WASHINGTON — A political tip sheet for the rest of us outside the Washington Beltway, for Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012:
ROMNEY CALLS SANTORUM A COMPROMISER: Did Rick Santorum repeatedly vote for legislation he didn't believe in? Rival Mitt Romney says Santorum compromised his own principles in doing so and questions anew whether Santorum is a devoted conservative. Santorum's comments at Wednesday night's GOP debate in Arizona gave Romney new fodder for an old criticism. Santorum defended voting for President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind education bill because "sometimes you take one for the team." Romney asked in a speech on Thursday: "I wonder which team he was taking it for?" He added, "My team is the American people, not the insiders in Washington." Santorum defended other votes that clashed with his conservative philosophy, prompting Romney to say Thursday, "I don't know that I've ever seen a politician explain in so many ways why he voted against his principles." When the debate audience booed his explanation for the education law vote, Santorum said, "Look, politics is a team sport, folks."
TAX THE RICH, CUT THE SPENDING: Most people want to see federal spending cut but aren't against President Barack Obama's proposal to make millionaires pay a significant share of their incomes in taxes, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows. The survey suggests that while Obama's election-year tax plan targeting people making at least $1 million a year has won broad support, it has done little to shift people's basic views over how best to tame budget deficits. Sixty-five percent of the people in the AP-GfK poll favor Obama's plan to require people making $1 million or more pay taxes equal to at least 30 percent of their income; just 26 percent oppose the idea. Yet by 56 percent to 31 percent, more embraced cuts in government services than higher taxes as the best medicine for the budget, according to the survey. The poll showed that overall, more people, 54 percent, have a positive view of Democrats than Republicans, 46 percent, a ray of hope for Obama and his fellow Democrats.
WHICH WAY DID THEY GO: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney plans to campaign in Michigan every day until Tuesday. That's when the state where he grew up and his father was governor holds its primary, along with Arizona. He'll take one break, though, to travel to Florida on Saturday for the Daytona 500 car race.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum plans to campaign in the Detroit area on Friday and Saturday.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is not competing in Michigan. He was planning an unusual 30-minute commercial on energy policy in states including Washington.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul will be campaigning throughout Michigan through Monday as well.
MIAMI HEAT AND COLD CASH: President Barack Obama says his would-be Republican rivals are peddling a philosophy that is "wrong about America," telling his supporters at a Florida fundraiser that the GOP hopefuls seeking his job would protect the wealthy while leaving everyone else to fend for themselves. The president made three fundraising stops in the swing state he carried in 2008 and will need again come November. Although the New York Knicks were also in Miami to play the Heat, the president would not be among the fans in the watching them play, opting instead for a $30,000 per person fundraiser at the home of Dallas Mavericks guard Vince Carter in Windmere.
BY THE NUMBERS
The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget took a look at how fiscal proposals from the Republican candidates would affect the deficit. It saw a sea of red ink:
$7 trillion: The amount added to the deficit over nine years under Gingrich's plan.
$4.5 trillion: The amount Santorum's proposal would add over the same period.
$250 billion: The amount Romney's fiscal blueprint would increase the deficit.
$2.2 trillion: The amount Ron Paul's proposal would shrink the deficit, the only plan from a presidential candidate to do so.
FROM THEIR MOUTHS
—"I have to admit, I voted for that. It was against the principles I believed in, but, you know, when you're part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake." — Santorum, defending his support of President George W. Bush's education law during debate Wednesday night.
— "I wonder which team he was taking it for. ... My team is the American people, not the insiders in Washington." — Romney, in a speech Thursday in Phoenix.
— "It is an outrage that President Obama is the one apologizing to Afghan President Karzai on the same day two American troops were murdered and four others injured by an Afghan soldier. It is Hamid Karzai who owes the American people an apology, not the other way around." — Gingrich, reacting to news that an Afghan solider had shot and killed two U.S. troops. The White House announced the apology a few hours before the shooting was reported by news media.
— "That's a fully false, fallacious and ridiculous narrative that is not borne out by any facts." — White House press secretary Jay Carney, when asked by a reporter whether Obama's apology to Karzai feeds a Republican political narrative.