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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

HuffPost Hill
By Eliot Nelson, Ryan Grim & Arthur Delaney
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The Mitt Romney campaign borrowed $20 million, raising suspicion Romney's leveraging it to the sky, laying everyone off, shutting it down and writing himself a huge check. A State Department official confirmed that the U.S. has no plan to invade Canada, one more disgraceful apology for America. And the Justice Department's "Fast and Furious" report finally put an end to a dark chapter in our nation's history when we were all unwittingly made to think about Vin Diesel far more than necessary. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, September 19th, 2012:

ROMNEY SETTLES ON 'REDISTRIBUTION' DEFENSE - The Romney campaign is seizing on an unearthed 1998 recording of President Obama making the DEVASTATING proposal that the government should "facilitate some redistribution" of wealth to improve the lives of the working class. The Romney campaign -- super eager for you to forget about the time he accused half the country of living in its parents' basement -- is framing the recording as incontrovertible evidence that our supermarkets will soon be pitifully understocked with a few cans of beans and toilet paper rolls after the disastrous failure of our commander-in-chief's five-year plan. "[Obama] really believes in what I'll call a government-centered society. I know there are some who believe that if you simply take from some and give to others then we'll all be better off. It's known as redistribution. It's never been a characteristic of America," Romney said today during fundraiser in Atlanta. "There's a tape that came out just a couple of days ago where the president said yes he believes in redistribution. I don't. I believe the way to lift people and help people have higher incomes is not to take from some and give to others but to create wealth for all." [HuffPost]

@elisefoley: Univision forum with Mitt Romney starts very soon. Watch here: on.fb.me/S6OG38

CONGRESS ALMOST READY TO DROP MIC - AP: "A spending bill required to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month has cleared a procedural hurdle in the Senate. The bipartisan 76-22 vote is the first step toward opening debate on the measure. The legislation would fund the day-to-day operating budgets of every Cabinet department and continue covering military operations overseas. It's the last major piece of legislation that's likely to become law before the election. It's unclear when the measure will come to a final vote because senators are haggling over which other pieces of legislation." [AP]

Nancy Pelosi's office will release a report tomorrow titled "The Do-Nothing GOP: Why Congress Isn't Working." The report will feature factoids about the Republican-controlled House, such as the decision by leadership to recess for campaigning earlier than any election-year Congress since 1960. No word on whether it will contain cheap jokes about Paul Ryan's workout routine. One can only hope.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - James Chukalas learned that some Americans hate the jobless after he stood next to President Barack Obama during a 2010 Rose Garden press conference. The president had urged Congress to quit blocking unemployment insurance so people like Chukalas, who had lost his car dealership job in 2008, could feed their families. "I've been called everything from a freeloader to things I can't repeat right now because I stood with the president," Chukalas, of Fredon Township, N.J., said in an interview on Tuesday. "It really offended me. I had people who don't know me from a hole in the wall and they're talking smack about me. Don't judge me before you've walked a week in my shoes." Chukalas had a similar reaction when he heard Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney say in a recently released video that 47 percent of America pays no income taxes, is dependent on government programs, and will therefore vote for Obama. "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," Romney said. "I think I'm the kind of person he's talking about, but without walking a week in my shoes, don't judge me," Chukalas said. [HuffPost]

DOUBLE DOWNER - Richard Wood thinks Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is correct that a broad swath of Americans is dependent on government and devoid of personal responsibility, but maybe not as broad a swath as Romney suggested. "He needs to get better numbers, but he needs to hit on it because that's one of the problems with this country," said Wood, who is 63 and lives in Bradenton, Fla. Betcha that's what lots of people think. [HuffPost]

SUPREME COURT LOOKING FOR CREATIVE WAY TO LEGALIZE CORPORATE MURDER - Shell says that it's not liable for any crimes it committed overseas, because it is a "corporation," distinct from a person (except when it's not). The Court was set to rule 5-4 that corporations could do whatever they want abroad, but thought the politics of that wouldn't look so good. So the five are doing one of their creative "re-arguments" where they pretend to have come up with new things they're curious about, but in fact are just making sweeping law from the bench, assuming we're all idiots. Mike Sacks has the details, and Earth First has a mashup of the Justices talking about legalized piracy.

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ROMNEY CAMPAIGN MORTGAGES ITS FUTURE - Paul Blumenthal: "In the weeks leading up to the late August Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney's campaign took out a $20 million bank loan to help make it through the month. The loan may come as a surprise, given that Romney trounced President Barack Obama in fundraising from May through July, but nearly all of that money was earmarked for the general election, which only began at the end of the convention." [HuffPost]

POLLS DEMOCRATS GAIN MOMENTUM IN KEY SENATE RACES - WaPo: "The latest Marquette Law School poll of the Wisconsin Senate race shows Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) leading former governor Tommy Thompson (R) , 50 percent to 41 percent, a sharp turnabout from a mid-August survey that showed the Republican ahead by the same margin...A Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll released Wednesday showed Baldwin tied with Thompson, after trailing by 6 points last month...A race that does not appear to be tightening is the one in Virginia, where former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine has built a lead in two new polls, one from the Washington Post and another from Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS. Kaine leads former senator George Allen (R) by 8 percentage points in the former survey and 7 in the latter. In Massachusetts, where Sen. Scott Brown (R) seemed to do everything right this summer,four polls released this week showed Democrat Elizabeth Warren holding a slight lead. One pollster characterized the boost in support for Warren as a post-convention bounce." [WaPo]

REPORT HITS DOJ FOR 'FAST AND FURIOUS' - The report was followed by Eric Holder announcing the resignations of Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein. AP: "The Justice Department's internal watchdog is faulting the agency for misguided strategies, errors in judgment and management failures during a bungled gun-trafficking probe in Arizona that resulted in hundreds of weapons turning up at crime scenes in the U.S. and Mexico. In a 471-page report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz referred over a dozen people for possible disciplinary action for their roles in Operation Fast and Furious. The report did not criticize Attorney General Eric Holder. The report found no evidence that Holder was informed about the operation before Jan. 31, 2011, or that the attorney general was told about the controversial gun-walking tactic employed by the department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives." [AP]

REPUBLICANS STARTING TO FREAK OUT - Over the last few weeks, McLean doctors have been hit up for Xanax refills earlier than expected, Lexuses have been driven a bit more aggressively down 66 and children have been paid even less attention. GOP strategists are LOSING IT. Jon Ward: "Now it's Republicans who are frightened. Mitt Romney's recent troubles have created a sense of gloom, and a good dose of doom, in the Grand Old Party... 'There's a feeling of almost that this thing's in free fall,' said a Republican consultant with deep experience on Capitol Hill and extensive contacts in the Romney campaign. 'When campaigns spend an enormous amount of time trying to figure out why they're broken, I don't know if they ever come back,' said this Republican, who like others who spoke about their frustration, did not want to be identified. Another operative who has worked for the Republican Party on many national congressional campaigns was blunt about his feelings. 'I'm pretty discouraged. The thing is, [Democrats] ran Jimmy Carter, and we answered with Thomas Dewey,' he said, referring to the Republican politician who lost presidential elections in 1944 and 1948. 'And it didn't have to be that way.'" [HuffPost]

Speaking to Politico, Dean Heller distanced himself from the comments: "You got to understand, I grew up with five brothers and sisters. My father was an automechanic. My mother was a school cook. I just don't view the world the same way he does." [Politico]

So did Susana Martinez: "We have a lot of people that are at the poverty level in New Mexico, but they count just as much as anybody else," she told the Albuquerque Journal. "There is a net that does allow them to be caught and taken care of, whether it be through medical services, whether it be food services, whether it be with funding for apartments, for housing." [Albuquerque Journal]

Priorities USA released an underwhelming 47 percent ad that looks like every other political ad this cycle. "Victims? Behind these doors middle-class families struggle," the overly concerned female narrator says over stock photos of working class homes. "And Romney will make things even tougher." Whoever shot down the idea of having the ad simply re-air Romney's comments should be fired. [HuffPost's Elise Foley]

SENATE REPUBLICANS VOTE DOWN VETERANS JOBS BILL - In what was somehow not the most tone-deaf thing Republicans did this week (thanks, Mitt Romney!), GOPers in the upper chamber blocked passage of a bill aimed at boosting employment among veterans. The Republicans, reports Roll Call, complained "that the measure violates budget rules and is meant to score political points rather than help veterans... Democrats sought to waive budget rules, but the proposal failed 58-40, with most Republicans voting against it. Sixty votes were needed to overcome the procedural hurdle and push the bill toward final passage. Five Republicans - Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller(Nev.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) - voted with all 53 members of the Democratic Conference to sidestep the procedural roadblock." [Roll Call]

OBAMA CRACKS 8-FIGURE JOKE - Paul Blumenthal: "Speaking at a fundraiser hosted by the famous rapper and singer couple Jay-Z and Beyonce, President Barack Obama made comments, seemingly in jest, asking guests to help out his campaign against Republican nominee Mitt Romney by giving $10 million to outside efforts to help him retain the White House. 'We don't need to match these folks dollar for dollar. We can't. I mean, if somebody here has a $10 million check -- I can't solicit it from you, but feel free to use it wisely,' Obama said to the room full of guests. The transcript of the event notes that guests laughed both after he mentioned the $10 million check and at the conclusion of his sentence. The comments are notable because candidates and government officials are prohibited from soliciting checks for super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions, in excess of the $2,500 or $5,000 federal limit that candidates are allowed to accept." [HuffPost]

At this point, Todd Akin will take a hug from just about anyone: "A day after Todd Akin's Senate campaign pulled down a version of its Women for Akin site following the revelation that one of the women featured on the page was actually a Democratic tracker, an image of Akin standing next to the tracker was found on another section of the Akin website." [TPM]

DEMOCRATS TAKE STEEL FOLDING CHAIR TO LINDA MCMAHON'S CAMPAIGN - It's not deja vu you're experiencing, just Linda McMahon's ongoing political ambitions: "Connecticut Democrats are doubling down on their criticism of Republican U.S. Senate nominee Linda McMahon's tenure as chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, posting explicit footage produced by the company online. The state party posted a video clip Wednesday of two female wrestlers who engage in a sexual act in the ring, then are thrown around by men. The video, added to Daily Motion, comes after WWE complained that the party violated copyright laws when it posted another WWE clip on Vimeo earlier this week." [HuffPost's John Celock]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - What happens when you mix the finest in .midi composition with a dog taking a bath? This video, of course.

WHEW - "The U.S. and Mexico are not secretly planning to invade Canada, a State Department spokeswoman confirmed to laughter during a daily press briefing." [NBC News]

COMFORT FOOD

- Did yesterday's tornado warning in D.C. worry you? Take comfort in the fact that there were no FIRE TORNADOES. [http://huff.to/QiC4RI]

- Conan O'Brien has a conversation -- a serious one, seriously -- with presidential historian Edmund Morris. [http://bit.ly/T1e9fL]

- A series of before-and-after shots of "Game of Thrones" with and without CGI. [http://bit.ly/ObnNKN]

- Children's TV host Mister Wizard was kind of a huge jerk. [http://chzb.gr/ObyjBK]

- Dog is delighted by trampoline. [http://bit.ly/RmTHyW]

- Herd of sheep go shopping in a cramped store. [http://bit.ly/NB8Sbp]

- You know who else sang "Gangnam Style"? Hitler. [http://bit.ly/S2rvXx]

TWITTERAMA

@jonlovett: That 1998 video is clearly taken out of context. Where are Obama's comments on the Lycos IPO and the new Dave Matthew's album?

@CPHeinze: To announce that he's now 47 Cent RT @elisefoley 50 CENT ON HUFFPOST LIVE huff.lv/Peivgv

@Chris_Moody: There are six--six!--Fast & Furious movies. When is someone going to resign over THAT?

ON TAP

TONIGHT

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm: George Miller gets out of bathroom cleaning duty at the congressional frat house (sorry, Dick!) by sneaking away to a fundraising reception. [434 New Jersey Ave SE]

6:00 pm: Mary Landrieu, who has managed to remain an elected Democrat in Louisiana, hopes to keep the dream alive a bit longer with a reception benefiting her 2014 reelection bid. [405 East Capitol Street, SE]

6:30 pm: The gang is back together! The once and possibly future Virginia Senator George Allen is the man of the hour at a fundraising reception/dinner featuring appearances by Mitch McConnell, Mike Crapo, Richard Burr, Jim DeMint and Dan Coats. [Caucus Room, 401 9th Street NW]

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm: His poll numbers slipping, Scott Brown makes his "Dude...dude!!!" pitch at the NRSC's headquarters. [NRSC, 425 2nd Street NE]

TOMORROW

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]

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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