Afternoon Fix: Romney announces debate plans

at 06:04 PM ET, 06/21/2011

Mitt Romney is skipping the next debate, Lynn Woolsey might be retiring, Tim Pawlenty is buying time in Iowa and Gabrielle Giffords is writing a memoir.

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WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

* Mitt Romney has announced the debates he will appear at through October. The former Massachusetts governor will participate in six debates: a Fox News/Washington Examiner debate in Iowa on August 11, an NBC/Politico debate in California on September 7, a CNN/Tea Party Express debate in Tampa on September 12, a Fox News debate in Orlando on September 22, a Washington Post/Bloomberg in New Hampshire on October 11 and a CNN debate in Las Vegas on October 18. That means Romney will not attend the upcoming July 10 debate in Las Vegas, sponsored by the Daily Caller and Americans for Tax Reform. It’s expected that the other, lesser-known presidential candidates will attend all of the scheduled debates.

* Liberal Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) is set to retire, the Press-Democrat reports. The ten-term-lawmaker, who first suggested that she might retire back in December, is scheduled to make an announcement on her plans next Monday. Woolsey, 74, was first elected in 1992 and is most famous for her passionate opposition to the war in Iraq. Her district — California’s 6th, in the San Francisco area — is overwhelmingly Democratic. Though redistricting might completely reshape her seat, Democrats are already lining up to replace Woolsey in the House. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom might be one of them.

* Remember Jeff Greene, the 2010 Florida Senate candidate best known for being friends with Mike Tyson and owning a yacht? Well, now you can own that (allegedly coral-reef-destroying) yacht. The billionaire Democrat is selling his boat for $7.9 million. He says he barely uses the 145-foot Summerwind since becoming a father.

* Rick Santorum is taking on Jon Huntsman already, welcoming his 2012 rival to the race with a web ad that parodies the former Utah governor’s own videos. The ad hits Huntsman for not signing an anti-abortion pledge from the group Susan B. Anthony List, featuring a man on a motorcycle riding through the desert. The ad seems even harsher given that SBA had not actually sent the pledge to Huntsman, who just entered the race today. Obviously, Santorum will do everything he can to capi­tal­ize on this pledge as a way to win over social conservatives.

* A top aide to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has resigned — Mary Anne Carter, a Tennessee political operative who the St. Petersburg Times just profiled as Scott’s “most influential staffer.” Scott also just reassigned his chief of staff, Mike Prendergast, to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Prendergast, who spent 31 years in the military, will be replaced by Steve MacNamara, the current chief of staff to state Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:

* Tim Pawlenty is the first candidate to make a major ad buy in Iowa. The former Minnesota governor has bought about $50,000 worth of time on Fox News in the Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Omaha, Ottumwa, Rochester, and Sioux City media markets. The ads will air from June 23rd through July 3rd. "Governor Pawlenty is well positioned to unite conservatives and do well in both Iowa and New Hampshire,” said spokesman Alex Conant. “The soon-to-be-unveiled TV ads will introduce the Governor to Iowans about why he is the candidate with the strongest record and best results, not rhetoric." Meanwhile, Des Moines Register columnist Kathie Obradovich is pushing back on the idea that mainstream Republicans can’t compete in the state.

* Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and husband Mark Kelly are writing a memoir. Kelly, an astronaut, retired from NASA today to spend more time with his wife. The book will detail the couple’s lives both before and after the January 8th shooting that left Giffords severely wounded. She was released from a hospital in Texas last week. “There's certainly a lot there that hasn't been in the news,” Kelly told the Arizona Republic.

* The results of the Netroots Nation straw poll are out! A couple days late, but here it is, from well-known polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. President Obama gets an 80 percent approval rating (in spite of some high-profile grumbling at the conference itself), although its worth noting that only 27 percent strongly approve. An overwhelming 66 percent think job growth should be the president’s top priority. In 2012, they said they would most like to see Obama face former Alaska governor Sarah Palin — and least like him to face former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. The poll included 519 conference attendees out of about 2,500.

* Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s approval rating has been sliding in polls, suggesting the 77-year-old Democrat might have to fight for her seat next year. According to a new Field Poll, Feinstein has only a four-point edge as she prepares to campaign for a fourth term, polling 43 to 39 percent among registered California voters. Feinstein, who just turned 78, has been in the Senate since 1992. A March survey found similar numbers.

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