Mitt Romney somehow can’t match Donald Trump’s self-promoting bombast, which is incredible considering this is a guy who owns a car elevator and a dancing horse. John McCain and Patrick Leahy want to make Congressional Research Service reports public, because if they can sound smarter than they actually are, the American people deserve to sound smarter than they actually are. And CPAC kicked into full swing, though it’s unclear if it can match the hedonistic, anything-goes highs of last year’s Project Veritas afterparty. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, March 3rd, 2016:
Random sights and sounds from CPAC: "If Trump were nominated, I think I would write-in 'Jesus.'" The impromptu dance floor at the Turning Point USA pavillion. Buzz Aldrin, like a total boss, interrupting all talk of hot button conservative issues by waltzing onto the main stage, saying he's not there as a Democrat or Republican, and lecturing the crowd on planetary exploration ("...cycling pathways to occupy mars must be organized progressively"). The PowerPoint at the "Engaging Millennials" breakout session ("Be authentic"). "Omigod, Emma, guess who we just saw? Thom Tillis!" The Trump cardboard cutout at the National Review booth wearing a t-shirt with its "AGAINST TRUMP" cover. Rand Paul's declining fortunes.
DEBATE TONIGHT! Can Donald Trump resist insulting a woman for two whole hours? "Thursday's Republican debate on Fox News Channel could be Round 2 of Megyn Kelly versus Donald Trump. But the journalist and fellow moderators say they are not preparing to stoke the fire with questions about his headline-grabbing battles with the network." [Reuters]
MITT ROMNEY: DONALD TRUMP IS NOT PEOPLE, MY FRIENDS - The real estate baron wants to put America's Constitution in an airtight kennel above his car. Scott Conroy and Igor Bobic: "Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spoke out forcefully on Thursday against Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump in a speech in Salt Lake City. In his remarks, Romney offered praise for the three other GOP White House hopefuls who remain in the race: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. 'Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,' he said at the University of Utah. 'His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He's playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.' Romney added that Trump's 'domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.' The business mogul "relishes any poll that reflects what he thinks of himself. But polls are also saying that he will lose to Hillary Clinton," he said." [HuffPost]
If there’s someone from Romneyland who can get through to Trump voters, we're pretty sure it’s this guy.
DONALD TRUMP: MITT ROMNEY IS A WEAK LOSER, MY FRIENDS - If there were ever a time for Trump to drop 1,000,000 "Sad!"s in the course of thirty minutes, it would've been this. Igor Bobic: "Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump responded to Mitt Romney's searing broadside on Thursday with one of his favorite put downs in the race for the GOP nomination. 'He's a choke artist,' Trump said at a rally in Portland, Maine, referring to the former GOP presidential nominee's failure to defeat President Barack Obama in 2012. 'We cannot take another loss. Mitt is indeed a choke artist.' Romney lambasted Trump earlier in the day, calling the businessman a "phony" and a "fraud," and accused him of "playing the American public for suckers." The speech was a stunning development and the clearest sign yet that the GOP is fracturing over its new front-runner after his dominating performance on Super Tuesday. In his speech on Thursday, Trump called Romney "a failed candidate" who "failed horribly" and claimed he "begged" for his endorsement during the 2012 presidential race." [HuffPost]
John McCain and Patrick Leahy have a bill to make Congressional Research Service reports public -- it is amazing that legislation is even needed for this. "I’m proud to support this bipartisan, good-government bill to provide the American people with free access to the CRS’s high-quality, unbiased and fact-based policy reports," McCain said. Yes. Yes indeed.
DELANEY DOWNER - White nationalists are coming out from under their hoods to support Donald Trumpm Garrette Haake reports: "On Saturday evening, an Arlington-based think tank called the National Policy Institute plans to hold its annual conference in the rotunda of the Reagan building in D.C., with around 150 attendees expected.The topic of the conference will be the Republican presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump. But the NPI isn’t just any think tank. The Southern Poverty Law Center considers its president Richard Spencer to be one of the 'most successful young white nationalist leaders' in the country today… In Trump, Spencer sees a figure 'energizing' the white nationalist movement. So on Saturday, conference attendees will enjoy cocktails, dinner, dessert, and three speakers praising and parsing the 'Trump phenomenon.'... 'I think he’s evoking a lot of feelings amongst people, and I think implicit in what Donald Trump is doing is a conception of America as a European country.'" [WUSA9.com]
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PAUL RYAN ON TRUMP: LOL - Hopefully he's buying some life insurance, though. Matt Fuller and Mike McAuliff: "When Donald Trump issued a threat to Speaker Paul Ryan Tuesday night, saying Ryan would pay a 'big price' if he didn’t get along with Trump, the speaker was watching -- and he wasn’t very scared. 'I just laughed out loud,' Ryan told reporters Thursday, noting that he saw the Trump press conference live. 'Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction around here these days.' The real estate mogul issued his threat after winning big on Super Tuesday, and after Ryan condemned the idea that Republicans might be OK with the Ku Klux Klan." [HuffPost]
GRASSLEY GETS SERIOUS CHALLENGER - Jennifer Steinhauer: "With Senator Charles E. Grassley under attack for his handling of the Supreme Court nomination process, a formidable Democratic challenger will run against him this November, the most significant sign yet that Democrats see the court and the candidacy of Donald J. Trump as twin liabilities for Republicans. Patty Judge, a former Iowa lieutenant governor and state agriculture secretary, is expected to announce her challenge this weekend to Mr. Grassley, who is seeking a seventh Senate term and had previously been seen as having little opposition to re-election. Mr. Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has come under fire in Iowa for his refusal to hold hearings on a potential nominee for the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The issue became more local for Mr. Grassley on Wednesday when it was revealed that the White House is vetting Jane L. Kelly, a federal appellate judge in his home state, as a potential replacement." [NYT]
@IsaacDovere: Sign of the times: Trump T-shirts for sale by DC street vendors
DONALD TRUMP GETS AIDS - Grim: "Audiences at screenings around the world, and some even in the United States, have been cheering and applauding a macabre scene in a new film by Sacha Baron Cohen in which "Donald Trump" accidentally contracts HIV. 'The Brothers Grimsby' opens March 11 in the U.S., though chances are you're learning that for the first time here, given a decision by Sony Pictures to limit its marketing of the satiric comedy. The studio is concerned about the reaction from the real Donald Trump, according to industry sources familiar with the situation...Back at Sony's Hollywood headquarters, however, there has been much less enthusiasm about the scene in question. Three industry sources said that Sony had made its displeasure clear and pushed to remove the scene, but that Baron Cohen, in a rare deal for a producer-actor, has final authority over the film." [HuffPost]
GOP FOREIGN POLICY ESTABLISHMENT NOT FOND OF TRUMP - Go fig! Too much torture, we guess. Jessica Schulberg: "Sixty Republican national security heavyweights vow in an open letter released late Wednesday to work 'energetically' to prevent GOP front-runner Donald Trump from winning the party's nomination. The experts, who represent vastly divergent GOP ideologies, describe Trump's vision of American influence as 'wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle.' They warned that a Trump presidency would 'make America less safe” and “diminish our standing in the world.'" [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here are some dogs trying to keep it cool.
UNITED STATES OF FLABBERGASTATION - Ariel Edwards-Levy: "Americans may not agree on much about politics right now, but at least we're all equally confused. In a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, 76 percent of Americans, including the overwhelming majority of both parties, said that this election is weirder than past elections. Just 4 percent view 2016 as a paragon of normalcy." [HuffPost]
- British people try their best American accent.
- The first trailer for the "Ghostbusters" remake.
@paulkrugman: Am I too old to say "I can't even"? Mitt Romney as leader of the anti-Trump movement -- and citing Reagan's endorsement of Goldwater ...
@ToddZwillich: Chuck Grassley "has strong Midwestern values." - Chuck Schumer, who also has strong Midwestern values.
@MEPFuller: Chris Christie was thinking about war, about death, about the dark wind blowing from the future and the gentle indifference of it all.
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