Bloomberg: From northern Michigan’s iron mines to Pennsylvania’s natural-gas fields, the industrial heartland of America is humming with jobs again as a region once left for dead recovers faster than the rest of the U.S. ….. The economies of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania have improved faster than that of the U.S. since the recession’s depth in April 2009 …. Michigan is expected to lead all 50 states during the next six months….
…. from Detroit and Pittsburgh to Peoria, Illinois, and the town of Mellen in Wisconsin’s Penokee Hills, employers plan to add jobs and facilities …. Improvement in unemployment, which dropped 19% in Ohio and 29% in Michigan from April 2009 through the end of last year, is a key driver for the Midwest recovery …. The recovery isn’t just about autos and shale – it’s all sorts of related industries, said Steve Steinour, Huntington Bancshares Inc.’s chief executive officer. “We’re seeing now a revival that no one had expected in this sort of time frame”…
…. Michigan gained 66,000 jobs in 2011 ….. It was the first gain in the state since the turn of the century….. “We’ve always heard this Rust Belt thing about our region, even just a few years ago,” said Steinour, speaking of the disparaging image of closed factories and declining industry. “But you don’t hear it so much now, and we might not have to hear it much in the future.”
ABC: President Obama was expected to visit the Washington Auto Show on Tuesday, giving him another forum to talk about GM and Chrysler, along with the administration’s attention to manufacturers and efforts to boost fuel efficiency standards…..
Robert Shrum: …. lost in this year’s bloviating combat over the Reagan banner is another reality that will at first rile and finally infuriate Republicans as the opportunistic Romney runs and then stumbles toward a November showdown with Barack Obama. For on the evidence of history, it’s likely that Obama will be the Reagan of 2012.
The one is certainly not the ideological heir of the other. But this president is beginning to travel a path along an emerging political landscape that parallels Reagan’s in potentially decisive ways.
….. Obama, like Reagan before him, offers an overarching theme that resonates with the distinctive mood of his re-election year …. he has trumpeted his own overarching summons to an America “where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” …. the narrative can be summed up – and the president has done so – in the “Buffet Rule”…. It connects as well to Mitt Romney ….. Romney is the face of the Republican establishment – and he’s becoming the face of unfairness in America ….
….. in the politics of 2012, Gingrich isn’t the Gipper, and Romney isn’t Ronnie. It’s the other guy, the Democrat who in 2008 presciently – and controversially – praised President Reagan for “chang[ing] the trajectory of America.” He did so amid the winds of an economic storm that finally and slowly cleared. So, in his own landmark achievements, has Barack Obama – and this election year, the trajectory is turning for him as it once did for Ronald Reagan.
Richard Cohen (Washington Post): On Saturday night, at precisely 9:19 and 30 seconds, my iPhone, my iPad, my computer and, for all I know, my toaster were informed that Herman Cain had endorsed Newt Gingrich ….. it was just additional evidence that the Republican Party has become a circus: One clown endorsed another.
….. This has been an exceedingly silly political season … But it has also been a sad one. The Republican establishment acts as if this season’s goon squad of presidential candidates has come out of nowhere, an act of God …. it has only itself to blame. For too long it has been mute in the face of a belligerent anti-intellectualism, pretending that knowledge and experience do not matter and that Washington is a condition and not a mere city. The endorsement of Gingrich by Cain was not a bulletin. It was a feeble blip on a scope. The GOP is brain-dead.
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney shakes hands with U.S. Senator John McCain at a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire, January 4
Time: Announcing his support for Mitt Romney, Senator John McCain said, “The time has arrived for Republicans to choose a presidential nominee; a new standard bearer who has the ability and determination to defeat President Obama …. I’m pleased to have made my choice, and to endorse Governor Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for President.
Governor Romney offers us the commonsense reforms of government policy that are necessary to turn around our economy. His record of accomplishment in government and business are a testament to his leadership abilities…
“I had the privilege of running against Governor Romney for the nomination four years ago, and I know he is a tough competitor. I have no doubt he is the best candidate we can nominate. And I am proud to support him for President.”
President Barack Obama greets people outside the Eason home in Cleveland, Ohio, Jan. 4, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Paul Begala (Daily Beast): You gotta love a party in which Mitt Romney can do no better than virtually tie with the guy who compared gays to “man on dog” sex and thinks contraception is evil.
I would have never guessed Rick Santorum would be so happy about two men being tied up together….
So while the winner of Iowa in terms of expectations is Santorum, the story is the man he basically tied: Mitt Romney. Not to put too fine a point on it, but when you can’t beat the Man-on-Dog guy, who lost his home state by 18 percent, you stink. You really stink.
…. Four years ago, Romney received 25 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses. Unencumbered by the need for gainful employment, Romney has been running nonstop ever since, and, along with a pro-Romney super PAC, spent at least $4 million in Iowa in 2012. Yet he garnered – wait for it – 25 percent …. it seems to me that spending $4 million to gain zero points is a bad return on investment. That is one expensive treadmill. I’ve seen Astroturf with stronger growth…..
Steve Benen: It was easy to imagine Mitt Romney winning the Iowa caucuses. It was harder to imagine Romney winning Iowa and looking weaker at the same time.
And yet, that seems to be a fairly reasonable assessment of the race for the Republican presidential nomination this morning….
….. there’s not much for Romney to boast about here. After five years of near-constant campaigning, Romney managed to get fewer votes in Iowa last night than he did in his first campaign. He also picked up the dubious honor of the weakest win in the history of the caucuses – no victor has ever managed to finish first with less than 25% of the vote until last night.
After spending nearly $4.7 million, most of it towards the very end of the contest, these are not results Romney should be proud of.