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The tea party group FreedomWorks is working hard to eliminate Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) early this year, the group tells TPM, by making sure he doesn’t make it to the final two Republican candidates who can compete in the state’s uniquely structured primary — the same way conservatives defeated longtime incumbent Bob Bennett in 2010.

“The most important thing that unifies the tea party movement right now, and FreedomWorks members, is getting anti-Hatch delegates to show up in March,” said Brendan Steinhauser, who runs FreedomWorks' federal and state campaigns. “If we can do that, we can prevent Hatch from getting the top two slots at the convention. That eliminates him, and the top two candidates go on to the primary. And we can even endorse after the convention.”

“So the main thing is making sure Hatch doesn’t get out of convention,” he added. “If we do that, we’ve already won.”

Hatch won’t be easy to defeat, but hardcore conservatives still haven’t forgiven him for previously backing the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the DREAM Act.

The Communications Director for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted this morning that her boss has been detained by the Transportation Security Administration. “Just got a call from @senrandpaul. He’s currently being detained by TSA in Nashville,” the tweet reads.

Update, 10:26:

Paul’s father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) tweets the following: “My son @SenRandPaul being detained by TSA for refusing full body pat-down after anomaly in body scanner in Nashville. More details coming.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott “may not endorse” for the Florida primary, his spokesman told TPM on Monday. Besides television news appearances, Scott doesn’t have any primary-related appearances scheduled.

Scott’s press secretary, Lane Wright, writes:

Many TV news outlets have requested interviews to talk about the primary, but other than that, Governor Scott doesn’t have any primary-related appearances scheduled. As for your question on endorsements, Governor Scott says he wants someone in the White House who will be a partner with us in Florida to help improve the economy. We need someone who understands that the private sector creates jobs, not government. But he has not yet endorsed anyone, and he may not endorse for the primary.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said on Fox News Monday that a longer primary battle — which now seems more likely than ever before — will ultimately be good for the Republican Party. It’s a position not taken by a lot of Republicans, who think the longer the race drags on, the more wounded the winner will be when he faces President Obama.

The Associated Press reports:

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and his chief Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren have both signed a pledge to curb political attack ads by outside groups.

Warren on Monday sent a letter to Republican incumbent Brown urging him join her and sign an agreement to prevent third-party ads. Brown signed the pledge minutes later.

Brown had previously proposed that each campaign donate from its own account to a charity of the other’s choosing, an amount equal to 50% of the ad buy of a third-party group that either supports that candidate or attacks the opponent. Warren’s counter-offer, now signed by Brown, addressed what Warren regarded as loopholes in the proposal.

The Boston Globe notes that the negotiations involved much political wrangling by both sides.

The Romney campaign released a new radio ad in Florida touting Romney’s pro-life values. “Today conservatives are supporting Mitt Romney because he shares their values: the sanctity of life, the sacredness of marriage, and the importance of the family,” the voiceover says. The ad features the voice of Florida attorney general Pam Bondi and founder of Women Affirming Life Mary Ann Glendon endorsing Romney for his pro-life beliefs.


It appears that Romney is providing a little rear-guard defense against Newt Gingrich’s attacks on his abortion record.

Mitt Romney, continuing his call for Newt Gingrich to release his contract with Freddie Mac, questioned the former House Speaker’s role as a “historian” for the mortgage lender.

“You don’t pay someone $1.7 million just to write their history,” Romney said.

Mitt Romney, appearing on Fox News Monday morning, said his campaign “didn’t have a great week in South Carolina.” Newt Gignrich — who won Saturday’s SC primary — had a better week, Romney said.

Reporting from the New Hampshire primary, Fox News's Carl Cameron observed that Bain Capital was "the venture capital company in which [Romney] both bought and grew companies and occasionally shut a few down."

But Bain Capital is not, as Cameron said, a venture capital firm. He wasn't the only reporter to mislabel Bain, either. When Newt Gingrich first ramped up attacks on Romney as a "corporate raider" at Bain, the news media covered the attacks by referring to the company alternately as a venture capital firm and a private equity firm. After a few days, private equity began to be used more often. However, looking over transcripts from Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, TPM found that all three often continue to use the term "venture capital" to refer to Bain and Romney's private sector experience.

For better or worse, a key feature of this campaign will be Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital. As a result, the understanding the difference between private equity and venture capital will help voters understand the man they may vote for in the primary, and possibly the general election. Because venture capital tends to be regarded as a job-creation industry, confusing the two terms will likely work to Romney's advantage.

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