TPM News

After devoting themselves (with great success) to tearing down Newt Gingrich for the last two weeks, the Romney campaign is abruptly pivoting to attacking Rick Santorum. Polls suggest the former Pennsylvania Senator may have momentum heading into Tuesday's caucuses.

Romney's national campaign chair Tim Pawlenty held a conference call on Monday to criticize Santorum's use of earmarks while a Congressman and Senator, which he has defended in debates. He also highlighted a 2003 quote from Santorum defending the Bush administration's spending increases, saying "I came to the House as a real deficit hawk, but I am no longer a deficit hawk."

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The Associated Press reports:

An elections official in Indiana is saying GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum still lacks the signatures needed to make it on the state's ballot.

Santorum has questioned Marion County's decision to throw out 49 signatures. But Marion County voter registration official Cindy Mowery said Monday that the signatures are still invalid.

The Associated Press reports:

The head of Wisconsin's elections board does not want to accept analysis of recall petitions done by anyone other than the targeted office holders, including Gov. Scott Walker, and those who organized the recall drives.

The Government Accountability Board was to discuss the issue at its meeting Tuesday.

Monday's memo by Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy comes after the attorney for two tea party groups submitted a request Thursday asking the board to accept its analysis of the estimated 1 million petition signatures targeting Walker.

Sunday's Super Bowl telecast was the most watched television program in the history of the medium, MarketWatch reports, with 111.3 million viewers tuning in between 6:31 p.m. and 9:58 p.m. ET. It surpasses last year's Super Bowl, which was the most-watched TV event at the time.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is not considering a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and wants a full year continuation, a spokesman told TPM.

"We're not talking about 60 days," the Reid spokesman said. "Plan A is a year, Plan B is a year. Reid has said he wants a yearlong extension countless times."

Democrats have yet to detail an offsets package, but they're reportedly developing one. House Republicans want to use the pay-fors they passed in their December payroll bill, a GOP aide tells TPM.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told reporters Monday that Reid was mulling a short-term extension. The two sides have until the end of February to agree on offsets before the tax break expires.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said Monday that the payroll tax cut needs to be extended for a full year, something both sides say they want but have yet to agree on offsets for.

"I want to see the payroll tax holiday extended for the year," Cantor told reporters, according to his office. "This is where the House Republicans were in December."

The Virginia Republican said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is mulling a two-month extension of the tax holiday. The issue is being deliberated along with extending unemployment compensation and averting cuts to Medicare physician payment rates.

"Harry Reid needs to finally step up and say he is for extending the payroll tax holiday for a year, and stop all the discussion of 60 days," Cantor said. "We can do this. It's not that difficult."

 

A member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has written a letter to Rep. Pete Hoekstra asking him to stop airing an ad featuring an Asian American actress pretending to speak broken English.

"I urge you to stop airing this offensive ad immediately and to reconfigure your website to remove the smear of ignorance and bigotry that permeates every page," Commissioner Michael Yaki wrote in a letter sent to Hoekstra on Monday morning.

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The office of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), who suffered a stroke two weeks ago, released this statement Monday from Northwestern Memorial Hospital:

Dr. Richard Fessler today provided the following update on Senator Kirk's condition:

"Senator Kirk is making good progress in his recovery. He is visiting with family and even watched the Super Bowl last night. He has been upgraded to good condition and we anticipate he will be able to start the rehabilitation phase soon. We are very pleased with his continued improvement," said Richard Fessler, MD, PhD, neurosurgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and professor of neurological surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

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