.
Treasurer Steve Grossman just walked across the stage and boasted he can sing.
Somehow, he feels like a prime candidate for a good roasting.
9:28 a.m. - Guests are asked to take their seats before any remainders are filled.
The type of event this is?
Even the two fire marshals and two nurses on hand to take care of everyone get introduced and are greeted with knowing applause from the crowd.
9:15 a.m. - Senator Scott Brown arrived about a half-hour ago and told the Globe and WBZ Radio he supports the US air strikes against Libya.
"Obviously, it gets to a point where you have to draw a line in the sand, and when innocent civilians are being killed, it's important for the world community to step forward, and we're doing it in a coalition manner, and I'm supportive of that," the Massachusetts Republican said.
See the full story here.
8:39 a.m. - Nice touch by Senator Jack Hart and other event organizers: Inside the cover of the program is a photo and tribute to Southie's own Thomas Butler, a Massport executive who died March 4.
"Never to be forgotten," it reads. "Rest in Peace, Tom."
8:25 a.m. - After organizers cleared the room for a photo of the set-up, the doors have opened and the guests are rushing for prime seats.
Those with yellow bracelets get to sit and enjoy corned beef and eggs; those with orange will have to stand and watch.
And, yes, the bar is open.
Outside the ballroom, in a quiet hallway, twin 19-year-old sisters Dylan and Olivia Mullen are warming up for their rendition of the National Anthem. They toured last year with tenor Ronan Tynan.
I'm live-blogging today from the annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day breakfast and political roast.
It's being held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, and formally begins at 10 a.m.
NECN is providing exclusive television coverage starting at that time. It will also stream a tape of the event at 1 p.m.
Governor Deval Patrick is hosting a fundraiser at his Milton home Sunday evening despite his insistence that he is leaving political office after completing his term in 2015.
The suggested donation for the event, which will have a St. Patrick's Day theme, is either $250 or $500, with a notation on the invitation that up to $5,500 can be contributed.
Patrick spokesman Steve Crawford said the fundraiser will help retire the governor's campaign debts and also benefit the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
Earlier this month, members of a Boston law firm hosted a similar event on Patrick's behalf.
The first $500 donated - the maximum allowable annual contribution for individuals under state law - went to the governor's campaign account.
The remaining $5,000 was allocated to the state party.
The notation on the invitation for the Sunday event is a disclaimer outlining how any large contribution would be allocated, Crawford said.
Patrick has repeatedly said that he will serve no longer than two terms as governor. The Democrat has also ruled out a potential challenge to US Senator Scott Brown when the Republican seeks re-election next year.
Nonetheless, he has ramped up his political activity since winning his second term in November.
He flew to Washington to meet with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, and to Chicago to meet with David Axelrod, who has served as a top political adviser to both Patrick and President Barack Obama.
In addition, he is forming a political action committee to pay bills he anticipates incurring over the next two years as he speaks to his fellow Democrats and acts as a surrogate campaigner for Obama.
He addressed Colorado Democrats earlier this month.
Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
NASHUA, N.H. Newt Gingrich is making his first trip of the year to this politically crucial state as the Georgia Republican gauges whether there’s enough of a calling for him to run for president.
The former House speaker is scheduled to start today at a St. Patrick’s Day charity breakfast in Nashua, an event where those at the podium are judged more by the quality of their jokes than their political policies.
The breakfast has been a must-attend event in the past, with featured speakers including Pat Buchanan and Mitt Romney.
Later in the day, Gingrich is attending a luncheon at the Boys and Girls Club in Salem, N.H., before finishing his mini-tour with a dinner in Manchester.
Gingrich announced earlier this month he was starting an exploratory phase in his presidential run, and this marks his first trip to New Hampshire since that announcement.
It could prove to be a vital trip for Gingrich’s decision in running for president, for the role New Hampshire would play in his campaign, and for the GOP elite here who are still looking for a candidate who can effectively challenge President Obama.
“Most of us have fond memories of him from 94,” said Charles Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a Concord-based conservative think tank. “The question for him is, can he transfer that sort of celebrity. He’s a great talking head on television or giving a speech, which is a slightly different skill set than being a candidate for president.”
Gingrich’s trip comes amid heightened activity in the Granite State as likely presidential candidates begin to test run their messages. Stumping in the state last week were former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, US Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, and former US Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is speaking tomorrow night at a dinner in Manchester.
Romney, who addressed state GOP activists earlier this month, is far and away the frontrunner in New Hampshire : and the state is vital to his hopes in becoming the Republican nominee.
Forty percent of likely GOP primary voters said they would vote for the former Massachusetts governor, according to a poll conducted last month by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. The only other candidate in double figures was Giuliani, with 10 percent. Only 6 percent said they would vote for Gingrich.
One hurdle for Gingrich: in the poll, 40 percent said they had an unfavorable view of him, a figure that was worse than every candidate except Sarah Palin (50 percent unfavorable) and Donald Trump (64 percent)
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASHINGTON — It’s the speculation US Senator John Kerry just can’t shake: Is he seeking to be the next secretary of state?
The conjecture grows more intense as the Massachusetts Democrat and chair of the Foreign Relations Committee has taken highly-public role in shaping US policy toward the political upheaval in the Middle East.
With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledging in a CNN interview that she would not serve another term if President Obama is reelected in 2012, could the stage be set for Kerry to take over? With his lengthy foreign policy experience, Kerry has long been considered by pundits a potential cabinet pick for Obama, whom Kerry strongly supported early in his presidential candidacy.
But does Kerry want to be secretary of state?
“No,” said the senator’s spokesperson, Whitney Smith, in a one-word answer by email.
Somehow that doesn't sound like the final word on the subject.
The process to redraw the state's legislative and congressional districts reaches the public arena today, when the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting holds its first meeting.
Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg of Amherst and Representative Michael J. Moran of Boston, the committee co-chairmen, will preside over the panel's first organizational meeting at 1 p.m.
The session will take place in Gardner Auditorium at the State House.
Afterward, the chairmen will unveil a redistricting website, as well as a schedule for their proposed public hearings.
The release of the US Census each decade triggers redistricting, since both legislative and congressional districts much reflect population apportionment.
Massachusetts lost residents during the past decade, so it is losing one congressional seat, going from 10 seats in the US House to nine. Those remaining districts much be expanded to accommodate.
Districts for both the state House and Senate must also be adjusted to accommodate population and demographic shifts.
The new districts must be establish for the 2012 elections.
It’s become a hot spot for politicians hawking books.
Tony Blair, Condoleezza Rice, and Jimmy Carter have all made appearances to promote their work. Now, it’s Governor Deval Patrick’s turn.
On April 12, the day his memoir is released, Patrick will be a guest on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, according to the show’s staff.
His star turn on the popular Comedy Central program is expected to be just one of several national television appearances he makes to promote his memoir, “A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life.”
His publisher, Broadway Books, has already confirmed that the governor has agreed to several speaking engagements to promote his work, including appearances at the National Press Club in Washington and the Harold Washington Library in Chicago.
NEWTON Former US Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who campaigned for Mitt Romney in 2008 but is now weighing his own bid for the Republican presidential nomination, today attacked Romney for signing Massachusetts’ universal health care law.
Calling himself a "consistent conservative," on social and economic issues, Santorum said both the 2006 Massachusetts law and President Obama’s recent overhaul of the national health care system would drive more people in to government-sponsored health plans.
“The issues, unfortunately, don’t line up particularly well for Governor Romney this time, particularly with health care being front and center on the stage,” Santorum said in an interview before he addressed a Roman Catholic group.
“I feel we need someone who is a strong, principled conservative who believes not in government mandates, not in government control of the health care system, but in a patient-centered approach to health care,” Santorum said.
Santorum added that both the state and federal laws "tend to drive employers out of the private sector plans because they’re expensive and more people end up on the government plan."
“Ultimately, it’s a failure," Santorum said.
Romney's spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, responded today by saying the Massachusetts law may not work for every state.
Massachusetts Democrats weighing a US Senate campaign next year against Republican Scott Brown are still acting coy publicly, but they're betraying themselves electronically.
Over the weekend, word broke about an e-mail showing a supporter of Newton Mayor Setti Warren was trying to stockpile talent for a campaign starting in late April.
Today, an e-mail surfaced showing local communications strategist Dorie Clark seeking a campaign press secretary.
"A Democratic US Senate campaign seeks a press secretary," Clark wrote in an e-mail dated March 11, dropping any question about whether her candidate would run. "The ideal candidate will have on-the-record experience with a federal or statewide campaign. The position in based in Boston, Mass."
She asked that resumes be sent to her company e-mail address.
The request is also being circulated on the "JobsthatareLEFT" Google chat group, which seeks positions for liberal Democratic workers moving between campaigns.
When Clark was contacted by the Globe, she refused to explain for whom she was working.
"No comment at this point, I'm afraid," she wrote.
Clark is based in Somerville, the same hometown as Representative Michael Capuano, a prospective candidate. When he ran in the primary preceding last year's US Senate special election, he relied on his own congressional staff namely spokeswoman Alison Mills for his campaign needs.
Meanwhile, Robert Massie of Somerville has also announced he's running for the Democratic nomination. His campaign manager sent out a press release today touting Massie's showing in a weekend straw conducted by the North Andover Democratic Town Committee.
Massie was first, with 30 of 74 votes, or about 41 percent. Driscoll, who joined Massie in attending the meeting, was second with 18. Capuano had 14; Representative Stephen Lynch had 4; City Year co-founder Alan Khazei and Representative Edward J. Markey had 3 apiece; and Warren and finance executive Robert Pozen each received no votes.
Massie's campaign manager, Matt Wilson, said the ad was not for their campaign.
Khazei supporters took the none-too-subtle step last week of filing papers with the IRS to create a Senate exploratory committee.
While he said the press secretary ad isn't his, another posting on "JobsthatareLEFT" sought campaign finance workers for his exploratory committee.
"Responsibilities include: traveling and working directly with the candidate, organizing and coordinating events, organizing and working directly with donors, compiling and analyzing data, and developing and implementing strategic finance plans," the post says.
It adds: "Applicants must have a strong desire to work in the intense environment of a political campaign."
Essdras M. Suarez/ Globe Staff
Somerville resident Robert Massie has already said he's going to seek the Democratic nomination to run against Senator Scott Brown next year, and this past week, backers of City Year co-founder Alan Khazei filed papers with the IRS to form a campaign exploratory committee on his behalf.
Meanwhile, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll continues to weigh the balance between work and family, questioning whether she can make the commitment to a campaign while both leading a city and serving as mother to three young children.
And then there is Newton Mayor Setti Warren, who is impersonating his former boss, Senator John Kerry, by preparing to campaign while saying he is not.
Back in 2001 and early 2002, Kerry said his only focus was on getting re-elected during the fall of 2002. That he made the comment during visits to Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early presidential-voting states prompted questions about the sincerity of the statement.
The senator ended up with a free pass in the 2002 election, propelling him into a 2004 presidential campaign that resulted in him becoming the Democratic presidential nominee but losing the election to the Republican incumbent, President George W. Bush.
Throughout that effort, Warren served as Kerry's trip director. He was in charge of keeping the trains running on time and making sure Kerry got to where he needed to be. After the campaign, Warren did a stint in Kerry's Boston office before heading overseas on a military deployment. In 2009, he won his his first campaign for elective office.
Now, after little more than a year as mayor of Newton, Warren is weighing a challenge to one of the hottest commodities in the US Senate, Brown himself.
Brown's surprise win the January 2010 special election to replace the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy has heartened longshots everywhere. That the lowest-ranking member of the minority party of the Massachusetts state Senate could suddenly become the make-or-break vote in the upper chamber of the US Congress is already the stuff of political legend.
Brown went from nobody to everyman in less than three weeks, riding a post-New Year's poll showing him running strong all the way to a victory on Jan. 19, 2010.
Guided by savvy advisers, he also stopped blowing money when he had ample advertising and it became clear he was going to win, seeding a warchest for the true test: winning re-election to a full term in 2012. Brown now has over $7 million in the bank, and the book tour to promote his new autobiography, "Against All Odds," is being used to introduce him to potential Republican backers across the country.
The recent video showing him hitting up billionaire David Koch for a donation belied Brown's claims that he won't be politicking until next year. As he told Koch on the hidden-camera video, "I'm in cycle right now. We're already banging away."
By some estimates, Brown may spend $25 million on his campaign.
Last month, Governor Deval Patrick revealed Warren was more than considering a race, saying the mayor was "in, for sure," along with Khazei.
That forced Warren to at least acknowledge he was considering a race, but also to temper any actual commitment to running. Last week, the dance continued, as he showed up for President Obama's speech at TechBoston Academy, only to bob-and-weave afterward about whether Obama had asked him to challenge Brown.
He ultimately said they discussed a race, but the president did not ask him to run. Then, two days later, Warren renewed speculation by using his very public Twitter account to criticize one of Brown's Senate votes.
Over the weekend, Gintautas Dumcius of the Dorchester Reporter had an intriguing story saying a political consultant had sent an e-mail saying she may be staffing a Warren campaign by the end of April.
On one level, it's hard to envision Warren having much of a shot against the Brown juggernaut. Warren is barely 40 and has only one year in office to his credit. Brown is over 50 and served in Wrentham town government before working his way up to the state House of Representatives and state Senate.
While members of the Tea Party lament Brown's move to the middle, there are plenty of Republicans nationally who love the idea that their party holds Ted Kennedy's former seat. They show their affection with donations to Brown.
A poll just released by Western New England College found 52 percent of respondents felt Brown should be re-elected. It also showed him leading Warren head-to-head by a margin of 51 percent to 34 percent, as well as over another potential challenger, Representative Michael Capuano, by 51 percent to 38 percent.
(The telephone survey of 472 registered voters, conducted March 6-10, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.)
Yet on another level, Warren's backers see a potent challenger.
Warren has proven an adept campaigner at multiple levels, winning election as class president at Newton North High School as well as his alma mater, Boston College. He has worked in federal office as both a Senate staffer and the New England director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
While Brown touts his service as a JAG officer in the Massachusetts National Guard, Warren can match it with his tenure an an intelligence officer in the US Navy Reserve. And when it comes to deployments, Warren can do one better: He did a year deployment in Iraq, a US combat zone, while Brown has not.
And though they don't publicly state it, Kerry, Patrick, and other Warren supporters make note of a simple fact: Warren is an African-American.
There currently are none in the US Senate. It's an omission they believe Massachusetts Democrats may want to address.
LEBANON, N.H. – Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty strongly opposes requiring citizens to buy health insurance, which is a core aspect of both the Democrats’ federal coverage law and the Massachusetts healthcare program signed by former Governor Mitt Romney.
But ask Pawlenty whether he specifically opposes the so-called "individual mandate’’ in Massachusetts, or if he thinks it was a mistake for Romney to adopt it, and he balks. He said he would rather not answer than generate more controversy within the possible GOP presidential primary field.
In that respect, he is different than Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour, potential Republican candidates who have openly and specifically criticized "RomneyCare.’’
"Every time you see me you ask me some variation of these questions, trying to get me to contrast with Massachusetts, and I’ll just tell you what I did and what I believe and leave the analyzing to somebody else,’’ he told reporters today after discussing health reform with a group of doctors at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
"What happens is, if I comment about it, then you go back and write that Pawlenty bashes Massachuseetts, and there is tension between Pawlenty and Mitt, and I’m just not going to do that.’’
Pawlenty does have some specific ideas about overhauling the health care system.
He wants to change Medicaid into a block grant program for states, so they can spend the money however then want, as long as it is on healthcare delivery. He believes having federal standards for health plans is an excessive intrusion on the ability of states to innovate. In Medicare, he wants to offer more options like health savings accounts and Medicare HMOs.
Overall, Pawlenty maintains that he is a big believer in the power of quality and price transparency to create a market where consumers make choices and drive down costs through the power of free enterprise. He added that technology and greater efforts to combat waste and fraud will also drive down costs. The individual mandate – even though insurance companies say it is needed to expand the insurance pool to more healthy people and thereby hold down premiums – is an unprecedented "overreach’’ by government.
Some doctors at the noon forum today challenged Pawlenty, saying he was not offering sufficiently detailed alternatives to Medicare or ObamaCare, and that healthcare is too important a service to allow consumers to be subjected to the whims of the markets.
But Pawlenty said he has a different philosophy, built on giving information to patients and families and letting free markets do the rest.
"If they need financial help, then give it to them,’’ he said, "but let them make the choice and empower them rather than have a big government bureaucracy do it.’’
The state of Massachusetts is making sure former Governor Mitt Romney can't run away from the universal health care program he signed into law, and his opponents can't misrepresent it.
The Health Connector and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, which are charged with implementing the 2006 legislation, sent out an e-mail Friday containing a Top 10 list of facts about the measure.
One specifically describes the law Romney enacted as the model for the federal universal health care program signed into law by President Obama last year.
It has become the subject of national debate, as Republicans have derided what they term "Obamacare," while Democrats have noted it was modeled on "Romneycare."
The connection is particularly sensitive for Romney, a prospective 2012 GOP presidential candidate, since conservatives whose support he will need in his party's primaries have generally opposed both laws.
Romney has tried to rebuff the criticism by arguing that states should be free to enact their own plans, not be subjected to a single measure imposed by the federal government.
Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat who is planning to be a surrogate campaigner during Obama's re-election campaign next year, has publicly highlighted the similarities in the measures. Now his administration is echoing the message.
"As much is being written about our landmark 2006 Massachusetts health reform legislation and implementation, we want to make sure you have all the pertinent facts at your disposal," Connector spokesman Dick Powers said in the e-mail.
The No. 6 point says flatly: "Massachusetts health reform provided the model for national reform. Like Massachusetts, the new national law calls for the formation of (health insurance) Exchanges. The Health Connector’s tiering system, which offers consumers a choice of gold, silver or bronze coverage, was also adopted in a slightly expanded way. Like Massachusetts,the national law sets minimum coverage standards and will include benefits like elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions. A number of the benefits in the Massachusetts law are enhanced under national reform, most notably extension of subsidy assistance for individuals from 300 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, extension of federally-subsidized coverage to legal immigrants and extension of insurance protections to self-funded private coverage."
Item No. 7 also touches another hot-button topic: the requirement in the law Romney signed that provides tax penalties for residents who are capable of buying insurance but fail to do so.
"The individual mandate has worked fairly and effectively to expand coverage in Massachusetts," says the fact sheet. "Some 97 percent of the taxpayers are complying with new health reform filing requirements. Furthermore, the Health Connector’s appeals process, which rules on hardship exceptions, has been fair to taxpayers, with a 60-percent approval rate for those who follow through with an appeal."
Powers said the poster was produced in-house, at no additional cost to the taxpayers. The two photos used, he said, came from annual progress reports about the state law.
"It wasn't meant to tweak anyone," said Powers. "One of the frustrating things about
sitting here is watching people on both the left and the right twist information to suit their ideological agenda. With bloggers taking a more active role, it's amazing how quickly bad information can and does spread. This is just our attempt to get the facts out there so the media and eventually their readers and listeners will have the correct facts. With federal reform under the microscope and a presidential election on the horizon, it's logical to assume that more eyes will be cast on what we're doing here."
While other potential Republican presidential candidates tried to grab the spotlight this week with a series of insider announcements about new staff hires, Mitt Romney claimed substantive ground for himself with a wave of campaign donations and a potent Florida endorsement.
In a statement yesterday, Romney's Free and Strong America PAC announced he had sent out another wave of contributions to 45 Republicans in Congress.
All told, they received $93,000. That follows the $208,000 that Romney’s PAC has given to 90 US Senate and House Republicans since the start of the year.
“There are many important issues facing Congress and the nation," the former Massachusetts governor said in the statement. "By showing our support for Republican candidates who are fighting for conservative principles in Washington, we hope to influence the national debate on jobs, taxes, the economy, and the budget."
The statement came amid a week in which Romney visited Texas to meet with key financial and campaign backers, and then aimed to visit Florida to meet with Republican Governor Rick Scott. Romney had campaigned for him last fall.
Their meeting ended up cancelled because of flight delays for Romney, but he nonetheless received the endorsement of state Senator John Thrasher. The St. Augustine Republican is a former House speaker who most recently served as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.
“If Governor Romney decides to run for president in 2012, I will absolutely be supporting him and helping him in Florida,” Thrasher said an e-mail to Abel Harding, a columnist for The Florida Times-Union. “He would be a great GOP nominee.”
Due to population shifts, Florida will pick up two congressional seats and two Electoral College votes in the 2012 election. The state will also host the Republican National Convention, which is being held in Tampa.
MANCHESTER, N.H. – In Arizona recently, Tim Pawlenty courted a convention of Tea Party supporters with a passionate defense of constitutional freedoms. This week in Iowa, he wooed the religious right with a strident speech against abortion and gay marriage.
Tonight, the former Minnesota Governor presented another side of himself, to an appreciative gathering of Republican activists in New Hampshire. Meet Tim Pawlenty, the seasoned problem-solver, ready to tackle thorny issues and show America how to get things done.
``We’re not going to freak `em out. We’re going to show `em a positive and constructive way forward,’’ Pawlenty told a packed living room at the home of Ovide Lamontagne, a conservative Senate candidate who almost toppled the establishment Republican, Kelly Ayotte, in a primary last year.
Asked in a brief interview how all these sides fit together – the Tea Partier at the ramparts, the Christian warrior, and now the pragmatic chief executive – the likely presidential candidate said he wants to unify a splintered GOP.
``The conservative movement is a coalition,’’ Pawlenty said. ``I think we can pull the coalition together.’’
Pawlenty’s multi-dimensional approach seemed to go down reasonably well last night, although hardly anyone in the crowd of about 200, gathered around trays of barbecued meatballs and sipping wine, was ready to support a particular candidate in the would-be primary field.
Pawlenty mingled, posed for pictures, signed a few books, and soaked up positive vibes. He easily defused a sharp question about ethanol subsidies from Ray Shakir, of North Conway, who said government support for ethanol was not just a boondoggle, but also fouled the carburetor on his snow-blower.
Pawlenty’s face lit up.
Snow-blower, did you say?
``I’ve got a 15-year-old snow-blower from Sears,’’ Pawlenty parried. `` I blow the snow a lot in Minnesota.’’
Pawlenty’s wife, Mary, helpfully chimed: ``It’s 17-years-old, at least.’’
Pawlenty continued that coal and oil producers also get government assistance, and that any reductions in ethanol payments should be looked at in the entire context of energy subsidies.
In other remarks, Pawlenty boasted about how he stared down bus drivers in a union dispute and endured a 44-day bus strike. On Libya, he told the group: ``If there’s a plausible way to implement a no-fly zone, we should.’’
On the Capitol Hill budget crisis, he said a government shutdown could shock Washington into fiscal responsibility.
``Sometimes if you’re going to get something done, you’ve got to take a dramatic step,’’ he told the Globe. He noted that Minnesota experienced a nine-day state government shutdown on his watch. Media reports have said he opposed the 2005 shutdown before it occurred.
Pawlenty and the rest of the possible GOP pack are far behind former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in New Hampshire polls. The latest University of New Hampshire/WMUR/Granite State poll, taken in February, put Romney at 40 percent, Rudy Giuliani at 10 percent, and Pawlenty and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee both at 7 percent.
Rick LeVasseur, chairman of the Hudson Republican Town Committee and one of the curious Republicans who turned out to see Pawlenty, said Pawlenty failed to get his conservative juices flowing. (This despite a photo of a hand-painted sign on the potential candidate’s web site: ``Tea-Paw.’’)
But Pawlenty should take heart. LeVasseur said no one else in the potential lineup is conservative enough for him, either. He favors Sarah Palin and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
``Neither are in the field right now,’’ LeVasseur said, ``but give it time.’’
During a career that has now spanned over 25 years, I've had a chance to meet and even work with several great and legendary political journalists, including R.W. "Johnny" Apple Jr. of The New York Times; Curtis Wilkie, Robert Healy, David Shribman, and Walter V. Robinson of The Boston Globe; Mary McGrory and David S. Broder of The Washington Post; and Walter R. Mears of The Associated Press.
The last two intersected in an infamous way, during the 1964 presidential campaign, when a group of reporters got to drinking before a late-evening Barry Goldwater speech.
Broder thought Mears had a few too many, so, ever the courtly mid-westerner, he decided to leave Mears a copy of his own story. His aim was to nudge his colleague along for early East Coast deadlines.
Instead, Mears banged out his own story, returned Broder's to him, and said in response, "David, I can write better drunk than you can sober."
But with Broder's death Wednesday at age 81, it's not journalism so much that prompted me to sit back down at my laptop after a long day in a new job.
It was to reflect on the uncommon decency displayed by a veteran worker for a newcomer in their shared profession. It's a lesson for everyone in every industry, and especially for me as I make the turn from the front- to back-nine of my career.
I can't believe I just wrote those words.
I graduated in 1985 from a small Wisconsin college, Lawrence University, and set out to build a career for myself in journalism. Having a father who was a stock broker and a mother who was a real estate agent, I had no real "in" with the profession, so I worked my way up the ladder.
My first full-time job was at the City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary news institution that spawned such legendary writers as novelist Kurt Vonnegut, columnist Mike Royko, and investigative reporter Seymour Hersh still going to this day.
I later moved from The Salem Evening News to The Sun of Lowell, where, in November 1990, I read a story in the Boston Sunday Globe recapping Broder's speech at Colby College. He had just received an honorary doctorate of laws and the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award.
I had long admired Broder and his reporting on and analysis of national politics, so much so that I subscribed to the Post's then-national weekly edition. It contained the best of the newspaper's stories from the prior week, as well as the columns of writers such as Broder.
"I realized that I have continuously looked to you for compass headings in my quest to be the most ethical and accurate newspaper reporter possible," I wrote in a Nov. 18, 1990, letter to Broder prompted by the story.
"For example, I have paid close attention to your warnings about crisscrossing the boundary between political insider and journalist," I added.
Noting how Broder encouraged all reporters to spend more time speaking with voters than campaign consultants, I felt inspired to ask Broder if I could come to Washington, work for him, and learn at the knee of the master.
"If you ever need a researcher or cohort to assist in the preparation of your column and articles, I hope you would consider me for that position," I wrote.
I sent the letter off, not really expecting a reply, battle-hardened from the challenge of breaking into the industry just five years earlier.
Yet several weeks later, a wide postcard arrived in the mail.
When I flipped it over, it was embossed with the name, "David S. Broder," and emblazoned with the Post's logo.
In between, in hand-typed lettering, Broder responded: "Dear Glen Johnson."
He thanked me for my note, resume, and sample newsclippings, and promptly said there were no researcher openings at the Post. But then, he went further.
"Your work reads to me as if you are past that point," Broder wrote. "You show a lot of skill and confidence in your reporting and I hope you'll let it carry you to the goals you seek, not step back into a researcher role."
He signed off with an affectionate "Yours," and used a pen to write, "David Broder."
Months later, lightning struck. At the height of President George H.W. Bush's popularity following Operating Desert Storm, a former US senator from the hometown of my small newspaper, Lowell's own Paul Tsongas, announced improbably that he'd challenge the incumbent president for re-election in 1992.
The Sun remains a relatively small paper, but it had a big heart, especially for the local story, so, by then as the Lowell city political reporter, the editor sent me out on the trail.
I filled one suitcase with my clothes, the other with a "library" of news clippings, notebooks, batteries, and acoustic couplers for my Radio Shack computer, as well as a copy of The Almanac of American Politics. I was a one-man show, but I got to work in proximity to some of the great or rising young political reporters of the time: Dan Balz of the Post, Cathleen Decker and Ronald Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, Robin Toner and Richard Berke of The New York Times, and Wilkie himself.
I also was able to cross paths with Broder.
In April 1992, after Tsongas quit the race and "Comeback Kid" Bill Clinton was en route to the Democratic nomination and presidency, I wrote a thank-you note to Broder.
"I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed meeting you while I chased around Paul Tsongas for The Sun," I said.
By 1996, I was working for the AP in Boston and assigned to cover then-Governor William F. Weld's epic US Senate race against the Democratic incumbent, John Kerry. Clinton cruised to re-election against Bob Dole in a campaign that was largely a non-event.
By 2000, though, I had transferred to the AP's Washington bureau and landed a plum assignment covering the presidential campaign of then-Texas Governor George W. Bush in a wide-open race for the presidency. Mid-campaign, I joined the Globe, my hometown newspaper, and again ran into Broder on the trail.
Covering a presidential campaign is hard on everyone involved, from the candidate to the press corps to the legion of college kids who make everything work, from setting up events to unloading baggage from the charter jet.
I was amazed to see Broder, then 71, still schlepping along, listening to the candidate speeches, traipsing through Iowa and New Hampshire, and polishing gems gleaned from those voter conversations about which he always preached.
One day, in Florida as best I can remember it, I found myself trudging into a filing center behind none other than the Dean himself, David S. Broder.
There were plenty of tables at which to sit, but for a still-young political journalist, there was only one place to be.
I took the seat next to Broder.
We had chatted earlier in the trip, but as we sat next to each other and worked on our stories, he for the Post, me for the Globe, I recalled the history of our interaction, from my time in his native Chicago at the City News Bureau; to the days at The Sun as I chased after him and the other Boys on the Bus; to the present, when we together watched an election whose conclusion neither of us could have imagined at that moment.
I also remembered that everywhere I went that campaign, I carried a camera in a case affixed to my belt.
Aware of the preciousness of the moment, I pulled it out, passed it to anyone standing nearby, and asked them to take a picture of me and Broder.
Today, I remembered that picture, and flipped back through my Bush picture volume to find it.
The time-stamp on the back read, "2:49 p.m., Sept. 22, 2000."
At that moment, Broder was 71 and I was 37.
It was less than a year from Sept. 11, 2001, a day of infamy in American history, as well as the date on which Broder would mark his 72nd birthday.
It also was almost precisely a decade after I had written Broder that first letter, in which I sought to become his researcher and he pushed me to chase bigger goals, on my own.
Then, as now, another 10 years hence, I'm glad I followed his advice. And I have no doubt that in leaving this world, he'd hope that everyone follows his example as it comes time to send the next generation of workers on their way.
I'll always remember the night in 1994 I was at West Roxbury High School, covering a debate between the candidates for Suffolk County district attorney, and turned to see David Broder of The Washington Post sitting behind me, taking notes.
The dean of American political reporters who died earlier today at the age of 81 was in town for a debate the following night between Ted Kennedy and Mitt Romney, then locked in a memorable race for US Senate.
But in keeping with his great love of politics, when Broder read an interesting story about the local district attorney's race, he grabbed a notebook.
I introduced myself, and asked him what he was doing at such a minor-league event. He asked me how a black Republican like Ralph Martin could have any chance of winning a race in Suffolk County.
A week or so later, he wrote a column about black Republicans making inroads in local races, with Martin as the lead.
Broder, in fact, had a soft spot for high-spirited Massachusetts politics. He was known to appear at state conventions; he once explained to me that few states still have conventions like ours.
He thought they were fun, an opinion with which I've occasionally quibbled.
Broder had a deep belief in the wisdom of voters he was famous for pushing reporters to talk to fewer consultants and more voters and his longevity gave him a great sense of history.
After Mitt Romney won his party's gubernatorial nomination at the Republican State Convention in 2002, I asked the Dean to tell me about George Romney, Mitt's dad and the former governor of Michigan.
He obliged with an instant lecture on how the elder Romney, whom Broder considered a great governor, had transformed Michigan politics.
But I will remember most of all, was that, for him, Ralph Martin and Gerry Malone were just as interesting as Kennedy and Romney.
He was a reporter's reporter, and the legion who will miss him is vast.
The nation’s No. 1 basketball fan met the team the Boston area hopes will be the nation’s No. 1 NBA franchise this year.
When President Obama visited the Museum of Fine Arts for a fundraiser this evening, he had a private meeting with members of the Boston Celtics.
Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and coach Doc Rivers were among those who talked hoops with Obama, a southpaw who maintains an active game and has his own court in the White House backyard. A notable absence was center Shaquille O'Neal.
The meeting was organized by two of the team’s co-owners, Jonathan Lavine and Stephen Pagliuca. Lavine is a managing director at Bain Capital, and Pagliuca tried his hand at party politics when he ran in the Democratic primary for last year's Massachusetts US Senate special election.
Several team members turned out for one of his fundraisers, too.
Lavine and Pagliuca also arranged for the Celtics to mingle with the crowd at the fundraiser, which is expected to raise $1 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It’s the body charged with helping the Democrats regain the majority in the US House of Representatives in 2012.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Representative Steve Israel of New York, the committee’s chairman, and members of the Massachusetts House delegation were slated to attend, as well.
It’s something of a sports week for the president: not only is it conference championship week for NCAA teams, and “Selection Sunday” this weekend for teams entering the NCAA men’s basketball tourney, but Obama is also welcoming his hometown Chicago Blackhawks to the White House.
The squad won hockey's NHL Stanley Cup last year.
We used this live blog and tweets @globeglen to provide up-to-the-minute updates about President Obama's visit to TechBoston Academy in Dorchester.
4:06 p.m. - The president just wrapped up. No real rising close, no real oomph. But the kids are still thrilled he came.
4:04 p.m. - This has to be the most pastoral presidential event I have ever covered. Very sober atmosphere, very respectful crowd, very solemn president, despite his jokes.
4:02 p.m. - Obama concedes it will "cost money" to make changes he's proposed, but he immediately segues to budget cuts he has offered as means to support the education programs for which he wants to pay.
"We cannot cut back on job-creating investments, like education," he said. "There's nothing responsible about cutting back in our investment in these young people."
3:57 p.m. - Instead of pouring money "into a broken system," president says, Arne Duncan has launched "Race to the Top," which draws applause. Says if states show good programs, "we'll show you the money."
3:55 p.m. - Students answer with slow "y-e-e-s-s-s" when Obama asks if they come from tough neighborhoods. But then he notes their high achievement rates.
3:53 p.m. - Obama notes each student here gets laptop upon enrolling. They then have to take care of it, and use it to take core math and other classes, including forensic science. President jokes he's not even sure what that is.
3:50 p.m. - President laments USA falling to ninth in nations in terms of proportion with college degree. It used to be first.
3:47 p.m. - Cheer as president explains he came to TechBoston because "you are model of how it's done" for rest of country.
3:45 p.m. - Obama recalls time at Harvard Law and how Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard. Then he started a "modest" computer software company. When kids didn't laugh, president reminded them it was a joke. They laughed at that.
3:43 p.m. - Shriek from students as Obama takes stage.
3:39 p.m. - Melinda Gates says she and "Bill," as in Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, are happy they invested in school nearly a decade ago.
She is recalling excitement among students they just meant at knowing where they are going: to college.
3:37 p.m. - Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Melinda Gates are announced to stage. She is speaking first.
3:34 p.m. - They just announced "the event will begin momentarily."
3:28 p.m. - The president is running more than 15 minutes behind schedule, allowing the Boston city councilors in the room to work the crowd for votes.
Newton Mayor Setti Warren, a potential US Senate candidate, is also in the audience.
3:05 p.m. - Rotor noises above from a State Police helicopter signal the motorcade's arrival at TechBoston. The president was touring a classroom and meeting some students before speaking in the gym.
Former Boston newswoman Rehema Ellis is on-hand to live shots for MSNBC.
2:46 p.m. - There's a lull in the activities as the president tours the school and the audience waits in the gynmasium. It's a relatively small crowd in here, very controlled, unlike more rambunctious campaign events. Still, all the guests appear excited.
2:36 p.m. - HE must almost be here... presidential seal attached to "blue goose" armored presidential lectern.
2:34 p.m. - Two students just led Pledge of Allegiance and did heartfelt rendition of national anthem that left their classmates cheering. Then they hugged each other with ear-to-ear smiles. Nice start.
2:30 p.m. - TechBoston Academy JROTC color guard bringing in American flag.
2:23 p.m. - Inside TechBoston Academy, people being asked to take their seats. Behind podium, banner reads, "Winning the Future," the president's forward-looking slogan since State of the Union. Presidential seal, always a last-minute addition, still not affixed to podium.
President Obama today is following the lead of other Democrats who view Massachusetts as a campaign finance ATM, yet he's hoping the focus will instead be drawn to a high-profile visit he's making to a Boston school.
Joined by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and philanthropist Melinda Gates, the president will tour and then speak at TechBoston Academy in Dorchester. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided some of the funding to found the school in September 2002.
Obama will echo his State of the Union speech, as well as a visit he made last week to a rebounding Florida school, as he argues government, businesses, philanthropists, educators, and local communities have to jointly promote innovative education strategies that prepare American students to in his vernacular "win the future."
“There is no better economic policy than one that produces more graduates," said an excerpt of Obama's prepared text. “That’s why reforming education is the responsibility of every American every parent, every teacher, every business leader, every public official, and every student.”
Obama's 2012 budget calls for $90 million in funding for the creation of a new grant competition called the "Advanced Research Projects Agency Education" (ARPA-ED).
Groups would compete to create breakthroughs in using technology to empower learning and teaching.
The budget also calls for extending the "Investing in Innovation" (i3) program with a $300 million competition with a priority for projects in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Despite being considered hospitable Democratic territory, the president was being greeted by a protest organized by some of his fellow Democrats.
Former Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II, along with current Representatives Edward J. Markey, Michael Capuano, and James McGovern, called a news conference to protest the administration's proposed cut in the LIHEAP program.
It provides assistance to people who cannot afford their heating bills.
LIHEAP currently receives $5.1 billion under the federal budget; the president has proposed cutting it by $2.5 billion.
After the events at TechBoston Academy, Obama was traveling across town to the newly refurbished Museum of Fine Arts for the fundraiser.
In an e-mail soliciting contributions, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi labeled the gathering as "an unforgettable evening with President Obama and leading Democrats from across America."
She added: "It is critical that we show the world how strongly we support President Obama's bold vision to encourage innovation and invest in America's future."
One of Obama's prime boosters in the area, Governor Deval Patrick, is missing the events because he is in Israel at the outset of a trade mission.
He and Obama share the same political advisers, and Patrick is gearing up to serve as a surrogate speaker for the president's re-election campaign next year.
During a weekend speech to New Hampshire Republicans, Mitt Romney delivered what will likely be his most durable rejoinder to critics of the universal health care program he signed into law while governor of Massachusetts.
Still remaining, though, is a lingering, fundamental question about his authenticity that has only been perpetuated by recent appearances.
You could argue that how well he answers that core concern, not just addresses a single issue, will determine whether he wins the GOP's presidential nomination next year and has a shot at being elected president in 2012.
In a speech to Carroll County Republicans, Romney did not run or shy away from the health insurance law he signed with great fanfare in April 2006.
"Our experiment wasn't perfect. Some things worked; some things didn't. Some things, I'd change,'' Romney said, as AP National Political Writer Liz Sidoti put it, he addressed an "obvious political vulnerability" against critics who complain the state plan paved the way for "Obamacare."
Mea culpa complete, Romney then outlined his rejoinder.
"But one thing I would never do is usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover," he said.
Romney argues Massachusetts had a unique health insurance situation, with a unique financial backdrop, and a unique path for addressing it. Adhering to the federalist principle underpinning the Constitution, the Harvard Law School graduate argues, such power should be reserved for the states.
Imposing a federal solution through a nationwide plan, the logic goes, undercuts states' rights.
The argument allows Romney not to run from the Massachusetts plan even as he distances himself from the federal one modeled after it.
"I would repeal Obamacare," he told his audience in the lead-presidential primary state. "My experience has taught me that the states are the place where health care programs for the uninsured should be crafted, just as the Constitution provides. Obamacare is bad law constitutionally, it’s bad policy, it’s bad for American families. And that’s one reason why President Obama will be a one-term president.”
Of course, that argument does not address conservative concerns about the government mandate to obtain health insurance and accompanying penalties for failing to do so that drive the Massachusetts plan (and were replicated in the federal law). Nor does it address cost growth and tangential challenges such as increased waits for primary care doctors that have occurred in Massachusetts.
Nonetheless, there is logic to the rebuttal, unlike some of the more emotional responses he has offered.
During his 2008 presidential campaign, Romney largely tried to ignore what may have been his more far-reaching accomplishment as governor.
In 2009 and 2010, he cast about for different responses as he positioned himself for a second run. He earned condemnation on the right when he said the Massachusetts program was the "ultimate conservative plan" because it required individual responsibility. He was criticized by the left when he blamed state Democrats for altering the plan by overriding eight vetoes he made the day he signed the bill into law.
A year ago, he also sounded resigned as the attacks piled up.
"You do what you think is right, and if people decide that that's not something they're happy with, so be it," he said after an audience member upbraided him over the subject during an appearance in Chicago.
This year, as he stands on the cusp of a second White House bid, Romney has been forced anew to respond. Not only are potential Republican presidential rivals such as Haley Barbour and Tim Pawlenty criticizing him, but so is a rising star like Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, as well as Obama himself, whom the Democrats will offer as their 2012 candidate.
The response came in the form of a meaty paragraph inserted into an otherwise broad attack on the president's handling of domestic policy and foreign affairs.
"The federal government isn’t the answer for running health care any more than it’s the answer for running Amtrak or the Post Office," Romney said as he concluded that section of his speech. "An economy run by the federal government doesn’t work for Europe, and it certainly would never, ever work here."
At the outset of his remarks, though, Romney offered fresh reason to doubt his authenticity as a political candidate.
After organizing a speech in the first presidential primary state, after flying up from a conservative economic cattle call in Florida, after driving up to a New Hampshire hotel on a driveway lined with "Romney for President" signs, Romney acted as if he were still undecided about another race.
Of course, some of that is political posturing, but then he triggered snickers by telling the crowd it wasn't so much him that was the driving force behind a second campaign as it was his wife, Ann.
Ann Romney is a strong and vivacious woman who has not only raised five sons but endured near-total separation from them as they spent two years apiece as Mormon missionaries. She still copes with debilitating multiple sclerosis, and had to fend off a case of breast cancer.
Yet it stretches belief to think that Ann Romney is the reason why:
*Mitt Romney was a loyal soldier to John McCain almost immediately after losing the 2008 GOP primary campaign, raising him money, campaigning ceaselessly, and offering himself as a vice presidential running mate.
*Mitt Romney formed and made himself "honorary chairman" of the Free and Strong America PAC in 2009 and used the so-called leadership PAC to sprinkle campaign cash on candidates across the country.
*Mitt Romney sat in their oceanfront home in La Jolla, Calif., writing a book, "No Apology," and then in a dim studio to personally read aloud each page for an audiobooks version.
*Mitt Romney has retained the core team of political advisers from his 2008 White House race and meets regularly with them at an office park in Lexington.
*Mitt Romney has undertaken a aggressive travel schedule both last year and this, including stops last week alone in Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and New Hampshire. This coming week, he's off to Texas and another visit to Florida.
The comment recalls the moment in 2006 when Romney signed the heath care law in Boston's Faneuil Hall.
Ceremony attendees climbed the building's steps to its historic second-floor meeting hall, where they were handed programs printed on mock parchment inscribed with mock quilled ink. Before them stood the permanent stage, which was festooned with banners and expanded with a platform. It was covered in an oriental rug and bearing a desk on which the bill would be signed into law.
The entire scene was professionally lit and the event was broadcast by professional sound technicians.
All of it also was controlled by Romney's staff, which to this day pays special attention to the theatrics of his appearances including kicking reporters out of the ballroom before Saturday night's speech so they could adjust the TelePrompTer and attend to other aesthetics in private.
The governor arrived that April day with great fanfare, climbed the steps himself, and when he entered the hall, appeared thunderstruck at the scene before him.
Wow, he said to reporters standing next to him. Who arranged all this, he asked.
The response: You did, through the team that surrounds you constantly and briefs you on every appearance.
But it wasn't just Saturday night's comment casting himself as a subservient being propelled to action.
Earlier in the week, as potential rival Newt Gingrich traveled to Georgia to reveal he was laying the groundwork for his own presidential exploratory committee, Romney himself decided to make a little news during his own visit to the state.
Following a path trodden by other politicians such as Gingrich and former President Carter, Romney decided to visit Tommy Thomas's barbershop in Atlanta.
“Just got a Trim at Tommy’s in Atlanta,” Romney wrote on his Twitter account, which also posted a photo of the visit.
It showed Romney with his trademark mane of perfectly coiffed, perfectly gelled hair and barely a speck of hair on the cloth around his neck or the smock across his chest.
When Globe colleague Matt Viser called Thomas to find out more about the visit, the barber told him he hardly touched Romney's hair.
“I gave him a super-light trim,” Thomas said. “He wanted to know what our concerns were, what everyone thought of what’s going on in Washington.”
The Tommy's trip came a couple weeks after Romney popped up in Florida at the Daytona 500.
Romney is a true auto buff, a Mustang owner who is the son of a former American Motors president and was raised in Michigan, home of the American auto industry.
That a potential presidential candidate would show up at the biggest NASCAR event of the year, or glad-hand among potential supporters, is hardly out of the norm.
Yet when photos surfaced of Romney working the crowd, he was wearing a "Bass Pro Shops" shirt as if he were a regular angler or race sponsor.
It recalled the moment during the 2008 campaign when he proclaimed himself "pretty much a lifelong hunter," only to have his spokesman struggle to go beyond two episodes of hunting in his life. Even the guns kept in Romney's Utah vacation home turned out to be owned by one of his sons.
Individually, such incidents will hardly bring down a presidential campaign. But cumulatively, they can erode its foundation. Just ask John Kerry, another Massachusetts politician who ran for president.
His 2004 presidential campaign was undermined by doubts about his own authenticity and political core, encapsulated in his infamous "I-voted-for-it-before-I-voted-against-it" comment about war funding.
Despite public opposition to the Iraq War, despite a faltering economy, despite in the eyes of most political analysts beating President Bush in their three prime-time campaign debates, Kerry lost the election.
Voters just did not connect with him in sufficient numbers to oust an incumbent a lot disliked.
In Romney's case, he has a commendable resume on which to campaign, rooted in a moral base highlighted by a 42-year marriage and a religious faith rooted in clean living.
He did well as a student, earning a law degree and masters in business at Harvard at the same time. He did better than well in business, providing seed money as a venture capitalist and making himself tens of millions for himself in the process. He then walked away from Bain Capital and deals that could have earned him tens of millions more to do a public service by volunteering to resurrect the financially troubled 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
Returning to Massachusetts, he helped reverse a budget shortfall and signed into law the nation's first universal health care law, all while eschewing a salary. Today, over 98 percent of state residents have insurance, and the plan has served as model for national legislation.
Over the weekend, Romney provided an answer for those asking how he could have done such a thing. Still to come is an answer for those asking why he does other things, and what they all say about him.
Check back tonight as I live-blog here at "Political Intelligence" and tweet @globeglen about Republican Mitt Romney's speech at the Carroll County Lincoln Day Dinner in Bartlett, N.H.
8:54 p.m. - Wireless outage at hotel delayed me in reporting antler sold for $1,050.
Auction ending, but crowd at Red Parka in North Conway, N.H., expected to grow shortly.
Thanks for reading. Come back to "Political Intelligence" on Monday morning for my analysis for Mitt Romney's message tonight.
8:35 p.m. - Speech concluded, the live auction is now beginning.
First item for bid is ... the moose antler.
8:31 p.m. - The would-be candidate gets thick of voice and choked up in chest as he begins delivery of patriotic conclusion to remarks.
8:21 p.m. - Romney, rebutting some critics, also addresses the universal health care law he signed while governor of Massachusetts. Some of his prospective rivals complain, as Obama himself even notes, that the state plan was the model for the federal law the president enacted last year.
"You may have noticed that the president and his people spend more time talking about me and Massachusetts health care than 'Entertainment Tonight' spends talking about Charlie Sheen," he said to laughter.
"Now, our approach next door was a state plan, intended to address state problems, in ways that were in many ways unique to Massachusetts. What we did was what the Constitution intended for states to do we were one of the laboratories of democracy," he added.
"Now, our experiment wasn’t perfect; some things worked, some didn’t, some things I’d change. One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover. I would repeal Obamacare.
"My experience has taught me that states are where health care programs for the uninsured should be crafted, just as the Constitution provides. Obamacare is bad law constitutionally, it’s bad policy, and it is bad for America’s families. And that’s one reason President Obama will be a one-term president," he said.
8:16 p.m. - The Republican says he likes President Obama, but he "doesn't have a clue how jobs are created."
In a bit of gender outreach, Romney adds: "He doesn’t know what goes through an entrepreneur’s mind when she borrows and scrapes to get the money to start a new company because he’s never done it himself."
8:11 p.m. - Romney says by delaying recession recovery, president has added to "Obama Misery Index."
It will only be addressed "with a new president of the United States."
Then he recapped his work as a turnaround artist, in business, at the Salt Lake Olympics, and as governor of Massachusetts.
Romney complains that Obama delegated economic recovery to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, while he pursued personal priorities like health care reform and cap-and-trade policy.
8:06 p.m. - Romney says he likes New Hampshire so much, he "may play a double-header" here, but the applause line falls strangely flat.
He's now getting into meat of anti-Obama attacks, saying president is unprepared to conduct foreign policy.
"Instead of leading the world, he's been tiptoeing behind the Europeans," Romney said.
8:03 p.m. - Someone looking suspiciously like a television commercial or campaign-announcement movie-maker was shooting video of Romney as he worked the room and, now, as the people are applauding.
7:59 p.m. - Mitt and Ann Romney introduced, and he sets to microphone. Immediately says the "Romney for President" signs lining the drive must have been old ones from the garage.
His wife, Ann, is speaking, saying she is the one encouraging him to think about running.
Recalling their 42 years together, she said he is a problem-solver and "actually quite selfless" as shown as a husband and father.
"I love him and I think he should really think about it," she said.
7:51 p.m. - Guinta told crowd of about 300 it was great to arrive in Washington as part of a Republican majority, but it can be even better.
"I cannot wait, I cannot wait, to be in Washington watching a Republican sworn in as president," he said.
7:48 p.m. - The speaking program has resumed with Representative Frank Guinta, former mayor of Manchester.
7:42 p.m. - I guessed wrong: Romney went for the pot roast and "cleaned the plate," crack staff assistant Will Ritter said.
7:37 p.m. - The dinner plates have just gone down. Some are getting glazed salmon. Some are getting chicken marsala. Others are getting Yankee pot roast, the smell of which dominates the air.
7:10 p.m. - The moose antler debate is resolved: Mitt Romney has signed it before the bidding has ended.
And to describe it as a mere moose antler is also to not do it justice; it is a moose antler bearing a painting of the Old Man of the Mountain and an autograph from Mitt Romney.
6:53 p.m. - The dining has commenced: again, the options are chicken marsala, glazed salmon, and Yankee pot roast.
My bet for Romney, who may spend the whole time shaking hands, is salmon. He's very careful about what he eats, and Zen a sushi place near the State House was a favorite haunt.
6:48 p.m. - Senator Kelly Ayotte is following party Chairman Jack Kimball at the microphone.
She says there is a battle in Washington between fiscal responsibility and "bigger government, bloated spending."
The senator complains that the spending freeze President Obama proposes would extend to only 12 percent of the budget.
"If we make a difference in 2012, ... we can make a difference across this country by passing things like a balanced-budget amendment,'' Ayotte said.
6:41p.m. - The most intriguing item in the silent auction to raise money for the Carroll County Republicans is a moose antler. The great debate is whether to have Romney sign it first to drive up bidding, or personalize it afterward for the winning bidder.
Two other auction items: a massage, and a hair cut.
New Hampshire's Republican senator, Kelly Ayotte, is also in attendance, but she has told reporters she has yet to endorse a candidate in the primary campaign.
6:36 p.m. - Mitt and Ann Romney have arrived, shaken hands around the room, and stood for the invocation.
The former governor is dressed casually, leaving the tie back in Massachusetts and appearing open-collared in a sport coat.
6:15 p.m. - Mitt Romney has yet to arrive in the ballroom.
Those Republicans who ridicule President Obama for speaking from a TelePrompTer won't take any solace from Romney: He's got one set up on the stage.
5:55 p.m. - The likely candidate is upstairs at a private reception, but the ballroom is filling up with guests and supporters.
Among those reporters joining Sue Page in making the trek from DC are Erin McPike of Real Clear Politics and Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times.
Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom has also arrived.
5:12 p.m. - My Globe colleague Matt Viser and I have made it to the Grand Summit Hotel overlooking Attitash Mountain. It was a nice drive up from Boston, but it was foggy with the warmer weather melting some of the abundant snow.
Outside, you could allay any thought about whether Romney has decided to run for president for a second time: The driveway was lined with "Romney for President" signs (see the photo above I snapped).
As usual, the AP's New Hampshire photographer Jim Cole was staked out at the front door, awaiting the candidate. Just inside were Romney supporters Jim Merrill and Tom Rath, as well as Sue Page of "USA Today."
A bit of a rough reception walking in the door, though. We went into the ballroom to set up our equipment and make sure the wireless connection was good and, well, to start live-blogging, when a Romney aide asked us to leave the ballroom.
Apparently, the Romney folks aren't letting the media in until 5:30 p.m.
Harkens back to the days of Romney's velvet ropes outside the governor's office in the Massachusetts State House.
Organizers say the doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the program begins at 6 p.m.
For those interested, the menu includes a choice of chicken marsala, glazed salmon, and Yankee pot roast.
This will be Romney's public first speech in the lead primary state this year, and the former Massachusetts governor will continue to lay the groundwork for a second White House campaign beginning this spring.
I've just posted a preview of the remarks here.
The trip also offers a chance for Romney and his staff to work the locals and the local scene.
Longtime spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom tweeted earlier today that he's planning to hike Tuckerman Ravine on the southeast face of Mt. Washington tomorrow if it doesn't rain.
Republican Mitt Romney defended the universal health care law he signed while governor of Massachusetts tonight even as he attacked President Obama over his own health care law, as well as his conduct of domestic policy and foreign affairs.
In his first speech of the year in the lead-primary state of New Hampshire, Romney said Obama didn't internalize the lessons he should have learned while campaigning in the state in 2008, so it's time for "a new president."
In remarks delivered at the Carroll County Lincoln Day Dinner in Bartlett, N.H., Romney said: "Senator Obama campaigned hard in New Hampshire but he apparently didn’t like what he saw. He certainly didn’t learn from it. Instead of lowering taxes, he raised them. He wrapped businesses in red tape, he grew government, he borrowed trillions of dollars, and he made it clear that he doesn’t like business people very much."
Romney says that has triggered a "deeper recession" that delayed the nation's economic recovery.
"The consequence is soaring numbers of Americans enduring unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies," said Romney, who closely followed a prepared text of his remarks by reading off a TelePrompTer. "This is the 'Obama Misery Index,' and it is at a record high. It’s going to take more than new rhetoric to put Americans back to work it’s going to take a new president."
The Democratic National Committee responded with a "Fact Check" rebutting many of Romney's claims. It cited Congressional Budget Office and media reports saying the administration's stimulus bill had added jobs, while pointing to different sources that criticized Romney's job creation record during the four years he was governor Massachusetts.
Factcheck.org wrote that Massachusetts gained only 1 percent in payroll jobs during that term, while the nation added 5.3 percent.
On the subject of health care, Romney took on critics some prospective White House rivals who complain that the state plan was the model for the federal law the president enacted last year. Obama himself has credited Romney for presaging his own plan.
"You may have noticed that the president and his people spend more time talking about me and Massachusetts health care than 'Entertainment Tonight' spends talking about Charlie Sheen," Romney said to laughter.
"Now, our approach next door was a state plan, intended to address state problems, in ways that were in many ways unique to Massachusetts. What we did was what the Constitution intended for states to do we were one of the laboratories of democracy," he added.
"Now, our experiment wasn’t perfect; some things worked, some didn’t, some things I’d change. One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover. I would repeal Obamacare.
"My experience has taught me that states are where health care programs for the uninsured should be crafted, just as the Constitution provides. Obamacare is bad law constitutionally, it’s bad policy, and it is bad for America’s families. And that’s one reason President Obama will be a one-term president," he said.
Romney has yet to formally declare if he will launch a follow-up to his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign, but his spokesman offered a fresh take on his timetable.
"I don't know precisely when Governor Romney will announce a decision about his future plans, but I feel confident that when he does it, they'll be playing baseball at Fenway Park and the snow will be gone and the sun will be shining warmer on our faces," said spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom.
The Boston Red Sox open their home baseball schedule on April 8 when they host the New York Yankees.
Romney, a former venture capitalist, has argued that the country needs someone with a business background as it rebounds from the Great Recession. In his remarks, he underscored the point.
"We need to stop penalizing companies that want to invest in America," he said. "Right now, we tax companies who make money overseas if they want to bring it home, but we don’t tax them if they keep their money abroad. That makes no sense at all. We want that money here, invested in new factories, new equipment, and new jobs."
Romney added: "How much money do American companies store overseas that’s waiting to come back? Estimates range as high as $1 trillion. Bringing a trillion dollars back to the United States will create hundreds of thousands or even millions of good, permanent, private sector jobs."
The dinner speech marked Romney's second visit to New Hampshire this year. On January 31, he made a private trip in which he met with small business leaders in Manchester and job re-trainees at Nashua Community College.
In 2010, he made four campaign visits over five days. Romney also continues to own a vacation home overlooking New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee.
In addition, Romney's so-called "leadership" political action committee, the Free and Strong America PAC, donated $86,335 to various candidates and Republican committees in New Hampshire during 2010. The biggest recipient was the state committee's non-federal account, to which the PAC donated $15,000.
Romney also sprinkled $500 and $1,000 checks on individual candidates across the street.
Sean Healey, the husband of former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, is moving to Florida, but the couple remains married and she will continue to keep her home and voting residency in the Bay State.
The newspaper story said the firm will remain in Massachusetts, but Healey, his wife, and their daughter, Averill, were listed on a form switching his "domicile" to Florida, which has no state income tax. The couple's son, Alex, is heading to college in the fall.
A spokesman for Kerry Healey said that despite the domicile form, she "will remain a resident of Massachusetts, and will continue to remain active in the Massachusetts political scene."
Sean Healey will live in a $17 million oceanfront home in Florida, the state where Kerry Healey was raised. The couple also has a second house in Massachusetts, a second house in Florida, as well as a house in Vermont.
Since losing her campaign as the Republican's 2006 gubernatorial nominee, Healey has taught at Harvard, her alma mater, and worked with on justice issues with women in Afghanistan.
She also worked with her former running mate, Mitt Romney, on his 2008 presidential race, and Healey is involved again as he contemplates a second campaign.
Former Governor Mitt Romney is speaking in New Hampshire Saturday night as his still-unannounced second presidential campaign gathers momentum.
Since a two-week break in Hawaii over Christmas, when both he and President Obama were vacationing in the 50th state, the Massachusetts Republican has undertaken an aggressive travel schedule making clear his intentions even if he has yet to declare them outright.
Romney has traveled from coast to coast and overseas as well. He's been on late-night television and "The View." He's talked cars at the Daytona 500 and gotten a trim at Tommy Thomas's barber shop, a political stomping grounds in Atlanta.
On Saturday alone, he's speaking behind closed doors in Florida to a meeting of the Club for Growth, then flying north for a speech at the Carroll County Lincoln Day Dinner at the Attitash Grand Summit Hotel in Bartlett, NH.
It will be his most prominent public audience since he addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington early last month.
The appearance also comes as likely rivals Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, and Haley Barbour ramp up their own activities and their rhetoric.
Barbour, the governor of Mississippi, was especially entertaining on Tuesday as he sat beside Governor Deval Patrick and testified before a US House committee examining Obama's health care overhaul.
You might have thought that Patrick, a Democrat from blue-state Massachusetts, would have been Barbour's target. Instead, it was Romney, a fellow Republican, who endured the governor's silver-tongued jabs.
“Massachusetts has a state health insurance program that they’re obviously happy with, and we think that’s their right," Barbour said.
Then, deftly unsheathing a dagger, he added: "And Senator (Edward M.) Kennedy and Governor Romney and then Governor Patrick, if that's what Massachusetts wants, we're happy for them. We don’t want that. That’s not good for us."
Nor is that kind of talk good for Romney.
Try as he may, Romney has found it a challenge as he's insisted the state universal health care law he signed while governor of Massachusetts is different from the federal one Obama enacted into law last year.
It does him no good when a potential opponent reminds the GOP base, which can't find enough pejoratives to condemn "Obamacare," that Romney created its predecessor in concert with Kennedy, a favorite party target before his death in 2009.
The argument that may gain the most traction for Romney is that Massachusetts was free to design its own program, and other states should have the same option without having a federal plan imposed upon them.
Obama has delighted in declaring that his plan was modeled on Romney's, muddying a potential 2012 opponent in the process. But he may have given the former governor the most viable form of cover this week: The president shifted course and said he would not object to allowing states to design their own programs, as long as they are at least as good as the federal law that is being put into effect.
That sounds like the message that has been coming from Romney ever since he transitioned from governor to presidential candidate.
The speech Saturday comes as the pulse of the Republican campaign quickens.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced yesterday that he was entering the "testing the waters" phase. That will allow him to raise money and hire staff before declaring whether he is moving to an exploratory committee.
Barbour has been toying with reporters, telling them to watch his waistline as the clearest indication of his own possible candidacy and then claiming it is getting more trim.
Huckabee has been delighting in polls showing him running strong among social conservatives, and Pawlenty has been taking advantage of a veteran staff of advisers to efficiently plot his own campaign and pick his spots for making news.
Elsewhere, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin remains free of any of the traditional constraints, given her ability to command an audience and raise money in a snap.
That is why it will be interesting to hear what Romney has to say.
Instead of letting his opponents frame him, he will have the opportunity to make his own case. And in the lead presidential primary state, the reason for his remarks will be clear, whether or not he wants to admit it yet.
President Obama, joined by Melinda Gates and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, will visit TechBoston Academy in Dorchester when he comes to Boston on Tuesday.
A White House official said the visit will build on the president's State of the Union call for America to be better educated than the nation's competitors and "win the future."
The official said Obama "will discuss the shared responsibility that government, businesses, philanthropists, and communities have to promote innovative education strategies that will prepare American students to compete in a 21st century economy."
TechBoston Academy was founded in 2002 with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It offers its students in grades 6-12 a college preparatory curriculum. It has middle and high school campuses. The president will visit the upper campus, which is located in the former Dorchester High School and educates students in grades 10-12.
The White House noted the academy integrates technology into all its classes, and students there benefit from honors/AP classes, dual enrollment opportunities at local colleges, and an extended day program.
The school has numerous private-sector, non-profit, and higher-education partners including Apple, Cisco, Dell, Harvard University, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Tufts University, UMass-Boston and Year Up.
Obama will also be attending a Democratic fundraising dinner afterward at the Museum of Fine Arts.
Andrea Saul, a veteran of political campaigns in the western US, is joining Mitt Romney's political action committee as the Republican readies for a second presidential campaign.
In a statement today, Romney said Saul will serve as a communications adviser to the Free and Strong America PAC.
She most recently served as press secretary for Carly Fiorina’s unsuccessful US Senate campaign in California. Previously, Saul worked as the top communications aide to Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
The statement said that during the 2008 election, Saul was director of media affairs for the McCain-Palin presidential campaign, responsible for organizing all television, radio, and surrogate activity. She held a similar job at the Republican National Committee, too.
In addition, Saul served briefly served as communications director for Florida Governor Charlie Crist as he ran for the US Senate. She quit when Crist decided to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent.
Much of Romney's communications work has been handled by his longtime spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, but he has been building his own political consulting firm after helping Republican Scott Brown win a US Senate special election last year.
In the upcoming election cycle, Fehrnstrom is planning to spend more time helping Romney develop his advertising strategy and television commercials.
Romney is speaking Saturday in both Florida and New Hampshire, and is expected to kickoff his campaign sometime during the next two months.
WASHINGTON – The political world may have thought Mitt Romney was in Georgia today to continue laying the groundwork for a presidential run.
He may have just needed a haircut.
The former Massachusetts governor this afternoon posted a photo of himself, grinning in the chair of a barber who was preparing to take a razor to the hair of the perfectly-coifed politician.
“Just got a Trim at Tommy’s in Atlanta,” Romney wrote on his Twitter account.
Romney made the trip to Atlanta for private meetings with business leaders, to talk about jobs and the economy. This afternoon, Romney came into the barbershop with Eric Tanenblatt, a well-connected Georgia Republican.FULL ENTRY
WASHINGTON – A top congressional Republican this morning tweaked Mitt Romney for his health care plan in Massachusetts, further illustrating the primary challenge Romney faces in his expected presidential bid.
Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee, criticized the Massachusetts health care plan by comparing it to President Obama’s national plan.
“It’s not that dissimilar to ObamaCare,” he reportedly said at a breakfast this morning. “And you probably know I’m not a big fan of ObamaCare.”
Ryan's comments were first reported by the American Spectator, which helped organize the breakfast along with Americans for Tax Reform.
Ryan, who has been mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick, could be an influential voice in the Republican presidential campaign. He is the latest to bring up the challenges Romney faces in explaining his health care plan at a time when many Republicans are focused on repealing President Obama’s plan.
Several potential Republican primary rivals have also been criticizing Romney over health care.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee panned the Massachusetts plan – and Romney’s role in approving it – in his new book. And yesterday, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, in testimony before a congressional committee, said he didn’t want any plan similar to the Bay State’s in his own state.
“Massachusetts has a state health insurance program that they’re obviously happy with. We think that’s their right,’’ Barbour said. “We don’t want that. That’s not good for us.’’
Romney has largely defended the plan in Massachusetts, while still criticizing the federal plan passed by Democrats. His chief argument has been that states should experiment with different approaches to health care, but that Obama’s national plan infringes on states’ rights and should be repealed.
“Mitt Romney is proud of what he accomplished for Massachusetts in getting everyone covered,” Romney’s spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, said last week in response to Huckabee’s criticism. “What's important now is to return to the states the power to determine their own healthcare solutions by repealing Obamacare. A one-size-fits-all plan for the entire nation just doesn't work.”
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
Hudak is back.
Bill Hudak, the Tea Party-backed Republican candidate in the Sixth Congressional District who lost to incumbent Democrat John F. Tierney in the fall, is going make another run at the seat in 2012, he said today.
“After conversations with numerous advisors and campaign volunteers throughout the district, it is clear that my support remains widespread and deep,” Hudak said in a statement. “In fact, since last November I have received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from supporters urging me to continue the fight.”
Hudak's decision was not a surprise. In a sense, he had never stopped running.
Just days after the November election in which he garnered 41.4 percent of the vote to 54.7 percent for Tierney, Hudak sent a fund-raising letter to supporters, seeking contributions so he can "continue to stand" because, while he "lost the battle," the "war of 2012 is not over."
He signed the missive, "Future Congressman, 6th MA District.”
Hudak, a Boxboro lawyer, campaigned as a self-described "Reagan Republican" committed to a traditional platform of lower taxes and less spending. He was endorsed by US Senator Scott Brown, former Governor Mitt Romney, and and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes.
But he struggled to overcome controversy dating to the presidential election of 2008, when he placed a sign in his lawn that compared Barack Obama to Osama Bin Laden. He also fought accusations that he was sympathetic to the so-called birther movement, after he urged a reporter to look into allegations that Obama was born in Kenya.
Tierney, who has not said whether he will seek a ninth term in 2012, also battled controversy during the campaign.
Just weeks before Election Day, Tierney’s wife, Patrice, pleaded guilty to four counts of aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns for her brother, a federal fugitive who has been indicted on charges of illegal gambling and money laundering. She was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
WASHINGTON – Former Governor Mitt Romney this afternoon announced a series of donations to congressional Republicans, which could prove influential in winning endorsements in his expected presidential bid.
Romney, through his Free and Strong America PAC, said he was contributing a total of $83,500 to 38 US House members and two US Senators. The donations come on top of $124,500 that he sent to 50 congressional candidates last month.
His latest wave of donations doesn’t contain many congressional members in early primary and caucus states such as New Hampshire and Iowa. But there are donations to three congressmen from South Carolina (Jeff Duncan, Trey Gowdy, and Tim Scott) and three from Florida (Mario Diaz-Balart, Rich Nugent, and Dennis Ross). Romney also donated to Florida’s newly elected senator, Marco Rubio.
Most of Romney’s latest donations went to members of the new class of congressional freshman, who were elected in November. Those include new representatives like Kristi Noem, of South Dakota; Cory Gardner, of Colorado; Chuck Fleischmann, of Tennessee; and Ben Quayle, of Arizona.
“It is important that we stand with our Republican Members of Congress and show that we support their pro-growth agenda and their efforts to reduce the size of government,” Romney said in a statement. “Now is the time for all of us to send a powerful message that Americans will no longer tolerate the Washington culture of higher taxes, higher spending, and higher debt.”
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor Deval Patrick wrapped up a long weekend in Washington this morning with testimony about the Massachusetts health care plan before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
In a shortened version of prepared remarks, the Democrat noted the history of the Massachusetts legislation, highlighted it was passed in 2006 thanks to cooperation between then-Republican Governor Mitt Romney and the Democratic Legislature, and said it has achieved nearly universal care while only adding 1 percent to the state budget.
Following up, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a potential Romney rival in the 2012 White House campaign, said bluntly, "We don't want that."
Setting a political dagger, he reiterated the Massachusetts plan was developed by Romney and the leading Democrat that Republicans used to hate, Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Patrick has unique perspective on the Obama plan as governor of the state with a universal health care law that served as model for the federal program. But aides expected him to be challenged by committee Republicans seeking to repeal the national law.
The debate could be a proxy battle for an expected element of the 2012 presidential race, as Barbour indicated.
Nonetheless, Patrick was generally treated respectfully, as Democrats used their questions to coax answers supporting Obama's program, while Republicans tried to attack it.
On several occasions, the governor tried to build support for the president by noting that Massachusetts is already a way down the road the nation is set to travel.
"This is not so scary to us," he said.
His committee host, Representative Edward Markey, D-Mass., also got the governor to underscore that Massachusetts has a balanced budget, 98 percent insured, and unemployment below the national average even with its universal health law.
The dean of the congressional delegation told the governor he was doing "a great job."
Governor Deval Patrick seems more anxious to kick off next year's US Senate race in Massachusetts than some of the potential candidates, catching most off-guard yesterday when they found he had rattled off their names during an interview at the National Governors Association meetings in Washington.
Patrick told Jim O'Sullivan of the National Journal, a former reporter for the State House News Service in Boston, that four candidates had already chatted with him about a potential run, and he had traded calls with a fifth.
Then, breaching all manner of political protocol, he identified them: City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, who made a failed attempt for the Democratic nomination in last year's Senate special election; Newton Mayor Setti Warren, little more than a year in office; veteran Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll; and Democratic activist Robert Massie, a 1994 candidate for lieutenant governor.
Patrick also said Robert Pozen, a former executive at Fidelity Investments and MFS Investment Management, had reached out to him but they had failed to connect.
“My sense is that (Brown) is struggling a little bit to decide whether he’s going to work for the people of the commonwealth or work for the hard right,” Patrick said, previewing the Democrats' most likely line of attack against the man who left them thunderstruck when he won the seat held for nearly a half-century by a party icon, the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
In the aftermath of that race, the Democrats regrouped, helped Patrick win re-election last fall (albeit with less than 50 percent of the vote in what for all practical purposes was a three-way race), and repelled the GOP tide that swept the rest of the nation in the mid-term elections.
All 10 Massachusetts seats in the US House remained in Democratic hands, and local Democrats are feeling even more optimistic as they head toward 2012, when President Obama will be atop the ballot and Patrick is free to pile on against Brown and a potential GOP presidential nominee, former Governor Mitt Romney.
Brown himself is aware of the peril. He has already banked over $7 million in campaign cash and may spend up to $25 million to retain what initially proved to be a pivotal seat for his party: the 41st Senate vote to uphold a Republican filibuster, or the 60th vote the Democrats needed to ensure passage of any of their initiatives. Republicans gained Senate seats in the mid-terms but still remain a minority.
The senator has calibrated his votes with an eye toward maintaining hometown support and national viability, and he has been careful to cultivate national Republicans during his mid-term campaign appearances, as well as during the book tour to promote his autobiography, "Against All Odds." It took him as far away as Florida and the Reagan presidential library in California.
Against that backdrop, Massie has already announced a campaign, and Khazei, Warren, Driscoll, Pozen, and several sitting House members have been weighing challenges to Brown. That group includes Representatives Michael Capuano of Somerville and Stephen Lynch of South Boston.
Yet each has carefully demurred when asked about a campaign, including Lynch, who was repeatedly peppered on the point over the weekend at the outset of an interview with WCVB-TV's "OTR."
"I think that's just too far away at this point," Lynch said.
The program aired Sunday shortly before Patrick sat down with O'Sullivan and upended the conversation. When previously asked about potential Senate candidates, the governor had made two points: he would not be among them, but he would not reveal the names of those who had sought his counsel about a possible campaign.
That didn't stop him from lauding certain potential candidates, but he never spoke publicly for them. Now, whether he's floating trial balloons or trying to push fence-sitters, Patrick has changed tacks.
“Kim is not in; she has not made up her mind, but I know she’s thinking about it seriously. But Alan and Bob and Setti are in, for sure,” the governor told the National Journal.
As for Pozen, “I haven’t talked to Bob. We’ve traded phone calls, but I haven’t talked to him."
Warren upset a sitting state representative, Ruth Balser, to win the Newton mayor's race in November 2009. He was sworn in on Jan. 1, 2010, and has worked since then to cultivate the image of an engaged chief executive.
Asked earlier this month about Patrick including him in a list of potential Senate candidates, Warren told the Globe: "I consider the governor a friend, and I'm honored he thinks highly of me. But as I said before, I'm remaining focused on the issues that effect Newton."
Just two weeks later, after Patrick branded him a surefire candidate in a national publication, Warren was handed a live grenade.
“I am considering a run against Senator Brown,” the mayor said in a statement yesterday. "I have been disappointed by many of his votes, which I believe have hurt many cities and towns in Massachusetts, including my own community of Newton."
He said he had yet to make a final decision, "but in the final analysis, if I believe I can do a better job for Massachusetts, I’ll put my name on the ballot.”
Driscoll was similarly left scrambling.
She was out on the hustings last night, attending a fundraiser in Worcester and a women's event in Easthampton. Those are far from the Witch City, underscoring her possible interest in a Senate race, but Driscoll is also a deliberative politician and confessed she was not ready to commit to a race at least publicly.
“I’m looking at it. I’m trying to understand all the twists and turns. I’m trying to understand the potential impact on my family," she said in a phone call from the road.
Khazei was out at dinner and unavailable for comment.
Pozen was not immediately reachable.
Of the group, Khazei may have the broadest name recognition, thanks to his 2009 primary campaign. He also is an unabashed liberal who would almost certainly run from the left and be able to tap a national fundraising base.
Warren also represents a liberal city, but he has a conservative calling card: He served a year of duty in Iraq as an intelligence officer in the US Navy Reserve. Brown is a member of the Massachusetts National Guard, but he has never been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Like Patrick the first African American to hold his job, Warren previously served as an aide to the state's senior senator, John Kerry. He would have unimpeded access to the dossier Kerry and his staff are surely compiling against Brown.
Driscoll, meanwhile, is a second-term mayor who is experienced in community development. She also has been a leading voice for greater budgetary latitude from the state, particularly when it comes to reconfiguring public employee health insurance plans.
She is the first woman elected mayor of Salem, and could benefit in a statewide campaign as a lone female candidate. Yet as the mother of three, Driscoll expressed concern about how a campaign would affect her family.
"I have three young children, and I'm also trying to understand if I can run while also running a city," she said.
Pozen would offer his experience from the finance world, which includes a stint working for President George W. Bush on an aborted Social Security overhaul. He also worked in 2003 as Romney's secretary of economic affairs.
Massie is an Episcopal priest with a doctorate from Harvard Business School. Despite battling serious health problems for years, the Somerville resident announced his Senate candidacy in January.
Patrick has now pushed along the rest of the field.
Governor Deval Patrick yesterday kicked off a two-year period in which he will both try to sell himself and President Obama to the American people, and his first true taste of the national stage was positive.
He was polite, as always, as he and three fellow governors held a roundtable discussion on ABC's "This Week." He sold Massachusetts, as the Democrat promised to do while responding to critics of his upcoming travels.
But he also found himself reticent by comparison with a rising Republican star, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, extending all the way to a trick-but-not-unfathomable question from segment host Jake Tapper.
He asked Patrick if Mitt Romney, his predecessor and a likely candidate for the presidency in 2012, did a good job during his four years as governor of Massachusetts.
"I think one of the best things he did was to be the co-author of our health care reform, which is model for national health care reform," said Patrick.
It was the political equivalent of a Bronx cheer for Romney, who is facing criticism from many Republicans, especially conservatives, for what they have come to dub "Romneycare" with endearment equal to that which they hold for "Obamacare."
Patrick added: “What these folks did in Massachusetts is, frankly, the same thing that the Congress did, which is take on access (to health insurance) first and come to cost control next. ... And just as we have, I think, shown the nation how to provide universal care through a public-private model, I think we can crack the code on health care costs.”
When Tapper asked again if Romney had done a good job, the governor again refused to go negative. Instead, he stuck with a kill-him-with-kindness approach that has already been employed by both Obama and his former press secretary, Robert Gibbs.
"On that one issue, I think he deserves a lot of credit,” said Patrick.
Haley had no qualms about taking the bait, which let her execute the surrogate playbook with aplomb.
It's easy to see why the 39-year-old Haley, who became the nation's youngest sitting governor when she was sworn in last month, is already being talked about as a potential vice presidential running mate.
The first rule as a surrogate is that it's not about you as much as it is the person or viewpoint you're supposed to promote.
When Tapper asked Haley if fellow Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin was right to propose eliminating the collective bargaining rights of most public workers to help balance his state's budget, she was decisive and clear.
"He is trying to trim his budget," said Haley. "He is trying to make the tough decisions that the people of Wisconsin wanted him to do. What I think is a shame is the fact that you got Democrat senators who represent the people of Wisconsin and are so cowardly that they left their own state. I think that’s an absolute slate of who should be thrown out of office as soon as they get back."
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat like Patrick, kept referring to his days in the restaurant industry as he preached understanding and urged management and labor and the senators who have fled to neighboring Ilinois to work collectively.
Patrick, too, was conciliatory, offering a mini-commercial for Massachusetts as he talked about his efforts to overhaul public pay and benefits, and to make fundamental changes such as consolidating the transportation system.
"All of this with labor at the table, so there’s another way to approach that," he said in reference to Walker's tactic.
When Tapper asked Patrick if it was "cowardly" for the Democrats to have fled, which they did to block the Republican Party from passing Walker's legislation, the governor showed the limits of his hubris.
“I try to make a practice of just governing Massachusetts and not trying to govern other states," he said.
Haley again was unambiguous in underscoring her party's view.
"Let's be clear," the leader of South Carolina said in discussing the developments in Wisconsin. "This was cowardly. This was irresponsible. They left their state when their state needed them the most because they don’t want to take a vote. Whether they are for it or against it, you come back and represent the people of your state."
Haley also proved deft after watching a clip of another potential 2012 candidate, Sarah Palin, wholeheartedly endorsing her gubernatorial candidacy last year. That prompted the question, would she return the favor should Palin run for the White House next year?
"I want all of the candidates to come to South Carolina," she said. "I want the people of South Carolina to get to see them the way I get to know them. I want them to campaign hard, and then when the right time comes, I will endorse. But there is no one that I feel like I owe at this time."
The exchanges contrasted compassionate and analytical with tart and visceral not unlike the 2008 campaign between Obama and GOP nominee John McCain.
Patrick has always cast himself as above the partisan fray, but his election campaigns have shown his willingness to get down and dirty as needed. He gave a reminder last week, when he said his travels would promote the state, while Romney's at the end of his gubernatorial term turned the state into a "laughingstock."
Right now, though, with his own re-election campaign just completed and Obama's still to begin, Patrick is in a more soulful period as he prepares to embark on a book tour to sell his memoir, "A Reason to Believe."
Some speculate the book is the requisite prelude to some other campaign, but Patrick has said no and decisively ruled out one race yesterday. When Tapper moved to the subject of the 2012 White House race, the governor cut him off to volunteer, in jest, "I am not running."
But Obama is, and Romney is likely to, and so yesterday was as much about raising Patrick's profile as he attempts to sell his book as it was about introducing him to a national audience as he prepares to become the president's pit bull.
Patrick brings much to the table, in that regard. Not only did he replace Romney as governor, but he implemented the health care law the former governor signed into law.
Republicans will surely dismiss Patrick's comments as partisan, but many undecided voters may find special credibility in his analysis of the similarities and differences between the state health care law Romney signed and the federal bill Obama enacted, much to the chagrin of Romney's fellow Republicans.
Patrick is also extremely comfortable in his own skin, something that always seems to be a challenge for Romney. Should Romney get his party's presidential nomination, Patrick will have already laid out for Obama the road map for attacking him. Obama should draw confidence from not only his fellow Democrat's words, but also his manner.
Patrick is beginning this journey with an aggressive schedule in Washington. Over the weekend, he attended to his official duties at the National Governors Association, while also promoting himself.
He held a fundraiser, and did a series of interviews with reporters from the National Journal, Politico, and other publications.
He also did his stint on "This Week," and a top adviser did little to conceal the endgame.
“It’s nice he's going on the Sunday-morning talk shows," communications director Brendan Ryan said. "And I think it will help him as he works as a surrogate for Obama the next two years.”
Governor Deval Patrick today praised his predecessor, Mitt Romney, for the health care legislation the former Republican governor crafted with the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts Legislature.
Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Patrick singled out health care as one issue Romney "deserves a lot of credit" for over his four years in office, linking his predecessor to the issue that, as a likely presidential candidate, Romney would probably prefer to avoid.
"One of the best things he did was to be the co-author of our health care reform, which has been a model for national health care reform" Patrick said.
Patrick also talked about state budgeting as a budget standoff continues in Wisconsin over collective bargaining rights.
The governor said labor and government don't need to be at odds during tough fiscal time, saying that Massachusetts balanced its budget while funding education.
"We can do this with labor at the table," he said.
WASHINGTON – Former Governor Mitt Romney today said he would support the GOP-led fight in Wisconsin over the rights that union workers have through collective bargaining.
Romney, through his Free and Strong America Political Action Committee, said he would contribute a maximum $5,000 to the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
“Liberal big government interests are fighting efforts to rein in out-of-control public employee pay and benefits in Wisconsin,” Romney said in a statement. “It is critical that we stand with the Wisconsin GOP as it stands up for the rights of the taxpayer."
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is battling Democrats in his state over legislation that would remove many collective bargaining rights for union workers. It is turning out to be a flashpoint for both parties, with Democrats trying to rally union workers and Republicans trying to hit a message of fiscal discipline.
Romney has slowly become more vocal on the issue, first tweeting about it last week by asking his supporters to support Walker “for doing what’s necessary to rein in out-of-control public sector pay and benefits.” Yesterday, he used his Twitter account again, this time asking supporters to “Donate now to support Governor Walker and WI GOP senators as they attempt to restore fiscal sanity.” Then today, Romney announced his own donation to Wisconsin Republicans.
Several other likely presidential candidates have been aggressive in rallying behind Walker’s cause.
Just before Romney's announcement today, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty released a dramatic, campaign-style video to support the newly elected governor. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin used her Facebook page last week to blast "Wisconsin union bosses." Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee told reporters in Washington yesterday that his advice to Walker was, “Hang tough, stand tall, hold your ground.”
Romney’s PAC also donated to Walker during his election last year.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
WASHINGTON – Mike Huckabee is bashing the Massachusetts health care plan as a failed experiment -- and saying that Mitt Romney should consider apologizing for steering its passage when he was governor.
Although activists and party leaders have said Romney’s health care plan would be a major issue in his expected presidential run, Huckabee’s criticism is one of the most direct attacks that Romney has faced from a potential challenger.
“It could be argued that if RomneyCare were a patient, the prognosis would be dismal,” Huckabee writes in his new book, A Simple Government.
Huckabee, who said yesterday that he is “seriously contemplating” another run for president, also points to the similarities between Romney’s plan in Massachusetts and President Obama’s plan for the nation.
“Ever since the debate over [Obama’s] program began, it’s been compared to RomneyCare, the failed statewide health-care program implemented by none other than my fellow GOP member Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts,” Huckabee writes, under a heading, “The States as Laboratories: When Experiments Fail” “Any critical assessment of this program will show that it failed…and yet the Obama administration decided to emulate it in its pursuit of a national health-care program.”
He claims that while Romney’s attempt to control health care costs was “a noble goal indeed,” it has instead increased costs and diminished care.
“The people of Massachusetts participated in an experiment that blew up in their faces, and now they have to stand in line at the burn clinic,” he writes. “If our goal in health-care reform is better care at lower cost, then we should take a lesson from RomneyCare, which shows that socialized medicine does not work. Period.”
Romney has largely defended the plan in Massachusetts -- and the goal of getting more residents covered -- while still criticizing the federal plan passed by Democrats. His chief argument has been that states should experiment with different approaches to health care, but that Obama’s national plan infringes on states’ rights and should be repealed.
In his updated paperback version of his book, No Apology, Romney also blamed the Democratic-controlled state legislature and Governor Deval Patrick for their implementation of the Massachusetts plan.
“Mitt Romney is proud of what he accomplished for Massachusetts in getting everyone covered,” Romney’s spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, said in response to Huckabee’s criticism. “What's important now is to return to the states the power to determine their own healthcare solutions by repealing Obamacare. A one-size-fits-all plan for the entire nation just doesn't work.”
Romney’s role in the Massachusetts health care plan – his signature achievement in his four-year term as governor – has been seen as the chief roadblock in his quest for the Republican nomination.
"I think it's not a killer for him,” Huckabee told the Associated Press. “But he has to say either 'I love it,' 'I hate it,' or, 'Hey I tried it, it didn't work and that's why I would say to you, let's not do it nationally.’”
"The position he should take is to say: 'Look, the reason Obamacare won't work is because we've tried it at the state level and we know it won't work,'" Huckabee added.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor Deval Patrick today defended his decision to travel more during his second term, saying it is far different from the extensive travel engaged in by Republican Governor Mitt Romney that prompted sharp criticism from Democrats.
Patrick, himself a Democrat, said, "I'm going out promoting the commonwealth, while he was out making us a laughingstock.”
The governor was referring to Romney's extensive travel in preparation for his 2008 presidential campaign. In but one example of his out-of-state comments, Romney once told South Carolinians "being a conservative Republican in Massachusetts is a bit like being a cattle rancher at a vegetarian convention."
Patrick recently visited Washington and Chicago to prepare for an expected role as a surrogate speaker on behalf of President Obama during the Democrat's re-election campaign next year.
Next month, Patrick is also visiting Denver to address a Democratic dinner, before jetting off to Israel and the United Kingdom on a trade mission. In April, he will be participating in a multi-city tour promoting his memoir. He has also promised more trade missions.
“It’s not a bad thing for us to raise our profile" the governor said during his monthly appearance on WTKK-FM.
He said bragging about balanced budgets, an improved bond rating, and high student achievement scores is "a story we ought to be telling."
He then veered into the political, recalling a Globe story from 2006 that detailed how Romney had spent all or part of 212 days out of state that year.
"That’s a lot different from what I'm taking about, and I'm going out promoting the commonwealth, while he was out making us a laughingstock.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is heading north of the Mason-Dixon Line tonight to visit the liberal environs of Harvard University and outline a conservative economic vision.
In a speech at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, which will be webcast live at 6 p.m., the Virginia Republican will speak of a country he sees at an economic crossroads, confronting two alternate visions.
One echoes the image of protests that swept Europe last year and continue in some places today, as members of the public and government workers rebelled against cuts in pension and other entitlement programs.
The other is the image of town hall meetings that played out across America in 2009, propelling the anti-government Tea Party revolution and helping the GOP reclaim the House majority this past November.
Cantor said one view is of a future dependent on government financing; the other is rooted in personal entrepreneurship.
“If you think about it, these were very young people worried about their retirement benefits before they’ve worked their career," Cantor told the Globe in reference to some of the participants in Greece, France, and other European nations.
The town hall participants, by contrast, "choose a future based on individual actions, opportunity not created by the government but by the private sector," he said.
Cantor, the top deputy to House Speaker John Boehner, insists his is not a partisan analysis, only a philosophical one. But his comments echoed a partisan opinion piece he recently wrote for Politico, in which he criticized President Obama's budget proposal and said "kicking the can down the road is no substitute for real leadership. Just ask Greece."
In the same column, he urged action to avoid "a European-style debt crisis."
Cantor said an relying too heavily on government support forces increased spending. That triggers tax increases that, in turn, sap capital from the private marketplace. Reducing business taxes and reducing government regulation, he argues, will help keep capital in the private sector.
As to why he's taking his message to an Ivy League institution oft-derided by conservatives, Cantor said: "Harvard is one of the premier institutions of higher learning in the world. We’ve been successful in America because we’ve been able to educate our population to think critically. It’s allowed America to become the crucible of innovation.’’
His deputy chief of staff, John Murray, said the visit is the leader's ongoing campaign to speak "beyond the base," including reaching out to young people, minorities, and university audiences.
Cantor has already spoken at William & Mary and had a speech at the University of Michigan snowed out. He's headed next for Stanford University.
The goal is to make "more of a vision statement than a political statement.”
Murray added: "We have a very systematic strategy to ensure that the work we are doing here inside the Beltway is being transmitted and translated in good venues," he said.
Attorney General Martha Coakley, who filed a 2009 lawsuit that helped persuade a federal judge in Boston to declare the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in July, said she was “very pleased” with the president’s decision to no longer defend the law.
“Today’s decision…is another very important victory for the civil rights of same-couples and their families,” Coakley said at a press conference in her Boston office. “We think the reasoning, as expressed by General Holder is, in some ways, dependent on the extensive discovery and arguments that occurred in Massachusetts."
In a statement released by his office, Governor Deval Patrick threw his support behind the Obama administration.
“I am tremendously heartened today by President Obama’s decision to turn away from this divisive and unfair law,.'' he said. "In Massachusetts, we believe that every person ought to be able to marry whomever they love, and we believe the rest of the country is moving forward in that direction, too."
Coakley told reporters that the law has now been declared discriminatory and unconstitutional by the judge in Boston, Joseph L. Tauro, and by the Obama administration.
WASHINGTON – As Mike Huckabee launches his latest book tour, he’s taking time to nurture his fans in key early-primary states.
There are six stops in Iowa. There are five in South Carolina. The final stop is at a Books-A-Million in Destin, Florida.
But the man who proclaims he is “seriously contemplating” another run for the presidency has no plans to spend time in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
“You ever been to New Hampshire in February?” he told reporters this afternoon at a tea hosted by the Christan Science Monitor. “My Southern blood isn’t acclimated.”
The presidential race is still early, to be sure, with no announced candidates. But as other presidential hopefuls camp out in the Granite State, Huckabee’s whirlwind book tour schedule provides some indication of the strategy he would employ in a presidential primary race.
In addition to Iowa and South Carolina, the former Arkansas governor has stops throughout his South base – in Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia.
Huckabee this afternoon downplayed any political decision-making that went into the three-week tour, saying it was put together by a publisher concerned with selling books and not a political strategist trying to win votes.
“They’re not particularly interested in the politics of the stops,” he said of his publisher. “They’re looking at whether or not there’s a market, they believe, for the books. Maybe the reason I didn’t spend three weeks in Portland, Oregon, or Vermont might have to do something with the fact that there may not be as much of a market for a conservative book there than there would in Iowa, or South Carolina, or Alabama. Texas.”
Which begs the question: if his book doesn’t have a market in New Hampshire, does the man himself?
Huckabee placed a distant third in the 2008 New Hampshire primary -- behind John McCain and Mitt Romney – and Romney has been far ahead in early polls this year.
Sarah Palin, another frequently-talked-about presidential candidate, has not made any trips to New Hampshire since October 2008 and last year also skipped the state during a book tour.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
US Representative Michael E. Capuano, who decried violent political rhetoric after last month’s fatal shooting rampage in Tucson, said today he regrets urging union workers at a rally in Boston yesterday to “get a little bloody.”
"I strongly believe in standing up for worker rights and my passion for preserving those rights may have gotten the best of me yesterday in an unscripted speech,” the Somerville Democrat said in a statement. “I wish I had used different language to express my passion and I regret my choice of words."
Capuano was referring to remarks he made at a raucous rally of about 1,000 union workers who were outside the State House, protesting Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and his plan to limit public employees' collective bargaining rights.
"I'm proud to be with people who understand that it's more than just sending an e-mail that gets you going," Capuano had declared. "Every once in a while you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary."
The union crowd greeted Capuano's exhortation with cheers, whistles, and applause.
But his remark raised eyebrows elsewhere because Capuano was among the lawmakers who were calling for cooler political rhetoric after his Democratic colleague, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in the Tucson rampage that killed six other people last month.
At the time, Capuano had said the shooting was probably inevitable because of the nation's increasingly heated political rhetoric.
“Many of us were afraid for a long time that something like this would happen, with the level or the tone of the discourse over the last several years," Capuano told WGBH on Jan. 22. "It's gotten violent and personal.”
Capuano echoed that sentiment in a Jan. 9 interview with the Globe.
“Everybody knows the last couple of years there’s been an intentional increase in the degree of heat in political discourse,” he said. “If nothing else good comes out of this, I’m hoping it causes people to reconsider how they deal with things."
Capuano ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 2009, and is considering a run against Republican Scott Brown in 2012.
South Dakota Senator John Thune released a statement today saying he will not seek the presidency in 2012.
"There is a battle to be waged over what kind of country we are going to leave our children and grandchildren and that battle is happening now in Washington, not two years from now. So at this time, I feel that I am best positioned to fight for America’s future here in the trenches of the United States Senate,'' the Republican said in a statement.
Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
The multitude of revelations in Senator Scott Brown's new book "Against All Odds" and his "60 Minutes" interview last night underscore the degree to which he was largely unknown to Massachusetts voters when they nonetheless elected him to replace the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
More than a year later, some are only coming to learn that "Downtown Scotty Brown," as he was known on the basketball court, is a left-hander, or that he can chop mushrooms with the speed and precision of a professional chef, or that he shoplifted far more than just record albums during his wayward days as a teen-ager.
Beyond that, the book and the interview added fresh detail to the well-known story of his tough childhood, where, as the son of parents each married multiple times, he endured the beatings of some stepfathers and found refuge in schoolboy and college athletics.
Furthermore, they included a bombshell even to Brown's own family: his claim that he was sexually abused, as a 10-year-old, by a counselor at a Cape Cod summer camp.
The revelation prompted plaudits for Brown from both Governor Deval Patrick and Brown's senior colleague, Senator John Kerry, two Democrats who crossed party lines to laud the Republican for opening up about such a traumatic event. They said they hoped it would encourage other victims not feel ashamed or ostracized, and possibly take the same step themselves.
Brown himself is tough on his alleged tormentor, telling "60 Minutes" that "fortunately, nothing was ever fully consummated, so to speak, but it was certainly, back then, very traumatic.”
When interviewer Lesley Stahl noted the alleged abuser kept trying to get alone with Brown after the first incident, the senator added: “Yup, as predators do. He said, ‘If you tell anybody, you know, I’ll kill you.' You know, 'I will make sure that no one believes you,' and that’s the biggest thing, when people find people like me, at that young, vulnerable age, who are, basically, lost, the thing that they have over you is they make you believe that no one will believe you.’’
In Brown's case, though, the comments have another context: They reverberate through his decision last year to endorse a fellow Republican, state Representative Jeffrey Perry, in his bid to replace Democratic Representative William Delahunt in Congress.
The general election battle was defined by sharp and repeated exchanges between Perry and his Democratic challenger, then-Norfolk County District Attorney William Keating, over what, if any, solace Perry had provided to a fellow police officer who later pleaded guilty to charges surrounding the illegal strip searches to two young girls while the men served on the Wareham Police Department in the 1990s.
One victim, who allowed herself to be identified by her maiden name, Lisa Allen, said in a late-October statement opposing Perry's election that the then-Wareham sergeant "had to hear me screaming and crying" as Officer Scott Flanagan put his hand down the 14-year-old's pants and ordered her to lift her bra after he, Perry, and another officer came upon a group of teens suspected of using drugs near a cranberry bog in 1991.
Arguing Perry lacked the character to serve in such high office, Allen said: "Perry did not care about protecting teen-aged girls in Wareham from police officer Flanagan. Jeff Perry cared only about protecting police officer Flanagan."
During the campaign, Brown didn't offer the kind of personal perspective on sexual abuse he has as he kicks off his book tour; rather, he condemned Keating for what he viewed as the politicization of a past incident.
Brown said "it's horrible" what Allen went through. He also noted that Perry's fellow officer "was tried and convicted."
The senator went on to argue that Perry had run an issues-based campaign, while accusing Keating of fear-mongering.
"It's to the point: 'Bill, stop with the dirty politics,'" Brown said last October.
In a radio ad released at the same time, the senator said Keating "has decided to focus almost entirely on negative attacks concerning an incident that took place almost two decades ago and which didn't directly involve Jeff."
The senator has since said the two situations are not analogous, but juxtapose Brown's comments last night with Lisa Allen's complaints about her treatment, as a 14-year-old, at the hands of a uniformed police officer all while his supervisor allegedly stood by mute.
“Yup, as predators do," Brown said of his alleged attacker. "He said, ‘If you tell anybody, you know, I’ll kill you.' You know, 'I will make sure that no one believes you,' and that’s the biggest thing, when people find people like me, at that young, vulnerable age, who are, basically, lost, the thing that they have over you is they make you believe that no one will believe you.’’
Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
WASHINGTON – Former Governor Mitt Romney has struggled to attract support among Tea Party activists in pockets throughout the country, but he appears to have secured broad support among the movement’s supporters in New Hampshire.
In a new WMUR poll, his favorability among supporters of the Tea Party is strikingly high – 77 percent and far exceeds any other candidate.
“People hear Tea Party and think small government, and the small government message is something people in this state are raised with,” said Andy Smith, who conducted the poll as director of the UNH Survey Center. “Romney’s attractiveness here is because he’s philosophically attuned to most of the Republicans in the state.”
The support among the Tea Party could be crucial for Romney in New Hampshire, a must-win state for him. Tea Party activists in the state have been mobilizing, and recently helped elect one of their own – Jack Kimball – to lead the state’s Republican Party.
Nearly half of those surveyed said they support the Tea Party movement.
Romney advisers have argued that even while Romney may struggle with some of the movement’s activists – in large part because of his health care law in Massachusetts – his fiscal message of reducing taxes and cutting spending would resonate with the Tea Party philosophy.
That appears to be born out, at least in New Hampshire. Among Tea Party supporters, Romney’s favorability numbers were far higher than even candidates who are viewed as closely aligned with the movement, such as Sarah Palin (whose favorability was 48 percent), Ron Paul (43 percent), and Newt Gingrich (53 percent).
Romney dominated the poll overall, with 40 percent saying they would vote for him. But his support was even greater among those who support the Tea Party, with 43 percent saying they would support him.
Here are the favorability ratings for the other candidates in the poll:
Rudy Giuliani: 63 percent
Mike Huckabee: 55 percent
Tim Pawlenty: 45 percent
Rick Santorum: 40 percent
Haley Barbour: 27 percent
Donald Trump: 24 percent
John Thune: 18 percent
Mitch Daniels: 15 percent
Gary Johnson: 7 percent
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Democrats and political insiders are holding a fundraiser for Governor Deval Patrick next month and seeking up to $5,500 per person despite the Democrat’s assertion he will not seek a third term in 2014 or challenge Republican Senator Scott Brown next year.
A spokesman said the event is to help retire campaign debts while simultaneously boosting the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
The first $500 of each donation would go to Patrick, the maximum allowable annual contribution for individuals under state law. The remainder of any contribution would go to the party, which can accept up to $5,000 annually from individuals.
The party spent over $2.5 million on Patrick’s behalf last year during his re-election campaign, primarily for mailings and television ads.
It spent another $712,000 on Patrick during the first three years he was in office. During his 2006 campaign, his first as a political candidate, the party spent $2.4 million helping Patrick get elected.
The party is led by John Walsh, who managed Patrick’s 2006 campaign.
The fundraiser is being organized by three members of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, a South Carolina law firm that has a Boston office and is active in government lobbying.
The invitation for the March 7 gathering at the office lists the co-hosts as Peter Haley, a partner specializing in commercial law; Robert Crowe, a Democratic fundraiser who is co-chairman of the firm’s Government Relations practice, and; Christopher Greeley, who is managing director of the firm’s public strategies group.
Greeley is a registered state lobbyist whose clients include the Boston Beer Co., maker of Sam Adams ale, and Bristol Community College, a public entity. He was in the public spotlight when he managed Senator John Kerry’s 1996 epic re-election campaign against Republican William F. Weld.
Greeley said today: "Bob, Peter, and I are longtime supporters of Governor Patrick, both when he ran in his first term and when he ran for re-election, and are happy to continue our support."
Greeley acknowledged he lobbies state government, as disclosed in annual filings with the secretary of state. But he said he had no idea if Patrick had any aspirations beyond eliminating his campaign debt.
"That's a question for the governor," he said.
Patrick would have to establish a federal fundraising account to run for the Senate, but the state party could help him whether he ran for state or federal office.
Patrick has ruled out seeking re-election or filling the Democratic void in what has the potential to be a high-profile Senate race.
Brown shocked the party in a special election last year and claimed the seat held for nearly a half-century by a liberal party icon, Edward M. Kennedy. Many political strategists say only Patrick or Kennedy’s widow, Vicki, has the stature to knock him out of the Senate.
A Patrick spokesman said the governor has over $200,000 in debts he is trying to repay and the fundraiser is for that purpose. The governor’s year-end campaign finance report showed a cash balance of $20,000 and nearly $88,000 in debts, including $20,000 to Doug Rubin, Patrick’s chief political strategist.
Strategists often delay fully billing a campaign until after an election, to preserve donations for campaign work and to avoid disclosing their fee while it could be problematic for a candidate.
Patrick’s campaign “left the re-election committee with a small debt,’’ spokesman Steve Crawford said in a statement. “The Massachusetts Democratic Party needs additional resources to meet its goal of continuing the strong neighbor-to-neighbor effort it undertook in the last election."
Despite Patrick’s public assertions, he has only heightened interest in his political intentions with his recent activities and travels.
He went to Washington last week to have dinner with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine. He is charged with recruiting surrogate speakers for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Patrick could be a particularly effective counter-puncher if his immediate predecessor as governor, Mitt Romney, wins the GOP’s presidential nomination.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, Patrick made an overnight trip to Chicago to meet with political strategist David Axelrod, who previously served as a Patrick political adviser and left the Obama administration last month to prepare for a re-election role.
Patrick was slated to see Obama himself today during a ceremony at the White House, but he cancelled his trip after falling ill.
Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
LAS VEGAS — Mitt Romney sought yesterday to distinguish himself from President Obama, his potential 2012 election opponent, by casting himself as a friend to the nation’s business community.
A week after Obama tried to repair relations with the US Chamber of Commerce, a pro-business target of the president and his fellow Democrats during last year’s midterm elections, Romney was the keynote speaker before thousands of attendees at the annual meeting of the International Franchise Association.
The former governor of Massachusetts was not subtle in his outreach to the small business owners who populate the group and fuel much of the nation’s economy, highlighting his past as a venture capitalist and aligning himself with their workplace values.
“I respect American business, and people who start businesses that are small and grow to be large are people that I salute,’’ he said.
“What scares me is that I’m worried that Washington, and politicians who don’t know butt kiss about the free-enterprise system and our economy, are slowly but surely doing things which smother the American spirit of enterprise and innovation and pioneering,” he added. “They don’t understand what it is that makes us work.”
Romney went on to focus on what he saw as differences between the public and private sectors, often referring to “they’’ in government and saying “I’m not really a politician yet. I have to get elected at least twice to be a politician.’’
Romney decided against seeking a second term in 2006 to make what turned out to be an unsuccessful presidential run in 2008. He is expected to launch a second White House campaign in the spring, although he told the franchisees in response to a question, “I’m not going to do something like that here.”
He lauded one coveted 2012 GOP supporter, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, for attacking skyrocketing government pension costs, while also crediting New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, for proposing massive government layoffs to cope with his state’s budget problems.
In response to another question, Romney distinguished the state universal health care law he signed in 2006 from the federal law signed by Obama last year. He said individual states, not the federal government, should decide what is best for themselves. “You learn from experiments,” he said. “Some parts worked well; some didn’t.”
Romney said private sector work is “far less forgiving’’ than government work, because when government makes a mistake, “we simply pass that cost on to the taxpayers, or we borrow more money and pass it on to the next generation.’’
Small business owners know, he said, that if “you make a mistake like that, you go out of business. You lose your job. You lose other people’s jobs. . . . That’s why the best and brightest are in your world, and not in the government world.’’
Business owners, Romney said, also analyze data. In government, however, “the policy makers, the politicians, they have their answers without benefit of the data.’’
And he said government leaders have no concept of the value of incentives.
“In government, they spend little time thinking about what impact what they do has on human behavior, because, frankly, they’ve lived so long in a realm where they can command what you do, they don’t think a lot about how to convince you or encourage you to do what they want you to do,’’ said Romney.
Two attendees said they liked what they heard.
"I think the people who are running our country have such an unrealistic non-grasp of the private sector and how it really works," said Leigh Harting of St. Petersburg, Fla., a business development manager for Modern Business Associates.
Michael Ridd of Salt Lake City, who works for Jiffy Lube, said: "He's got a strong magnetism. He had a leadership quality. He looks right. He sounds right. And he's doing the right things."
Aides refused to make the former governor available to the media after his speech. He did meet with some of his 2008 supporters, as well as a second group of businessmen and women to talk about jobs.
Romney is expected to meet this morning with potential campaign fund-raisers.
Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
President Obama's support in New Hampshire is less than granite solid.
In a WMUR Granite State Poll released today, Mitt Romney garnered 49 percent of the vote to 41 percent for the president, who took the state in his 2008 win over Republican John McCain.
Any poll this early in the election season -- no prominent GOP candidate, including Romney, has even declared yet -- is nothing more than political hardtack for old political salts to chew upon. And most of the likely voters in the poll said they have not yet decided whom to back. Nonetheless, if the former Massachusetts governor is to be successful in a second quest for the White House, the path is likely to begin in New Hampshire.
Romney stumbled out of the gates in the 2008 GOP primaries, losing to McCain even though the state was in his political backyard. To prevent a rerun of that result, Romney has focused much of his early energies on the state, setting up a quasi operational base there at his summer home in the lakes region.
The poll shows Romney well out in front of potential GOP challengers, getting the nod from about 40 percent of likely voters in the Republican primary. The rest of the pack were huddled in the single digits, save former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who had 10 percent of the votes. They were followed by 7 percent for former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, 7 percent for former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, 6 percent for former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, 6 percent for 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, 5 percent backing Representative Ron Paul, another 2008 candidate, and 3 percent for businessman Donald Trump.
Romney has consistently led potential Republican candidates since the UNH Survey Center began tracking the race two years ago. The center conducted the poll for WMUR.
"Romney is doing well in part because his brand of Republicanism fits with most New Hampshire Republicans, who can be characterized as 'Rockefeller Republicans,'" Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center, told WMUR. "New Hampshire is one of the least religious states in the country, and social conservatives have difficulty winning here. Fiscal issues are much more potent in the Granite State."
President Obama fares better among all likely voters in a hypothetical matchup against Palin, winning 57 to 34 percent.
The survey polled 757 randomly selected adults -- including 357 likely Republican voters -- from Jan. 28 through Feb. 7. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Governor Deval Patrick woke up this morning in Washington after a dinner last night with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine.
Bostonians, meanwhile, awoke to a front-page story by the Globe's Michael Levenson outlining the contents of Patrick's upcoming autobiography, "A Reason to Believe," which he plans to publicize with a multi-city book tour.
The twin developments, coupled with Patrick's post-election promise to travel more in promotion of the state and its businesses, signal a new phase in the relationship between the people of Massachusetts and their Democratic governor.
Plainly put, the citizens of the state are going to see him less while the citizens of the nation and the world see him more. The first stops are Israel and Britain, where Patrick will lead a trade mission next month.
Patrick insists his outward gaze won't lead to anything else, but voters who just re-elected him over Republican Charles Baker don't need too much of a memory to feel jittery.
Patrick's election in 2006 broke a 16-year string of Republican rule that saw a somewhat unfocused period of leadership.
William F. Weld upset Democrat John Silber in the 1990 gubernatorial race, and then in 1994, beat Democrat Mark Roosevelt to claim a second term. By 1996, though, he was challenging Democratic Senator John Kerry in what turned out to be an epic election.
Weld lost but decided in 1997 the next best course was to resign and seek an appointment as U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Then-Senator Jesse Helms, a conservative Republican from North Carolina not particularly enamored with Weld's more liberal social views, snuffed out those ambitions.
Weld was replaced by his lieutenant governor, Paul Cellucci, who successfully ran for governor in his own right in 1998. Yet by 2000, he was campaigning to help Texas Governor George W. Bush become president, and when he won, Cellucci was awarded with an appointment as US ambassador to Canada.
His lieutenant governor, Jane Swift, stepped in as acting governor and fully intended to run for governor herself in 2002 when Mitt Romney returned to Massachusetts as an Olympics savior and elbowed her aside.
He barely assumed office before he started positioning himself for his 2008 presidential run. The most telling fact was that he worked to become chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2006, which gave him a prominent mid-term election platform but also required that he become the organization's vice chairman in 2005, since the No. 2 official customarily ascends to the No. 1 spot the following year.
That meant that Romney, who took office in January 2003, had to work in 2004 to secure a post in 2005 that would allow him to get a job in 2006 that would segue to a campaign launch in 2007 for a seat up for election in 2008.
The timeline is instructive in reflecting on Romney's statement two weeks ago as he emerged from a meeting with Massachusetts House Republicans amid speculation about a second presidential run, and prepared for a similar session with members of the New Hampshire Legislature that "I'm not doing any campaigning, thanks."
When Romney left as governor after just one term, and Patrick won an upset in the 2006 election as a political neophyte, the new governor had to bat down all manner of speculation about his commitment to the job.
Promise as he might to serve out his term, and pledge as he may to even run for re-election in 2008, Patrick had to repel, to the point of exasperation, questions about whether he was interested in serving in the Obama administration, the US Senate, or being nominated to the Supreme Court.
After winning re-election last fall, the governor was up front about saying he would not seek a third term. Patrick explained that after eight years in public office, it would be time to return to the private sector and seek its financial benefits. He also pledged to serve out his term, and went so far as to claim a distinction between himself and his GOP predecessors.
"We had had too many years of leadership more interested in having the job than doing the job," he said last month during his inaugural address.
Then Patrick headed to Washington one February evening, and announces plans to head overseas next month.
Patrick' staff wouldn't explain the dinner meeting with Kaine, but the governor has already expressed interest in campaigning on behalf of President Obama when he seeks re-election in 2012. Kaine is in charge of recruiting a squad of effective surrogate speakers, and Patrick surely qualifies.
In April, Patrick's book is being released. The cover itself promises readings not only in Boston, but Washington, Chicago, and New York.
While Patrick labors to distinguish the remainder of his tenure from that of his predecessors, his schedule has the potential to speak for itself.
Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
Senator Scott Brown today e-mailed a newsletter detailing his Senate goals.
The Massachusetts Republican included a video in which he outlines his agenda, a method becoming a favored means of communicating especially within the media blackout preceding the release of his new book in two weeks.
Brown's list includes a job-creation bill called the "Innovate America Act." He also favors legislation repealing a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices, as well as a bill repealing a 3 percent withholding tax on government contracts.
Noting he has now been in office a year, Brown writes: "Whether I’m speaking in person with constituents, via posts to my Facebook page or Twitter, or via letters, phone calls, and emails, the voters have asked me to do something about unemployment in Massachusetts (and rightfully so). I listened, and I have come up with several targeted ideas to boost Bay State jobs that I’m introducing at the start of this 112th Congress."
Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
Supporters of Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont are holding a fundraiser for him Sunday before he delivers a public speech in Jamaica Plain.
The independent, who caucuses with the Democrats, "is facing a tough race in the next election due to the GOP machine," said an e-mail encouraging attendance. "Therefore, he's coming to ask similar-minded folks for support."
Another e-mail said, "Here's a great opportunity to hear an important progressive voice in the US Senate and for us to develop ties and think about New England as a region."
The fundraiser will be held at 1:30 p.m. at First Church Parish Hall on Eliot Street in Jamaica Plain. It's not a big-donor affair: The suggested contribution is $100.
Sanders is speaking publicly in the church sanctuary at 3 p.m.
Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
The new chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party has chosen a woman with Boston connections to be his communications director.
Chairman Jack Kimball announced today the selection of Christine Baratta. She is a Lowell native and was a talk-radio producer in Boston for over 10 years.
Prior to joining the NH GOP, Baratta served as a communications consultant on state and federal campaigns in New England, and was communications director during Jim Bender's unsuccessful US Senate campaign in New Hampshire last year.
"With her media experience and communications skills working on political campaigns, I am confident she has the ability to effectively cultivate our message of strong Republican values,'' Kimball said in a statement.
Baratta said: "I look forward to an exciting year welcoming the Republican presidential candidates as we gear up for the first-in-the-nation primary. The people of the Granite State spoke loud and clear in last November’s election by sending the tax-and-spend crowd in Concord packing in a clear rejection of the Democrats' ill-conceived policies and reckless spending habits."
Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
Governor Deval Patrick is making a quick trip to Washington tomorrow night for dinner with Democratic National Committee Chairman Timothy Kaine.
A spokesman would not detail the exact nature of the conversation but said Patrick was not attending any other events or fundraisers. There also was no meeting planned with his friend President Barack Obama.
The spokesman said Patrick would return to Massachusetts on Wednesday morning.
The chairman is the former governor of Virginia and attended Harvard Law School with Patrick. He now is charged with boosting the party in the aftermath of its mid-term election losses and in anticipation of Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.
Patrick and Obama, meanwhile, have shared the same political advisers David Axelrod and David Plouffe and the governor has already said he expects to campaign on behalf of the president. Having successfully won re-election with much the same political biography and administration record, Patrick could be a prominent surrogate speaker, especially if former Governor Mitt Romney is the Republican presidential nominee.
As governor, Romney signed into law the nation's first universal health care law. Obama did the same for the country last year, but Romney has criticized the federal plan and tried to differentiate it from the state's plan. Patrick has had to enact the law created by Romney, which would give special potency to any Romney rebuttal he could offer.
Romney is expected to announce his candidacy for the 2012 GOP nomination this spring.
In addition to their profession and personal interaction, Kaine wrote a testimonial for Patrick's upcoming book.
"I met Deval Patrick in the spring of 1980 at Harvard Law School," said Kaine. "I realized quickly that he was a remarkable person confident, compassionate, and a wonderful listener. He combined a youthful energy with a sense of wisdom and balance that belied his youth."
Referring to the title of the book, he added: "'A Reason to Believe' describes the unique set of experiences both difficult and uplifting that have forged this important and historic public servant. Governor Patrick's book offers hope to anyone that adversity can be overcome and pain turned into perspective. It also provides a clear-eyed defense of idealism that is rooted in a basic value everyone has something important to offer the world and the responsibility to do so."
Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
Senator John Kerry spent a good deal of time over the weekend being diplomatic even as his staff played down his interest in being the country's top diplomat.
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee delivered an Egyptian tour de force during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," amid some back-and-forth about his possible interest in serving as secretary of state in the future.
Globe columnist Joan Vennochi intensified the discussion last week with an op-ed piece headlined, "Kerry’s sharp eye on the secretary spot." Building off a column about the turmoil in Egypt that Kerry himself wrote last week for The New York Times, Vennochi said the Massachusetts Democrat "is running an unofficial campaign to become the next secretary of state. For once, he looks artful, as well as ambitious."
The column prompted ABC News to ask Kerry's staff whether, in fact, he was running a stealth campaign to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has confessed to being bone-weary amid the incessant travel that underpins the life of any secretary of state.
That query, in turn, prompted a 148-word statement from Kerry spokeswoman Jodi Seth.
"I don't know what else we can do to stop the parlor game speculation about who's coming and who's going," the statement said. “Lord knows we've knocked it down a thousand times over, and at a time of such challenge for American foreign policy, the punditry is especially unwelcome and unhelpful."
Then Seth added: "The one thing that hasn't changed one iota is that John Kerry loves his job as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and as the senior senator from Massachusetts. He worked a long time to get this job, and doing your job so well doesn't mean you're auditioning for another job.”
To further underscore the point, Seth continued: "So one last time: The only job John Kerry is contemplating, or considering, is the one job he already has, and he isn't looking elsewhere. Sometimes in politics, no really means no, and sometimes the best place to be really is the place you already are, end of story."
That said, Kerry's appearance on "Meet the Press" made clear he's certainly not some backbencher when it comes to the Obama administration's conduct of foreign policy.
The senator told host David Gregory he spoke on Saturday with Omar Suleiman, long the director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate and now the country's vice president. He mentioned he also had spoken yesterday with Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League and a likely candidate for Egyptian president in elections promised for later this year.
Speaking on Super Bowl Sunday, Kerry quipped that the Germans, French, British, Turks, and others were also "flooding the zone" with diplomatic communications.
Perhaps most interestingly, Kerry spoke with authority as he distanced the administration from the recent comments of the US special envoy to Egypt, former Ambassador Frank Wisner.
While President Barack Obama told reporters last week that it was time for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down amid mass protests against his authoritarian regime, Wisner said over the weekend that Mubarak must stay in power "in order to steer those changes through."
Wisner added: "I therefore believe that President Mubarak's continued leadership is critical. It's his opportunity to write his own legacy."
Clinton subsequently said Wisner "is not speaking for the administration,'' but Kerry drove home the point on Sunday-morning television.
"I think that Mr. Wisner's comments just don't reflect where the administration has been from Day One," Kerry said. "And that was not the message that he was asked to deliver or did deliver there."
The senator went on to say that while the timing of the public eruption in Egypt was surprising, the forces propelling it were not. In fact, he noted that a year ago in Doha, Qatar, "I gave a speech in which I laid out much of what needed to be done in the region."
He added that just three weeks ago, also in Doha, Clinton made a similarly tough statement.
"It was a very dramatic statement," Kerry added in reference to Clinton's speech, moments after he appeared to suggest he had been ahead of the curve on the issue.
Despite his spokeswoman's protestations, Kerry has made no secret of his interest in serving in the Obama administration. He waged a none-to-subtle campaign to be secretary of state, even highlighting a meeting he had on Nantucket in May 2008 with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Obama ultimately tapped Clinton, his former rival for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
Since then, Kerry has immersed himself in his Foreign Relations Committee work, even while steadily expanding his portfolio as an unofficial administration emissary. He has made missions to Pakistan amid concerns about terrorism and to the Sudan in an effort to stave off civil war.
And it was up to Kerry not Obama, Biden, or Clinton to spend hours dining and walking with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the fall of 2009 when it appeared he might not accept a new presidential election amid evidence of fraud in the first vote.
Any future nomination to serve as secretary of state may rest on Biden as much as Clinton or Obama. While Clinton would have to step aside to create a vacancy, and Obama would have to name any replacement, Biden has served as Obama's chief in-house foreign affairs adviser based, in large measure, on experience from his own tenure as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Biden may not be able to appoint Kerry to the post, but any opposition to Kerry assuming the role would be hard for the senator to overcome, given his stature in the West Wing.
Left unsaid, too, is the ripple effect for Massachusetts from any change.
Kerry isn't up for re-election until 2014 two years after the next presidential election, and what would be the halfway-point in an Obama administration were the president to win a second term. It would be a logical point for any Cabinet member to step down, including the secretary of state. Colin Powell did just that after serving as secretary of state for the first term of President George W. Bush's administration.
Were Kerry to become secretary of state then, it would be up to Governor Deval Patrick to pick his successor. And that possibility may determine who steps up to challenge Senator Scott Brown when the Republican himself seeks re-election next year.
One school of thought is that US Representative Michael Capuano, the only House member to take a shot at succeeding the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, might take another shot at joining the upper chamber of Congress in 2012.
Even if he were to fail, Patrick could reward his valiant effort on behalf of the party by appointing him to any Kerry vacancy.
The other school of thought is that potential Brown challengers such as Representative Edward J. Markey, the dean of the congressional delegation, or Vicki Kennedy, the late senator's widow, might skip a contentious campaign against the politically adept Brown for the safer route of a direct gubernatorial appointment.
Kennedy has repeatedly and recently ruled out a 2012 campaign; Markey has not.
Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
In one more indication Mitt Romney is tuning up his political apparatus for a 2012 presidential run, the former governor hosted a breakfast meeting today at the Boston Harbor Hotel for dozens of his top local supporters and fund-raisers from his past campaigns for governor and president.
During the session, Romney gave his assessment of what the field for the Republican nomination is likely to be, according to people who were there. While Romney indicated he has not made a final decision, he gave every indication he intends to make a formal announcement this spring, probably in late April or early May, one attendee said.
Among those said to be in attendance were former Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker; Romney's former lieutenant governor, Kerry Healey; Romney Cabinet members Ranch Kimball and Tim Murphy; state GOP chairwoman Jennifer Nassour; and fundraisers including Spencer Zwick, Robert Platt and Christopher Collins.
Romney was in New York earlier this week, promoting the paperback release of his book, ``No Apology.''
Senator Scott Brown will be in Massachusetts tomorrow, making a pair of public stops.
The Republican is scheduled to address the South Shore Chamber of Commerce at 8:15 a.m. at The Lantana in Randolph.
The focus of his remarks will be job creation.
At 12:30 p.m., Brown is joining MIT President Susan Hockfield for a tour of the Cambridge school's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. The senator will also discuss his ``Innovate America Act,'' which he announced this week and which aims to boost small business innovation to encourage global competition.
He is teaming up on the bill with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat.
Brown not only sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, but he's a lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts National Guard. He still drills monthly in Milford.
Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.
Mitt Romney skipped the tie but still wasn't overly loose as he appeared on the ``Late Show with David Letterman'' and read the nightly Top Ten list last night.
Draped on the same blazer and open-collared shirt he wore earlier in the day on a New York City media blitz, Romney was the object of Letterman's needle even before starting down the list.
"I begged him to put on a tie,'' the host said as the former Massachusetts governor, and likely 2012 presidential contender, chuckled.
Romney then began his appointed task: reading a list of "Top Ten Things You Don't Know About Mitt Romney.''
No. 10 was, "'Mitt' is short for 'Mitt-thew.'''
On No. 9, Romney joked that he can't begin his day without reading The Washington Post and socialite Kim Kardashian's Tweets.
And we always thought it was the granola baked by his wife, Ann.
No. 8 brought a good laugh: "I'm the guy in the photo that comes in your picture frame.''
And the No. 1 thing was, "Oprah is my half-sister."
Former Governor Mitt Romney may not have decided whether to run for president, but someone else in his household has already made the call.
"My wife thinks I should run," he declared tonight in an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan. "She's absolutely committed. She's saying, 'You've got to run, you've got to have somebody who understands the world of the economy, small business, who can create jobs.' She's convinced I've got to run. But I have to look more broadly and say, 'Alright, Do I have a team necessary to do this?'"
Romney, continuing a whirlwind tour of television interviews to promote the new paperback version of his book, also talked up potential presidential rival Sarah Palin.
"I believe she is an extraordinarily powerful and effective voice in our party, that she has generated a great deal of support and attention," he said of the former Alaska governor. "She'd be great in a primary process."
When Morgan asked whether Romney could beat Palin, he said, "I don't know the answer to that."
The host then asked whether his wife knows the answer.
"She probably does," Romney replied.
Morgan then declared Ann Romney more interesting than the former governor himself -- "Nevermind what you think, cause I think she's fascinating here," he said -- and asked Mitt Romney why his wife thinks he lost the 2008 Republican nomination.
"Boy, that's a darn good question. I can't read her mind on all dimensions," Romney said.
He went on to say that both he and Ann think that Senator John McCain had an edge on foreign policy.
"At the time we were running, the most important issue that the country was concerned about was Iraq," Romney said. "And John McCain was an in-disputed expert on matters related to Iraq, and that was something which augured in his favor."
"I think I also spent a lot of time talking about issues which were not central to the reason I was running," Romney said, perhaps offering a clue for a sharper focus in his second presidential bid.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney split with some of his potential 2012 Republican presidential contenders today as he credited the Obama administration with taking a prudent course toward dealing with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak amid the civil unrest roiling his country.
Launching a media whirlwind, the 2008 GOP candidate told ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" that "I think what the United States has to do is make it very clear to the people of Egypt that we stand with the voices of democracy and freedom and we also have to communicate I think as the administration has."
Later, on ABC's "The View,'' he added: "I don't think the United States should go out publicly and call for the resignation of someone who has been our friend." He suggested back channels were a more appropriate means of conveying that message.
Nonetheless, Romney made clear he felt the posture was arrived at haltingly, not decisively.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has also called for Mubarak to step aside, but he has been unbridled in his condemnation of his party's potential 2012 Democratic opponent, President Barack Obama.
Two other possible candidates, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former UN ambassador John Bolton, argue that siding with the millions of protestors who have flooded the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities could empower a potential Islamist regime, widen instability in the Middle East and threaten neighboring Israel.
Romney was careful to distinguish himself from Obama on another point: the universal health care bills each man signed into law.
While the federal law Obama signed last year contained a requirement to obtain insurance and penalties for not doing so as did the 2006 measure Romney signed as governor, he differentiated between the two.
"We addressed a problem in Massachusetts that was designed to solve problems for the people of Massachusetts,'' he said on ``The View. ``But it is wrong and unconstitutional to take what is designed for one state and say we're going to apply that in every state."
Later in the day, Romney was being interviewed by CNN's Piers Morgan, before stopping by the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York to present the nightly Top Ten list on CBS-TV's ``The Late Show with David Letterman."
WASHINGTON – He comes from a family of Mormons, has strong ties to Utah, and touts a record as a former governor. He’s personally wealthy, and he’s starting to generate early buzz for a Republican presidential race.
But his name is not Mitt Romney.
Jon Huntsman has told the White House he intends to leave his post as US ambassador to China, and is said to be considering a presidential run.
Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, was appointed to the key ambassadorship by President Obama in what many viewed as a canny political move: eliminating a potential rival.
But now Huntsman is weighing a Republican bid against his former boss – which could prove complicated.
"I'm sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary," Obama said with a smile at a recent press conference.
Huntsman could also run into some of the same issues that Romney did during his 2008 presidential bid, when conservative Christians in early states like Iowa and South Carolina seemed to hold Romney’s Mormon faith against him.
According to the Associated Press, Huntsman’s allies are suggesting he would stay in Beijing through April, and would make an announcement in early summer.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
WASHINGTON -- Former Governor Mitt Romney raised nearly $175,000 in the final five weeks of 2010 and starts out this year with $1.4 million in the bank, according to newly filed campaign disclosure forms.
His political action committee -- called the Free and Strong America PAC -- begins 2011 with more than any other prospective presidential candidate. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is close, with $1.3 million in her account.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has nearly $155,000 in his account, while Politico is reporting that former Governor Mike Huckabee has less than $138,000 in his account. Several others, including Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, had not filed their updated forms by mid-afternoon.
The accounts are only one early gauge at the strength of a candidate, and they would form separate campaign funds when announcing a presidential bid. The latest figures come in the year-end reports that are due today at the Federal Election Commission. Much of the data had already been known, with newer figures coming in for the period from Nov. 23 to Dec. 31.
Romney took in nearly $175,500 between during that period. Romney also has five state political action committees -- in Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, and South Carolina -- that took in an additional $36,000 during that time period.
All told, he has $796,200 remaining in his federal PAC, and $650,500 in those set up in the states. During the year, he donated $1.2 million to more than 500 Republican candidates and conservative causes.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASHINGTON – Former Governor Mitt Romney tonight blasted President Obama, going after him using a line of attack that opponents have utilized before: competency for the job.
“He’s trying awfully hard,” Romney said during an appearance on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News. “The problem is, he just doesn’t know what to do.”
Romney said that not only were President Obama’s policies misguided, but that he had been “cavalier” in dealing with the economic woes facing the nation.
“It’s sad to watch in some respects because obviously we care very deeply with what’s happening with the country, we want people to get back to work,” Romney said. “But he just doesn’t know what the right things are that he’s got to do to make that happen. He’s really put in place over the last two years about the most anti-investment, anti-business, anti-jobs regimen that we’ve seen probably in the past couple decades.”
It marked a sharp tone for Romney, and came the day after President Obama called for bipartisanship in his State of the Union address.
Romney, when asked whether repealing Obama’s signature health care plan should be the top priority, said, “Oh, sure. A new spending entitlement for the federal government is absolutely the wrong idea.”
Health care is thought to be a major hurdle for Romney in seeking the Republican presidential nomination because the national plan closely mirrors the one that Romney helped pass in Massachusetts.
Romney also criticized Obama’s call for a five-year freeze on discretionary spending, saying it wasn’t enough.
“His idea of running spending up to the highest level in American history, and then saying why don’t we freeze it there – it’s almost laughable, given the scale of the challenges we face,” Romney said, pointing to budget cuts he made as governor of the Bay State. “But you have to cry instead when you think of all the people that are suffering because of it.”
Romney is widely expected to announce that he will run for president, but was coy about that decision tonight.
“You know, no decision at this point,” he said. “We’ll give that some thought, obviously, and we’re doing the things we need to to keep in the public eye.”
The longtime businessman then said it was important for the field to have a businessman.
“I don’t know who all is going to get in the race, but I do believe that it would be helpful if at least one of the people who’s running in the Republican field had extensive experience in the private sector – in small business, in big business,” he said.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
WASHINGTON – Former Governor Mitt Romney leads in yet another national poll, with 24 percent of likely Republican primary voters picking him as their presidential nominee.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is running second (with 19 percent), followed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (17 percent) and former House speaker Newt Gingrich (11 percent). None of the other candidates broke into double-digits in the poll, which was conducted last week by Rasmussen Reports.
Palin leads among Tea Party members, with 28 percent, while Romney was favored among non-Tea Party members, with 32 percent.
Palin and Huckabee lead with evangelical Christians, while Romney carried other protestants, Catholics, and those of other religions. Romney also lead among married and unmarried voters, but Palin had a slight lead among those with children living with them.
Romney, Palin, and Huckbee essentially had a three-way tie among voters who describe themselves as very conservative. But among those who describe themselves as somewhat conservative and moderate/liberal preferred Romney.
The poll, which surveyed 1,000 likely primary voters, had a margin of error of 3 percent.
Romney has consistently led in recent polls, including a straw poll conducted on Saturday by New Hampshire Republicans. Much of the polling this early is based on name recognition, and none of the potential contenders have announced a presidential bid.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASHINGTON – The first debate in the Republican presidential primary has been set for May 2.
The debate, which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation in Simi Valley Calif., is being sponsored by NBC News, Politico, and Telemundo. The moderators will be NBC’s Brian Williams and Politico’s John Harris.
The debate will air on MSNBC, POLITICO.com, CNBC and Telemundo.
The Reagan Library was also the venue for the first GOP debate in the 2008 campaign cycle.
“We have established a wonderful tradition – of which I know Ronnie would be so proud – of using the Library as a first-in-the-nation forum for candidates to introduce themselves and their visions for America to a national audience,” former First Lady Nancy Reagan said in a statement.
The Reagan library plans to host a second debate on the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries in March 2012.
There’s still a major component missing: candidates. No Republican has officially announced that they’ll run for president.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com
Former Governor Mitt Romney this afternoon handily won a New Hampshire straw poll of the party faithful, demonstrating his strength in the crucial first-in-the-nation primary state.
The poll, conducted at the Republican State Committee meeting in Derry, had Romney at 35 percent. Trailing him were Representative Ron Paul (11 percent), former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (8 percent), former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (7 percent), and Representative Michele Bachmann (5 percent).
But in a further indication that the Granite State is taking a turn toward the right, Tea Party-backed Jack Kimball was elected in a separate vote as the new GOP chairman. He defeated the establishment-backed candidate, Juliana Bergeron, by a 222-199 vote in a show of strength for the Tea Party that is bound to influence the state's presidential primary field.
Although the party chairman has traditionally stayed neutral, Kimball made comments recently to NHJournal.com that he would attempt to "put forth a strong conservative presidential candidate." The comments upset some of the party's traditional power brokers who were supporting Bergeron.
They also seemed to spell trouble for Romney, who has not been popular among Tea Party activists and has not been courting them in some of the early primary states.
But the fact that Romney won the straw poll in a Tea Party atmosphere that also helped Kimball win the chairmanship may bode well for Romney's expected candidacy. Romney has so far been presenting himself as the establishment candidate, a responsible mainstream leader with the necessary financial resources and credentials to beat President Obama.
Romney, who has a home in Wolfeboro, N.H., has spent time in the state campaigning for candidates, making donations, and helping the state elect a slate of Republicans in the midterm elections. The work seems to have paid off: He has also lead in recent opinion polls in the state.
Nonetheless, the straw poll was done of just several hundred state committee members more than a year before voters head to the polls, when a lot can change. The straw poll was organized by ABC News and WMUR-TV. The ballot included nearly 20 candidates who have been mentioned as possible presidential contenders.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON – Top Democrats today announced that Jennifer O’Malley Dillon will be deputy campaign manager of President Obama’s reelection campaign.
Dillon, a Franklin, Mass., native and Tufts University graduate, will be leaving her post as executive director of the Democratic National Committee, according to an announcement from the DNC.
She started in politics by working on Scott Harshbarger's unsuccessful campaign for Massachusetts governor in 1998. She later worked on several other campaigns before working on the 2004 and 2008 presdiential bids by former Senator John Edwards.
Dillon later came over to Obama’s campaign and directed his operations in 22 battleground states.
“As a Deputy Campaign Manager of the President’s reelection campaign, she will play a critical role in ensuring that President Obama has the opportunity to continue to bring about positive, progressive change during a second term in the White House,” DNC chairman Tim Kaine said this afternoon in a statement. “I would like to congratulate Jen on this opportunity, thank her for her historic contribution to building a great DNC operation and wish her well in her transition to this new job. The President could not have done better than to tap Jen to help lead his reelection effort.”
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
Former Governor Mitt Romney is on a weeklong trip to the Middle East for a series of high-level meetings, a trip that could help bolster his foreign policy credentials as he weighs a presidential run.
Romney left on Friday for Afghanistan, Israel, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates, according to senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom. He is planning to meet with President Karzai of Afghanistan, Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, and King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Among those traveling with him is Kerry Healey, who served as lieutenant governor during Romney's four-year term in Massachusetts and has had an interest on the rights of women in Afghanistan.
"The purpose of the trip is not to conduct private diplomacy but to give Governor Romney a first-hand look at what is happening in an important region of the world," Fehrnstrom said this morning.
While in Afghanistan, Romney will also train Afghans and "share with local leaders his views on issues of leadership, public service, economic opportunity and democratic participation," according to Fehrnstrom.
Romney is widely expected this spring to announce a run for the Republican presidential nomination.
Traveling with Romney on the trip are:
Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, president of Washington College in Maryland who is former State Department official under Colin Powell and traveled with Romney to China and Korea in 2006; former Senator Jim Talent, of Missouri, who was a Romney adviser during his 2008 campaign and is now a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation; Healey, who has an interest in the rights of women and justice reform in Afghanistan and was appointed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to a committee reviewing those issues; and Dan Senor, an adviser on Romney's 2008 campaign who is currently a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Fehrnstrom said the trip is being paid for through a combination of private sources, and that no government funding is involved. Romney is also paying for part of the trip himself.
The Afghanistan portion of the trip is sponsored by the International Republican Institute, a non-profit that aims to advance democracies worldwide.
The Israel portion of the trip is sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, which is part of the pro-Israel group American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney has a commanding lead in the crucial primary state of New Hampshire, according to a new poll that shows him 23 points ahead of his next closest Republican rival, former Alaksa Governor Sarah Palin.
In the poll, which is based on 1,451 likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, 39 percent picked Romney, compared with 16 percent for Palin. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was the only other candidate who polled in double-digits, getting 10 percent.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich got 8 percent; Representative Ron Paul of Texas got 7 percent; former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty got 4 percent; former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania got 3 percent; and Missisippi Governor Haley Barbour got 1 percent.
The poll is still very early in the process – no candidate has formally announced, and primary voters won’t head to the polls for more than a year – but Romney’s lead is substantial.
He has 73 percent favorability rating and leads in all categories. His biggest lead over Palin is among independent women, where 41 percent chose Romney compared with 9 percent for Palin.
During the 2008 campaign, the former Massachusetts governor came in second place in the Granite State, behind the eventual nominee, Senator John McCain. If Romney decides to run again, as he is widely expected to, New Hampshire will almost certainly be a must-win state for him.
The poll was conducted on Jan. 4 by Magella Data and Mapping Strategies, and was commissioned by NHJournal.com. Likely voters were contacted using automated telephone calls, and the survey has a margin of error of 2.6 percent.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
WASHINGTON -- First, the non-news. Mitt Romney did not announce on The Tonight Show last night that he is running for president. That decision may be a few months away.
Instead, in one of those "did he just say that?" moments, Romney was asked by host Jay Leno about a photo showing him washing dishes (or, at least, a dish).
"Listen, the only thing I can say about that is, I'm glad Ann did not have me in the 'French maid' outfit doing that," Romney said, referring to his wife and, apparently, sexy clothing.
Now, on to the presidential campaign speculation. Romney was determined to keep up the suspense. Asked if he would follow several other Republican prospects such as Sarah Palin in taking a job as an analyst for Fox News, Romney said he would not.
"If you ever see me sign up for a gig on Fox News, it'll be a clear indication that I've decided to run for president," the former Massachusetts governor said. "That's not in the cards anytime soon."
Romney associates have said he is likely to make a decision about another bid for the White House in late winter or early spring.
Romney said that an informal poll of his family found that 60 percent want him to run and the rest do not.
Asked what he would differently if he ran in 2012 compared to his 2008 campaign, Romney joked: "If I were to do it again, I'd have to make sure I got more votes than the other guy."
WASHINGTON – Former President George H.W. Bush last night gave Mitt Romney what some might consider an informal endorsement last night, saying he thinks the former Massachusetts governor would be “a very good president.”
“If you asked me, who will the nominee be, I couldn't tell you,” George Bush said on CNN, when asked by host Larry King who his personal favorite is for the 2012 contest. “We like Mitt Romney. We know him well and like him very much."
"He's a reasonable guy," he added. "A conservative fellow, which is good. But no, I think he'd be a good president, a very good president."
He also said he was less familiar with the emerging field this year.
“We don’t know them all,” Bush said, before referencing the governor of Minnesota. “This guy [Tim] Pawlenty out there from the Midwest, I don’t know him, never met him. Everyone say he’s a wonderful person.”
Barbara Bush mentioned other governors – Haley Barbour, of Mississippi, and Bobby Jindal, of Louisiana – as others they liked but joined her husband in backing Romney.
"I'll go with George. Mitt Romney,” she said. “I like a lot of them. But I like people who feel that you can respect other people's ideas. I like that a lot.”
The outspoken former first lady also made clear that she did not favor a presidential run by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
"Well, I sat next to her once. Thought she was beautiful," Barbara Bush said. "And I think she's very happy in Alaska. And I hope she'll stay there."
Watch a clip from the interview here, and look for the discussion of possible 2012 nominees at the 1:20 mark.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Key Republican lobbyists lunched in a downtown Washington, DC restaurant with Mitt Romney and two senior aides today, in a small briefing designed to showcase Romney’s fund raising and GOP campaign contributions this election season through his Free and Strong America PAC, Politico reports.
Romney brought in nearly $1.7 million in the last quarter, outpacing other potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, according to figures submitted to the Federal Election Commission. Romney is widely expected to run in 2012, and his formidable fundraising skills and generous campaign contributions -- $940,000 this year -- have garnered him frontrunner status with many pundits, the Globe reported last week.
John Kerry was in the Land of Lincoln today, but he spent much of his time hurling barbs at the first Republican president's descendants.
The Democrat senator from Massachusetts came to Chicago to stump for Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic state treasurer who is running for President Obama's old US Senate seat in Illinois. While praising Giannoulias for his stance on climate change legislation, Kerry decried GOP nominee Mark Kirk for wobbling on key pieces of legislation and blasted behind-the-scenes groups that have solicited tens of millions of dollars through "secret funding'' and used them for attack ads against Democratic candidates.
In particular, Kerry took aim at an old nemesis, Karl Rove, who was a key player in the campaign to reelect President George W. Bush over Kerry in 2004. Rove now has a role coordinating television advertising campaigns against Giannoulias and other Democrats through American Crossroads, a nonprofit group he co-founded.
The attack ads are nothing short of disgraceful, Kerry said, comparing the campaign to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads during the 2004 elections. Those ads questioned Kerry's actions as a young Navy officer in Vietnam.
Kerry also denounced a landmark Supreme Court case, Citizens United v. FEC, that greatly expanded the ability of businesses and unions to spend money in elections. Many corporations are using nonprofit groups such as American Crossroads to channel their money anonymously.
"The Supreme Court decision is one of the worst decisions I've seen in all my public years," he said.
Kerry criticized Kirk, a five-term US representative, for flip-flopping on cap-and-trade legislation curbing carbon emissions, a signature issue for Kerry. Kirk initially supported such legislation but is now campaigning against it.
"Alexi understands that America's national security is at risk and our future economy is at risk if we don't get into this fight in a better way and begin to move to these new technologies," Kerry said. "His opponent represents more of the same. He's flipped and moved from one position to another."
WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney is continuing to raise money at a rapid clip, bringing in nearly $1.7 million over three months and continuing to outpace other possible 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls.
Former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin brought in $1.2 million between July and September, according to federal campaign contribution data, while Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty reportedly collected about $778,000.
Romney’s haul was bolstered by five state political action committees that he has established, in addition to his federal committee. He raised $1 million through his federal PAC, and $640,000 through statewide PACs established in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Alabama, and Michigan.
The latest figures were released today by some of the campaigns and will be submitted to the Federal Election Commission in the coming days.
In addition to raising money, Romney has been spending it in an effort to generate good will and elect like minded candidates. Romney has contributed $940,000 this year, including $531,000 over the latest three month period.
Romney is also stepping up his stumping. He was in Harrisburg, Penn., yesterday campaigning for gubernatorial candidate Tom Crobett, and today he’s in Bedminster, NJ, for congressman Leonard Lance. Next week he’s traveling to Wisconsin and Minnesota for campaign events.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
Both moderate and conservative Republican voters favor Mitt Romney for president in 2012 over other potential candidates, according to an early nationwide Gallup poll released today.
The former Massachusetts governor and candidate for president in 2008 garnered the support of 21 percent of Republicans who consider themselves moderate or liberal, topping former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who attracted 15 percent of the vote. Even among Palin’s presumed base -- conservative voters -- Romney came out on top, winning 19 percent of the vote to Palin’s 16 percent.
Overall, Romney took 19 percent, with Palin reaching 16 percent and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee getting 12 percent. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Representative Ron Paul, a favorite of some libertarians who also ran in 2008, garnered 9 percent and 7 percent respectively.
The upcoming midterm elections have consumed the energy and focus of Republicans, pushing the 2012 president race to the sidelines. Unlike four years ago, when John McCain was actively campaigning in early fall, most prospective candidates this year have largely played supporting roles, holding fund-raisers, campaigning for favored Republicans in their home states, and offering contributions from their political action committees.
The exception among the early names has been Palin, who has drawn wide attention and some criticism for her high-profile endorsements of candidates and her support for Tea Party movement activities.
Romney, who has been silent on whether he'll run again for the White House, was in New Hampshire last weekend, serving as the keynote speaker of the state GOP’s convention. The Granite State, home of the first primary in the nation, has served as Romney’s base of operations in the past several months. A recent poll by Public Policy Polling showed him trouncing possible rivals in New Hampshire, with Romney grabbing 41 percent to Gingrich's 12 percent and Palin's 10 percent.
Today’s Gallup Poll also showed Romney running particularly strong in the East (26 percent of the vote) and the West (27 percent). Palin and Huckabee were favored in the South.
The Gallup organization noted that Republicans tend to nominate early front-runners, with an exception being in 2008, when Rudy Giuliani led most of the early polls before faltering in the early primaries.
The Gallup survey of 906 Republicans was conducted last weekend and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
WASHINGTON – A new study of demographic data forecasts that 12 congressional seats affecting 18 states – including Massachusetts – will change hands for the 2012 elections as a result of shifting population bases throughout the country.
Massachusetts would lose one seat, as would seven other states – Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania – according to new projections from Election Data Services, Inc. New York and Ohio would each lose two seats.
There would be several beneficiaries, according to the estimates.
Six states -- Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington – would each gain one seat. Florida would gain two seats, and Texas would gain four.
“We were most surprised at the shift of an additional district out of New York and down to Florida, even though that follows the population movement in this country since World War II,” said Kimball Brace, president of the election data firm.
There are 16 states that are on the cusp and could still change, according to the study, but Massachusetts is not among them. It is firmly in the category of states projected to lose a seat.
No other state in New England would be impacted, although Rhode Island is only narrowly expected to keep both of its current congressional districts; if the census numbers come in lower than expected, it could lose one of those seats.
The reapportionment process will begin shortly after the US Census numbers are released. Each state will then have to draw new congressional districts in time for the 2012 elections.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Four months before election day, incumbents running for reelection in the fall -- all Democrats --have significantly larger campaign warchests than those of their opponents, according to figures from the Federal Election Commission.
Such fund-raising prowess dims the prospects of Republicans to unseat any of the incumbents. The GOP had hoped the upset win of Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley in the special Senate election earlier this year would broaden its appeal -- and fatten its coffers -- statewide. It has not happened.
Even in the race with the smallest gap, Democratic Representative Niki Tsongas has five times the amount of money on hand ($567,997) than her nearest opponent, Jonathan Golnik, a Republican businessman, with $112,814.
In the only open seat in the Bay State, the 10th Congressional District, Norfolk County District Attorney William Keating has substantially more in his coffers than his Democratic opponent, state Senator Robert O’Leary, $411,152 to $164,145. Both have outraised Republicans Jeffrey D. Perry, a state representative with $139,653, former state treasurer Joseph Malone $63,399, and Raymond Kasperowicz $1,888. The candidates are seeking to replace Representative William Delahunt, who is retiring.
Some entrenched incumbents have prodigious amounts of money, including Edward Markey, a 17-term representative from Malden, with $3,341,366, and Richard Neal, a 11-term representative from Springfield, with $2,974,164. Neal has been using that money to parcel out contributions to embattled Democrats across the nation in his effort to build support for a possible candidacy for chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Totals for the amount of cash in each congressional candidate's campaign account as of the end of June:
First Congressional District:
(incumbent) Representative John Olver (D) - $348,189
William Gunn (R) - $2,846
Michael Engel (I) - $15,700
(i) Representative Richard Neal (D) - $2,974,164
Jay Fleitman (R) - $15,899
Tom Wesley (R) - $23,431
(i) Representative James McGovern (D) - $822,957
Brian Herr (R) - $23,347
Martin Lamb (R) - $2,883
Patrick Barron (U) - $1,254
(i) Representative Barney Frank (D) - $981,168
Rachel Brown (D) - $1,131
Sean Bielat (R) - $95,076
Earl Sholley (R) - $11,153
(i) Representative Niki Tsongas (D) - $567,997
Jonathan Golnik (R) - $112,814
Robert Shapiro (R) - $2,851
Sam Meas (R) - $1,075
Michael Clark (U) - $566
Edward Brown (I) - $180
(i) Representative John Tierney (D) - $1,550,056
William Hudak (R) - $126,235
Robert McCarthy (R) - $26,261
(i) Representative Edward Markey (D) - $3,341,366
Gerry Dembrowski (R) - $3,241
(i) Representative Michael Capuano (D) - $15,243
(i) Representative Stephen Lynch (D) - $1,311,266
Mac D'Alessandro (D) - $71,672
Keith Lepor (R) - $415
Philip Dunkelbarger (U) - $877
William Keating (D) - $411,152
Robert O'Leary (D) - $164,145
Jeffrey Perry (R) - $139,653
Joseph Malone (R) - $63,399
Raymond Kasperowicz (R) - $1,888
Andrew Sheets (I) - $8,500
Source: Associated Press
Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown said this morning that he was ruling out a presidential run in 2012 and that he supported former Bay State governor Mitt Romney in the race.
"Yes, absolutely, 2012, I'm ruling it out," Brown told interviewer Jamie Gangel on NBC-TV's "Today" show. When Gangel asked if he might run someday, Brown sidestepped, saying, "I'm not even going to jump at that. Nice try."
Brown's upset victory over Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley in a Jan. 19 special election stirred turmoil in Washington, catapulted Brown into the national spotlight, and spawned speculation about his political future.
Brown told Gangel his foremost professional priority for the next two years would be to "make sure that we can continue to deliver top rate constituent services and solve problems for the citizens of Massachusetts."
Asked if he supported former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin for president, Brown said he supported Romney. "Well, I'm going to support Governor Romney, and I'm going to see who's out there in the field and then make my decision," he told Gangel.
Colin Reed, a Brown spokesman, said Brown had supported Romney before and "will be with him again if he chooses to run."
The special election filled the seat of long-time Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Asked what he thought the liberal senator would have thought of having him in his seat, Brown said, "I hope he would be proud that someone who started from nothing was able to achieve the American Dream."
Brown and other New England Republicans have reemerged as a pivotal political force in the US Senate, able to block bills they don't like while offering the Democrats their best chance of capturing the critical GOP votes needed to approve legislation in the deeply partisan body, the Globe reported this week.
Just before today's White House jobs summit, Mitt Romney minces no words in blasting President Obama's economic policies.
"Like other presidents before him, Barack Obama inherited a recession. But unlike them, he has made it worse, not better," Romney writes in an opinion piece published this morning in USA Today.
The former Massachusetts governor -- who made his name and fortune at Bain Capital, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination last year, and who could very well run again in 2012 -- derides Obama's economic know-how
"His failure to stem the unemployment tide should not have been a surprise. With no experience whatsoever in the world of employment and business formation, he had no compass to guide his path," Romney writes. "Instead, he turned over much of his economic recovery agenda to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, themselves nearly as inexperienced in the private sector as he. Congress gave him and them everything they asked for, including a history-making three-quarters of a trillion dollar stimulus. But it did little to stimulate the real economy -- where jobs are created."
Romney also joins in the GOP criticism of the White House claims of success for the $787 billion economic stimulus. "In an attempt to disguise the truth, the administration has touted inflated figures of jobs "created."But every month, in good times and bad, jobs are created and jobs are lost. What matters is the net difference between the two numbers. Focusing solely on jobs created while ignoring the far greater numbers of jobs lost is Harry Houdini economics," he writes.
Romney then lays out his own 10-point plan, including freezing stimulus money that hasn't been spent yet and redirecting it to the private sector, granting more business tax breaks, not allowing President George W. Bush's tax cuts to expire at the end of 2010, ditching the "cap-and-trade" climate change legislation, and approving free trade agreements with Colombia and other countries.
UPDATE: Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan responded in kind to Romney:
“For months, the American people have been waiting for the 'Party of No' to offer a plan -- any plan -- to help fix the economy and create jobs. And for months, Republicans have done nothing. Now, instead of acknowledging, as leading economists and the independent CBO have, that the president's recovery act rescued this country's economy from the brink of disaster and has already saved or created 1.6 million jobs, Republican leaders like Mitt Romney and Eric Cantor are now offering 'plans' that are nothing more than a laundry list of the failed Bush-era economic policies that nearly destroyed our economy in the first place. Mitt Romney's allegiance to Bush economics is one policy position he'd do well to flip-flop on.”
While Sarah Palin is in a tightly bunched pack in early 2012 Republican presidential polls, she has a clear lead over her rivals among the conservatives who listen to Rush Limbaugh and watch Glenn Beck, according to a new poll.
Several recent surveys have shown the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, former Alaska governor, and now best-selling author in the vicinity of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Those same surveys showed most Americans don't believe she's qualified to be president.
But in the new Washington Post poll published today, Palin is ahead of GOP competitors on who best represents the party's core values -- and way ahead on that question among followers of talk show hosts Limbaugh and Beck.
Overall, 18 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents picked Palin as the person most representative of GOP values. Among Limbaugh listeners, Palin was named by 48 percent, and among Beck viewers, 35 percent, the poll found.
Palin, who is in midst of a book tour that resembles a political campaign, also leads the Republican field for 2012, but with only 17 percent. That support is far higher, 45 percent, among regular Limbaugh listeners and 33 percent among loyal Beck followers.
As Sarah Palin embarks on a pivotal week for her future political prospects, a new poll shows just how far she has to go with the American public.
The former Alaska governor, 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, and possible 2012 presidential contender appears today on "Oprah," officially comes out with her best-selling "Going Rogue" memoir on Tuesday, and does a series of other interviews this week.
But the Washington Post/ABC News poll published today says that 60 percent of Americans do not believe that she is qualified to serve as president. A majority, 53 percent, also say they would not vote for Palin for president in 2012 , while only 9 percent say they would definitely vote for her and another 37 percent say they would consider it.
And a majority, 52 percent, view her unfavorably, though among Republicans, her positive rating soars to 76 percent.
Palin also doesn't fare well in another poll released today.
In the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey, only 28 percent said that she is qualified to be president. That is significantly lower than for potential 2012 GOP rivals Mitt Romney (47 percent) and Mike Huckabee (43 percent).
And Palin's number is far behind two high-profile Democrats, Hillary Rodham Clinton (67 percent say she's qualified to be commander in chief) and Vice President Joe Biden (50 percent.)
UPDATE: In the "Oprah" interview, Palin said that a 2012 bid is "not on my radar screen right now," but didn't rule out that it might be later. "I am dealing with so many issues that are important to me,” said Palin, who resigned over the summer as governor. “What I am seeing every day is that you don’t need a title to be important."
She also deflected any blame for the Republican ticket's loss last year.
"I think the reason we lost is that the economy tanked under a Republican and people were very seriously looking for a change," Palin said. "I don't think I was to blame for losing the race more than I could have been credited for winning the race if I had done a better job."
There's another very early read on the potential Republican presidential field for 2012, and it's not very encouraging for them.
The USA Today/Gallup poll released today found that three high-profile former governors with their own followings -- Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, and Sarah Palin of Alaska -- lead the pack among Republicans questioned.
But the worrisome finding for the GOP is that among all Americans, the poll found that no candidate was able to get a majority to say they would seriously consider voting for him or her for president.
Here are the numbers: 71 percent of Republicans but only 40 percent of all respondents said they would seriously consider voting for Huckabee, who ran last year and now has a talk show on Fox News Channel; 65 percent of Republicans and 39 percent of all Americans said they would consider Romney, who also ran last year; and 65 percent of Republicans but only 33 percent overall said they would seriously consider Palin, the GOP vice presidential candidate last year.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour drew even less support.
The GOP wins in New Jersey and Virginia are breeding a new competition among Republicans to take part of the credit.
Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, potential rivals for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, both tried to bask in glow.
"We worked extremely hard on behalf of Bob McDonnell and the entire Republican ticket in Virginia, and helped him close strong with a full day of campaigning in the final week; in New Jersey, we endorsed Chris Christie early and made sure he had the resources to be competitive against his better-financed opponent," Romney told supporters of his Free & Strong America PAC this morning.
"We should be proud of what we have accomplished together; but this is no time to rest on our laurels. We must begin building upon these victories today to ensure that we have the resources we need to take back the Congress in 2010," the former Massachusetts governor exhorted.
For his part, Pawlenty pointed out that the Republican Governors Association -- he is vice chairman -- helped both McDonnell and Christie and saw a similar message in their victories.
"Virginians embraced his conservative message, rejecting more taxes, card-check and spending that would hurt economic growth and job creation," Pawlenty said in a statement.
The Minnesota governor said Christie's win "beat all odds and sends a powerful signal that voters want a return to fiscally conservative leadership."
Neither, however, mentioned the big loss in an upstate New York congressional district, where Republican disunity allowed Democrat Bill Owens to win the seat.
Romney, smartly it turned out, stayed out of the fray. But Pawlenty, after Sarah Palin endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, jumped on his bandwagon.
Fresh off throwing her political weight around in a New York congressional race, Sarah Palin today is trying to help the Republican candidate get over the finish line in Virginia.
Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee and former Alaska governor, gave a high-profile endorsement to Conservative Doug Hoffman in the 23rd Congressional District in upstate New York. That led to the withdrawal over the weekend of Republican Dede Scozzafava, who then turned around and endorsed Democrat Bill Owens.
Today, Virginia voters are getting a recorded phone call from Palin urging them to vote for "Sarah's principles" and telling them that the "eyes of America" are on the governor's race, which pits Republican Bob McDonnell against Democrat Creigh Deeds. Despite some last-week appearances by President Obama on Deeds' behalf, he trails McDonnell in the polls.
Palin is late to the campaign compared to Mitt Romney, a potential rival for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, who has been actively supporting McDonnell.
Mitt Romney's name won't be on the ballot -- and neither will President Obama's -- but both have something at stake in the battles for governor in New Jersey and Virginia next Tuesday.
Romney has campaigned and raised money for the Republican candidates, and Obama has done the same for the Democrats in what some are viewing as a one-year referendum on the president.
Today, Romney sent an email to supporters of his Free and Strong and America PAC, soliciting last-minute contributions. "A donation today can help achieve strong conservative wins in the critical states of Virginia and New Jersey and will give us the momentum we need to take back the House and Senate in 2010," he wrote.
"This is our time. Polls show that we continue to gain strength, but we cannot back down," he continues. "I am doing all I can to stand up for what we believe, but I can't do it alone."
Romney, who sought the GOP presidential nomination last year and is potential contender in 2012, has staked quite a bit of his influence on how Bob McDonnell does in Virginia and Chris Christie fares in New Jersey. The former Massachusetts governor has done more for McDonnell, who is ahead of Democrat Creigh Deeds in the polls, than for Christie, who trails incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine.
UPDATE: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele also expressed confidence in the New Jersey and Virginia races today, issuing a memo giving an extremely rosy view of the party's prospects going forward.
"Just one year ago, many political pundits had written the epitaph of the Republican Party. They claimed the nation had undergone a fundamental realignment from the center-right of the political spectrum toward the Democrats, and that the GOP had become nothing but a regional party – at best," he told supporters.
"Today, Republicans have begun to reestablish the trust of voters on a majority of issues; and, I am proud to say are turning an important corner and are moving forward with strength."
Steele's full memo is below:
In a very early read on the potential GOP presidential field for 2012, new poll results out this morning put former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee at the head of the pack.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey found former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in second, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in third, and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty a distant fourth among Republicans, who were asked who they were most likely to support.
Huckabee, up to 32 percent from 26 percent in February, passed Palin, down to 25 percent from 29 percent. Romney stayed at 21 percent. Pawlenty, who just recently formed a political action committee that is often a precursor to a campaign, wasn't in the February poll.
While Huckabee, Romney, and Pawlenty all have higher favorable numbers than unfavorable, Palin is at 42 percent favorable and 51 percent unfavorable.
And while Palin -- the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2008 and a political lightning rod -- is seen as not a typical politician, a good role model for women, honest, and caring about issues important to respondents, only 29 percent said they believe she is qualified to be president.
The poll, conducted Oct. 16-18, has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, and a margin of error among Republicans of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
President Obama returns Tuesday to Virginia, the state he carried for Democrats for the first time since 1964, in hopes of boosting Democrat Creigh Deeds in a tight race for governor with Republican Bob McDonnell.
The very next day, Mitt Romney, a potential Obama rival in 2012, will be in the state to campaign for McDonnell.
Virginia Republicans announced today that Romney will appear with the entire GOP ticket in a series of three events Wednesday across the state designed as a final push to victory before the Nov. 3 election.
Romney, who supports GOP candidates through his Free and Strong America PAC, endorsed McDonnell and the Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, praising their "pro-growth" economic policies. The former Massachusetts governor has already visited Virginia several times this year to help Republicans raise money. If McDonnell and Bolling win, they can be expected to return the favor if Romney runs in 2012 for the GOP nomination, as he did last year.
Along with the governor's race in New Jersey and a New York congressional election, the Virginia result will be seen as a referendum on Obama.
Seeking to buff up his foreign policy credentials and reaching out to Israel's supporters, Mitt Romney is telling a major pro-Israel group today that he is "very concerned" by the Obama administration's Mideast policy.
"In pursuit of a peace process, the United States today has exerted substantial pressure on Israel while putting almost no pressure on the Palestinians and the Arab world," the former Massachusetts governor, 2008 Republican presidential hopeful, and possible 2012 contender said to the AIPAC national summit in San Diego.
Obama has been pushing for a renewal of negotiations toward a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority -- and has been pressuring Israel to stop expanding settlements on the West Bank.
But saying that America and Israel are "bound together by common commitments and shared values," Romney says US policy should recognize that.
"Inexplicably, the United States now places the burden on Israel to make still more unilateral concessions," he said. "At the United Nations, we decried the building of new Israeli settlements but ignored the launching of Palestinian rockets. How is this possible? Have we not yet learned from the concessions in Gaza, as well as from all recorded history, that giving in to the demands of oppressors always and only leads to more demands, not to peace?
"We can encourage both parties in the conflict, but we must never forget which one is our ally. Nor must we forget that Hamas, like other violent Jihadists, does not have a two-state solution as its objective—it has the conquest and annihilation of Israel as its objective. The notion that Hamas and violent Jihadists are motivated by 'shared interests' and 'common goals' is naïve in the extreme and dangerous to the entire free world."
Romney also inveighs against the United Nations, which is about to consider a report accusing Israel of war crimes during its assault in Gaza, saying it "has become a forum for invective against the Jewish state."
And Romney urged a hard line against Iran's nuclear ambitions and warned against Obama's desire for talks.
"At this late stage I would simply say that it is long past time for America to recognize the nature of the regime we are dealing with," he said. "The Iranian regime is unalloyed evil, run by people who are at once ruthless and fanatical. Stop thinking that a charm offensive will talk the Iranians out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons. It will not. And agreements, unenforceable and unverifiable, will have no greater impact here than they did in North Korea. Once an outstretched hand is met with a clenched fist, it becomes a symbol of weakness and impotence."
His full prepared remarks are below:
The bad blood between top aides to Senator John McCain and his running mate last year, Sarah Palin, apparently is lingering.
Steve Schmidt, McCain's presidential campaign manager, didn't have very nice things to say today about Palin's prospects as a presidential candidate in 2012.
"I think that she has talents," Schmidt said at The Atlantic magazine's "First Draft of History Conference" in Washington. "But my honest view is that she would not be a winning candidate for the Republican Party in 2012, and in fact, were she the nominee, we could have a catastrophic election result."
"I don't think it's inconceivable that she could be the Republican nominee for president of the United States," he said. "I do think it's fairly inconceivable that she could be elected President of the United States."
McCain's top aides clashed with Palin and her aides behind the scenes last year as she started to outshine McCain and draw bigger crowds and didn't always follow the campaign script, then disparaged her for, among other things, padding her campaign wardrobe.
Palin will get to air her side in what is shaping up to be a best-selling book, with a first printing of 1.5 million. Palin's memoir, titled "Going Rogue," has zoomed to No. 1 on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com just two days after the publisher announced it had moved up the release date to Nov. 17.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, among the Republicans angling for a possible 2012 presidential bid, formally submitted papers today to the Federal Election Commission to launch a political action committee to help fellow Republicans -- and start collecting political IOUs.
The Freedom First PAC "will offer financial support to candidates committed to putting freedom before government, and provide organizational support for Pawlenty to promote his innovative, conservative message," according to today's announcement.
It is similar to the Free and Strong America PAC that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney -- a potential rival in 2012 -- launched last year after Romney dropped out of the 2008 race. Like Romney's PAC, it also boasts a website. (The top item in "The Latest" section of the site is a link to a Wall Street Journal story today that says Pawlenty is laying the groundwork for a 2012 run.)
“Right now, our freedoms are being challenged on many fronts,” Pawlenty said in a statement. “This organization is dedicated to putting freedom first again in America. By helping candidates and translating our ideas into policies that everyone can relate to and support, we can turn back the growth of Washington and renew the promise of freedom.”
The PAC's co-chairmen are William H. Strong, the vice chairman of Morgan Stanley, and Vin Weber, the former Minnesota congressman.
“There’s a big debate about the role of government and personal freedom raging at the moment, and I’m excited to help promote fresh new ideas, and new leaders.” Weber said in a statement. “Given Tim’s successful record in Minnesota, he’s in a unique position to harness that energy and help other candidates.”
UPDATE: The Democratic National Committee quickly pounced, saying that Pawlenty's PAC is advised and led by "the same Washington lobbyists, insiders and former advisers to President Bush whose brand of politics and approach to policies resulted in America being less secure at home, less respected in the rest of the world, and gave the United States the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
The DNC followed up with a web video.
"Talk about back to the future," DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said in a statement. "Recycling advisers from George W. Bush and relying on Washington insiders and lobbyists has to be utterly disappointing for those who thought Tim Pawlenty would bring a fresh approach to the Republican Party. The fact is - Tim Pawlenty, in his recent public pronouncements and now in who he has surrounded himself with, has proven that he represents more of the same - the same failed priorities, policies and now advisers. Rather than changing the image of a tired and failed party, Tim Pawlenty is reinforcing an image of Republicans as the Party of NO and a party that has no new leadership and no new ideas."
The Democratic Party trained its sights on a new target today -- Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty -- after bashing former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for days.
Pawlenty is preparing to launch a national fund-raising committee, another sign that he is looking at a possible 2012 presidential run.
The Democratic National Committee says that betrays Pawlenty's pledge to finish his term strong. He had earlier announced he would not seek reelection next year.
"Tim Pawlenty is quickly becoming the definition of 'say one thing and do another,' " DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said in a statement this afternoon. "Today's news about Pawlenty starting a political action committee is just the latest in a series of broken pledges by the Governor - first breaking his pledge to not raise taxes on the people of Minnesota, and now breaking his pledge to finish his term ‘strong’ as Governor. This is just more evidence that Pawlenty is, at best, a part-time Governor who cares more about his national political ambitions than the people of Minnesota."
Alex Conant, a former Republican National Committee spokesman who now is an adviser to Pawlenty, responded to the DNC: "Governor Pawlenty is in the process of starting the 'Freedom First' PAC. I expect it will launch within the next few weeks. When the Governor said he wouldn't seek re-election, he said in addition to finishing his term strong, he would help other Republicans candidates, and obviously a PAC is one key way to do that. In recent weeks, he has spoken to various groups, campaigned with various candidates, and been elected vice-chair of the Republican Governors Association. Starting a PAC is a logistical next step, and one that he has talked about on the record several times."
Creating such a group is typical for presidential hopefuls, including Barack Obama, who started his in 2005.
Pawlenty's "Freedom First" political action committee would be similar to the one that Romney launched last year after dropping out of the GOP nomination fight. Romney's Free & Strong America PAC reported that it had raised $2.3 million for the 2010 election cycle, with about $811,000 in cash as of Aug. 31.
Both Romney and Pawlenty were on Senator John McCain's short list for a vice presidential nominee.
The Democratic National Committee said Mitt Romney's appearance on Fox News Channel this morning was "vintage Romney" -- and it didn't mean it in a nice way.
Romney -- the former Massachusetts governor, 2008 GOP presidential contender, and possible 2012 hopeful -- slammed the Obama administration on health care and climate change bills, saying that Americans are souring on the president and his Democratic allies.
"They see a cap and trade bill that would add the cost to the American family of $1,761, they don't like that," Romney said. "They see a health care plan where government would ultimately be able to take over health, they don't like that."
But the DNC asserted that Romney supported a similar Northeast regional cap-and-trade system -- limiting carbon emissions and creating a market for pollution credits -- as governor.
It also pointed out that Politifact, an independent fact-checking organization, concluded that the claim is false. While the $1,761 figure has been propagated on various conservative websites and repeated by other politicians, it assumes that all the pollution credits would have to be bought by industry, which would pass on the entire cost to consumers. But the latest bills would give away some of the credits and would earmark the revenue from the sale of credit to help offset higher power bills for consumers.
The DNC, however, failed to acknowledge that while Romney initially supported the Northeast plan, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, he backed out in December 2005, citing concerns over the cost to consumers.
Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom responded, "Governor Romney refused to sign the RGGI agreement because of his concern for how much it would cost individuals and businesses in terms of higher electricity prices. It's hard to fathom how even the most hardened Romney critics at the DNC could construe that to mean he supported RGGI."
"The $1,761 per family average cost of a national cap and trade program is truly frightening. Barack Obama himself said that under his cap and trade proposal, energy prices would 'skyrocket.' It looks like his prediction is right on the mark," Fehrnstrom added.
The DNC also asserted that the health care bills before Congress share quite a few proposals with the system that Romney helped push through for Massachusetts.
"On Fox News this morning, Mitt Romney reminded us why he was such a flawed candidate in the 2008 election," the DNC said. "In pandering to the right wing, he criticized a health care plan that is not unlike the one he helped pass as Governor of Massachusetts and criticized a cap and trade plan that is similar to the one he once endorsed as Governor. While Romney changes his position on every issue he once supported to once again appeal to the right wing, it raises the real question of why he thinks they will believe his new positions this time when they didn't buy his make-over last time."
Despite criticism from conservatives that the plan has been a failure and raised costs, Romney takes pride in authorship of much of the Massachusetts health care plan, but stresses that it does not include the government-run public option that most Republicans vehemently oppose.
"I as a Republican governor reformed health care, and not every aspect of the reform was perfect," Romney told the Values Voter Summit. "But we did get everybody insured without breaking the bank and without a government option."
Romney also made headlines over the weekend with his appearance at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, where he unleashed a barrage of attacks on Obama and the Democrats.
"I'll bet you never dreamed you’d look back at Jimmy Carter as the good old days," he said in one of his barbs. (Read more of his remarks here.)
After winning the presidential straw poll at the summit in 2007, however, Romney finished a distant second this time to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, also a rival for the GOP nomination last year.
Also, the DNC is blasting Romney for holding a fund-raiser today for Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, whose views on women have come under scrutiny, particularly after disclosure of a 20-year-old graduate thesis that appeared to denigrate working women.
"I suppose if Mitt Romney's trying to burnish his right wing credentials to make up for the credibility gap with his party's base that his serial flip-flopping has earned him, embracing a candidate so extreme that he believes that women shouldn't work outside the home, victims of rape and incest should be denied medical options, and even married adults should not have access to contraception, is a good way to go," DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said in a statement.
It's way early yet, but a gathering of Christian conservative activists in Washington starting today will give another read on the field of Republican presidential hopefuls for 2012.
The Values Voter Summit will hold a straw poll that includes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Texas Representative Ron Paul, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Representative Mike Pence, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
Pence, Huckabee, and Pawlenty are to speak to the conference today, while Romney is scheduled to deliver remarks on Saturday. The straw poll results are to be announced Saturday.
"The 2012 presidential primaries may be several years away but many value voters are already surveying the field of possible candidates," Tony Perkins, president of summit sponsor Family Research Council Action, said in a statement. "This straw poll is an early test for possible presidential contenders who have shown leadership on the
major issues facing our country."
Romney narrowly won over Huckabee in the straw poll at the 2007 summit -- helping to launch their 2008 campaigns that eventually fell short -- but questions were raised about the results because anyone could vote online by donating $1.
Romney, however, did not use the 2007 event to give his big speech about his Mormon faith. Romney was also the headliner last year.
UPDATE: In an interview on CNN this afternoon, Romney blasted Obama's decision to scrap an antiballistic missile defense shield based in Eastern Europe and instead deploy a system targeted at shorter range missiles from Iran.
Romney said the decision harmed US allies in Poland and the Czech Republic, who had agreed to host the missile system -- "kicking sand in their faces," jeopardizes US security and that of it allies, and sends a dangerous message to Russia.
"It tells Vladimir Putin that if you bellow loud enough, America will back down," he said.
Mitt Romney is probably one of the last people President Obama is looking to for advice on how to get a health care bill done.
But the former Massachusetts governor, who sought the GOP presidential nomination last year and could very well run again in 2012, offered some guidance anyway this morning.
Romney said on CBS's "Early Show" that the president is to blame for the slowing momentum on the bill, faulting Obama for giving too much say to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic liberals.
"If the president wants to get something done, he needs to put aside the extreme liberal wing of his party," Romney said.
While Obama has been stumping for a sweeping health care bill, he has left the details of the drafting to Congress, where majority Democrats are divided. Members of the Blue Dog coalition of conservative Democrats have balked at some provisions, and more moderate Democrats in the Senate are still trying to cut a deal with Republicans. The intraparty divisions emerged clearly this week when it appeared that Obama was backing away from insisting that a public option be part of any bill.
Sarah Palin's surprise resignation and uneven performance since has done her no favors in the popularity department.
Findings released today from a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey found that 39 percent of Americans view Palin favorably, while 48 percent view her unfavorably.
That's a noticeable drop from 46 percent favorable-43 percent unfavorable numbers she received in mid-May.
Palin announced on July 3 that she was resigning as Alaska's governor midway through her term, drawing criticism from some quarters that she was a quitter.
Many political observers saw that as a move toward running for president in 2012 because it would enable her to spend more time in the lower 48 and garner more attention. In early prognostications, she is on the short list for the possible GOP nominee.
Her numbers peaked at 57 percent favorable-27 percent unfavorable soon after John McCain made her his surprise choice for vice presidential nominee. The new poll, conducted July 31-Aug. 3, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Mitt Romney has inked a book deal with St. Martin's Press, and it seems to outline a campaign manifesto for a possible 2012 presidential bid, the New York Times is reporting today.
Titled “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness,” the book includes the former Massachusetts governor's views on the economy, military, education, healthcare, and energy, as well as his prescriptions for strengthening the family and citizenship.
The book is to be published in March 2010, just as the mid-term election campaign revs up. It is not unusual for national politicians to write such books in advance of campaigns. Romney, who sought the Republican presidential nomination last year, is also a frequent contributor and commentator in newspapers and cable TV shows and has a political action committee to help Republican candidates.
Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney agree in their disdain for the healthcare overhaul plan Democrats and President Obama are trying to push through.
But they have been sparring in recent days over the right approach -- a preview, perhaps, of the 2012 Republican presidential sweepstakes.
The Minnesota governor and former Massachusetts governor, who were both on Senator John McCain's short list for vice president last year, both appear to be laying the groundwork for possible 2012 bids.
Pawlenty, in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post over the weekend and in a letter last week to Minnesota's congressional delegation, not surprisingly promoted his state's plan.
"In Minnesota, our state employee health-care plan has demonstrated incredible results by linking outcomes to value. State employees in Minnesota can choose any clinic available to them in the health-care network they've selected. However, individuals who use more costly and less-efficient clinics are required to pay more out-of-pocket," he wrote.
But more interestingly, he took some pointed swipes at the healthcare overhaul in Massachusetts, one of Romney's biggest accomplishments as governor, though he ran away from the parts most objectionable to conservatives during his presidential campaign.
"Massachusetts's experience should caution Congress against focusing primarily on access. While the Massachusetts plan has reduced the number of uninsured people, costs have been dramatically higher than expected. The result? Increased taxes and fees. The Boston Globe has reported on a current short-term funding gap and the need to obtain a new federal bailout," Pawlenty wrote in the Post. "Imagine the scope of tax increases, or additional deficit spending, if that approach is utilized for the entire country."
Romney, in an op-ed piece in USA Today, even as he accused Obama from rushing through a bad plan, defended the Massachusetts plan against Pawlenty's critique.
"Massachusetts also proved that you don't need government insurance. Our citizens purchase private, free-market medical insurance. There is no "public option." With more than 1,300 health insurance companies, a federal government insurance company isn't necessary. It would inevitably lead to massive taxpayer subsidies, to lobbyist-inspired coverage mandates and to the liberals' dream: a European-style single-payer system. To find common ground with skeptical Republicans and conservative Democrats, the president will have to jettison left-wing ideology for practicality and dump the public option," Romney wrote.
"When our bill passed three years ago, the legislature projected that our program would cost $725 million in 2009. At $723 million, next year's forecast is pretty much on target. When you calculate all the savings, including that from the free hospital care we eliminated, the net cost to the state is approximately $350 million. The watchdog Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation concluded that our program's cost is 'relatively modest' and 'well within initial projections.' "
The new polls published today are a case of good news-bad news for President Obama.
In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, his job approval rating dropped to 53 percent -- which the pollsters note is precisely the percentage of the popular vote he won in November. That drop is largely because the thrill is gone for Obama among independents and Republicans -- his approval among those groups is 49 percent and 16 percent, respectively, which is close to what exit polls suggested he received in the election.
But Obama's favorable-unfavorable split -- 55 percent to 34 percent -- is still head and shoulders above most other national politicians.
In the NBC/Journal poll, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton does about as well as the president at 53 percent-31 percent. Vice President Joe Biden is barely breaking even at 38 percent-36 percent, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is underwater at 25 percent-44 percent.
Among possible Republican opponents in 2012, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is at 28 percent favorable-20 percent unfavorable, much better than former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin at 32 percent-43 percent.
But 50 percent of all respondents and 33 percent of Republicans said they didn't want Romney to become president and 67 percent of Americans and 43 percent of Republicans said they didn't want Palin in the Oval Office.
The NBC/Wall Street Journal survey, along with a New York Times/CBS News poll, also were the latest to show eroding support for Obama's healthcare overhaul plan as more details emerge and as critics assail it.
In the NBC survey, 42 percent opposed the plan, up 10 percentage points from last month, while only 36 percent support it.
By coincidence, Republicans managed to stiff Hispanics on two fronts today.
All but one Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against Sonia Sotomayor to be the first Latina on the Supreme Court. And several prominent Republicans, including GOP chairman Michael Steele, skipped the annual meeting of National Council of La Raza, the country's top Latino civil rights group.
Republicans risk their political future since Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the US.
“With today’s vote, the country is one step closer to having a new Supreme Court Justice and our community is one step closer to seeing history made by having the first Hispanic ever on the U.S. Supreme Court. We commend the Judiciary Committee for its support and we urge Senate leadership to bring her nomination to the floor of the Senate as quickly as possible,” Janet Murguía, the council's president and CEO, said in a statement.
Democrats, who benefited mightily from the Latino vote last November in making inroads in the West, are taking full advantage.
Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine made sure to note the historic nature of Sotomayor's expected rise to the Supreme Court. “Throughout her hearings, Judge Sotomayor demonstrated why she is one of the most qualified candidates ever nominated to the Court. With experience as a prosecutor, a corporate litigator and a judge, she will bring more federal judicial experience than any justice in the 100 years. And her incredible life story is something all Americans can draw inspiration from. Every American should be proud today that the country is one step closer to having our first-ever Latina Supreme Court Justice," he said in a statement.
Kaine was also the featured speaker today at the National Council of La Raza conclave, and he was effusive in his praise and outreach -- in both English and Spanish.
"I think it’s safe to say that President Obama wouldn’t have won Virginia (for the first time since 1964), and wouldn’t have the White House so overwhelmingly without the support of the Latino Community, so I thank you for that," Kaine said in prepared remarks.
"Your stop the hate campaign has also been incredibly influential. Your work is pivotal in fighting for the things that matter to us as Americans, and that make our country great."
(His full prepared remarks are below.)
Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration overhaul group, questioned the Republican tactics.
“Clearly, the GOP has not learned the lessons of the 2006 and 2008 elections when it comes to courting Latino voters," he said in a statement. "In one of the most remarkable falls from political grace in recent electoral history, the efforts by President Bush and Karl Rove to win over Latino voters, especially Latino immigrant voters, was torn asunder from 2005 on by the rightwing revolt against comprehensive immigration reform and the demonization of hardworking immigrant families.
"So, what does the GOP do to recover? Oppose Judge Sotomayor, ignore the largest Latino organization in the country, and distort the health care debate by scapegoating immigrants. What is the definition of ‘insanity’ again? It’s time for common-sense conservatives and moderate Republicans who understand that antagonizing the fastest growing group of new voters in the country amounts to political suicide to stand up and take on the radical right and their know-nothing tendencies.”FULL ENTRY
Mitt Romney's political action committee reported today that it raised $1.6 million in the first six months this year, and it handed out $74,274 to state and federal candidates, leaving it with more than $840,000 in the till.
Romney's Free and Strong America PAC, which helps Republican candidates, is the former Massachusetts governor's vehicle to collect chits as he contemplates a possible second presidential bid in 2012.
Among the beneficiaries: $5,000 each from the PAC went to Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, Representative Roy Blunt who is running for US Senate in Missouri, and Jim Tedisco, who lost a close race in a special election in an upstate New York congressional district. It also contributed $1,000 each to the “Undaunted Dozen,” a group of House Republicans targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for their votes against the $787 billion economic stimulus bill.
Romney's PAC contributed the maximum $6,800 to Republican Chris Christie’s New Jersey gubernatorial campaign. Today, President Obama is headed to New Jersey to raise money for Democratic Governor Jon Corzine.
And even though it's very early, Romney leads the Republican field for 2012 in a new Gallup Poll out today.
Among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents surveyed July 10-12, Romney gets the support of 26 percent, compared to 21 percent for Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee last year who is resigning as Alaska governor at month's end. Palin's PAC brought in about $733,000 during the first six months of 2009.
Mike Huckabee, who like Romney lost to Senator John McCain for the nomination last year, comes in third at 19 percent, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 14 percent.
But thanks to high name recognition, Palin leads in favorable ratings with 72 percent, compared to 59 percent for Huckabee and 56 percent for Romney.
"Though it is little over a year since the 2008 GOP primaries, Americans' opinions of Romney and Huckabee have changed significantly. Notably, each seems to have lost a significant share of the public familiarity he built up during the campaign. There has been a double-digit increase in the percentage of Americans who do not express either a positive or a negative opinion of both Romney and Huckabee," Gallup says.
At this point, it could be construed as piling on.
But the Democratic National Committee is continuing its assault on Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee last year, soon-to-be-former governor of Alaska, and potential 2012 contender.
It posted a web video today that takes advantage of the hipster Urban Dictionary adding an entry called "pullin' a Palin" -- basically quitting midstream when times get tough.
It is today's word or phrase of the day. The definition:
"1. Quitting when the going gets tough; abandoning the responsibility entrusted to you by your neighbors for book advances and to make money on the lecture circuit.
"2. Bizarre move that will damn ambitions for higher office."
Palin shocked her state and much of the political universe a week ago when she announced her resignation as governor, 18 months before her term ends.
The DNC video is not very creative -- it just lifts a segment from Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" show on MSNBC that also wraps in sex scandal-plagued South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Senators Larry Craig and John Ensign.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has gone fishing -- literally -- since her shocking announcement that she is resigning.
But the polarizing Palin resurfaced today on the morning news shows, wearing her waders but not taking the bait to make her political future clear.
Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee last year and in the conversation for 2012, told CNN that "all options are on the table" for her future and said she wants to stay involved in national public life.
“We have so many people who offer advice, but I’m going to continue to be, whether some of ‘em like it or not, pretty darn independent, and not get wrapped up into a strong political machine that hasn’t been extremely successful in some ways,” she said on Fox News Channel. "I want to work, right now, for people who are going to work in office or out of office for the right things. Those principles that built up America, those who are inspired by the values of America, and will not deride or apologize for the values we hold as Americans. I’m gonna work for those people.”
But she also told ABC's "Good Morning America" that she recognizes that her resignation -- disclosed in a rambling speech in the news dead zone of the Friday of July Fourth weekend -- might have damaged her prospects. "You know, politically speaking, if I die, I die. So be it," she said.
She tried to portray her unusual decision as befitting her political character. "That caught people off guard," she said. "It's out of the box and unconventional. That's what we are as Alaskans and certainly how I am as a public servant."
While Palin's critics have suggested that she is stepping aside to avoid some scandal, her lawyer has said she has no legal problems and just wants to end legal bills from ethics investigations and other distractions. The FBI took the unusual step on Monday of saying publicly that she is not under investigation.
In the Fox interview, Palin also continued her complaints against the media, whose critical coverage she suggests helped drive her from office.
“Most candidates, most public officials get to look into a camera and say, 'You know you better leave your hands off my kids." Well I haven’t been able to say that. And that double standard that’s been applied, that’s been a little bit frustrating,” she said.
“These are political shots. Other people take a heck of a lot tougher shots than I do, our kids over there in the war zone. People losing their jobs or their homes right now, they have it a heck of a lot tougher than I do taking political shots, or hearing bull crap that’s broadcast out there on the airwaves. I can handle that.”
But Democrats are having a field day. The Democratic National Committee compiled a web video of fellow Republicans criticizing Palin for quitting, calling her behavior "bizarre," among other things.
Her core supporters, however, remain behind her. Team Sarah, a political networking site, claims 70,000 members.
"Team Sarah members anxiously await Palin’s next decision on how she believes she can best serve our nation. Since the 2008 election, the continual presence of personal attacks on both Governor Palin and her family indicate that she remains a threat to the liberal feminist political establishment,” the group's co-founder, Jane Abraham, said in a statement. “Despite criticism, Governor Palin’s success will endure. Team Sarah’s thousands of members remain as engaged as ever on TeamSarah.org. The Governor has inspired millions, and her audience of enthusiastic support will only grow in the future.”
UPDATE: Palin's abrupt resignation doesn't seem to have changed many minds about her one way or the other, and she remains a polarizing figure.
In a USA Today/Gallup Poll conducted Monday and released late today, 70 percent of voters said their opinion of Palin hadn't changed/
Her core support of 19 percent of voters said they would be "very likely" to support her if she ran for president in 2012, while another 24 percent said they would be somewhat likely do so.
But 41 percent said they were not at all likely to back Palin.
Not surprisingly, there is a huge partisan divide. While 35 percent of Republicans said they were very likely to supporter Palin, only 19 percent of independents and 6 percent of Democrats said so.
Maybe Mitt Romney should look warily over his shoulder, lest a political calamity befall him, too.
Continuing President Obama's political good fortune, a growing list of possible Republican opponents in 2012 is falling by the wayside, often due to self-inflicted wounds.
Two weeks ago, Senator John Ensign of Nevada admitted a messy extramarital affair with a former campaign staffer, likely taking himself out of the running.
This week, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin took more hits in a scathing piece in Vanity Fair magazine in which unnamed aides to Senator John McCain, who picked her as the GOP vice presidential nominee last year, basically said she was not ready for prime time.
And, of course, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford keeps digging his political grave deeper and deeper, confessing on Tuesday to indiscretions with women other than his Argentinian mistress, whom he called his soul mate.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran last year for the Republican nomination, has kept himself largely unscathed since Obama took office, even as he has kept himself omnipresent on cable TV. He has continued raising money for fellow Republicans, collecting chits along the way. He has burnished his foreign policy credentials, his weak area last year. In an attention-grabbing speech last month, he assailed Obama's national security strategy, asserting that the president is endangering America and unnecessarily apologizing on the country's behalf.
As the Republican field opens up before him, Romney's continuing strength could help explain why Democratic groups criticize him at every opportunity, often reviving the accusation that he will flip-flop on issues when to his political advantage.
Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee last year, returned to her job as Alaska's governor and laid low for weeks, avoiding high-profile appearances.
But she made several appearances in New York over the weekend, she's stayed in the first tier of candidates in the early handicapping for 2012, and she's now making the rounds of the cable talking head shows.
Unsurprisingly, she takes a rather dim view of how President Obama is doing.
“A lot of this is wrapped in good rhetoric but we’re not seeing those actions," she says in an interview airing tonight on Fox News Channel's "Hannity" show. "And this many months into the new administration, quite disappointed, quite frustrated with not seeing those actions to rein in spending, slow down the growth of government. Instead Sean, it is the complete opposite. It’s expanding at such a large degree that if Americans aren’t paying attention, unfortunately our country could evolve into something that we do not even recognize. Certainly that is so far from what the founders of our country had in mind for us.”
According to excerpts released by Fox, she also hits Obama on the government's actions on General Motors, which declared bankruptcy last week in hopes of emerging a streamlined company that can survive.
“America is digging a deeper hole - and how are we paying for this government largesse? We’re borrowing. We’re borrowing from China and when you consider that now we own sixty percent of General Motors – or the U.S. government does," Palin says… "But who is the U.S. government becoming more indebted to? It’s China. So that leads you to have to ask - who is really going to own our car industry in America?”
Asked whether she missed the spotlight, Palin replied: “I love my time in Alaska. At the same time though I crave, if not my voice, other voices out there being bold, being strong letting Americans know that those that are concerned about the growth of government and about national security issues, they’re not alone. There are others who are empathizing and more than empathizing are wanting to take action to make sure that economically and physically that our homeland is safe and secure.”
It's never too early, apparently, to start handicapping the field for the 2012 presidential race.
A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey found what amounts to a dead heat among Republican contenders, with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee at 22 percent, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin at 21 percent and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney also at 21 percent.
Huckabee and Romney lost out to John McCain for the GOP nomination last year, while Palin was McCain's running mate. The difference among them was well within the poll's margin of sampling error.
The poll found that 13 percent of Republicans backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 6 percent supporting former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and 10 percent someone else. Missing from the lead pack is Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who announced Tuesday he will not seek a third term as governor, immediately setting off speculation that he will run in 2012.
Romney is also giving every indication he's seriously considering another bid. In the latest in a series of TV interviews, he was asked on NBC's "Today" show this morning about 2012.
"No, I'm looking right now at trying to get some Republicans getting elected in 2009 and 2010," Romney said, adding, "And what happens later, ... that's a very distant horizon."
Romney also continued his assault on President Obama's foreign policy as the president landed in Saudi Arabia, saying while there's nothing wrong with "showing our respect for the people in the world of Islam," it's inappropriate for Obama to "go around the world apologizing" as Romney suggested he did during his first trip abroad.
Interviewed at Faneuil Hall in Boston, Romney said Obama should talk more about the sacrifices the United States has made on other nations' behalf, such as during World War II, "what we have done in blood and sacrifice."
Obama will almost certainly do that on Saturday in Normandy at a commemoration on the 65th anniversary of D-Day.
Ask Mitt Romney about his presidential ambitions, and he artfully demurs.
But his schedule keeps looking like that of someone who has his eyes on 2012.
The former Massachusetts governor, who sought the GOP nomination last year, is to be the keynote speaker tonight at the Virginia Republican Party's big Commonwealth Gala dinner in Richmond. That is his latest appearance before the party faithful.
Sunday, Romney is scheduled to make his latest appearance on a political talk show, on Fox News Sunday.
And on Monday morning, he is scheduled to give a major policy speech on national security at the high-profile Heritage Foundation in Washington. This is his latest foray into critiquing President Obama on a wide range of issues, including domestic and economic policy.
Romney's sold-out speech, titled "The Care of Freedom," is to kick off Heritage's "Protect America Month."
"This past Monday after North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, President Barack Obama said, 'North Korea is directly and recklessly challenging the international community' and warranted action by the international community," Heritage's announcement said. "Next Monday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will deliver an address at the Navy Memorial Burke Theater assessing the Obama administration’s response to Pyongyang and America’s larger leadership role in the world."
By Sasha Issenberg, Globe correspondent
PHOENIX – Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney joined Bush administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, in arguing today that President Obama’s approach to combating terrorism had left the country less safe.
"It's the very kind of thinking that left America vulnerable to the attacks of September 11th," Romney told the National Rifle Association's annual gathering. “And the approval of left-wing law professors and editorial boards won’t be worth much if this country lets down its guard and suffers an attack."
Even while declaring an end to past interrogation practices he calls “torture,” Obama has alienated many in his own party with a cautious approach to the issue. He has rebuffed calls to investigate Bush administration policymakers and release photographs of in that military leaders have said would be unnecessarily provocative. Today, the White House announced it would resume the use of military commissions to try those in American custody, a practice that Obama had criticized as a candidate.
"I'm glad he's continuing to hold military tribunals for terrorists," said Romney, who also said he approved of Obama’s hawkish approach to ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "In fact, whenever he adopts the policies of John McCain and George W. Bush like this, I’m glad."
Romney, who ran for president in 2008, was the closing speaker on an agenda that included Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele and McCain, last year’s Republican presidential nominee. The stop was Romney's latest on a circuit of conservative interest groups that many Republicans see as the opening lap in a prospective 2012 campaign.
Despite Romney's solidarity with their priorities, gun owners were slow to rally behind him as a candidate. Romney joined the National Rifle Association only shortly before becoming a national candidate and did not own a gun of his own. He reluctantly acknowledged that he had only been hunting twice in his life and had focused on prey such as rodents and rabbits. "Small varmints, if you will," he said then.
Today Romney was warmly received as he paid tribute to gun rights. Most of his speech, however, was devoted to the day’s broadest critique of a Democratic agenda he said amounted to "the greatest federal power-grab in American history."
Romney took issue with Obama's plans to change the healthcare system, which is based partially on the plan Romney helped to enact while governor of Massachusetts mandating citizens carry insurance.
"The best path to healthcare reform is to let the American people make their own decisions, not have those decisions forced on them by government," Romney said. "Let Washington choose the stamps for the post office, but let the American people choose who we want for our doctor."
Could it be the latest sign that Mitt Romney is preparing to run for president again?
Hotline is reporting that Romney is making moves to establish his legal residency in New Hampshire -- site of the first-in-the-nation primary.
The former Massachusetts governor is selling homes in Belmont, Mass., and in Utah, and plans to spend time at his summer home on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in the Granite State, notes Hotline, the political blog of the National Journal.
UPDATE: Romney's spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, said in an email this afternoon: "Mitt Romney is still a Massachusetts resident. There have been no changes in his status."
Romney lost the New Hampshire primary last year to John McCain, but the Arizona senator won't be running in 2012.
Romney, who after dropping out of the nomination race formed a political action committee that helps Republican candidates, is now an oft-quoted critic of President Obama and a big wheel in the new GOP policy effort, the National Council for a New America.