Interests: Politics, Government, Media, Transportation, Space, Social Media, Civic Engagement, Washington, DC Following: The Obama Presidency, Decision 2012, The 112th Congress Work: myImpact.org- a non-profit working at the intersection of social media & citizen engagement

 

Winter Weather UPDATE: High confidence in significant snow accumulation Tuesday; followed by a return to extreme cold

It has now been 1,090 days since the last 2”+ snowfall accumulation at National Airport, the official recording location for Washington, D.C. 

The last time that we came close to breaking this streak, on January 3rd, we clocked in at 1.9”. So close, but not good enough. Tomorrow, January 21st, is our next opportunity —- and current forecasts call for us to not only break our snow drought, but to receive more snow accumulation than the last two snow seasons, combined. 
For reference, last year (2012-13) DC received 3.1 inches of snow. In 2011-12 we received 2 inches. In 2010-11, we received 10 inches. In 2009-2010, the year of the record Snowmagedden as well as the Christmas Nor’Easter, DC had the most snow on record in a season: 56.1 inches. 
Here is the normal caveat: predicting snow in DC is HIGHLY unpredictable. We know this from the last time I sent around a winter weather alert- on December 9th. The next day, despite having a 2-5” prediction and late indications of intensification, we received just 0.9” 
Still, for the reasons outlined below, there is a high degree of confidence in a significant snow event tomorrow. Now is the time to finalize preparations. 
Here’s what you need to know:
1/ Temperatures are going to drop quickly. Despite spring-like weather today, with high temperatures in the 50s, a cold front will quickly descend through our region overnight. Reminiscent of the polar vertex of two weeks ago, expect temps to drop 30-40 degrees over the next 24 hours (even more when you factor in the wind chill), with daytime highs in the low 30s tomorrow and in the teens on Wednesday. 
2/ Temperature + Timing is key to accumulation. This is not a situation where we’re watching a rain/snow line or expecting any mixing of sleet. As soon as the snow starts to fall, temperatures should be cold enough for it to be all snow. That’s why we’re increasingly confident that we’re going to get snow. The question is how quickly will it stick. And that’s what we’ll be watching to know how much snow we’re actually going to get. 
3/ There is our highest confidence snow event in three years. As the Capital Weather Gang explains, our current weather pattern — with the return of the “polar vortex” —- brings with it above normal chances for moderately accumulating snow, in the range we’re looking at for tomorrow. The pattern of this storm is right on target with historical models. 
 
So: how much snow are we going to get? The 5pm answer is 4-7” Taking away the extremes on either end, and we are likely looking at a 5” snow snowstorm tomorrow. 
As a result, the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning, an upgrade from the Watch that was issued this morning. It goes into effect at 7am. 
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What to prepare for?
- The snow is going to start in the morning, probably by 8am. The heaviest snow is going happen during the afternoon/evening tomorrow. All snow should be done by 10-11pm. After the snow, a return to extremely cold weather. 
- School closings are very likely tomorrow. The OPM call will probably come in the very early morning (by 4am) after they are able to examine the latest models, but given the precedent of this season’s decisions, when there was less confidence than what we have tomorrow, it’s likely they will go forward with a closure.  
- Remember the importance of shoveling sidewalks- not for your- but for our fellow pedestrians. Not only is it DC law, it’s just the right thing to do. Residents are required to clear their sidewalks of snow/ice within 8 hours after the end of the storm (Wednesday morning). 
- No word yet on timing for the DC Snow Team full deployment, but expect that by very early tomorrow morning. With a one-day delay in trash and recycling collection already this week for the MLK holiday, expect that collections could be delayed further (not to mention the ongoing delay in collecting holiday trees). 
Finally- some reasons to be skeptical and to stay tuned to tonight’s developments in the forecast: 
1/ The temperature. Despite the expected plunge as a result of the polar vortex, the ground is still warm from the 57 degree daytime high today. Snow may have a hard time sticking. 
2/ The timing. We’re expecting the snow to fall during the day tomorrow. That’s unusual. We usually don’t see heavy accumulating snow during daylight hours. It’s not impossible, but when we do it’s usually on the low end of the forecast range. 
Again- temperature + timing = accumulation is our formula for tomorrow. Stay tuned- we’ll have a better indication after the evening models tonight. 

Snow Alert: Known Knowns and Known Unknowns

Tuesday 1:30pm Update

What we know:

- DC will get its most significant snowfall of the year and we have a 80%+ chance of finally breaking the longest snowless streak (2+”) in District history (769 days)

- Snowfall accumulations are going to vary substantially across the region. In the mountains less than an hours drive to our west, over a foot of snow is easily predicted. But closer to home and even within the city, snowfall rates are expected to vary. 3-8” seems to be a fair range, but 3” is a lot different than 8”- and the fascinating thing about this storm is some parts of DC may get 3” while others parts of DC may get 8”

What we don’t know:

- Just how much cold air is going to make its way to the upper levels of our atmosphere. Step outside right now- it’s a nice day outside. Pretty pleasant. You wouldn’t know we were in for a snowstorm tomorrow. But look at the radar- you see the storm approaching. With temps hovering around the freezing mark, one or two degrees in the temperature is going to make all the difference. That’s also what makes this one so fascinating- a down to the wire nail biter of a storm

What do we do now:

- Tonight is fine. There may be a couple of showers or flurries from the time the sun goes down to midnight. Later in the evening, a few squalls may develop. Tonight’s plans (including a Caps Game for yours truly) will not be impacted. 

- Calls for closing the fed and district govt will probably start to come in late this afternoon or this evening. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a full closure tomorrow (but it may start off as a lesser call)

- Finish preparations. Again- this isn’t a storm where you’re going to be stranded for days. It’s a short duration event. But it’s a good exercise in making sure emergency plans are up to date, non-perishables stocked, etc. 

- Wait for this afternoon/evening’s forecast. Because of the dynamic nature of this system, we’ll have to wait to see if the map below- from Capital Weather Gang- holds up, or is revised up or down- once new data comes in later today. So, as they say in the weather business, stay tuned. 

Inline image 1

Time to Pick a President

Friends-

This is the week that we elect a president.

After a long- at times divisive, at times comical, and almost all the time seemingly abstract- presidential campaign, it’s now up to us, as citizens and voters, to decide.

Regardless of who wins, one thing is clear: he will inherit a litany of challenges. From a sluggish economy and a burdened middle class to a changing climate, crumbling infrastructure, tax, spending and debt reduction policies all overlaid with changing demographics and a splintered political discourse.

There’s a lot at stake in this election. And the choice this week is, frankly, which path our nation goes down as we begin to address these generational-defining issues.

This week, “the longest week,” is an exciting one for those of us who live for moments like this. But, more importantly, it’s a time for all of us to stand up and play a role in our unique democratic process. This election may be close. Every vote will count. If you haven’t already voted early or absentee- please vote on Tuesday (even if you have to wait in line!)- and bring your friends with you.

This is the week of the Fifty-Seventh Quadrennial United States Presidential Election. It’s time to vote.

Below are my projections for how the election will turn out, along with some wonky analysis. I’m going out on a limb with some of the calls, so I’d be very interested to hear what you think.

Happy Election Day,

Chris

—-

My Projections

I have President Obama winning a narrow victory, 299 electoral votes to Romney’s 239. My reasoning for 10 swing states below, in ascending order of certainty.

New Hampshire (4)- Romney

A new poll out today by WMUR/Granite State has the race tied, 47% Obama, 47% Romney. What is striking is the Romney lead among independents in New Hampshire- 54% to 32%. That is a 17-point swing for Romney among independents, in the same poll, in just two weeks. On Oct 22nd, Independents in NH polled 39% Obama, 37% Romney in the WMUR poll. This seems to be strong evidence that Independents, plentiful in New Hampshire, are breaking Romney. The current RCP average for the state has Obama up 1.5%, so he may be able to withstand a late Romney surge. But if this late surge is happening, I think New Hampshire is the most likely state that could swing into his column.

Virginia (13)- Obama

Virginia may be the closest state to be decided in this election. And just like the Senate election in 2006, it may take several days to settle out. But when it does, I think the President takes a narrow win. This fall, the GOP argument on the effect of the sequester’s cuts on the defense industry have been potent. What’s interesting is that Tim Kaine will likely win the Senate seat with a wider margin of victory than the President. Virginia is key to Romney’s electoral victory- blunting his path in this state early in the evening will be key to the Obama strategy.

Florida (29)- Romney

Florida will be another close state- and I believe it is breaking in the President’s direction- but his campaign is just running out of time to seal the deal. The latest RCP average has Romney ahead by 1.4%- a very narrow margin for sure, but one that will likely remain in his column. That said, Obama has other paths to victory without Florida. Romney, on the other hand, has few.

Colorado (9)- Obama

Denver is where Mitt Romney’s campaign found their voice and turned their campaign around, in just 90 minutes, one month ago. And if they are to win this year, they are aiming to carry Colorado with them. This state is very close- Obama only leads by 0.6% in the Real Clear average, but other polls have indicated he has a 1 or 2 point lead. The close margin is due to a clash of demographics- for Obama, support from Hispanics and youth voters- for Romney, support from Mormons and rural areas. At the end, I think it stays Obama.

Ohio (18)- Obama

Mitt Romney is not on a bus tour of Ohio this final weekend. He’s up and down the coast- in Virginia, Florida and New Hampshire. And making a last ditch play in Pennsylvania. That’s all the proof you need that the Romney campaign is looking to a path to victory without Ohio- a state that every Republican before him has always won before going on to the White House. The Jeep ad flap was a final mistake. And when Ohio is called blue, it will signal the beginning of the end of any uncertainty on election night- if it isn’t the decisive state.

North Carolina (15)- Romney

Holding this year’s DNC in Charlotte was an effort by the Obama campaign to keep North Carolina in play- but in the past six weeks the state has shifted, now almost solidly, into the Romney column. Still, the Obama campaign has kept the ground game alive, benefiting from having the resources to do so.

Nevada (6)- Obama

Demographics will be called the key reason for Obama’s win in this state. He leads by 2.8% in the RCP average. But the real reason may be the Democratic political machine that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has built in the state. The one that brought him back from a near-death experience two years ago in his re-election, and one that will likely carry the President this year.

Iowa (6)- Obama

With the President leading by 5 points in Saturday’s Des Moines Register Poll and by 3 points in the RCP average, not to mention the Democratic advantage in early voting, Iowa is almost solidly a Democratic advantage going into election day. This is another state that, when it is called Tuesday evening, will pose a major roadblock on a Romney path to 270.

Wisconsin (10)- Obama

In the final days, it doesn’t look like Wisconsin is very much of a swing state. the President is up by over 4 points in the RCP average- a narrower margin than four years ago, of course, but much more comfortable than some polls over the past month. Once again, turning Wisconsin blue narrows Romney’s path yet again.

Pennsylvania (20)- Obama

Romney’s late play in the Keystone state is nothing more than a last minute effort to expand the map. That theory will likely be thwarted early Tuesday night.

5 Days To Go…Gingrich Wins Tonight’s Debate…Romney Under Attack…Santorum Steals the Show…Ron Paul Stumbles..Is it a Game Changer?…The Evening Report for Monday January 16, 2012

5 DAYS UNTIL THE SOUTH CAROLINA PRIMARY (25 delegates)
8 DAYS UNTIL THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
15 DAYS UNTIL THE FLORIDA PRIMARY (50 delegates)

POST-DEBATE EDITION

TONIGHT…from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina…the 16th Republican Presidential Candidates Debate.

And it was fight night in Myrtle Beach.

Four of the five remaining candidates recognized that they have four hours over two of the next four nights to knock off the front-runner before he makes it 3 for 3 in the early primary states.

From POLITICO’s Alexander Burns, "South Carolina GOP debate: Mitt Romney pressed on Bain, tax returns"

"While Romney stayed focused on a tightly controlled and almost entirely familiar message, there were a few rare moments when the former Massachusetts governor appeared to stammer and grasp for balance.

And after weeks of declining to promise to release his tax returns, Romney relented — mostly — under persistent questioning from moderators.

“In history, people have released them around April of the coming year and that’s probably what I’ll do,” Romney conceded.

Among Romney’s opponents, Newt Gingrich was first to start the pile-on, accusing Romney and his former private equity firm, Bain Capital, of having acquired companies, “leaving them with enormous debt and then within a year or two or three, having them go broke.”

THE DEBATE WAS FIERCE

Romney responding to Gingrich’s attacks on his Super PACs “If we’re talking about super PAC ads that are inaccurate, Mr. Speaker, you have a super PAC ad that attacks me. It’s probably the biggest hoax since Bigfoot. The people who’ve looked at it said it was entirely false…somehow for you …to suggest I have different standards here is not quite right.”

Romney answering a question about the last time he went hunting “I’m not going to describe all of my great exploits,” Romney began, “but I went moose-hunting —- went elk-hunting with friends in Montana.”

Newt Gingrich responding to Ron Paul’s comparison of Al-Qaeda terrorists (including Osama bin Laden) to Chinese dissidents: “He’s not a Chinese dissident. The analogy that Congressman Paul used was utterly irrational. A Chinese dissident who comes here seeking freedom is not the same as a terrorist who comes to Pakistan seeking asylum.”

Ron Paul invoking MLK: “Martin Luther King would be in agreement with me on the wars as well, I’m the only Republican who favors total withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan He was a strong opponent of the Vietnam War.”

Ron Paul on building the US Embassy in Iraq “You consider that defense spending - I consider that waste.”

SANTORUM’S BIG MOMENT IN THE DEBATE- from POLITICO’s Maggie Haberman

"Rick Santorum seized control of the Fox News/Wall Street Journal debate about 20 minutes in Monday night, interrogating Mitt Romney with a series of questions about his position on voting rights for felons – and attack ads a pro-Romney super PAC is airing against Santorum.

Santorum noted that Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney group, ran ads implying the Pennsylvanian wanted to let felons vote from prison.

In fact, Santorum said, he wanted to give voting rights to people who had already paid their debt to society.

“I would ask Gov. Romney,” Santorum said, “do you believe people who are felons who have served their time, who have exhausted their parole and probation, should they be given the right to vote?

When Romney began with a few words about the rules governing super PACs and non-coordination, Santorum cut in to demand an answer to his question.

“That’s how you got the time. It’s actually my time,” Santorum said, adding of the voting rights issue: “This is Martin Luther King Day, this is a huge deal in the African-American community.”

Romney responded in a level tone: “I don’t think people who committed violent crimes should be allowed to vote again.”

And that’s when it became clear that Santorum had set a trap.

“In the state of Massachusetts, when you were governor, the law was not only can violent felons vote,” Santorum said, but they can vote when on parole or probation – a “more liberal position” than Santorum ever supported.

“If in fact you felt so passionately about this,” Santorum asked, “then why didn’t you try to change that when you were governor of Massachusetts?”

Romney shot back that he had to contend with an 85 percent Democratic legislature and that, by the way, he didn’t order a super PAC hit on Santorum because that would be illegal.”

FIRST THOUGHTS:

This was not a good debate for Romney who was off his game tonight. He should be considering these debates as practice for the general election cycle and he missed an opportunity to respond with crisp convincing answers to a whole host of questions tonight

Newt Gingrich did very well tonight in his role as attack dog and conservative cheerleader. The question now is if its enough to carry him to a close 2nd place or an upset victory in Saturday’s primary. And with polls released this weekend showing Romney running away with the lead in the state, that is not looking likely.

Ron Paul had his worst debate and seemed to be stumbling over his answers when he finally had an opportunity to answer the moderator’s questions.

The audience for tonight’s debate was wild. The Myrtle Beach Convention Center hall was packed and they were animated..frequently booing candidates up and down the stage..and moderators too.

It’s too early to say if tonight’s debate changed the dynamics of the South Carolina race. It may be too little too late for the anybody but Romney candidates. Or the Republican primary, which seemed late last week to be all but over, could be taking one more, final, crazy turn.

The next debate is Thursday night at the Citadel.

6 Days To Go…Huntsman Dropping Out- Will Endorse Romney at 11am Monday, 16th GOP Debate To Be Held Tomorrow Night, Romney Leads in SC, Nationally, Golden Globe Awards & MLK Day 2012…The Evening Report for Sunday January 15, 2012

6 DAYS UNTIL SOUTH CAROLINA (25 delegates)
9 DAYS UNTIL THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
16 DAYS UNTIL FLORIDA (50 delegates)

TOP STORY: Jon Huntsman is dropping out of the 2012 Republican Presidential Race.

Coming less than a week after he finished third in the New Hampshire Primary and promised supporters that he would continue in the race on to the South Carolina Primary on Saturday, and a day before candidates will gather for the latest debate of the primary season, the announcement comes as the frontrunner, Mitt Romney, looks to solidify his support and momentum into enthusiasm for a general election race against President Obama.

FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES’ JIM RUTENBERG AND JEFF ZELENY IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

"Mr. Huntsman, who had struggled to live up to the soaring expectations of his candidacy, made plans to make an announcement as early as Monday. He had been set to participate in an evening debate in Myrtle Beach.

Matt David, campaign manager to Mr. Huntsman, confirmed the decision in an interview Sunday evening. “The governor and his family, at this point in the race, decided it was time for Republicans to rally around a candidate who could beat Barack Obama and turn around the economy,” Mr. David said. “That candidate is Gov. Mitt Romney.”

A third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary last week failed to jump start Mr. Huntsman’s flagging candidacy, aides said, and his campaign limped into South Carolina with little money. Mr. Huntsman has spent days pondering his future in the race, but aides said that he concluded he was unlikely to topple Mitt Romney or match the momentum of his Republican rivals in the conservative Southern primary.

The decision from Mr. Huntsman came on the same day that he received the endorsement from The State, the newspaper in the capital of Columbia. He had campaigned in South Carolina over the weekend, not giving any indication that the end was near.”

MORE: Huntsman will endorse Mitt Romney tomorrow, which means Romney enters tomorrow night’s debate with even more momentum.

A win by Romney in Saturday’s Primary will likely force additional candidates to drop out of the race as Republican donors and party leaders solidify their support around the nominee.

An official announcement is scheduled for 11am Monday.

CANDIDATES WHO HAVE WITHDRAWN SO FAR:

Tim Pawlenty (August 14)
Thaddeus McCotter (September 22)
Herman Cain (December 3)
Gary Johnson (December 28)
Michele Bachmann (January 04)
Jon Huntsman (January 15)

GALLUP DAILY TRACKING POLL (of remaining candidates)

  • Mitt Romney 37%
  • Rick Santorum 14%
  • Newt Gingrich 13%
  • Ron Paul 12%
  • Rick Perry 5%

WHAT’S NEXT:

Tomorrow night, the 16th Republican Presidential Candidates Debate, from the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, SC, on FOX News, moderated by Bret Baier of Fox News’ ‘Special Report’ and Gerald Seib of the Wall Street Journal. It will air at 9pm ET and last approximately two hours.

It will be the fifth debate airing on FOX News this cycle. Previous FOX debates:

  • Greenville, South Carolina (May 5th)- the first debate
  • Ames, Iowa (August 11th)
  • Orlando, Florida (September 22nd)
  • Sioux City, Iowa (December 15th)

On Thursday night, CNN and the Southern Republican Leadership Conference are sponsoring another debate, from the Citadel in Charleston, SC.

South Carolina Republican voters go to the polls on Saturday.

Next week, there are two more Republican debates scheduled (Monday January 23rd and Thursday January 26th) leading up to the Florida Republican Primary on Tuesday January 31st.

AMERICA FOR A BETTER TOMORROW TOMORROW- the Political Action Committee started by Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert and now run by Jon Stewart, is up with a television ad in South Carolina. The one-minute ad buy takes aim at Mitt Romney and his record at Bain Capital, calling him “Mitt, the Riper” It’s worth watching if only to think about whether this ad, and the apparent intent of Colbert to involve himself in the presidential election in a very tangible way, will have.

THIS WEEKEND’S TOP POLITICAL STORY- A group of social conservatives convened by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, has elected to support Rick Santorum as their candidate in the Republican primaries. From POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin:

"In a conference call [Saturday] afternoon, Family Research Council chief Tony Perkins said that on the third ballot Santorum won a solid majority of votes from the movement conservatives gathered at a private ranch near Houston.

Of 114 votes cast, Santorum won 85. Newt Gingrich took the remainder.

In a remarkable slap in his home state, Rick Perry didn’t even make it past the first ballot, Perkins said.

Santorum backers were already taking to Twitter in the moments after Perkins announced the decision to tout the news. The former Pennsylvania senator, largely absent from the political conversation since finishing well behind Mitt Romney in New Hampshire and staying out of the Bain debate, is badly in need of a lift. In that sense, the endorsement is well-timed.

"It’s a validator that people who have been out there, in the fields laboring for the conservative cause, see us as someone who can not only stand and fight for the causes, but effectively fight and win.," Santorum told reporters at his Mt Pleasant, S.C., headquarters.

THE GOLDEN GLOBES 2012 (as of 10:50pm ET):

Best Actor (Drama)- George Clooney
Best Actress (Drama)- Meryl Streep
Best Director- Martin Scorsese
Best Actress (Comedy or Musical)
Motion Picture (Comedy)- The Artist
Supporting Actor- Christopher Plummer
Supporting Actress- Octavia Spencer

TOMORROW IS MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY

Full text & audio of King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” Speech 

King’s 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail

IN 2011, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial was dedicated on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Tomorrow, at 8am, a wreath will be laid in honor of Dr. King at the Memorial. The National Park Service has additional information and resources on the Memorial 

AND/BUT- an inscription on the Memorial was ordered changed on Friday by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe reports

"Salazar said Friday that he has told the National Park Service to consult with the memorial foundation and the King family and to report back to him within 30 days with a plan to fix the carved excerpt that turned a modest and mellifluous phrase into a prideful boast.

The paraphrase on the north face of the 30-foot-tall granite statue comes from a powerful and poignant 1968 sermon King delivered two months before his assassination. King spoke of the “drum major instinct” as the epitome of egotism, a self-centered view of the world that he denounced. Imagining his eulogy, King used the conditional tense: “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

But after the architect and the sculptor thought the stone would look better with fewer words, a shortened version was put on, composed of just 10 words with a heavy staccato beat. It was no longer a conditional statement; it was a flat assertion: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

Salazar said he thought the excerpt was not true to King’s character.”

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9 Days To Go…Conservatives Back Off Romney Attacks…Perry Loses Vulture Capitalism…But Gingirch Web Video Compares Romney to Kerry…Giuliani Attacks Gingrich…and Stephen Colbert Wants To Run…The Evening Report for Thursday January 12, 2012

9 DAYS UNTIL SOUTH CAROLINA (25 delegates)
12 DAYS UNTIL THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
19 DAYS UNTIL FLORIDA (50 delegates)

ALL POLITICS EDITION

MINDMELD: Today was one of those days in the election when there wasn’t one action that happened, or moment that occurred, but rather there was an amalgamation of forces that revealed a shifting dynamic in the race.

We hinted at it at the end of last night’s Report. There began, yesterday, to be pushback from many establishment Republicans about the primary attacks against Mitt Romney and his record at Bain Capital.

Those attacks, from Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, had threatened to consume the Republican primary for the next 9 days in South Carolina, and Florida at the end of the month and possibly even prolonging a contested primary season through the spring.

Today, that pushback continued and even as new polls showed a competitive race in South Carolina, there were clear signs that the Republican Party may be moving to clear the deck and ready to appoint their nominee to face President Obama from now until the fall. 

GOP DIVIDED OVER POTENTIAL IMPACT OF BAIN ATTACKS- The Washington Post- Amy Gardner in Greer, SC- 

"Republican voters at campaign events for Romney and other candidates Thursday said they were unmoved by the arguments against Romney’s time at Bain, a venture capital company that several of Romney’s rivals have blamed for bankrupting companies and laying off thousands of workers. Most damning has been an ad campaign paid for by a group backing Newt Gingrich, featuring interviews with workers claiming to have been laid off by Bain.

On Wednesday, Perry called Romney a “vulture capitalist” — a phrase that he did not repeat on Thursday.

Romney’s rivals seemed to vacillate between continuing to criticize Romney over Bain and easing up in the face of growing pressure to do so. Gingrich, whose critiques have been the harshest of any, rarely mentioned Romney by name Thursday, sticking instead to a more general “big guy vs. little guy” theme.

Huntsman aimed his attack Thursday on a line Romney uttered Monday about firing people, rather than directly hitting him over Bain. “When you have a candidate who talks about enjoyment of firing people, that makes you pretty much unelectable,” he said.

Several Republican strategists said the verdict is still not in on how damaging the Bain narrative will be for Romney, whose wins in New Hampshire and Iowa earlier this month have cemented his position as the front-runner of the Republican field.”

NEWT WEB AD COMPARES MITT TO DUKASIS & KERRY- includes clips of both Sen. Kerry and Gov. Romney speaking French. As you watch this ad, remind yourself that it is a Republican that produced it 

GINGRICH will be interviewed by NBC’s David Gregory this Sunday on Meet The Press

GINGRICH’S SUPER PAC, WINNING OUR FUTURE, IS UP WITH WWW.KINGOFBAIN.COM.Here’s some of the text. And it’s hard hitting.

"Mitt Romney.   

Was he a job creator or a corporate raider?

That’s the question this film answers.

And it’s not pretty.

Mitt Romney was not a capitalist during his reign at Bain. He was a predatory corporate raider.

His firm didn’t seek to create value. Instead, like a scavenger, Romney looked for businesses he could pick apart.

Indeed, he represented the worst possible kind of predator, operating within the law but well outside the bounds of what most real capitalists consider ethical.

He is exhibit number one the left wants to use in the coming election to give capitalism a bad name.

He and his friends at Bain were bad guys. Any real capitalists should disavow Romney’s ‘creative destruction’ model that made him wealthy at the expense of thousands of American jobs.”

TOP TALKER- John McCain rips into Mike Huckabee, reliving the end of the 2008 Republican Primary 

“I respect him, but that’s totally false. It’s totally, patently false. And for him to say something like that, maybe it makes him feel better. … All I can say to Gov. Huckabee is good luck on your programming on Fox, but you’re not telling the truth.”

TOP TALKER II- Laura Bush today to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

"Former first lady Laura Bush wishes there were one more candidate in the Republican presidential primary: Jeb Bush.

Speaking to a sold-out Sarasota audience on Wednesday, Bush said she had hoped that her brother-in-law and former Florida governor would have jumped into the race this year.

Husband George W. Bush “and I wish he would,” Laura Bush said when asked if Jeb Bush will run for president someday. “We wanted him to this time.”

TOP TALKER III- Rudy Giuliani on Fox & Friends this morning- calling out Gingrich and Perry for their attacks on Romney "What the hell are you doing, Newt?" he asked

THE LATEST SOUTH CAROLINA POLLING FROM INSIDER ADVANTAGE: ROMNEY +2

  • Romney 23%
  • Gingrich 21%
  • Santorum 14%
  • Paul 13%
  • Huntsman 7%
  • Perry 5%

LATEST GALLUP TRACKING POLL FOR GOP NOMINATION NATIONALLY: ROMNEY +19

  • Romney 34%
  • Santorum 15%
  • Gingrich 14%
  • Paul 13%
  • Perry 5%
  • Huntsman 2%

WALL STREET FROM CNBC- Stocks End Higher, Nasdaq Logs 6-Day Gain

  • DOW up 22
  • NASDAQ up 14
  • S&P 500 up 3

FINALLY…TAKE THIS WITH A GRAIN OF SALT, BUT STEPHEN COLBERT WANTS TO RUN IN SOUTH CAROLINA

From POLITICO’s Mike Allen [a guest on this evening’s Colbert Report]

“I am proud to announce that I am forming an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for my possible candidacy for president of the United States of America of South Carolina,” Colbert said during the Thursday evening show, several hours before airtime on Comedy Central.

“This is a difficult decision. I’ve talked it over with my money. I’ve talked it over with my spiritual adviser.”

Trevor Potter, the former Federal Election Commission chairman, acts as Colbert’s lawyer and was a guest on the show. “

You cannot be a candidate and run a super PAC,” Potter said. “That would be coordinating with yourself.”
Colbert’s super PAC is Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. His 501(c)4 is the Colbert Super PAC SHH [as in “shh”] Institute.

The stunt was part of Colbert’s continuing effort to expose what he considers absurdities in U.S. election law.

10 Days To Go….Romney To Fight Back…Paul Readies for the Long Haul…Super PACs spending millions in SC TV Ads…Bradjelina visit White House…The Evening Report for Wednesday January 11, 2012

10 DAYS UNTIL SOUTH CAROLINA (25 delegates)
13 DAYS UNTIL THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
20 DAYS UNTIL FLORIDA (50 delegates)

TOP STORY: US TO RESUME PEACE TALKS WITH TALIBAN- previous talks had collapsed in December- from The Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung

"A tentative U.S.-Taliban deal, including the transfer of five Afghan detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison to Qatar and an insurgent renunciation of international terrorism, collapsed in December when Karzai refused to go along with it.

There have been no meetings with the insurgents since then. Although all parties have publicly said that they agree to one element of the deal — the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar — “we need now to make it real,” one official said.

Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani, for the first time acknowledging Qatar’s support for the arrangement, said Wednesday that his government welcomed “any opportunity” to defuse tension in the region. Thani spoke after a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The administration, which has said that negotiations must be “Afghan-led,” insists that its talks with the Taliban are only a preliminary effort to build confidence before actual negotiations over Afghanistan’s future can begin between the insurgents and the Karzai government.

One hurdle is that the Taliban prefers to talk to the United States and is “not willing to sit down with the Afghan government’,” one official said. “Our job is to see if we can break through that door.” Karzai has been under pressure from domestic opponents of negotiations to stand firm against the talks.

IN MISSISSIPPI TONIGHT-  a judge has ordered the halt to the release of any further prisoners pardoned by Governor Haley Barbour, in his final days in office. Barbour has pardoned 200 prisoners, including 14 convicted murderers. Today, the Mississippi Attorney General said that the Governor’s actions threatened public safety. From CNN-

"He’s tried to rule the state like Boss Hogg and he didn’t think the law applied to him," Hood told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night, referring to a character in the 1980s TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

"These families are afraid out here," Hood said of relatives of crime victims.

Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Tomie Green issued the injunction, saying it appeared some pardons, including those for the four murderers, did not meet the 30-day requirement. Any inmates released in the future must meet the standard, Green ruled.

On his way out the door, the Republican governor approved full pardons for nearly 200 people, including 14 convicted murderers, according to documents the Mississippi secretary of state’s office released Tuesday.

The four murderers who received full pardons last week — David Gatlin, Joseph Ozment, Charles Hooker and Anthony McCray — were cited in Green’s order.

They were all serving life sentences and worked as inmate trusties at the governor’s mansion, said Suzanne Singletary, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Trusties are inmates who can receive additional rights through good behavior.

ROMNEY RAISED $24 MILLION IN THE FOURTH QUARTER- from Reuters-

"The campaign has raised more than $56 million so far in the primary election season and has $19 million in cash on hand.

The strong fundraising means Romney has a substantial warchest as he strives for a third consecutive victory in the state-by-state race for the Republican nomination to oppose President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in the general election in November.”

RON PAUL’S CAMPAIGN IS CALLING ON THE REST OF THE FIELD- EXCEPT MITT- TO DROP OUT- from a statement released by the campaign after the results from New Hampshire last night:

"Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have been shown in national polls to be the only two candidates who can defeat Barack Obama.

"And Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are the only two candidates who can run a full, national campaign, competing in state after state over the coming weeks and months. Ron Paul’s fundraising numbers — over $13 million this quarter — also prove he will be able to compete with Mitt Romney. No other candidate can do all of these things.

Ron Paul is clearly the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney as the campaign goes forward.

“We urge Ron Paul’s opponents who have been unsuccessfully trying to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney to unite by getting out of the race and uniting behind Paul’s candidacy.

"Ron Paul is in this race for the long haul. And he is ready to fight."

“See you on the campaign trail.”

TODD PALIN GOES ROGUE- endorses Gingrich without consulting wife, Sarah- Here’s the former Alaska Governor on FOX News last night

"First dude went rogue. I respect him for doing that, Todd is all about hardhats and steel-toed boots and getting people to work, that’s what he represented and worked verry hard for as First Gentleman in our state."

VIDEO 

SUPER PACS BLANKETING SOUTH CAROLINA- from National Journal’s Reid Wilson

"After decades at the head of the primary calendar, South Carolina voters won’t be surprised when they turn on their televisions this morning and see wall-to-wall campaign advertisements. And while a super PAC backing Newt Gingrich has said it will spend $3.4 million on negative ads blasting front-runner Mitt Romney, it’s actually Romney and his allies who are spending the most on television time this week and next.

Restore Our Future, a super PAC backing Romney’s campaign, has purchased more television advertisements than every other entity playing on South Carolina television, our sources in the ad buying community tell us. Restore Our Future has purchased more than $1.7 million in advertising over the next 10 days in South Carolina alone.

The pro-Romney group is spending nearly twice what any other candidate or PAC has purchased in the Greenville/Spartanburg, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach/Florence markets. And Restore Our Future is going head-to-head with the Gingrich-friendly super PAC, Winning Our Future, in the Charlotte, Augusta and Savannah markets, too.

Romney’s campaign dropped an additional $300,000 into South Carolina television time on Tuesday, reserving a total of $418,000 this week and $187,000 next week in total statewide spending.

Romney’s campaign will outspend his rivals this week, according to our sources. Rep. Ron Paul is spending $237,000 on television advertisements, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry spending $339,000 this week. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who raised more than $2 million after nearly winning the Iowa caucuses, is starting to spend, too, reserving $337,000 in advertisements this week and another $52,000 next week. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is up with $149,000 spread across broadcast and cable.”

ROMNEY READIES HIS COUNTER ATTACK- POLITICO’S REID EPSTEIN

"Campaign advisers are polishing new messaging, tailored to rebut Republican and Democratic attacks separately. They’re cueing up new commercials.

And they’re rolling out a more aggressive approach from the candidate himself, even as the candidates who’d been waging the Bain battle appeared to be retreating from the rhetoric on Wednesday.

The change comes following three days of stumbling responses from Romney and campaign aides, who admit they were caught unprepared for the explosion of Bain as the dominant topic of the Republican race – “out of nowhere,” one adviser said. And it comes as Romney is aiming to turn his polling lead into a primary win — an early-state hat trick they hope will quickly establish him as the presumptive GOP nominee.

They’ll start with advertisements featuring employees of companies started and rescued by Bain to tell their stories — a direct response to the documentary released by the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC that features employees of four companies closed by Bain that brutally slams Romney as a job killer. That documentary is set to be parceled out into shorter commercials which will air in South Carolina with a $3.4 million ad buy.

Romney adviser Kevin Madden says they’re confident they’ll quash those attacks with their new rebuttal.

REALITY FROM GINGRICH: THE PATH TO THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION COULD END IN SOUTH CAROLINA
from an interview on MSNBC this morning

"If Romney can win South Carolina, he’s probably going to be the nominee. This is his big test," Gingrich said of his rival for the Republican presidential nomination. "He has so much money that if he also has the advantage of momentum, it’s going to be very hard to stop him," Gingrich said of Romney.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: There is growing chorus of Republicans who are urging- privately & publicly- for candidates to stop the attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, believing that it ultimately will hurt the party and the man they see as the inevitable front runner. Watch, especially, for Newt Gingrich’s reaction.

WALL STREET TODAY- from CNBC-: Stocks ended near session highs Wednesday, but still closed narrowly mixed, as worries over the euro zone and declines in the energy sector limited gains.

  • DOW down 13
  • NASDAQ up 8
  • S&P 500 up 0.4

FINALLY: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie visited President Obama today at The White House, to update the President on Jolie’s recent work on preventing mass atrocities and combating sexual violence to women, according to an Administration official. Pitt was using a cane, the result of a recent skiing accident.

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ROMNEY WINS…Paul Second…Huntsman Third…On to South Carolina…No Candidates Dropping Out…Romney Takes Aim at Rivals, Obama in Speech…Exit Polls…What’s Next…The Evening Report for Tuesday January 10, 2012

11 DAYS UNTIL SOUTH CAROLINA (25 delegates)
14 DAYS UNTIL THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
21 DAYS UNTIL FLORIDA (50 delegates)

PRIMARY EDITION

THE LATEST RESULTS:
77.7% OF THE VOTE IN

ROMNEY 38.3%
PAUL 23.2%
HUNTSMAN 16.9%
GINGRICH 9.7%
SANTORUM 9.6%

ROMNEY’S VICTORY-

The Union-Leader’s Headline: "NH Speaks: It’s Romney"
Boston Globe- "Romney a solid first, Paul second in N.H…Fmr Mass. Governor Gets Decisive GOP Win"

THE GLOBE-

"In his victory speech to the cheering crowd, Romney turned his fire mainly on Democratic President Barack Obama, saying, “This president has run out of ideas; now he’s running out of excuses.

He said Obama wants to “put free enterprise on trial. … I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we’re lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by resentment of success.”

“He apologizes for America, and I will never apologize for the greatest nation in the history of the earth,” Romney said.

FIRST THOUGHTS ON THE ROMNEY WIN:

With some vote still left to come in, Romney is running ahead of John McCain’s winning percentage from 2008, but still below expectations in the last week that he would top 40% of the popular vote. It look as if Romney will finish at 37, 38 or 39 percent.

Ron Paul finishes with a strong second place standing. It’s difficult to see where his campaign goes next- although they will compete strongly in the caucuses through the winter and spring. Does tonight’s second-place finish by Paul make him more likely to mount a third party candidacy in November?

Jon Huntsman’s third place finish is a disappointing result for the former Utah Governor, but the candidate does say that he will be going on to South Carolina. The bigger question is how Huntsman’s campaign regroups and develops a strategy.

Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are nearly tied for fourth place, but this is not particularly surprising. Santorum did not spend a lot of money in New Hampshire over the last week and Gingrich’s standing with New Hampshire voters was well known. Both are expected to vie with Rick Perry in South Carolina on the 21st.

No candidate is expected to drop out of the race over the next week before the South Carolina debates beginning next Monday and the primary a week from Saturday.

ALL FIVE CANDIDATES DELIVERED STATEMENTS TO SUPPORTERS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE TONIGHT

RICK PERRY, IN SOUTH CAROLINA, RELEASED THIS STATEMENT

"Tonight’s results in New Hampshire show the race for ‘conservative alternative’ to Mitt Romney remains wide open. I skipped New Hampshire and aimed my campaign right at conservative South Carolina, where we’ve been campaigning hard and receiving an enthusiastic welcome. I believe being the only nonestablishment outsider in the race, the proven fiscal and social conservative and proven job creator will win the day in South Carolina.

South Carolina is the next stop. I have a head start here, and it’s friendly territory for a Texas governor and veteran with solid outsider credentials; the nation’s best record of job creation; and solid fiscal, social and tea party conservatism.”

ROMNEY’S VICTORY WAS DECISIVE- from POLITICO’s EMILY SCHULTHEIS- who took a look at tonight’s exit polls

"He was the first pick of a full 30 percent of voters who described themselves as "very conservative," followed by Rick Santorum at 29 percent. He had a strong lead among those who described themselves as “somewhat conservative,” with 45 percent choosing him; he also led among self-described “moderates” and “liberals” with 35 percent.

Still, exit polls found that a full third of New Hampshire voters said they wanted another candidate in the race — only 65 percent said they were “satisfied” with the current GOP field, while 32 percent said they would like to see another candidate join the race.

Also worth noting was the high number of independents voting in tonight’s primary — a group that will be fiercely contested by both parties next fall. A full 45 percent of those coming to the polls said they were registered independents, and 47 percent of total voters tonight described themselves as independents. Both Romney and Ron Paul did well among independents — with registered independents, Romney led at 32 percent, followed by Paul at 30 percent and Jon Huntsman at 23 percent.

The former Massachusetts governor even led among New Hampshire evangelical voters, with 27 percent of that group picking Romney. Santorum took second place with the evangelical vote at 26 percent, followed by Paul at 10 percent.

One group Romney did not win, however, is the youth vote — a group that went strongly for Paul, as it did in Iowa. Paul got the support of 46 percent of voters aged 18 to 29, with Romney coming in a distant second at 21 percent. Romney, however, had a strong advantage with older voters: He won 45- to 64-year-olds with 39 percent and the 65 and older vote with 39 percent.

THE DEMOCRATS:

Vice President Joe Biden spoke via video-conference to about 2,000 Democratic supporters in New Hampshire tonight.

President Obama is traveling to Chicago tomorrow, to attend a re-election fundraiser and, likely, stop by his re-election headquarters

THE HEADLINES TONIGHT

Mitt Romney wins New Hampshire. Officially, he is now 2 for 2 in the contests so far this primary season.

No candidates are dropping out after tonight’s results.

It’s on to South Carolina, where Gingrich, Santorum and Perry are going to attack Romney over Bain Capital. 

Dixville Notch Votes in Less Than 2 Hours…Romney Slips Up…Paul Running A Strong Second…South Carolina Awaits…Bill Daley Resigns…NH Primary Preview…The Evening Report for Monday January 09, 2012

1 DAY UNTIL NEW HAMPSHIRE (12 delegates)
12 DAYS UNTIL SOUTH CAROLINA (25 delegates)
15 DAYS UNTIL THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
22 DAYS UNTIL FLORIDA (50 delegates)

ALL POLITICS EDITION

"I LIKE BEING ABLE TO FIRE PEOPLE who provide services to me," MITT ROMNEY, speaking today in Nashua, NH.

First- some context- and in the Romney’s campaign defense, the candidate was answering a question about services such as health care, and referencing insurance companies.

However- this quote came just one day after Romney said the following last evening in Rochester, NH:

"I’ve learned what it’s like to sign the front of a paycheck, not just the back of a paycheck, and to know how frightening it is to see if you can make the payroll at the end of the week. These are experiences that many of you know."

"I know what it’s like to worry whether you’re going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.”

Both quotes were immediately seized upon by Romney’s rivals in tomorrow’s primary. They also came on a day when the Wall Street Journal ran an A1 investigation into Romney’s record at Bain Capital, echoing an attack that Newt Gingrich brought up in this weekend’s debates, and which Gingrich’s Super PAC has bought an extraordinary amount of air time in South Carolina to make an issue in that state’s primary.

Tonight, Romney, the man who is expected to handedly win tomorrow’s primary, is under attack. They’re the same attacks that will be used by President Obama and the re-election campaign during the general election. Further, Romney’s misstatements today bare a striking resemblance to a fatal mistake made my Massachusetts Senator John Kerry during the 2004 election, with his comment that the “actually voted for it before he voted against it”- a line that came to symbolize his indecisiveness.

CAMPAIGN RESET- ROMNEY COMES UNDER FIRE AS PRIMARY LOOMS- THE WASHINGTON POST-PHILIP RUCKER IN HUDSON, NH

"An assault on Mitt Romney’s business career intensified Monday after the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination made an ­off-the-cuff comment that his opponents say shows that he was a corporate predator who sought profits at the expense of workers."

“Governor Romney enjoys firing people; I enjoy creating jobs,” former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr., who polls suggest is enjoying a late surge here, told reporters in Concord. “It may be that he’s slightly out of touch with the economic reality playing out in America right now, and that’s a dangerous place to be.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) went further, criticizing the type of business Romney engaged in. “Look, I’m for capitalism,” Gingrich said on NBC’s “Today” show. “But if somebody comes in, takes all the money out of your company and then leaves you bankrupt while they go off with millions, that’s not traditional capitalism.”

Instead of sprinting to the finish before Tuesday’s primary, which he is heavily favored to win, the candidate spent his final day on the New Hampshire campaign trail explaining and defending his role as co-founder and chief executive of Bain Capital. The venture capital firm invested in start-ups such as Staples, an office supplies superstore, but also oversaw large-scale job losses through leveraged buyouts and restructuring.

“Free enterprise will be on trial,” Romney told reporters in Hudson. “I thought it was going to come from the president, from the Democrats on the left, but instead it’s coming from Speaker Gingrich and apparently others. And that’s just part of the process. I’m not worried about that. I’ve got broad shoulders.”

WMUR AND THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE PREDICT A ROMNEY BLOWOUT TOMORROW NIGHT, HAVE HIM UP 24 POINTS IN A POLL RELEASED TODAY

Romney 41%, Paul 17%, Huntsman 11%, Santorum 11%, Gingrich 8%, Perry 1%

SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY/NEWS 7 HAS IT A BIT CLOSER, ROMNEY UP 13

Romney 33%, Paul 20%, Huntsman 13%, Santorum 10%, Santorum 10%, Perry 1%

AND PPP TRACKING PUTS ROMNEY UP BY 17- probably the most accurate assessment of where the race stands

Romney 35%, Paul 18%, Huntsman 16%, Gingrich 12%, Santorum 11%, Perry 1%

IT’S ALL ABOUT EXPECTATIONS...

Will Romney crack 40% tomorrow?
Will anything significantly less be seen as a sign of weakness?
Will Ron Paul pull a strong second or will his support be transfered to another candidate?
Was there a Huntsman surge at the end of the race? Does he come in third, fourth or fifth?
Which candidates hold their New Hampshire primary parties from South Carolina (Rick Perry)?

DRIVING SOUTH CAROLINA- “A BIG CHECK AND GINGRICH GETS A BIG LIFT”- By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and ERIC LIPTON- THE NEW YORK TIMES-

"MANCHESTER, N.H. — For weeks this winter, as Newt Gingrich’s presidential hopes faltered under the weight of millions of dollars in attack ads paid for by backers of Mitt Romney, a small group of Gingrich supporters quietly lobbied for help from one of the richest men in America: Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino owner and Mr. Gingrich’s longtime friend and patron

By the time Mr. Gingrich limped into New Hampshire, some of his top backers had given up on Mr. Adelson and begun prospecting elsewhere, including among erstwhile supporters of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, to finance the counterattack they believed could salvage Mr. Gingrich’s campaign.

But on Friday, the cavalry arrived: a $5 million check from Mr. Adelson to Winning Our Future, a “super PAC” that supports Mr. Gingrich. By Monday morning, the group had reserved more than $3.4 million in advertising time in South Carolina, a huge sum of money in a state where the airwaves come cheap and the Republican presidential primary is just 11 days away. The group is planning to air portions of a movie critical of Mr. Romney’s time at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he helped found.

The last-minute injection underscores how last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance has made it possible for a wealthy individual to influence an election. Mr. Adelson’s contribution to the super PAC is 1,000 times the $5,000 he could legally give directly to Mr. Gingrich’s campaign this year.

Several people with knowledge of Mr. Adelson’s decision to donate to Winning Our Future said that it was born out of a two-decade friendship with Mr. Gingrich, his advocacy on behalf of Israel and his turbulent months as a presidential candidate.

“His friend needed his help,” said a close associate of both men, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid drawing Mr. Adelson’s ire. “It’s more than anything else a loyalty thing. And he believes strongly in his platform and in Newt’s candidacy.”

THE DAY’S TOP POLITICAL STORY- WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF BILL DALEY IS STEPPING DOWN-
from National Journal’s George Condon, Jr. at The White House-

"President Obama promised on Monday that the White House will “not miss a beat” even though he was taken by surprise by the resignation of Chief of Staff William Daley and has had to turn to his third person in the post at the beginning of a critical election year.

To replace Daley, the president turned to another Washington veteran, Jack Lew. Lew is the current director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and previously served as a top deputy to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. He also served as an adviser to President Bill Clinton.

“Obviously, this was not easy news to hear,” the president said in the State Dining Room, flanked on each side by Daley and Lew. “And I didn’t accept Bill’s decision right away. In fact, I asked him to take a couple of days to make sure that he was sure about this. But in the end, the pull of the hometown we both love, a city that’s been synonymous with the Daley family for generations, was too great.”

Daley will become a co-chair of the President’s re-election campaign.

WALL STREET TODAY- from CNBC- “Stocks Eek Out a Gain Ahead of Earnings”

  • DOW up 33
  • NASDAQ up 3
  • S&P 500 up 3

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR TOMORROW

VOTING HOURS: Polls open at 7am ET and close in most places, including Manchester, at 7pm. The last polls in the state close at 8pm. That’s the earliest time the networks will make a projection. [and exit polls could provide enough information to make a projection at poll closing time tomorrow].

DIXVILLE NOTCH, NEW HAMPSHIRE HOLDS THE FIRST VOTES OF THE ELECTION, just past midnight ET tonight.

TURNOUT EXPECTATION: 250,000 for the Republican Primary and 75,000 for the Democratic Primary (President Obama is on the ballot uncontested), per the Secretary of State

INDEPENDENTS CAN VOTE: Because New Hampshire is an “open primary”. 40% of New Hampshire’s electorate is independent.

HOW ARE THE DELEGATES AWARDED: Tomorrow’s primary is the first time delegates will be awarded towards the Republican Nomination. Iowa’s caucuses last week were non-binding. They will hold a binding contest later this year to formally apportion delegates. 12 delegates are at stake tomorrow. Ordinarily, NH would have 23 delegates but the state is being penalized by the Republican Party for holding its primary in January, earlier than the official rules allow. Delegates will be awarded proportionally to any candidate attracting at least 10% of the vote.

WHAT’S NEXT? Two debates in South Carolina next week (Monday and Thursday), ahead of the South Carolina Primary on Saturday January 21st. Then comes the Florida Primary on Tuesday January 31st. That Saturday, February 4th, Nevada holds its caucuses and Maine begins their multi-day caucus. Super Tuesday is on March 6th. The earliest a candidate is likely to have a statistical “hold” on the nomination is on March 20th, after the Illinois Primary.

THREE FAST FACTS ABOUT NEW HAMPSHIRE:

In the last 25 years, only one candidate not named Bush or McCain has won the New Hampshire Republican primary: Pat Buchanan (1996).

And since 1952, no Republican presidential candidate has gone on to win his party’s nomination without finishing either first or second in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire holds more regular statewide and local elections more frequently than any other state in the United States.

2008 NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY RESULTS

John McCain 37.0%
Mitt Romney 31.6%
Mike Huckabee 11.2%
Rudy Giuliani 8.5%
Ron Paul 7.7%
Fred Thompson 1.2%
Turnout: 239,793

THE EVENING REPORT will publish a special post-primary edition tomorow night after the winner is known. Last Tuesday, our post-caucus edition was sent at 12:04am ET. 

2 Days To Go…After Two Debates, NH is Romney’s To Lose…Newt’s PAC goes after Mitt…Huntsman Shining…Giffords Shooting Anniversary…Blue Ivy is Born….And TIM TEBOW…The Evening Report for Sunday January 08, 2012

2 DAYS UNTIL NEW HAMPSHIRE (12 delegates)
13 DAYS UNTIL SOUTH CAROLINA (25 delegates)
16 DAYS UNTIL THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
23 DAYS UNTIL FLORIDA (50 delegates)

THE LATEST FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE- home of two debateswithin 12 hours this weekend and now less than 48 hours from the first in the nation presidential preference primary-

"Romney Under Attack in in Final NH Debate"- The Washington Post- Karen Tumulty and Amy Gardner- in Concord-

"The unusual morning debate was the 15th of the campaign season — and the second in 10 hours — for the candidates. It was sponsored by NBC News, the New Hampshire Union Leader and Facebook.

In the previous night’s forum, which was aired on ABC, Romney’s opponents had landed few blows on the front-runner.

Romney, initially rattled under the Sunday morning barrage, tried to defend himself — but at times seemed to fuel some of the most damaging perceptions about him.

For instance, he reminded viewers of his background of wealth and privilege when he recounted a bit of “good advice” that his father, a wealthy auto executive who later became governor of Michigan, gave him.

“He said, ‘Mitt, never get involved in politics if you have to win an election to pay a mortgage,’ ” Romney recalled, in a remark that could also be interpreted as a suggestion that only the wealthy should run for office.

And even as his opponents were blasting Romney as being insufficiently committed to the conservative fight, he recounted how, when he had run against Kennedy, he had told his business partners: “I’ll be back in six months. Don’t take my chair.” He also boasted that Kennedy “had to take a mortgage out on his house to ultimately defeat me.”

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: Romney is expected to win, by a significant margin, Tuesday’s primary. Anything short of a 15 to 20 plus point win will be interpreted as a sign of potential weakness. With such strong expectations, there is an opening for the candidates vying for the second tier to make a run and threaten Romney’s standing. A strong second place could be akin to a victory. That said, the race for 2-5 is much more fluid, with Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman- and possibly Newt Gingrich- possible contenders for any slot.

FOR HUNTSMAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE IS DO OR DIE- the Post’s Sandhya Somashekhar and Nia-Malika Henderson report from Concord-

"Huntsman went for broke here, skipping Iowa and spending virtually the entire campaign in a state that seemed more receptive to his moderate views. For months, he has been trundling from town to town in New Hampshire wearing a silver belt buckle and cowboy boots, delivering mild-mannered critiques of the president and occasionally breaking into his fluent Chinese.

In the final sprint, Huntsman has gained some momentum and is aiming to draw votes from Mitt Romney, the front-runner and candidate with whom Huntsman shares the most ground ideologically.

In a debate Sunday, the former Utah governor drew applause when he chided Romney for criticizing his willingness to serve as ambassador to China under President Obama. “This nation is divided . . . because of attitudes like that,” Huntsman said.

He sounded the same theme a few hours later, when about 250 people packed into a Hampstead coffee shop to hear the Republican hopeful’s stump speech. “I put my country first,” he said. “Apparently, Mitt Romney doesn’t believe in putting country first.”

HUNTSMAN HAD HIS STRONGEST PERFORMANCES TO DATE in the New Hampshire debates this weekend, but it remains to be seen if that is enough to translate into enough votes on Tuesday.

FROM THIS MORNING’S NBC NEWS/FACEBOOK DEBATE ON MEET THE PRESS WITH DAVID GREGORY- as reported by the Huffington Post’s Jon Ward

"I was criticized last night by Gov. Romney for putting my country first," Huntsman said. "He criticized me while he was out raising money, for serving my country in China, yes under a Democrat, like my two sons are doing in the United States Navy. They’re not asking what political affiliation the president is."

"I will always put my country first and I think that’s important," Huntsman said.

Romney essentially doubled down on his assertion that serving as an ambassador under a president of the opposite political party is an unworthy undertaking.

"I think we serve our country first by standing for people who believe in conservative principles and doing everything in our power to promote an agenda that does not include President Obama’s agenda," Romney said. "The decision to go to work for President Obama is one which you took, and I don’t — I respect your decision to do that. I just think it’s most likely that the person who should represent our party running against President Obama is not someone who called him a remarkable leader and went to be his ambassador in China.”

Huntsman shot back immediately: “This nation is divided because of attitudes like that.”

The crowd applauded Huntsman’s retort. He went on to say that “the American people are tired of the partisan division.”

"They have had enough. There is no trust left among the American people and the institutions of power and among the American people and their elected officials," Huntsman said.

SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY/NEWS 7 NEW HAMPSHIRE POLL finds Romney with a 15-point lead, however, that is down 8 points from an earlier tracking poll last week

  • Romney 35%
  • Paul 20%
  • Huntsman 11%
  • Gingrich 9%
  • Santorum 8%
  • Perry 1%

NEW KOTECKI VIDEO THIS WEEKEND- A MUST- WATCH- Political analyst & video blogger James Kotecki released a new video this weekend- a parody of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me”- “You Should Vote Romney” 

It’s one of Kotecki’s best videos to date. Make sure you check it out! 

POLITICO’S TOP STORY TONIGHT- “New Hampshire Primary: The Land of Make-Believe”- BY MIKE ALLEN AND JONATHAN MARTIN-

"The trappings are here: debates … diner stops … satellite trucks.

But the contest isn’t: Mitt Romney is holding onto his apparently huge lead over rivals in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, and is looking so strong going into South Carolina’s primary two weeks from now that his advisers privately talk up hopes for a 3-0 sweep of the opening contests - and a quick kill to win.

Maybe that’s why things seem so sleepy here compared to years past. The airwaves are surprisingly free of the nastiness that would normally accompany a six-way primary fight. Local officials complain of lower-than-hoped-for spending everywhere. The whole political circus surrounding the first-in-the-nation primary is taking on an increasing air of make-believe, as journalists converge (though in noticeably fewer numbers than in 2008) to cover a contest with a thoroughly predictable victor.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY- “I know what its like to worry about whether you’re going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was gonna get a pink slip.”- Mitt Romney speaking at a campaign event following this morning’s debate.

If not used by his current Republican rivals, quotes like this will be used by the Obama campaign in the forthcoming general election contest to paint Romney as elite and out of touch.

COMING ATTRACTION- from POLITICO’s James Hohmann- reporting tonight that the Ron Paul campaign will not openly contest the Florida Primary on January 31st and instead will focus their attention on caucus states later in the calendar, especially Louisiana, Nevada and Maine. Watch for Paul to use these contests to rake up delegates, and possibly victories.

WINNING OUR FUTURE- The Super PAC aligned with Newt Gingrich- today released a 3-minute trailer for a forthcoming half hour documentary which is mean to expose Mitt Romney as an corporate raider.

Just this preview is stunning, especially when you consider that it is coming from a fellow Republican candidate. It is Swift Boat-like in its approach. This is also something that might be captured by Super PACs aligned with President Obama and the Democratic Party in a general election. 

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR IN THE NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY- from National Journal’s Ron Fournier-

"In the final days leading up to the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, look for …

1. … Jon Huntsman, who posted his strongest debate performance to date on Sunday, to gain ground in the polls. Every vote he picks up will come from Mitt Romney.

2. … Romney to unleash his rumored organizational power for huge closing rallies. If not, you’ve got to wonder why. His New Hampshire crowds were lame until he drew close to 1,000 Saturday morning. Sign of things to come?

3. … Rick Santorum to regret taking the gay-marriage bait in New Hampshire. It killed his Iowa momentum because New Hampshire Republicans are more concerned about the economy than polarizing social issues.

4. … Newt Gingrich to get cranky with the media and Ron Paul, who’s now in second place in polls, to flirt with third.

5. … Rick Perry to talk up the tea party in South Carolina and act like New Hampshire doesn’t mean anything, But it does: He seems to be taking the long way home to Texas (and out of the race).”

TODAY IS THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona.
Tonight, the recovering Congresswoman led a crowd of thousands at a prayer vigil. CNN reports-

"Soon after the event began, the Arizona Democrat took the stage to lead the crowd in the pledge of allegiance. After receiving help from her husband, Mark Kelly, to put her right hand above her heart, Giffords enthusiastically recited the pledge, her voice strong and demeanor positive, before leaving the stage to applause.

Earlier in the day, the congresswoman’s chief of staff, Pia Carusone, admitted that the attack’s anniversary has been “difficult emotionally for everybody.” So, too, did Giffords’ husband, who also made a point to thank those who have supported his wife and others affected.

"It’s been a tough year, but we’re lucky to have so many people standing w/us," Kelly, a retired Navy captain and astronaut, wrote on his Twitter account."

AT THE BOX OFFICE THIS WEEKEND

1/ The Devil Inside $34.5 million
2/ Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol $20.5 million
3/ Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows $14 million
4/ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  $11.3 million
5/ Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked $9.5 million

BEYONCE AND JAY-Z HAVE A BABY- NAME IT BLUE IVY- From TMZ (who else?)

"Proud dad Jay-Z, real name Shawn Carter, was at the hospital where Beyonce reportedly birthed Ivy by c-section — and shortly after her arrival … J & B’s famous friends started sending out birth announcements on the Internet.

Rihanna tweeted, “Welcome to the world princess Carter! Love Aunty Rih”

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons also took to Twitter, saying … “congrats to my good friends Beyonce and Jay-Z.”

Beyonce famously announced her pregnancy on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards back in August.”

AND/BUT THEY’RE CAUSING A RUCUS AT THE NEW YORK HOSPITAL- Also from TMZ:

"A Brooklyn man claims increased security at Lenox Hill hospital because the presence of Beyonce and Jay-Z kept him from seeing his prematurely born twins … this according to a report.

Neil Coulon tells the NY Daily News he has been repeatedly kept out of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) by the couple’s security. He also claims his relatives were booted out of the waiting room by bodyguards wearing headsets.

He tells the paper, “Three times they stopped me from entering or exiting the NICU and it happened once on Friday — just because they wanted to use the hallway.”

FINALLY- TIM TEBOW DOES IT AGAIN- ESPN- “TEBOW STUNS STEELERS ON FIRST OVERTIME PLAY”

"DENVER — One of the most storied NFL playoff teams ran into a rejuvenated Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.

Sorry, Pittsburgh Steelers.
The magic is back.

Tebow connected with Demaryius Thomas on an electrifying 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime and the Broncos defeated the stunned Steelers 29-23 in the AFC wild-card game on Sunday. Wild doesn’t begin to describe it. The play took 11 seconds and was the quickest ending to an overtime in NFL history.

Thomas hauled in a high play-action pass at the Denver 38, stiff-armed Ike Taylor and then outraced Ryan Mundy to the end zone. Tebow, who looked as startled as everyone else, chased down Thomas and knelt on one knee — a gesture known far and wide these days as Tebowing. Then he pounded a fist in triumph and took a victory lap.

"When I saw him scoring, first of all, I just thought, `Thank you, Lord," Tebow said. "Then, I was running pretty fast, chasing him — Like I can catch up to D.T! Then I just jumped into the stands, first time I’ve done that. That was fun. Then, got on a knee and thanked the Lord again and tried to celebrate with my teammates and the fans.”

Prodded by John Elway to let the ball fly, Tebow acted as if the last three weeks never happened, lifting the Broncos to their first playoff win in six years.”

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