TPM News

President Obama, speaking at the Pentagon about new defense budget cuts, said the U.S. is “turning the page on a decade of war.” Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, are expected to outline the details of the defense cuts.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s support in the Suffolk University daily tracking poll of the Republican primary race in New Hampshire is a little smaller, but it was huge to begin with. Romney gets 41 percent in Thursday’s numbers, a two point drop. But he still doubles up the next closest competitor in Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) with 18 percent. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is third with 8 percent on the heels of his near win in Iowa.

“This is the first full day that voters had the opportunity to digest the final results of the Iowa caucuses,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in a release. “The result is that the same three winners in Iowa are the top three contenders in New Hampshire.”

He continued, “The profile of the remaining undecided voters may pose a problem for Santorum. Only 29 percent of those undecided voters said that their values were similar to the tea party and only 36 percent of these undecided voters identified themselves as conservative."

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA), releases this statement Thursday through his “Opportunity Virginia” leadership PAC, opposing an effort by the state Republican Party to require primary voters to sign a “loyalty oath” pledging their support in the general election for the eventual Republican nominee:



"Over the past few days I have reviewed the issue of the proposal that voters sign a loyalty oath as a requirement for participation in our upcoming GOP Presidential Primary in March. While I fully understand the reasoning that led to the establishment of this requirement, such an oath is unenforceable and I do not believe it is in the best interests of our Party, or the Commonwealth. The effect of the oath could be one of diminishing participation in the primary, at a time when our Party must be expanding its base and membership as we head into the pivotal 2012 general elections this fall. For these reasons, I urge the State Central Committee to rescind the loyalty oath requirement at its upcoming meeting on the 21st.

It is true that for political parties to remain viable they must have some means by which to control their own nomination processes. I know the loyalty oath was proposed as a possible good faith solution to this issue in this primary election, but there are other ways. I would support legislation to establish voluntary party registration in Virginia. Such a reform to our electoral system would eliminate the need for any oaths or pledges and greatly simplify the nomination process in the Commonwealth."

On CNN’s Starting Point Thursday, John McCain kindly knocked Rick Santorum for going after earmarks while in Congress:



I respect all of the candidates. And I respect their willingness to run. It is very tough to do that. It is a grind that is hard to describe unless you have been part of it. I respect Senator Santorum. He and I had very strong differences on earmarking and pork barrel spending. I believe that earmarking is a gateway drug to corruption. Senator Santorum supported it and engaged in it as much as he possibly could. I strongly disagreed with it. That was a fundamental difference we had in the Senate. But I still respect him.

Wyoming investment fund manager Foster Freiss confirmed to NBC that he is one of the principle backers of the Red White and Blue Fund which put over $500,000 into campaign ads in Iowa for Rick Santorum and which is planning to expand its reach to New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida on behalf of the former Senator. From the report:




Freiss, who is based in Jackson Hole, Wyo., is the founder of an investment fund called Freiss Associates, which includes on its website a quote from a Business Week article touting him as "the longest surviving successful growth stock picker."

He has a long history of backing Santorum, having donated $250,000 to a conservative group, Softer Voices, that ran ads on behalf of Santorum during his unsuccessful 2006 reelection campaign. He also has been a major donor to other GOP and conservative causes over the years, having given $250,000 to the Republican Governors Assocation last year as well as pumping a reported $3 million into The Daily Caller, a conservative website run by former MSNBC anchor Tucker Carlson.

“Mitt Romney doesn’t care about jobs, he cares about money,” says former steelworker Donnie Box about former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a new ad from MoveOn.org Political Action. Box worked at a steel mill bought by Bain Capital. Romney was the CEO of Bain, a financial firm involved in private equity.



Romney touted his endorsement by John McCain at a rally in Manchester Wednesday, and will hold two more rallies with the Senator before the weekend. On Fox News Thursday morning, Karl Rove questioned this strategy, via The Hill:




"I'm not certain I would've had McCain in an endorsement.



Look, I've been down this road once before. We came into the 2000 New Hampshire primary sort of emphasizing process -- endorsements, nice venues. Not message. What is it that we were going to do.



And we got walloped by a guy who was spending time not worrying about endorsements, but was worried about his message of being a maverick."

The Republican Governors Association has raised $44 million in 2011 — severely outraising the Democratic Governors Association’s $20 million last year. (h/t MSNBC)

“Timid won’t create jobs, and timid certainly won’t beat Barack Obama,” says a new ad released by the campaign of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The ad goes after Romney’s economic plan, which Gingrich argues is more akin to President Obama’s than his more conservative ideas. Watch:



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