TPM News

In the course of Rick Santorum’s stump speech against Mitt Romney — casting his rival as a a moderate whose policies were insufficiently distinguishable from President Obama’s — the candidate made a potentially eyebrow-raising (but possibly accidental) turn of phrase.

The New York Times reports on Santorum’s campaign swing:

As he traveled across South Carolina on Thursday, Mr. Santorum urged voters to dismiss the conventional wisdom that Mitt Romney has an upper hand in the nominating contest. He said the party can win back the White House only by offering a “clear contrast” with President Obama.

“We need contrasts,” Mr. Santorum said, “not just a paler shade of what we have.”

An "extremely generous donor" gave $50,000 to James O'Keefe's Project Veritas to fund their voter fraud stunt in New Hampshire on Tuesday, the conservative activist said in a email to supporters.

"Our Voter Fraud investigation is being funded with a gift of $50,000 from an extremely generous donor -- but that covers the cost of just ONE national project," O'Keefe wrote in a fundraising email.

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National Journal reports:

First, Republican businessman Bill Maloney announced he would likely challenge Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, setting up a rematch of their 2011 contest. And on Thursday, GOP sources confirmed that Republican businessman John Raese filed paperwork for a Senate run, triggering a rematch with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

Raese will be making his fifth run for statewide office -- he previously ran in 1984, 1988, and 2006 as well as in 2010, when he faced Manchin. Manchin defeated him by ten points after a tough campaign in which Raese tried to tie the then-governor to President Obama, who is very unpopular in the state. Manchin, meanwhile, successfully cast Raese as a carpetbagger who was out of touch with West Virginians. On Thursday, Democrats were quick to use the same line of attack.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will return to the Ed Sullivan Theater tonight for an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman (11:30 pm ET).

McCain has seen an uptick in media appearances ever since he emerged as Mitt Romney’s chief surrogate earlier this month.

Chuck Todd just tweeted that the Romney campaign has made a $7000 radio buy in Las Vegas and Reno. This marks the first purchase of air time in the state this primary season.

A highway in San Jose, California, is closed while police investigate the report of a bomb inside a crashed car, the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Police say two men allegedly robbed a bank at 5600 Snell Ave. before fleeing and crashing their sedan on northbound 85, south of the 87 on-ramp.

Before Warren Buffett and Mitt Romney enter a bidding war over who will volunteer more of their millions to reduce the deficit, the government could recoup many billions of dollars every year if Congress just made it easier for the Treasury to collect what it's already owed by law.

Meet the tax gap -- the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid.

Via the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the IRS has found that in 2006, taxpayers shorted the government by about $385 billion -- and an additional $65 billion was paid late. Back then, the tax gap was bigger than the annual budget deficit. With the economy still suffering, that's likely not true today. But closing it even partially would take substantial pressure off of strained federal programs, which have been under constant attack by the GOP for over a year.

As you can see, the tax gap is on the order of the government's biggest expenditure categories, and dwarfs the voluntary contributions Republicans suggest wealthy liberals like Buffett should volunteer to the Treasury.

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Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are getting a harsh reminder of what party they belong to as Republicans of all stripes demand they finally cool it with the Bain layoff talk. The message is loud and clear: having unleashed the Bain Kraken on Mitt Romney, now is the time to pull it back.

FOX News has been filled with conservative pols and pundits defending the private equity business over the last 48 hours. Rudy Giuliani, who as recently as last month was one of Gingrich's best friends in the press, held nothing back in calling the Gingrich and Perry campaigns "ignorant and dumb" on Fox and Friends Thursday morning.

"What the hell are you doing, Newt?" the former mayor said. "I expect this from Saul Alinsky! This is what Saul Alinsky taught Barack Obama, and what you're saying is part of the reason we're in so much trouble right now."

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Mitt Romney has suffered attacks from fellow Republicans, particularly Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, in recent days over his time at Bain Capital. But, Mitt Romney boasts, allegations that he is a “corporate raider” and “vulture capitalist” have backfired. He’s drawn up a list of all the condemnation Gingrich and Perry have garnered from conservatives, put it up on his website, and emailed it to supporters. It’s certainly true that many conservatives have come to Romney’s defense against what they perceived as attacks on free enterprise.