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A political tip sheet for the rest of us

By Darlene Superville

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 24 2012 4:20 p.m. MST

Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at Dolphin Aviation, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, in Sarasota, Fla.

Matt Rourke, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A political tip sheet for the rest of us outside the Washington Beltway, for Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012:

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

ROMNEY'S RETURNS. Under mounting pressure, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released his 2010 income tax returns and an estimate of his tax liability for 2011. For 2010, he reported income of nearly $22 million and paid about $3 million in federal taxes. The 2011 return indicates Romney will pay $3.2 million on nearly $21 million in income. Most of Romney's income comes from investments by his blind trust and from his long career as a private equity manager. The documents show evidence of a Swiss bank account that was closed just as Romney launched his White House bid. There also are listings for investment funds set up in offshore locations, from the Caribbean to Ireland to Luxembourg.

STATE OF THE UNION: Tens of millions of people were expected to tune in for President Barack Obama's third, and possibly his final, State of the Union speech. He planned to use the annual address from the House chamber to draw an election-year distinction with Republicans over fairness and the free market. Obama was expected to resurrect his proposal to require very rich people, like Romney, to pay more in taxes. The following day, Obama was planning a three-day trip to the battleground states of Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan. Such a trip is traditional for presidents after a State of the Union address.

TOO MANY DEBATES: Says who? Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee for president in 2008. McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill that the explosion of debates this election cycle — the 19th debate is scheduled for Thursday in Jacksonville, Fla. — is hurting Republicans. McCain said the candidates aren't getting enough time to present their views and proposals. "It's all gotcha," he said. "People spend an hour or two insulting each other, so I think it's very damaging." Newt Gingrich also complained about rules that asked Monday night's debate audience to hold its applause. Boisterous crowds at two debates in South Carolina helped drive signature moments in Gingrich's campaign, leading to his victory there Saturday. McCain is supporting Romney.

BY THE NUMBERS:

Obama is 4-1 in the five states he is scheduled to visit on his post-State of the Union, campaign-style swing. A look at how he fared in those states in the 2008 White House race against McCain.

— Arizona: (Lost) McCain, 54 percent of the vote; Obama, 45 percent.

— Colorado: (Won) Obama, 54 percent; McCain, 45 percent.

— Iowa: (Won) Obama, 54 percent; McCain, 44 percent.

— Michigan: (Won) Obama, 57 percent; McCain, 41 percent.

— Nevada: (Won) Obama, 55 percent; McCain, 43 percent.

IN THEIR WORDS:

— "We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules." — Obama, in the prepared text of his State of the Union address.

— "Tonight will mark another chapter in the misguided policies of the last three years, and the failed leadership of one man. But Americans know that our future is brighter and better than these troubled times." — Romney, on Obama.

— "A friend of mine says, 'He has shifted from Yes We Can to Why We Couldn't.'" — Gingrich on Obama.

— "I get asked, 'What do you think about Mitt Romney making, you know, a gazillion dollars last year?' Good for him. Good for him. I wish I'd have made a gazillion dollars. I'd be in a little better shape financing our campaign like he's doing. So good. But good for him. That's OK." — Rick Santorum, on Romney.

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