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Monday, 20 August 2012

HuffPost Hill
By Eliot Nelson, Ryan Grim & Arthur Delaney
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A member of the House Committee on Science more or less thinks women have brains in their loins (Silly congressman, you're thinking of male anatomy.) If you're in the country illegally, Mitt Romney wants you to self-deport, unless you're a Mormon, in which case you should self-deport yourself to the nearest legal clinic. And the Republican Party is bravely considering a gay rights platform that has nothing to do with forcing people to the ground and cutting their hair. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, August 20th, 2012:

@mmurraypolitics: Per Obama campaign's July FEC report: $49M raised, $59M spent. That's a burn rate of 120%. bit.ly/TQj1kz

AKIN SAYS HE'LL STAY IN THE RACE - If you were on vacation this weekend and lucky enough to escape the political news cycle, then you missed Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin's statement about rape that we're pretty sure he cribbed from a Cato policy paper written by Genghis Khan. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down," he said during an interview with KTVI-TV. Condemnations of Akin's words were swift and numerous -- Allen West was offended! but today Akin apologized. "I just want to apologize to those I have hurt. I've spoken in error," he said on Mike Huckabee's radio show. "I'm not a quitter, and my belief is we're going to take this thing forward, and by the grace of God we're going to win this race." Then, because why not, he invoked 9-11. "They don't check their ID to see whether they're important or not, they just take them to safety and run back for more," he said. "They, by their lives, speak as Americans of what we think about the value of human beings and how much respect we hold people with." Akin later reiterated his intention to stay in during an appearance on Sean Hannity's radio show. [HuffPost's Laura Bassett]

National Journal reports Akin's former primary challenger, John Brunner, has been making exploratory phone calls.

Mitt Romney told WMUR that he won't support Akin's candidacy. "He should understand that his words with regards to rape are words that I can't defend, that we can't defend, and we can't defend him," he said. [WMUR]

President Obama, during an impromptu press conference: "The views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape."

@elliottjustin: international news epithet for Akin now "US rape-gaffe candidate" twitpic.com/alujwy

NRSC AND CROSSROADS CUTTING OFF AKIN'S FUNDING - So either Akin is going to raise a boatload of grassroots money to stay competitive on the ground and over the airwaves or rent a single prop plane towing an Akin for Senate banner and pray that a lot of people look up. CNN: "The National Republican Senatorial Committee will no longer support Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri in his U.S. Senate bid, a source from the group told CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash on Monday. It was communicated to the congressman that the NRSC will be pulling out if he decides to stay in the race, the source said one day after the Senate candidate sparked a firestorm by claiming that legitimate rape' rarely resulted in pregnancy." [CNN]

Karl Rove righty-tighty'ed the spigot: "the heavyweight conservative groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS are pulling out of the state and halting their advertising against Akin's opponent, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. 'The act speaks for itself,' Crossroads spokesman Nate Hodson said Monday." [LA Times]

Even NRSC Chairman John Cornyn's public statement about the matter basically told Akin to step down: "Congressman Akin's statements were wrong, offensive, and indefensible. I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next twenty-four hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service."

Scott Brown -- who has done everything short of endorsing a single-payer health care system to make voters forget he's a Republican -- called on Akin to drop his Senate bid. "As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin's comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong," he said in a statement. "There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin's statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for US Senate in Missouri."

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Lauren Heslin of Marietta, Ga., said she received her final check of unemployment insurance last week. She lost her job as a financial analyst in November 2010, and she said the $277 she received each week in benefits amounted to less than a quarter of her former income. "It barely even put food on the table," she said. Heslin did not receive the 99 weeks of benefits that have been famous since 2009. Georgia, along with a dozen other states, lost eligibility for the federal Extended Benefits program in April. Earlier this year, Congress and the White House saw to it that Extended Benefits, which provided 20 weeks of aid in states with high unemployment, would gradually phase out in state after state over the course of the year. Congress replaced the missing weeks with drug testing, stricter work-search requirements and leeway for states to run innovative training programs, which no states have tried to do so far. [HuffPost]

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to huffposthill@huffingtonpost.com. Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

OBAMA PRESSES ROMNEY FOR TAX RETURNS - During his impromptu press conference today, the president was asked about Mitt Romney's refusal to disclose a substantial portion of his tax returns -- a refusal we're going to attribute to Romney's secret funding of a Contact-like space portal that will beam Jodie Foster to a far-off space civilization (until proven otherwise). "If you want to be president of the United States, your life's an open book when it comes to things like your finances," Obama said, calling it "pretty standard stuff." He kept on it for a while: "I think the idea that this is somehow exceptional, that there should be a rationale or a justification for doing more than the very bare minimum has it backwards. The assumption should be you do what previous presidential candidates have done dating back decades." [Politico]

Romney is keeping foreign governments afloat. Zach Carter and Jason Cherkis: "Mitt Romney sought and received $787,455 in foreign tax credits from the U.S. Treasury to cover his tax payments to other nations in 2008... His 2010 return also lists foreign tax payments that Romney made dating back to 2000. Through 2004, the payments were tiny -- for Romney -- averaging $37,000 a year. In 2005, however, his foreign tax bill shot up to $333,149 and stayed high for the next three years, prior to the Great Recession... The Romney campaign declined to comment for this article, and there is no way to determine where Romney's foreign income came from without additional disclosures." [HuffPost]

OBAMA FALSELY CLAIMS 'YOU CAN'T JUST MAKE STUFF UP' - "Everybody who's looked at this says what Gov. Romney's saying is absolutely wrong," Obama said. "Not only are his super PACs running millions of dollars worth of ads making this claim, Gov. Romney himself is approving this and saying it on the stump. So the contrast, I think, is pretty stark. They can run the campaign that they want, but the truth of the matter is you can't just make stuff up." Sure you can't. [HuffPost

@ppppolls: Mitt Romney ever so slightly in the lead on our Wisconsin poll. Results out tomorrow

PAUL RYAN A TOTAL DEFICIT REDUCTION WET BLANKET: DEM COLLEAGUE - Josh Hersh: "A former Democratic congressman who sat across from Paul Ryan on a major bipartisan budget deficit commission said Mitt Romney's running mate took a hard line on fundamental economics issues and never fully committed to negotiating a deal. 'Paul drifted -- he came to all the meetings, and kept asking pertinent questions, but his heart wasn't in it,' said John M. Spratt, a recently retired member of Congress from South Carolina who served with Ryan on the Simpson-Bowles Commission in 2010. 'Eventually, he just went back to what he was doing before, back to developing the roadmap, working for his party and not for bipartisanship.'... For many months, Erskine Bowles, the commission's Democratic co-chair, 'bent over backwards trying to accommodate' Ryan, Spratt said. Had he succeeded in persuading Ryan, who had already emerged as a leading voice for fiscal conservatives, Spratt believes that the other two House Republicans would have come along." [HuffPost]

ROMNEY'S WILD 80s EXPERIMENTATION WITH NOT SELF-DEPORTING - A Washington Post examination of Mitt Romney's stint as head of the Mormon church in the greater Boston area begins with a shocking anecdote about feeding the hungry: "In the back office of his Weston, Mass., headquarters a quarter-­century ago, Mitt Romney, the chief Mormon authority in the Boston area, told the leader of his Spanish-speaking congregation that he would not directly pay for lawyers to help the growing number of illegal immigrants in his church. Then he carefully instructed his subordinate on how to circumvent the Mormon Church's new hard line against such assistance and subsidize their legal aide. 'In those issues I cannot help you financially to pay for lawyers,' Romney said, according to Jose Francisco Anleu, a Guatemalan immigrant. 'But what I can do is allow you to give them food assistance from the bishop's warehouse,' a church welfare pantry. The money saved could be used to 'pay lawyers.' He reminded Anleu that he could use church funds to cover rent, utilities and health care for his needy members. The money came from Anleu's budget, but, as Anleu noted decades later, it was a budget sustained by Romney's office." [WaPo]

REPUBLICANS HOPE CONVENTION WILL PORTRAY ROMNEY AS 'WARM' - That is, the party hopes the convention will convey the former Massachusetts as a kind and compassionate human being, as opposed to simply being a literal human being. Some think he's only warm when his motherboard overheats. Times: "The campaign aides are determined to overcome perceptions that Mr. Romney is stiff, aloof and distant. So they have built one of the most intricate set pieces ever designed for a convention -- a $2.5 million Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired theatrical stage. From its dark-wood finish to the brightly glowing high-resolution screens in the rafters that look like skylights, every aspect of the stage has been designed to convey warmth, approachability and openness... From the six-feet-high podium, staircases slope into the audience. The intended symbolism: Mr. Romney is open and approachable, not distant and far above." [NYT]

RNC CONSIDERING GAY RIGHTS LANGUAGE, BUT NOT - The Republican National Committee's platform committee is considering adopting language that states, "We embrace the principle that all Americans have the right to be treated with dignity and respect." No, that's not a response to the Democrats' "We embrace the principle that all Americans should have 'KICK ME' signs tacked to their backs and be subjected to the worst kind of internet bullying" platform. Log Cabin Republicans tell BuzzFeed the language is intended to reflect the party's, er, respect? for LGBT Americans. [BuzzFeed]

SECOND CLUB OF RICH WHITE MEN WELCOMES CONDI RICE - The former secretary of state was one of two women today invited to join the previously male-only Augusta National golf club (the other being business executive Darla Moore). Rice's golf coach of three years spoke to the Examiner about the secretary's game "She was pretty new at the game at the time," Russ Vander Sluis told the paper. "She was so busy in Washington, she had started playing, but she couldn't play very much until then." "She hits her driver really well," he added. "She's also good with a hybrid." There you have it! [Examiner]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Drunk cat doesn't know how it got here. All drunk cat remembers is that fourth shot of Cuervo.

HERE'S A HAPPY BIT OF PREGNANCY-RELATED NEWS - Is D.C.'s Giant Panda Pregnant? - HuffPost DC:" It's hard not to get our hopes up about this one. The National Zoo sent out an announcement on Monday that its female giant panda, Mei Xiang, is pregnant or experiencing a pseudopregnancy -- she'll either give birth or end her false pregnancy in 40 to 50 days, the zoo says." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Win the hipster olympics by bringing your iPad typewriter on the bus. [http://bit.ly/RbIhBP]

- Using Microsoft Excel to make stop-motion animation. [http://bit.ly/PMZsu5]

- Airport cart driver makes the beeping sound with his mouth. Much more endearing than the TSA official at the body scanner who makes the wooshing sound with his mouth. [http://bit.ly/NB4fz2]

- Detailed map of Washington, D.C. printed in 1851 -- a glorious time when Glover Park didn't exist. [http://bit.ly/PysZEa]

- Bill Murray reads Wallace Stevens poems. Bill Murray is the coolest. [http://bit.ly/NWR3Th]

- Star Wars posters reimagined in the style of spaghetti westerns. [http://bit.ly/Pz8DN9]

- "And here's our living room, and here's the guest bath, and here's our baby's room that is THEMED LIKE THE SHOW 'LOST'" [http://bit.ly/SeHAJo]

TWITTERAMA

@KagroX: Show Me The Door State

@BuzzFeedAndrew: If Akin does not legitimately drop out, perhaps the GOP will forcibly remove him from the race.

@indecision: Have you guys tried the new Akin's Diet? You eat whatever you want and your body just shuts down all the junk food.

ON TAP

Tomorrow, 8:30 am - 9:30 am: Jeff Flake attends a breakfast fundraiser at a joint called "Fini's Landing," which sounds a bit like a family-friendly strip club but is, actually, a restaurant. [Tucson, AZ]

Tomorrow evening: Paul Ryan shows off his shiny new self to Philadelphia-area donors at a dinner fundraiser. For an extra $500 you can pat his hair. [Philadelphia, PA]

Wednesday evening: Michael Jordan and other NBA stars attend a campaign dinner for President Obama. Unclear how much Jordan will make the event about himself. [NYC]

Got something to add? Send tips/quotes/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Eliot Nelson (eliot@huffingtonpost.com), Ryan Grim (ryan@huffingtonpost.com) or Arthur Delaney (arthur@huffingtonpost.com). Follow us on Twitter @HuffPostHill (twitter.com/HuffPostHill). Sign up here: http://huff.to/an2k2e

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