WASHINGTON — A political tip sheet for the rest of us outside the Washington Beltway, Wednesday, Jan. 10:
SOUTHERN COMFORT, OR DISCOMFORT? Mitt Romney swept into South Carolina in pursuit of a third straight win that would make him next to unstoppable in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Propelling him forward were his latest electoral triumph (in New Hampshire), a campaign bank account stuffed with millions and warm words from Sen. Jim DeMint, a leading tea party politician. Romney said he didn't want to be overconfident and expressed doubt that he can win South Carolina; the state spurned him four years ago.
DEMINT SPEAKS: DeMint said he thinks Romney will win South Carolina. He said Romney had touched on "a lot of hot buttons," such as balancing the budget, and suggested he was turned off by Republican candidates' criticism of Romney's past work as a venture capitalist. Several of the GOP contenders have lobbied DeMint for his endorsement. So far, he has withheld it. Still, words from a man who sometimes sides with the tea party and not the Republican establishment sent an unmistakable signal that Romney, whose conservative credentials have been questioned, is worthy of the movement's support.
NEWT'S AD: Gingrich promised to take the fight to Romney in South Carolina and he's keeping his word. Gingrich went on the air with a tough, new ad highlighting the fact that Romney supported abortion rights before opposing them. The ad is meant to appeal to South Carolina voters, who generally are more conservative than those in New Hampshire and more engaged on social issues, such as abortion. The abortion issue turned out to be a vulnerability for Romney in South Carolina when he campaigned for the GOP nomination in 2008
OBAMA-JOBS: President Barack Obama said he wants to reward companies that bring jobs back to the U.S. and eliminate tax breaks for those that don't. And, he said he's planning new tax proposals to do it. Obama addressed a White House forum on how to boost employment through "insourcing." The White House gave the session a high profile after Romney's win in New Hampshire the night before. Romney has targeted Obama as a foe of free enterprise.
— 19: Dollars, in millions, Romney's campaign reported having in the bank.
— 24: Dollars, in millions, Romney's campaign raised in the last three months of 2011.
— 56: Dollars, in millions, Romney's campaign raised for his campaign in 2011.
— 45: Dollars, in millions, of Romney's own money that he contributed to his 2008 presidential run.
— 0: Amount of personal money Romney contributed to his 2012 campaign.
President Obama returned to his Chicago hometown to raise money for his re-election campaign. He was to address more than 500 supporters at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with tickets starting at $44 apiece. He also was attending a pair of pricier fundraisers, with tickets beginning at $7,500 for one event and at $35,800 per couple for the other. Obama's campaign and the Democratic Party share the fundraiser proceeds. Obama's campaign has raised more than $150 million through Sept. 30. The campaign has yet to report on its fundraising haul for the final three months of 2011.
— "It was like Christmas Day. Each new report of votes coming in was like opening another present." — Romney, on waiting for the New Hampshire returns to come in.
— "We ought to mind our own business." — Paul, arguing for the U.S. to pull out of current wars and stop meddling in the affairs of other countries.
— "I believe that South Carolinians are either going to center in and pick one conservative or, by default, you're going to send a moderate on to the nomination." — Gingrich, on the state's role in the GOP presidential primary.
— "It is going to be different. It is wide open for anyone." — Santorum, the fifth-place finisher in New Hampshire, on the state of play in South Carolina.