Payroll Politics

Now that Ron Paul is leading some Iowa polls, the knives are out—as they have been for every non-Romney contender this year. Michele Bachmann is warning of the apocalyptic consequences of Paul’s isolationist tendencies, while Rick Perry wants everyone to know that his fellow Texan is a big ol’ earmarker. Iowans are fretting that a Paul victory will spell doom for the caucuses. Meanwhile, The Weekly Standard got James Kirchick to revive his 2008 New Republic report on the “hateful and conspiratorial nonsense” published in Paul’s newsletters in the 1980s and ‘90s—including the now-infamous line about the Martin Luther King holiday being “Hate Whitey Day.” As The New York Times notes, Paul has said he was too busy to read what went out under his name—even though the newsletters were a major source of the Paul family’s income. 

And National Review editor Rich Lowry archly notes the potential historical significance of a Paul victory in Iowa: “Can he become the first marginal, conspiracy-minded congressman with an embarrassing catalog of racist material published under his name to win the caucuses?” 

So They Say 

  • Mitt Romney, 2007: “It was the right decision to go into Iraq. I supported it at the time; I support it now.”
  • Mitt Romney, today on MSNBC: “If we knew at the time of our entry into Iraq that there were no weapons of mass destruction, if somehow we had been given that information, obviously we would not have gone in.”

Daily Meme: Payroll Politics 

  • The Obama campaign is turning the payroll tax cut fight into a talking point against their favorite GOP candidate punching bag, Romney.
  • Paul and Bachmann missed yesterday's crucial House vote on the Senate's tax cut plan because they were on the campaign trail. 
  • Gingrich is criticizing Congress for not passing a bill yet, given the bad press it gives Republicans.
  • Republican legislators with a tough election landscape next year, like John McCain and Scott Brown, are breaking ranks to save face back home. 

What We’re Writing

  • Patrick Caldwell reports from Iowa on the anti-gay rhetoric of Rick Santorum’s evangelical endorsers. 
  • Jamelle Bouie dissects Romney’s latest whopper about President Obama. 

What We're Reading

  • Romney is like Don Draper, except without the booze and women. 
  • Why has the press been mute about the right-fringe drift of the GOP? 
  • Presidential hopeful Gary Johnson ditches the GOP for the Libertarian Party. 
  • The Economist wonders whether the Republicans’ negative campaigning will damage the party’s brand in 2012. 

Poll of the Day 

In the toss-up state of Virginia, Quinnipiac shows Romney two points up on Obama—who’s five points up on Gingrich. Meanwhile, Tim Kaine and George Allen are neck-and-neck in their Senate showdown.