HUFFPOST HILL - Romney Mired In Womp Womp

Tim Pawlenty is taking the reins at the Financial Services Roundtable, a Wall Street lobbying group, so now's probably not the best time for him to grow that mullet back. Republicans are pulling out of New Mexico, ceding not only the state to President Obama, but the national spirit animal vote. And there are 47 days left until the election. Yep. 47 days. Four seven. Forty-seven.............. 47. What an interesting number. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, September 20th, 2012:

HOUSE REPUBLICANS TRIUMPHANTLY VOTE TO LIMIT STATES' RIGHTS - Mike McAuliff: "Rep. Paul Ryan stepped off the campaign trail Thursday to join House colleagues voting against a welfare regulation change that the White House and Republican governors had hoped would help people move from government assistance to work. Republicans for years said they had hoped to get changes in the landmark welfare reform of 1996 that would grant states flexibility in how they measure work requirements, with the idea being to focus more on outcomes than process. The Republican Governors' Association under then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney asked for such waiver authority in 2005. And last year, after the Obama administration asked states for suggestions on how to get the federal government out of the way of getting people into jobs, the GOP administrations of Utah and Nevada asked for flexibility in the work requirements." [HuffPost]

@jonallendc: Hoyer and Ryan now sitting by themselves to talk. "I've got to talk to this man first," Ryan says to a colleague who wants his attention.

OBAMA CALLS IMMIGRATION REFORM HIS 'BIGGEST FAILURE' - Elise Foley: "President Barack Obama said on Thursday at a Univision News forum that he failed to pass immigration reform as promised, blaming a tough economic situation that put it lower on the priority list and a Republican Party that was unwilling to participate...Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who co-anchored the forum with Maria Elena Salinas, is an advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, which Obama also has consistently supported. But the president didn't get off easily on his immigration record, which includes record deportation rates and a failed Dream Act legislative push. By the end of the program, Obama had been hammered into submission on his immigration reform promise. Asked what he considers his biggest failure, he turned to Ramos. "Jorge, as you remind me, my biggest failure so far is we haven't gotten comprehensive immigration reform done yet," he said to laughter from the audience, adding it wasn't for lack of trying." [HuffPost]

President Obama -- you know, that incumbent guy -- probably should've chosen his words more carefully when asked at the forum about what he's learned during his presidency. "You can't change Washington from the inside, you can only change it from the outside," he replied. During a speech in Sarasota, Florida, Romney seized on those remarks. "The President today threw in the white flag of surrender again. He said he can't change Washington from inside. He can only change it from outside. Well, we're going to give him that chance in November. He's going outside," he said. "Surrender." Drink! [HuffPost's Luke Johnson and Sabrina Siddiqui]

REID PLOWS STREETS, NO SNOW DAY FOR SCOTT BROWN - Mike McAuliff: "Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) told a reporter he wasn't sure that he could make his debate with Elizabeth Warren Thursday night, the first of their four highly anticipated showdowns, citing potential votes in the Senate. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took to the floor later to say there is no reason for the Massachusetts Republican to skip the event.I've been to a few of these rodeos. It is obvious there is a big stall taking place. One of the senators who had a debate tonight doesn't want to debate. Well, he can't use the Senate as an excuse. There will be no more votes today." [HuffPost]

Sarah Silverman's Great Schlep http://bit.ly/QpmaoJ .

SHELDON ADELSON TO RECEIVE CALL SHORTLY - Paul Blumethal: "After banking more than $20 million through the middle of the summer to beat President Barack Obama, Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, ended August with only $6 million cash on hand, according to a report filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission. The powerhouse super PAC, run by former Romney aides and instrumental in helping him secure the Republican nomination, raised only $7 million in August, while spending $21.1 million. The heavy spending seems to have had little effect, as most polls have shown a surge for Obama at the national and state-by-state level since the early September Democratic National Convention." [HuffPost]

AFRICAN-AMERICANS NOT EXACTLY CRAZY ABOUT VOTER ID LAWS, THOUGH AT LEAST ONE AFRICAN AMERICAN IS - Leigh Owens: "Today's session of the Congressional Black Caucus' Annual Legislative Conference was probably the most interesting, because of the National Town Hall, focusing on voter suppression and new age racism. The panel consisted of pundits including, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Donna Brazile as well as Rep. John Lewis, among others. The highlight of the event was the reaction to Crystal Wright, founder of the site Conservative Black Chick, who was very clear in her comments that the voter ID laws were necessary and that any person who did not have a birth certificate or drivers license was at fault for not having obtained the documents. During Wright's heated exchange with Sharpton, the crowd became extremely irate and all but forced her off the panel. She repeatedly interrupted the other panelists and at certain points became visibly agitated. Although Wright was one of two conservative panelists, she certainly stood out as the conservative who was not interested in pandering to her crowd."

BOEHNER TO BLAME FOR RYAN'S BUDGET HAWK IMAGE - Assignment editor alert: Write this one before we do. Speaker John Boehner is in love with the House of Representatives as an institution, and has worked effectively to empower committee chairs. He also enforces strict turf barriers to keep chairmen in their lanes (Darrell Issa notwithstanding). The fealty has had a consequence, though: As longtime Boehner adviser David Winston of The Winston Group pointed out yesterday evening at an event at the home of Gloria Dittus, Boehner's tight lanes meant that Paul Ryan, the Budget Committee chairman, was restricted to legislation dealing with the budget. But, noted Winston, the voters want a ticket that will bring economic growth. Obama is trying to box the GOP in as the party of austerity and claim the mantle of growth for Democrats. If they succeed, he said, it could have dramatic long term political consequences. Winston appeared at "Meet The Pollsters," was hosted by Dittus' firm Story Partners.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - The economy sucks. "In the week ending September 15, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 382,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's [upwardly] revised figure of 385,000. The 4-week moving average was 377,750, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's revised average of 375,750." [Labor Department]

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ROMNEY CAMPAIGN DOES SOMETHING RIGHT, KEEPS IT HIDDEN FROM WORLD - Straight from the authors of the "No One Wants To Kiss Your Ugly-Ass Baby: How Campaigns Win" comes this awe-inspiring bit of Napoleonic strategy. Jon Ward: "Mitt Romney's campaign produced a 10-minute documentary film about the candidate that forced even liberal Democrats, when it was shown at the Republican National Convention, to admit that it was a moving portrayal of Romney's life and values. The problem is not very many people have seen the video, and the Romney campaign appears to have made little effort to change that. Romney revealed to donors in Atlanta on Wednesday that he himself had not seen the entire thing until it was shown before his remarks at a fundraiser." This is the one they decided not to play in primetime during the convention so Clint Eastwood could have the stage. [HuffPost]

The GOP is pulling two high-level staffers from New Mexico, signalling that the party is losing hope Romney can win the state in November. AP: "State Republican Party spokeswoman Jamie Dickerson confirms the GOP Victory campaign's Hispanic outreach director and the communications director are among those being moved as part of a shift in the Republican National Committee's resources. Party officials emphasized, however, that all of the state campaign offices will remain open and staffed through the election." [AP]

TIM PAWLENTY ABANDONS ROMNEY CAMPAIGN FOR SOMETHING WITH A FUTURE - The erstwhile Minnesota governor and Tom Vilsack Award-winner (for achievements in short-lived national campaigns) is stepping down as a co-chair of Mitt Romney's campaign to fling litter after litter of puppies into a volcano with a trebuchet join the Financial Services Roundtable as its new CEO. "My time in public service was rewarding and focused on achieving results," read a statement issued by Pawlenty. "I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve, but I am now moving on and committed to focusing fully on this new opportunity." Yes, the co-chair of Romney's campaign resigned to become a bank lobbyist. [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]

TIM KAINE PERFORMS DEMOCRAT-ECTOMY ON HIMSELF - A day after Tim Kaine released a TV ad supporting the extension of the Bush tax cuts for incomes below $500,000, he took a more conservative position today during a debate with his Republican opponent George Allen. Amanda Terkel: "Mitt Romney's comment about the '47 percent' of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes was front and center in the Virginia Senate debate on Thursday, with Democratic candidate Tim Kaine saying he would be open to having that group of people paying a minimum level of income taxes. Kaine, the former governor of Virginia and Democratic National Committee chair, said he 'deeply disagree[d]' with Romney's comments that 47 percent of Americans are 'dependent on government.' He called the remarks 'condescending and divisive' at a time when the country is already divided." [HuffPost]

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said Tim Kaine supported preserving the Bush tax cuts in their entirety, as opposed to just for incomes below $500,000.

GINSBURG PREDICTS DOMA SCOTUS CASE - The longest-serving member of the court's liberal wing took a break yesterday from whatever it is she does during recess (chartering Ibiza party boats, participating in amateur MMA matches, pool hustling ... who knows) to speculate about the court's docket. AP: "Ginsburg spoke at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She was asked a student-submitted question about the equal-protection clause and whether the nation's high court would consider it applying to sexual orientation. Ginsburg said with a smile that she couldn't answer the question. She said she could not talk about matters that would come to the court, and that the Defense of Marriage Act would probably be up soon. 'I think it's most likely that we will have that issue before the court toward the end of the current term,' she said." [AP]

2014 WILL BE TOUGH FOR DEMOCRATS - And not just because it's a year -- those tend to be especially bad for the party. WaPo: "20 Democrats will be up for reelection, compared to 13 Republicans. 12 of those 20 Democrats come from either red states (six) or swing states (six). Only one of the 13 Republicans comes from a state that isn't red, and that's Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose seat is basically safe unless she retires. Top GOP targets are likely to include Democratic Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Max Baucus (Mont.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Al Franken (Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.). Five of the nine are first-term senators, and Republicans have already got a strong potential candidate against Johnson, with former governor Mike Rounds launching an exploratory committee last week.) Republicans could also have a chance at winning the seats of Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), particularly if either of them (both are in their 70s) retire." [WaPo]

PAUL RYAN RETURNS TO THE HILL, FEELS LIKE UPN ON A SATURDAY AFTERNOON - If this is the Romney campaign's answer to the May fundraiser video, then try again. Jen Bendery: "House Republicans got a treat on Thursday when Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), now the Republican vice presidential nominee, showed up at their weekly conference meeting. But they were even more excited by another superhuman visitor: Hercules. Actor Kevin Sorbo, best known for playing Hercules in the former TV series 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,' also came to the meeting and got lawmakers all riled up, according to several Republican sources. Sorbo talked to lawmakers about his upbringing in a Democratic household in Minnesota and described the 'shock from his father' when he said he was voting for Ronald Reagan in 1980, according to a GOP official. Sorbo said he decided to vote for Reagan because he thought Jimmy Carter would go down 'as one of the worst presidents in history,' the official said." But how does Xena Warrior Princess feel about Social Security privatization? [HuffPost]

Todd Akin hole-digging update: "After posting and then removing a web video on Tuesday that featured a woman whose face was obscured, the campaign of embattled Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-Mo.) released a new video on Thursday, as part of its push for female voters... the video veers in an unexpected direction when one woman lists the areas in which she believes women are 'under attack.' 'There are a lot of women's issues where women are under attack,' she says. 'One of those areas would be pornography, one would be sex trafficking, depression in women -- a lot of things that take away from a woman's dignity. And Todd understands that." [HuffPost's Laura Bassett]

JOHN BOEHNER ON CAMPAIGN: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART!!! - Asked at a press conference today if he still believes Mitt Romney's campaign is in good shape, John Boehner replied that it is, but implied that his Merlot consumption will be up the next few weeks. "You look at all this polling, all this hand-wringing by Washington insiders trying to make this race look like it's over for the president, who's going to win. It's really kind of interesting," he said. "So this race is far from over/ I'm looking forward to the next 46 days. I just hope I survive." [HuffPost's Mike McAuliff]

'WEST WING' FAN FICTION HAS NEVER SOARED SO HIGH - The cast of the West Wing reunited, in character no less, to endorse a non-partisan candidate for Michigan's Supreme Court. The candidate, Michigan Law School Dean Bridget Mary McCormack, just so happens to be the sister of Mary McCormack, who played National Security Adviser Kate Harper on the show. It's basically the show set in a Los Angeles law office with season five writing. But, hey, "West Wing!" [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Gorillas are transfixed by a caterpillar... that or they're just really high.

AW, NEW PANDA BABY VIDEO - HuffPost DC: "The National Zoo has released a new Panda Cam video of giant panda Mei Xiang and her baby, born on Sunday night. Look closely: in this video -- taken Thursday morning -- you can actually see the tiny newborn, who is only about the size of a stick of butter right now. You can also hear the little cub's squeaks, as he or she (we won't know which for at least a few weeks) is picked up by Mei Xiang, then put down for grooming." [HuffPost]

FIGHTING HATE WITH NAKEDNESS - HuffPost DC: "White supremacists and those who oppose them will all be rallying in the nation's capital this weekend. The Aryan Nations, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, will be holding a march on Saturday that leaves Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill at noon and will march toward the Capitol. Two groups have scheduled counterprotests -- one may include nudity." [HuffPost]


- That'll do, pig Way to go, pig! Watch this pig rescue a goat. [http://bit.ly/OepuqX]

- One-thousand years of wars compressed into five minutes in one handy YouTube video. Blink and you'll miss the Franco-Prussian War. [http://bit.ly/Ne5DM]

- A time-lapse video spanning a week filmed from a cockpit. [http://bit.ly/NEBH6J]

- The slow death of Earth Mother, set to music. Enjoy Bill Nye auto-tuned. [http://huff.to/SCIudX]

- "Call Me Maybe" slowed down 1000x is what happens when Carly Rae Jepsen enters the fourth dimension. [http://bit.ly/PL3aQL]

- The internet gods got up on the wrong side of the bed the day they decided to have this cat get its head stuck in a party hat. [http://bit.ly/R2FlqL]

- DMX learns about Google. DMX is the 21st Century's Rip Van Winkle. [http://bit.ly/OFTb41]


@pourmecoffee: I'm happy Tim Pawlenty found someone that wants him. I was rooting for him, like Jennifer Aniston.

@petersagal: Been watching FNC all day. I now hate Pres. Obama, and own fourteen catheters and 8 gold bars.

@indecision: Congratulations to Tim Kaine for taking the Democratic Party back to it's roots -- losing elections.



11:45 am - 12:45 pm: Lamar Alexander is the beneficiary of a fundraiser held by, among others, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers PAC. Those guys know how to party. [Charlie Palmer Steak, 101 Constitution Avenue NW]

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm: The DCCC hosts a "lunch briefing" for Lois Capps, Jerry McNerney and John Garamendi where we suspect supporters will be "briefed" on just how badly their money will make the difference this November. And so on. [The Williams & Jensen Townhouse, 324 Independence Ave SE]

8:00 pm - 10:00 pm: George Allen is the man of the hour at an "Evening Dessert Reception," wherein a bunch of country club types gather in Potomac make small talk and eat sweets. Sadly, this will be the fourth-most exciting thing to happen in the Maryland suburbs Thursday night. [Potomac, MD]


8:00 am - 9:00 am: Facing a tough reelection challenge from, um, her own doubts and reservations, we suppose, Nancy Pelosi hosts a fundraiser for her reelection committee. [The W Hotel, 1515 15th Street NW]

8:30 am - 9:30 am: The Democrats' two Congressional number-twos Dick Durbin and Steny Hoyer team up for a fundraiser benefiting the "Durbin Hoyer Fund," which exists, apparently. [Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Ave NW]

4:45 pm: His campaign stuck in the mud, Mitt Romney does what any struggling Republican candidate would: head to the Bay Area for a massive fundraiser at a place called "Strawberry Hill." [Hillsborough, CA]

7:00 pm: Being first lady is really cool. Michelle Obama attends a fundraiser outside of Baltimore featuring performances by, among others, Yo-Yo Ma and Leon Fleisher. [Phoenix, MD]

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