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Teixeira on Hispanic Vote

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Roy Teixeira has an article up today at TNR that focuses on the critical importance of the Hispanic vote in the upcoming presidential race. Although President Obama has not delivered anything like a real push for comprehensive immigration reform, and has exceeded previous administrations in the number of deportations, the GOP nominating contest has dragged that party into the far-reaches of the "deport 'em all" approach to immigration associated previously with such outliers at Tom Tancredo. Mitt Romney is especially virulent in his anti-immigration stance, using that as the one issue on which he can try to outflank Gingrich and Santorum from the right.

If Latinos in New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado back Obama and carry those states, getting to 270 electoral votes becomes much, mcuh easier for Obama and much, much more complicated for the republican nominee, whoever it is.

On To Florida

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Newt Gingrich did not defeat Mitt Romney on Saturday. He thumped him. Gingrich won in all but three counties in the Palmetto State, and won every age and income demographic with one exception. Mr. Romney won among those who make more than $200,000 per annum. The 1% stood by their own.

The size of Gingrich’s victory was startling and it was principally the result of a single fact, one unlikely to repeat itself: Gingrich had a great week last week and Romney had a dreadful week. If they had both had good weeks, or more likely, both had so-so weeks, the margin would have been tighter. But, going forward, it is vital that both campaigns focus in particular on why Newt’s week was so good and why Mitt’s was so bad as they craft their strategy for the rest of the race.

UPDATED: White House refuses to expand conscience exemption

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UPDATE: This article now includes the statement from the USCCB on the HHS decision.

To say that news of the decision by President Obama not to expand the conscience exemption for church-affiliated institutions who do not wish to cover birth control is a disaster would be a gross understatement. I'll explain my thoughts on the subject in a subsequent post.

But one sentence in the statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stands out: “The administration remains fully committed to its partnerships with faith-based organizations, which promote healthy communities and serve the common good.”

RC Leaders Challenge Gingrich & Santorum

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An illustrious collection of Catholic leaders has signed an open letter to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Senator Rick Santorum, asking them to refrain from racial stereotyping and other demeaning comments as they seek the GOP nod for the presidency. The signatories remind the candidates that racism is an "intrinsic evil."

Hope is a Christian virtue and a splendid thing, and hoping that GOP candidates will refrain from dog whistling about race in the midst of a South Carolina primary shows that hope can spring eternal, even when the likelihood of it attaining fruition is slim indeed.

Yesterday's Three Ring (or was it four) Circus

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What a day! If you are a political junkie like me, yesterday will be tough to top. From the pre-dawn news from Des Moines that Mr. Romney actually did not win the Iowa caucuses, to the interview with Gingrich’s ex-wife, to the news that Perry was dropping out of the race and endorsing Gingrich, to the fireworks in last night’s debate, it was difficult to stay on top of the news. As I went to bed last night, I thought – how am I going to digest all this in the morning for the blog? I thought a good night’s sleep would help but such an agitated day produced an agitated sleep and I awoke at 3 a.m. and tossed and turned for a couple of hours before resigning myself to the fact that I was not going to be able to go back to sleep.

Forests & Trees

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The homepage at Politico has several commentaries of Rick Perry's decision to quit the race and even more on one of Newt Gingrich's ex-wives' interview with ABC, but not a single item on the most important news of the day: The number of new jobless claims fell again last week to the lowest level since April 2008.

And, as Jonathan Cohn notes over at TNR, the unemployment rate in Michigan dropped to its lowest rate since September 2008. To be sure, at 9.3%, Michigan's jobless rate is still too high. But if the unemployment rate in key swing states, and nationally, continues to move in the right direction, the GOP will have a hard time arguing that President Obama's policies have failed. In Michigan, where Obama's decision to bailout the auto industry played a big role in stabilizing the economy, a decision Mitt Romney opposed, the case will be well nigh to impossible to make.

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