A political tip sheet for the rest of us outside the Washington Beltway, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012:
LIVE FROM THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY: Newt Gingrich gave "Saturday Night Live" easy fodder when he vowed to put an American colony on the moon by decade's end if he becomes president. A recent skit on the comedy show satirized "Newt Gingrich: Moon President" as it imagined the former House speaker presiding over the moon. Gingrich said Monday in Minnesota that his GOP rivals and late-night comics are off base for mocking his idea, which he described as a way to encourage innovation and scientific discovery. "I'm going to double down on my bet," he said. "Someday I want to see `Saturday Night Live' broadcast from the moon."
GLITTER WATCH: Minnesota has gained an odd reputation in the GOP presidential race: It's the state where candidates get glittered. Newt Gingrich got showered in May, then-candidate Michele Bachmann had some flung her way the next month and Mitt Romney got hit twice during a single stop this month. Ron Paul was a victim Monday night. All that could explain why Newt Gingrich's advisers and local police were keeping close tabs on a hotel rally in Bloomington. They were looking for a gay rights protester who has taken pride in surprising candidates with a glittery mix.
GINGRICH HIRED LOBBYISTS: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is facing more questions about lobbying. He says his consulting group never lobbied for clients. But his business hired state and federal lobbyists to work with clients, and some staff left to take lobbying jobs, according to lobbying disclosures and corporate reports. Gingrich's Center for Health Transformation hired a former Georgia lobbyist to help develop business in that state; a former Missouri state agency director who was a registered lobbyist before joining Gingrich's group; and a Washington lobbyist hired from a firm led by former Rep. J.C. Watts, a Gingrich supporter who represented Oklahoma in Congress.
HOEKSTRA SENATE AD RAISES IRE: A coalition of black ministers in Detroit called for Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra to apologize for his Super Bowl ad featuring a young Asian woman speaking broken English. The ad, which focuses on the impact of the Democrats' economic policies, also has been called "very disturbing" by an Asian-American group and others. The 30-second spot is aimed at Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow, whom it nicknames "Debbie Spenditnow." It opens with the sound of a gong and shows the Asian woman riding a bike on a narrow path lined by rice paddies. Stopping her bike, the woman smiles into the camera and says: "Debbie spends so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spenditnow." The Rev. Charles Williams II of Detroit's King Solomon Baptist church, where Malcolm X spoke in the 1960s, joined with several other Detroit pastors calling for Hoekstra to pull the ad. "The Asian woman speaking in this video would be no different than him having a black person speaking in slave dialect," Williams said in a statement. Hoekstra has defended the ad, saying it has sparked conversation about federal spending.
NEGATIVITY SELLS: Get used to negative ads, President Barack Obama says. During an interview with NBC's "Today" show, Obama said the rise of political action committees guarantees that there will be a lot of negative ads in the lead-up to November's presidential election. Obama says he would prefer to get the "big money" that funds the so-called super PACs out of politics. But he says court decisions authorizing the funding of super PACs means it's hard for a candidate to get their message across without using those resources. Obama wouldn't say whether his campaign or outside groups supporting him would avoid negative ads.
SANTORUM'S INDIANA BLUES: Santorum's campaign says it has found enough valid signatures to get him on Indiana's ballot. Santorum, who has shown no signs of quitting despite losses at the polls _ four in a row _ and in momentum, can't afford to be left out. He's already failed to qualify for Virginia's primary next month. A Santorum spokesman said the campaign found an additional 49 signatures it believes were wrongly deemed invalid by officials in Marion County, Ind. Statewide candidates must collect 500 valid signatures from each of the state's nine congressional districts to be placed on the ballot. The county elections board ruled last week that Santorum fell 24 signatures short in the 7th Congressional District. The 49 signatures would be enough to put the campaign just over the 500 needed. The campaign is waiting to hear whether the signatures will be accepted. Indiana votes May 8. Santorum's three rivals _ Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul _ have qualified to compete in the primary.
CAMPAIGN SECURITY: A suburban Denver sheriff says he's going to start asking political campaigns to pay up when roads have to be closed, traffic directed and deputies put on overtime. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson, a Republican, said he'll send Romney a bill for at least $5,000 for local security costs at a rally Romney was holding Monday night in Centennial, Colo. Robinson says he doesn't think it's appropriate for taxpayers to pay for a political campaign. But Grayson has been there, done that _ will little extra in the coffers to show for it. In 2010, he billed the Democratic and Republican U.S. Senate candidates for security. Neither paid. A Romney spokeswoman says Robinson's request is the first local security tab the campaign has encountered. She didn't say whether the bill would be paid. Robinson said a recent visit by President Barack Obama was an official appearance, not a campaign event, and that it would be "inappropriate" to bill the president for security.
DELEGATE TRACKER: Mitt Romney added to his lead in the race for delegates to the Republican National Convention this summer in Tampa, Fla., by winning Nevada's GOP caucuses on Saturday night.
The former Massachusetts governor now has more than 100 delegates, a more than 3-to-1 advantage over his nearest competitor.
It takes 1,144 delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination.
With Nevada's final tally of the votes in, the updated delegate totals are:
_ Romney: 101
_ Gingrich: 32
_ Santorum: 17
_ Paul: 9
Two candidates no longer in the race _ Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman _ each have two delegates.
THEY SAID IT
_"I think that Gov. Romney, on that vitally important issue of Obamacare, is in fact the weakest candidate we can put up." _ Santorum to reporters in Boulder, Colo.
_"We're warming up to Romney." _ Brian Walker, a tea party member and 62-year-old sheet metal contractor in Florissant, Colo.
_"I do not believe in this idea that you vote for the lesser of two evils. The lesser of two evils is still evil." _ said Erika Vadnais, 48, an engineer from Colorado Springs, Colo.