It is hard to believe that as recently as this Monday, Newt Gingrich was still considered to be the alternative to Mitt Romney. But judging by yesterday’s speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Gingrich has become something of an afterthought, at best.
Two of Gingrich’s top endorsers, Herman Cain and Rick Perry, both addressed conservative activists in the Marriott Wardman Park main ballroom yesterday. It would have been a perfect opportunity for either of them to devote some of their speaking time to making the case for a Gingrich nomination. But not only did neither of them make a case for Newt, both former candidates didn’t even mention his name. Not even once. Its like Newt never existed.
Which is pretty much the feeling at the rest of CPAC as well. The straw-poll results will not be announced till Saturday, but a quick walk around the convention hall shows plenty of Rick Santorum buttons and stickers, but virtually nothing for Newt. As he continues to tank in every state and national poll, one wonders how long Gingrich will stay in the race.
Santorum: The Washington Examiner‘s Byron York reports that Rick Santorum will target the February 28th primary in Michigan because he believes voters there will respond to his big government/manufacturing bailout message.
Romney: Mitt Romney met privately with a group of 30 conservative leaders at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday. A participant who spoke to CNN said the meeting offered Romney a chance to make conservatives “feel comfortable” ahead of his big speech today.
Pennsylvania: A Tribune-Review/WPXI-TV poll of Pennsylvania Republicans shows Rick Santorum surging ahead of Mitt Romney 30 percent to 29 percent. Newt Gingirch has collapsed from 35 percent a month ago to just 13 percent now.
Around the Bigs
The Wall Street Journal, Settlement Lifts Hopes For Housing Recovery: President Obama announced a $25 billion deal between the federal government, state governments, and the nation’s five largest banks on past foreclosure fraud practices. $17 billion of the settlement must go to principal write-downs to borrowers who never actually suffered from foreclosure fraud. “It is frankly a headline victory for both banks and attorneys general with a modest impact on the housing market,” said Joshua Rosner, managing director of investment firm Graham Fisher & Co.
Bloomberg, Foreclosure Deal to Spur U.S. Home Seizures: The $25 billion settlement with banks over foreclosure abuses may result in a wave of home seizures, inflicting short-term pain on delinquent U.S. borrowers.
The Wall Street Journal, Budget Ducks Big Benefit Cuts: Despite the fact that the U.S. government spent $1.56 trillion on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits—more than $4 billion a day—accounting for 43% of all federal spending, President Obama’s budget will propose no reforms to these entitlement programs.
The Washington Post, Ethics reform bill to ban insider trading by Congress members, executive branch passed by House: The House on Thursday 417 to 2 vote, to approve the STOCK Act, which bans insider trading by members of Congress and the executive branch.
The New York Times, Greeks Reach Deal on Austerity to Meet Condition of Bailout: Greek leaders may have agreed to a bailout deal with other European finance ministers Thursday, but sentiment against the deal in Greece is high.
The New York Times, Bishops Were Prepared for Battle Over Birth Control Coverage: Seven months before the Obama administration’s birth control mandate decision, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops started laying the groundwork for a major new campaign to combat what they saw as the growing threat to religious liberty.
The New York Times, Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say: New research shows that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period.
Reporting from CPAC, RedState‘s Erick Erickson says this year’s crowd “is the least excited I have seen” and that while the” crowd’s heart is with Santorum … in their mind they do not think he can win.”
At The Corner, Brian Bolduc defends Santorum’s five votes to raise the debt ceiling.
Power Line‘s John Hinderaker looks at Obama’s rising approval rating, as well as the”disastrous” Republican primary, and concludes that 2012 is slipping away from Republicans.
Talking Points Memo‘s Evan McMorris-Santoro looks at recent Democratic retreats on birth control mandates and asks, “Will Dems Shoot Themselves In The Foot On Contraception?”
Mother Jones warns that Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., Religious Freedom Restoration Act could cut off birth control coverage for millions.
Firedoglake‘s David Dayen still wants to see people put in jail for foreclosure fraud.