You can watch Willard’s speech in the PACKED stadium here (12:0 ET)
Watch how those 65,000 people can barely control their excitement in anticipation of Willard’s arrival:
And watch how they erupt when he appears – Mitt Mania!
Freep.com: It won’t be hard to fit 1,200 members of the Detroit Economic Club into 65,000-seat Ford Field for today’s speech by GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
What will be hard is making it look like Romney isn’t speaking to a nearly empty stadium.
The Romney campaign and the Economic Club think they’ve solved the problem. The guests will be seated at one end of the playing surface, roughly between the end zone and the 30-yard line, while Romney will speak from a stage in front of them.
Comedian Bill Maher announced last night that he will donate one million dollars to President Obama’s re-election campaign. At the end of his groundbreaking comedy special, “CrazyStupidPolitics: Live from Silicon Valley,” which streamed live on Yahoo!, Bill brought out a check, making a personal donation of one million dollars to Obama’s Super PAC, Priorities USA Action. He explained that having a country governed by Barack Obama rather than any of the Republican candidates is “worth a million dollars” and that in his own financial interests, “this is the wisest investment I think I could make.” He also encouraged other wealthy liberals to do the same and give until it hurts.
Washington Post (Editorial): Run to the extreme in the primary, move to the center in the fall: That’s expected. But moving from the cartoon world the Republican presidential candidates have constructed back into three dimensions might prove more difficult.
In their debate Wednesday night, the remaining candidates seemed to be continuing their drift from reality – the reality of a center-right electorate they propose to woo and govern, and of the complexities of the problems they promise to solve.
…. From his perch of thorough hypocrisy – Paul is a master earmarker who preserves his purity by voting against appropriations bills he knows will pass – the Texas congressman declared: “I don’t accept that form of government.”
And, of Santorum, “He is a fake.” No, what’s fake is the two-dimensional canvas they’re presenting to voters.
TPM: Mitt Romney’s got a problem. Purple Strategies released their “Purple Poll” on Thursday, data from twelve swing states … “His favorable ratings are just atrocious,” Doug Usher, a managing partner at Purple Strategies said. “You can’t be sitting on 27 percent favorability in the general,” the level Romney is at in their new numbers.
“The best thing that Mitt Romney could actually do is actually run a campaign that said something,” Bruce Haynes, one of the founding partners of Purples Strategies and a veteran of GOP campaigns, told TPM. “It’s a Seinfeld campaign. It’s a campaign about nothing….”
Robert Shrum: Mitt Romney is pandering so desperately to the far-right fringe that he’s become all but unelectable in November …. As he demonstrated in this debate, he’s so desperate to pander his way to the nomination that he’s making it increasingly worthless.
This may do for the primary – it may be essential – but it’s a disaster in the making for the fall campaign. Romney’s cynical hope has to be that his shape-shifting will convince voters he doesn’t really mean this stuff. He can pray that his character weakness is his saving grace – that his reputation for lying about his beliefs will pull him back from the edge of a gender gap that will otherwise pose an unbridgeable barrier to the White House. The longer the primaries drag on, and the more he has to profess his hostility to women’s rights, the less likely it is that he can ever convince the majority who are women to take a chance on him.
…. From Oklahoma to Ohio, which both vote on March 6, and then onto Wisconsin and across the Midwest, Romney is well behind Santorum in the polls. He will have to keep pandering – and above all, right now, he has to win Michigan.
In the Arizona debate, he may have staunched his bleeding in the primaries, but he opened his veins for November.
Martin Bashir: “Newt Gingrich said he’s going to take oil prices down to $2 or $2.50 – the only thing that Newt Gingrich is very skilled at doing is taking his underpants down in the form of the number of adulteries that this man commits.”
Steve Rattner (NYT): …. As a presidential aspirant, Mr. Romney evidently hasn’t felt a need to be consistent or specific as to what should have been done to address the collapse of the auto industry starting in late 2008. But the gist is that the government should have stayed on the sidelines and allowed the companies to go through what he calls “managed bankruptcies,” financed by private capital.
That sounds like a wonderfully sensible approach – except that it’s utter fantasy. In late 2008 and early 2009, when G.M. and Chrysler had exhausted their liquidity, every scrap of private capital had fled to the sidelines.
I know this because the administration’s auto task force, for which I was the lead adviser, spoke diligently to all conceivable providers of funds, and not one had the slightest interest in financing those companies on any terms. If Mr. Romney disagrees, he should come forward with specific names of willing investors in place of empty rhetoric. I predict that he won’t be able to, because there aren’t any.
A source tells National Confidential that 26 American cars will be arranged by the United Auto Workers to echo Mitt Romney’s infamous “let Detroit go bankrupt” op-ed when he visits Ford Field on Friday. The cars will be on top of a parking garage right across from Ford Field where Romney will be giving a speech to the Detroit Economic Club.
People reach out to grasp hands with President Obama after he spoke at the University of Miami, February 23
Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla
First Lady Michelle Obama views The Slave Pen exhibit while touring the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, Feb. 23. Pictured, from left, are: Dina Bailey, Associate Curator of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center; Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory; Verna Williams; and Allison Singleton. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
11:15 AM: PBO attends the Democratic Governors’ Association meeting.
3:00 PM: PBO holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark.
Greg Sargent: It’s becoming clearer and clearer that the auto bailout will be central to Campaign 2012’s argument over government and the economy, and Pew Research releases some striking numbers….
The latest national survey …finds that 56% say the loans the government made to GM and Chrysler were mostly good for the economy, while 38% say the loans to the automakers were mostly bad for the economy.
Opinion about the auto loans has reversed since October 2009. At that time, just 37% said the loans were mostly good for the economy while 54% expressed negative views…..
…. independents think the auto bailout was good for the economy by a wide margin, 54-40. Even moderate/liberal Republicans agree, 57-39. And Pew tells me that non-college-degree whites – a key swing constituency that will be pivotal in the Rust Belt states – also agree, 51-40.
ThinkProgress: Earlier this month, the nation was barraged with media coverage of the Catholic Bishops’ opposition to regulations promulgated under the Affordable Care Act protecting working women’s access to contraception. The loudness of the bishops’ complaints …. easily could have conveyed the misimpression that churches and other religious groups are at odds with the Affordable Care Act.
On Friday, however, a broad coalition of religious organizations filed an amicus brief supporting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion that should give the lie to any claim that the faith community opposes the ACA …. the brief’s signatories include a wide range of Catholic groups….
ThinkProgress: As further proof that conservative efforts to paint President Obama as the enemy of religion are a red herring, nearly two dozen leading Catholic nuns filed a brief in the Supreme Court last week supporting the president’s signature legislative accomplishment. The Catholic sisters who joined the brief include the leaders of many prominent religious orders providing health care and other services to the needy…
Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, despite occasional setbacks, and most analysts expected this morning’s report to show a modest uptick in filings.
The good news is, that didn’t happen. In fact, initial jobless claims reached a four-year low last week, and the new totals were unchanged this week.
Greg Sargent: At yesterday’s debate, Mitt Romney and the other candidates went all in on birth control – sorry, “religious liberty” – in blasting President Obama over the contraception controversy…. But some new polling out this morning from Quinnipiac illustrates the risk Republicans are taking with this latest reprise of the culture wars:
President Obama recently announced an adjustment to the administration’s health-care rule regarding religiously affiliated employers providing birth control coverage to female employees. Women will still be guaranteed coverage for birth control without any out-of-pocket cost, but will have to seek the coverage directly from their insurance companies if their employers object to birth control on religious grounds. Do you approve or disapprove of President Obama’s decision?
Steve Benen: …… Romney added that Obama is “requiring the Catholic Church to provide for its employees and its various enterprises health care insurance that would include birth control, sterilization and the morning-after pill. Unbelievable.”
It is, in fact, literally “unbelievable,” since that’s not at all what the administration is doing.
It was painful enough to have so much of the debate focus on opposition to birth control, but Romney’s dishonesty managed to make a mind-numbing discussion even worse.
Ronald Brownstein (National Journal): ….. Some of Romney’s answers could come back to haunt him, not in the primary but in a general election, if he gets that far.
At a time when some Republicans are already concerned that he has narrowed his potential support among Latinos with an unflinching embrace of conservative positions on immigration (like “self-deportation”), Romney doubled down by insisting that on “day one” as president he would drop the federal legal challenge to Arizona’s tough state statute against illegal immigration.
And on the same day that an NBC/Marist poll already showed Romney trailing President Obama by 18 percentage points in Michigan, a state Republicans once hoped to contest this fall, Romney likewise doubled down on his criticism of the auto rescue engineered by Bush and Obama – and sprinkled in some especially sharp rhetoric against the United Auto Workers union for good measure.
E.J. Dionne: They say that President Obama is a Muslim, but if he isn’t, he’s a secularist who is waging war on religion. On some days he’s a Nazi, but on most others he’s merely a socialist….
Whatever our president is, he is never allowed to be a garden-variety American who plays basketball and golf, has a remarkably old-fashioned family life and, in the manner we regularly recommend to our kids, got ahead by getting a good education.
Please forgive this outburst. It’s simply astonishing that a man in his fourth year as our president continues to be the object of the most extraordinary paranoid fantasies … And now that the economy is improving, short-circuiting easy criticisms, Obama’s adversaries are reheating all the old tropes and cliches and slanders.
….. As for Obama as a socialist, ponder two numbers: 13,005, which the Dow Jones average hit this week, up from a low point of 6,547 in March 2009. Some socialist.
We are blessed with the freedom to say whatever we want about our president. But those who cast Obama as something other than one of us don’t understand him and don’t understand what it means to be American.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk in the Green Room of the White House before hosting a Smithsonian Museum of African American History reception in the East Room, Feb. 22, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama listens during the groundbreaking ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, February 22
LA Times: Sales of previously owned homes rose 4.3% in January and inventories fell to nearly seven-year lows as lower prices, unusually warm weather and an improving economy lifted demand.
….. January sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million …. Sales rose in all four major regions, including an 8.8% pop in the West.
Job creation, mild weather, rising rents and increased household formation contributed to the sales gains, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the Realtors group. “Things are genuinely improving,” Yun said.