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The Gallup tracking poll of the national Republican race out Wednesday shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has regained the lead nationally. Romney had ceded the edge to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the days after Newt’s South Carolina primary win, but following Romney’s impressive Florida performance, he has gained four points in Gallup’s poll and ends with 31 percent of total support. Gingrich lost two and fell to 26. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gets 16 percent and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) sees 11.

The new numbers also gives Romney the lead in our TPM Poll Average. Check out the struggle over the last two months.

Former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo has endorsed Rick Santorum for president, the AP reports.

Tancredo ran for governor of Colorado in 2010 and is a tea party favorite. Santorum is currently campaigning in Colorado.

Pundits and comedians – let alone Newt Gingrich – have had a field day ever since Mitt Romney started using the term “self-deportation” to describe his approach to the issue of illegal immigration. Romney began using it more frequently and publicly after he embraced Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach – one of the architects of laws adopted in several states that are essentially meant to make life so hard for illegal immigrants that they will willingly return to their native lands.

However, the NPR show “This American Life” reveals the term originated with two Mexican-American parodists who started a routine in 1994 where they pretended to be right-wing Hispanics in favor of a California proposition to prevent hospitals from treating illegal immigrants.

The New York Times has a full rundown on their career here.

Romney won big in Florida, now the candidates move on to Nevada, Colorado, and Minnesota. Here are ten things you need to know.

  • Romney wins Florida from unenthused voters: Mitt Romney's big win in Florida comes with a lack of enthusiasm. Exit polls showed 4 in 10 voters don't think Romney is conservative enough and some still want another candidate to enter the race.
  • Democrat Bonamici wins Oregon special election: Democrats came out of last night holding on to a seat in the House. In Oregon's 1st district, former state Senator Suzanne Bonamici beat Republican businessman Rob Cornilles in a special election to replace Rep. David Wu (D) who resigned last year. Though Bonamici won by a wide margin, the DCCC spent over $1 million on ads to keep the seat. The DCCC notes that Bonamici is the "third Democratic woman elected to Congress this cycle" in a special election, following Kathy Hochul, NY-26 and Janice Hahn, CA-36.
  • Read More →

Today President Obama called on Congress to help struggling homeowners take advantage of historically low interest rates. In response, the nation’s top consumer watchdog Richard Cordray endorsed the plan.

The principles articulated by the Obama administration today are good guideposts for much-needed reforms in the mortgage market. The problems that plague consumers are well-documented. Too many consumers were steered into complicated mortgages that they did not understand and couldn’t afford. Too many families were forced into foreclosure because paperwork was lost, phone calls went unanswered, errors were not resolved, or documents were falsified. To protect consumers, there must be clear rules of the road and real consequences for breaking them. The Consumer Bureau is already hard at work making the costs and risks of mortgages clear upfront through our Know Before You Owe project. The financial reform law also requires us to create new mortgage servicing rules that hold servicers accountable for disclosing fees and fixing problems. We are also working with other federal agencies to develop common-sense national servicing standards. But having rules in place isn’t enough. We are closely monitoring mortgage servicers to make sure that no one gains an unfair advantage by breaking the law. Taking these steps to fix the mortgage market is good for consumers, honest businesses, and our entire economy.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and seven others introduced “Buffett Rule” legislation Wednesday that implements President Obama’s principle, advocated in the State of the Union, that millionaires and billionaires should pay a minimum tax rate of 30 percent.

The “The Paying a Fair Share Act” is sponsored by Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and leadership member Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Whitehouse’s office said it’s still waiting for an official score but expects the legislation to produce tens of billions of dollars in deficit reduction. The policy is structured as a minimum tax for people making over $1 million per year.

“It’s inexcusable that our tax system permits ultra-high income earners to pay a lower tax rate than a truck driver or a janitor, and this legislation would help fix that unfair system,” the Rhode Island Democrat said.

One of the more famous bits of Mitt Romney lore is the tale of his tying the family dog to the roof of the car for a vacation drive to Canada in 1983.

Romney faced some fresh ribbing for the incident this week, when Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod tweeted a picture of President Obama riding with his dog Bo in his limo. “How loving owners transport their dogs,” Axelrod mocked.

For their part, the Romney family says their Irish Setter Seamus was no worse for the wear, and lived to a “ripe old age.”

But a report in the NY Observer cheekily suggests that might not be the whole story. A trusted source tells them two of Romney’s sons actually told reporters in an off the record chat that Seamus ran away when they reached Canada.

First Lady Michelle Obama was on Jay Leno last night, and was asked about the President’s rendition of Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together.’ Michelle said he loves to sing the classics, like Green and Stevie Wonder.

“He does have a beautiful voice, and he sings to me all the time,” she said.

Watch below:

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Speaking in Falls Church, Virginia on Wednesday morning, President Obama delivered a speech on a new proposal that would help middle-class homeowners. But Obama admitted that his previous program, designed to aid homeowners as well, “didn’t work at the scale we’d hoped”:

Already, the housing plan we launched a couple years ago has helped nearly one million responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages and save an average of $300 on their payments every month. I’ll be honest – it didn’t work at the scale we’d hoped. Mortgage rates are as low as they’ve been in half a century, and when that happens, homeowners usually flock to refinance their mortgages. But this time, too many families haven’t been able to take advantage of the low rates. Falling prices locked them out of the market. So last year, we took aggressive action that allowed more families to participate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller and former Sen. Richard Bryan write in an op-ed for the Las Vegas Sun that Mitt Romney’s ideas are “wrong for Nevada.”

“… it’s disturbing to see a candidate like Mitt Romney come to Nevada and campaign on a promise to take us right back to the past,” they write.

Read the op-ed piece here.