A political tip sheet for the rest of us

By Douglass K. Daniel

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, March 27 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

A political tip sheet for the rest of us outside the Washington Beltway, for Tuesday, March 27, 2012:


CAUGHT ON TAPE: While President Barack Obama seeks to assure Americans that he has no hidden agenda with Russia if he wins a second term, the Republicans who want to take Obama's place aren't buying it. On Monday, Obama was caught on tape telling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more room to negotiate on missile defense after getting through the November election, presumably expecting to win and not have to face voters again. Republican front-runner Mitt Romney says the unguarded comments were "an alarming and troubling development" and accuses Obama of "pulling his punches with the American people, and not telling us what he's intending to do with regards to our missile defense system, with regards to our military might and with regards to our commitment to Israel." Rick Santorum says that Obama's comments suggest he is willing to sacrifice U.S. security and the security of its allies, and Newt Gingrich also questioned Obama's motives. "I'm curious, how many other countries has the president promised that he'd have a lot more flexibility the morning he doesn't have to answer to the American people?" Gingrich said on CNN. On Tuesday, Obama explained that he wants to work with Russia on the deeply divisive issue of a missile defense shield in Europe, knowing only by building trust first on that matter can he make gains on another goal of nuclear arms reductions. And there's no way to expect progress during the politics of this election year, so he is already looking to 2013.

ROMNEY'S MONEYMEN: Mitt Romney's presidential fundraising operation is a bit of a mystery, withholding the names of major fundraisers who have helped amass much of its money. A review by The Associated Press of campaign records and other records provides clues to the vast national network of business leaders bringing in millions to put Romney in the Oval Office. Dozens of people fit the profile of top Romney fundraisers, known as "bundlers" for their ability to sweep up donations from wealthy acquaintances and steer them to campaigns. At least seven are the mega-rich donors who each gave gifts of at least $1 million to an allied pro-Romney political committee. Dozens more were listed on invitations for fundraising events, assigned to mine their business and personal networks for maximum campaign contributions. The AP identified likely Romney bundlers through interviews, finance records, event invitations and other publicity about campaign events. Federal law does not require the Romney campaign to divulge the names, but both GOP and Democratic presidential candidates in recent years routinely provided the identities and money ranges of their top fundraisers. The lack of transparency by the Romney campaign about its top bundlers prevents voters from knowing who wields influence inside the GOP front-runner's campaign and how their interests might benefit if he is elected.

SINGLE WOMEN IN POLITICAL DEMAND: In an election year heavily focused on social issues and the economy, Democrats are trying to energize unmarried women who overwhelmingly vote for their candidates while Republicans work to peel them away. Political math tells the story of the so-called marriage gap: Exit polls show that women are a majority of voters in presidential election years and about 4 in 10 female voters don't have a spouse. They lean more heavily Democratic than their married counterparts. But the U.S. census says about 22 percent of them are unregistered, a rich pool of potential new voters for both parties competing for the presidency and the majorities in Congress. Though single women are among the most Democratic groups in the electorate, recent political history gives Republicans hope: In the 2010 elections, Republican House candidates grabbed their highest share of women's votes in decades, at 49 percent. Single women also were hit harder than others by the recession Obama inherited. So in both parties, the race is on to woo single women, register them to vote and inspire them to show up at the polls.

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