Morning Examiner: John Huntsman, Media-Utah 

It wasn’t as disastrous as Newt Gingrich’s roll out (who, by the way, lost his finance team yesterday), but its hard to imagine how former-Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s official announcement could have better exposed the candidate’s flaws..

First, Jon does not spell his name with an “h” but you wouldn’t be able to tell that by the press passes his campaign handed out. They spelled his name “John.” The campaign also passed out materials locating Huntsman headquarters at 123 Main Street, phone number (123) 456-7890.

A fictional campaign headquarters is a decent metaphor for a candidate that has no real base of voters. Multiple outlets reported on the sparse crowd at Huntsman’s announcement, where the media seemed to outnumber actual supporters. Many of the attendees appeared to be have been bussed in from Washington, D.C.

The New York Times has already posted its vacuous 6,000 Huntsman profile which will run in this Sunday’s magazine. But there are signs the media is already growing tired of their favorite son. All the cable news shows cut away from Huntsman speech yesterday in less than 15 minutes. It was just too boring. Huntsman will be lucky if actual Republican primary voters give him that long.

Around the Bigs
The Washington Post, Obama’s task: maintaining support for Afghan war: “President Obama will face a stiff political challenge Wednesday in presenting his plan for a gradual end to the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. His prime-time address must remind a skeptical electorate and a concerned Congress that the country’s longest war remains worth fighting — and funding — for several more years.”

The Hill, House to vote on authorizing or ending Libya mission: “Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) plans to introduce two Libya measures that present House lawmakers with a stark choice: Vote to authorize the U.S. combat mission or vote to end it. House Republicans will discuss the proposals at a conference meeting Wednesday morning, and votes could occur on both by the end of the week.”

Politico, John McCain, John Kerry introduce Libya resolution: “The language of the proposal has more teeth than the “sense of the Senate” resolution McCain and Kerry rolled out last month, which was merely a symbolic gesture backing the Libya effort. The latest plan would authorize U.S. operations in Libya but expires after one year and would make clear that the Senate agrees there is no need or desire to put boots on the ground in the North African nation.”

The Washington Examiner, CBO says it took into account Medicaid “glitch” in Obamacare estimates: “Earlier today, I noted an Associated Press report about a “glitch” in the national health care law that would allow for 3 million couples who were early retirees earning up to $64,000 to qualify for Medicaid, because their Social Security benefits would no longer count as income. The Congressional Budget Office has informed the House Budget Committee that this was factored in to their cost estimates for the health care law.”

The Wall Street Journal, Bank Fine Hints at Feds’ Playbook: “J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. agreed to pay $153.6 million to settle civil charges that it misled investors in a complex mortgage-bond portfolio—failing to tell them that a hedge fund helped craft the deal and stood to profit if it failed. The settlement indicates the Securities and Exchange Commission has settled on a playbook for forcing Wall Street firms to pay penalties for transactions that helped fuel the financial crisis.”

The Washington Post, Senate budget chairman says $2 trillion not enough: “Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said the goal of slicing more than $2 trillion from the federal budget by 2021 falls far short of the savings needed to stabilize borrowing, reenergize the economy and avert the threat of a debt crisis.”

The Wall Street Journal, Plan to Ease Way for Unions: “The National Labor Relations Board Tuesday proposed the most sweeping changes to the federal rules governing union organizing elections since 1947, giving a boost to unions that have long called for the agency to give employers less time to fight representation votes.”

The Wall Street Journal, Government Jobs, Outside Income: “Sen. Harry Reid’s top aide received $1.2 million from Comcast Corp. after he began working for the Senate majority leader, joining a long list of congressional staffers who have collected money from past employers after starting on Capitol Hill.”

The Wall Street Journal, QE 2 Proves No Silver Bullet: “Fed Program Keeps Deflation at Bay but Ends Amid Weak Economy and Dollar.”

Gallup, Americans’ Views on Immigration Holding Steady: “Americans in 2011 continue to show a preference for decreased immigration levels (43%) over maintaining current levels (35%), with far fewer wanting to see increased immigration (18%). The majority of Americans still believe immigration is a good thing for the United States today.”

Campaign 2012
Bloomberg, Poll: Americans Worse Since Obama Elected: “By a 44 percent to 34 percent margin, Americans say they believe they are worse off than when President Barack Obama took office in early 2009.”

The Washington Times, Bachmann surges to primary lead: “Rep. Michele Bachmann now tops the field of candidates in a new Zogby poll of Republican primary voters. The poll found Mrs. Bachmann garnering 24 percent of the vote, well-ahead of businessman Herman Cain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who each received 15 percent support. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who officially announced his candidacy on Tuesday, scored just 2 percent support.”

Slate, Nobody’s Candidate: “Huntsman’s appeal to the national political press grows out of the months between the election of Barack Obama and the announcement, in May 2009, that the president would make him his ambassador to China. Reporters (and Democrats) were taken aback by how quickly, and how deeply, Republicans dug in to oppose Obama. Every House Republican voted against the stimulus; Republican governors jumped up and down to criticize the spending and say which chunks of it they wouldn’t take. So the antidotes to Mark Sanford and Sarah Palin were Arnold Schwarznegger, Charlie Crist, and … Jon Huntsman.”

Politico, Huntsman aims for GOP moderates: “It’s not clear there’s a constituency for Huntsman’s unique brand of Republicanism. … Before the morning announcement, aides distributed small American flags to a crowd of 100 that was a mix of middle-aged professionals in suits, college-age students and a handful of Obama supporters, including one man in a New Jersey for Obama T-shirt.”

Human Events, John Hayward: “The problem I have with this boutique moderate’s campaign is that all of those things have been under powerful, sustained assault during the past two years. … A campaign premised on the notion that Obama just made a few innocent mistakes plays directly into the Obama 2012 narrative that he just needs four more years to make those trillions of dollars in “investments” pay off.”

The Hill, Reid: Huntsman over Romney in GOP field: “Even though he won’t be able to cast a vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) picked his favorite Mormon candidate in the GOP presidential field on Tuesday: Jon Huntsman. Reid, a Mormon, was asked if the country is ready for a president of his faith because there are two in the Republican primary race.”

Politico, Tim Pawlenty warns GOP on perils of isolationism: “On the eve of President Barack Obama’s speech announcing a troop drawdown, Tim Pawlenty cautioned the GOP Tuesday against going wobbly on Afghanistan. “I don’t like the drift of the Republican Party toward what appears to be a retreat or a move more towards isolationism,” the former Minnesota governor told POLITICO reporters in an interview.”

Politico, Tim Pawlenty to bring back ‘Obamneycare’: “Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday he plans to keep using the term, which he first used to whack Mitt Romney over his health care record on the eve of last week’s GOP presidential primary debate. … In an interview Tuesday, Pawlenty said he only hesitated to target Romney on health care during the New Hampshire forum because he wanted to stay positive in his first appearance before many Republican voters.”

Associated Press, Gingrich campaign fundraisers quit: “Newt Gingrich’s top two fundraising advisers resigned on Tuesday, and officials said the Republican candidate’s hobbling presidential campaign carried more than $1 million in debt.”

Righty playbook

  • Hot Air‘s Tina Korbe flags a Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., statement showing the former presidential candidate is not backing off claims that illegal immigrants might be to blame for the forest fires in his home state. McCain told reporters: “There is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally. The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border.”
  • The Heritage Foundation‘s Mike Brownfield rounds up some past comments from Federal Reserve bank president’s criticizing Washington intervention in the economy including this one from Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart: “We’ve frequently heard strong comments to the effect of ‘my company won’t hire a single additional worker until we know what health insurance costs are going to be.”
  • RedState‘s Daniel Horowitz admonishes the seven Republican co-sponsors of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act under the header: “Senate Plans to Abdicate its Confirmation Duties.”
  • The Heritage Foundation‘s David Muhlhausen advises Congress not to link “ineffective” and “wasteful” Trade Adjustment Assistance program with the free trade agreements currently before Congress.

Lefty playbook

  • At The Huffington Post, Dick Gephardt comes out against IPAB: “I believe there is a step that’s needed to continue to protect beneficiaries’ access to Medicare services: the elimination of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). … It is critical that Congress continue to be able to fulfill its duty to the American people and maintain direct oversight of Medicare on behalf of their constituents. Changes to Medicare’s payments should be based on careful consideration of the Medicare program itself — and not arbitrary budget targets.”
  • Talking Points Memo asked former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson what would happen if the debt ceiling was not raised: “It would be very damaging, there’s no question about that. It would really destabilize financial markets and lead to all sorts of unpleasant repercussions in the United States and around the world.”
  • ThinkProgress celebrates the fact that Keith Olbermann’s Current TV debut topped CNN in the 25-54 demographic.

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