A political tip sheet for the rest of us outside the Washington Beltway, for Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012:
GOP CAMPAIGN: Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney sparred over immigration in separate interviews with Univision, the Spanish-language television network, as they continue to campaign ahead of Florida's primary next week. Gingrich ridiculed Romney's call for self-deportation as an unworkable, "Obama-level fantasy" that would harm immigrant families with deep roots in the U.S. Romney charged Gingrich with pandering and pointed out that Gingrich himself supported self-deportation in the past. Romney said he favors immigrants deciding on their own to return home rather than having the federal government round them up and ship them out of the U.S.
OBAMA HITS THE ROAD: With a spring in his step, President Barack Obama hit the road for three days of travel to politically important states to amplify spread major themes from the State of the Union speech he delivered the night before. The swagger in his stride came from polls showing a slight uptick in his job approval ratings. Also, the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden pulled off a daring rescue that Obama authorized to rescue an ailing American woman being held hostage in Somalia. Obama returns to the White House on Friday after stops in Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan. He won four of those states in 2008 and is eyeing them all, including Arizona and its burgeoning Hispanic population, in this go-around.
SHE'S COMING BACK: Three weeks after dropping out of the GOP race, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has announced a comeback. She disclosed her plans to seek a fourth term in Congress during an interview with The Associated Press. Her decision ended speculation that she might be ready to leave the House and perhaps leverage her higher profile and popularity among some conservatives into a career in talk media. Bachmann garnered early momentum in the race for the Republican presidential nomination after winning the Iowa straw poll last summer, but she couldn't sustain it and quickly faded. She left the race after a last-place finish in the Iowa caucuses earlier this month.
CASTRO COMMENTS: Days after Gingrich and Romney debated his fate, Cuban leader Fidel Castro spoke up and called the GOP race the greatest competition of "idiocy and ignorance" the world has ever seen. Castro commented in an opinion piece carried by official media two days after a Republican debate Monday in Florida. Gingrich and Romney presented hardline stances on what to do about the communist-run island and even speculated about whether the 85-year-old revolutionary leader's soul will go to heaven or hell when he dies. Cuba has become an important issue as the candidates court Florida's influential Cuban-American population. Castro said he always assumed the candidates would try to outdo each other on the Cuba issue, but that he was nonetheless appalled by the level of debate.
_ 13: Percent of registered Florida voters who are Hispanic.
_ 31: Date of the Republican presidential primary in Florida.
WHAT DID THEY SAY?:
_ "You have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatically $20 million income for no work to have some fantasy this far from reality." _ Gingrich, on Romney's immigration stance while alluding to certain details in tax returns Romney made public this week.
_ "It's between 150 and 200-and-some-odd million dollars." _ Romney, describing his net worth.
_ "This race is just starting. It's a three-man race. We're going to be in this race for the long term." _ Santorum, suggesting Florida won't end his campaign.
_ "Our economy is getting stronger, and we've come too far to turn back now." _ Obama, to manufacturers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
_ "I'm looking forward to coming back and bringing a strong, powerful voice to Washington, D.C." _ Bachmann, telling The Associated Press of her plans to seek a fourth term in the House.
_ "The selection of a Republican candidate for the presidency of this globalized and expansive empire is _ and I mean this seriously _ the greatest competition of idiocy and ignorance that has ever been." _ Castro.