A political tip sheet for the rest of us outside the Washington Beltway, for Monday, Feb. 20, 2012:
PAUL'S DELEGATE MATH: Ron Paul may not win the Republican presidential nomination; he hasn't won a single state. But his strategy of trying to collect delegates in caucus states could land him a prominent role at the party's summer convention. Republican insiders may have little choice but to placate Paul's supporters to keep them from becoming a distraction at an event designed to show a party united behind its nominee. Paul's campaign manager, John Tate, told The Associated Press in an interview that, while winning the nomination is still the ultimate goal, a secondary aim is to ensure that Paul's views are represented at the convention and in the party's platform. "We want to make sure that the Republican Party understands that we are a major part of the Republican Party," Tate said. "We're not to be overlooked. We're not to be taken for granted."
FUNDRAISING: Mitt Romney raised $6.5 million last month for his presidential bid. Romney's campaign said Monday the former Massachusetts governor also had $7.7 million cash on and. The campaign says that since announcing his presidential bid in June, Romney has raised almost $64 million. Romney is far ahead of his GOP rivals in fundraising. A "super" political action committee supporting Romney doubled its average fundraising haul last month, drawing upon repeat donations from wealthy business executives. A super PAC backing Newt Gingrich raised more than $11 million last month. Nearly all of the cash came from Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. President Barack Obama plans to raise money in Florida this week, including a $30,000 a person event at the Windermere home of Dallas Mavericks guard Vince Carter. The president also will promote his economic agenda in a speech at the University of Miami.
NEWT $2 A GALLON GAS: Newt Gingrich is dangling the prospect of gas as low as $2 a gallon if he's elected. The former House speaker has spoken in the past of gasoline dropping to $2.50 a gallon under a Gingrich administration. Monday's prediction, coming as Gingrich campaigned in Oklahoma, contrasts sharply with rival Rick Santorum, who told an Ohio audience that big-city Americans should brace themselves for $5-a-gallon gas. Both candidates are citing new sensitivity over rising pump prices to push for relaxed regulations on domestic oil production. According to AAA's daily fuel gauge, the national average Monday for a gallon of regular gas was $3.56.
SANTORUM'S PROMISES: Rick Santorum promised Monday to revive manufacturing, cut taxes and shrink government, pledges that drew loud applause from conservative Michigan voters who said he was more in line with their values than native son and GOP rival Mitt Romney. Santorum's growing connection with Michigan conservatives risks embarrassing Romney in his native state. Romney was counting on a strong finish in Michigan's presidential primary on Feb. 28 to carry him into the big, multistate round of voting a week later on Super Tuesday. But Santorum, fueled by a recent trio of victories and sensing an opportunity to upset or at least bloody Romney with a strong primary finish of his own, is charging hard at a state that he says shares many of the same characteristics as his blue-collar state of Pennsylvania. Santorum pledged Monday that, under his administration of less government and more individual freedom, "manufacturing jobs will come back here to Muskegon."
_ Romney: Don Nickles, former U.S. senator from Oklahoma.
_ Santorum: Susan B. Anthony List, a national anti-abortion organization.
_ Gingrich: Barbara Cubin, former Wyoming congresswoman.
_ Gingrich: Bill Jones, former California secretary of state.
The latest delegate totals, according to an Associated Press count. It takes 1,144 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.
_ Romney: 123
_ Santorum: 72
_ Gingrich: 32
_ Paul: 19
The race to win Michigan's GOP presidential primary is shaping up to be a tight contest, according to a survey of 500 likely Michigan GOP primary voters conducted Feb. 11-13 by Glengariff Group Inc. for The Detroit News and two local TV stations. The 4 percentage point difference between Santorum and Romney falls within the survey's margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
_ Santorum: 34 percent.
_ Romney: 30 percent.
_ Gingrich: 12 percent.
_ Paul: 9 percent.
_ Undecided: 12 percent.
IN THEIR WORDS
_ "I don't change like a well-oiled weather vane. You may not agree with me, but you know where I'm going to stand." _ Santorum, on Romney.
_ "With Gingrich policies, what we know is we will dramatically expand our independence in the world market, dramatically expand our capacity to produce energy without regard to our foreign potential enemies and in the process prices will clearly be a lot lower. Now, I picked $2.50 as a stabilizing price for capital investment reasons. It could easily go down to $2." _ Newt Gingrich on the price at the gas pump.
_ "One of the people I'm running against, Sen. Santorum, goes to Washington and calls himself a budget hawk. Then after he's been there awhile says he's no longer a budget hawk. Well I am a budget hawk." _ Romney on Santorum.