Newt Gingrich caught off-guard at AIPAC

at 05:41 PM ET, 03/06/2012

Newt got sleepy, Donald Payne’s seat will probably stay empty, Lisa Murkowski has regrets and the Club for Growth is backing a Nebraska underdog.

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WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

* Former House speaker Newt Gingrich was caught napping (or at least, resting his eyes) at the start of his livestreamed remarks to the American Israel Political Action Conference. He also mistakenly announced that “I understand you have a panel. I look forward to any questions.” Twelve seconds of silence followed before an AIPAC staffer explained that Gingrich was supposed to give a speech, not answer questions. (He quickly recovered.)

* Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.), the first African-American elected to Congress from his state, has passed away after a battle with colon cancer. He was 77. Gov. Chris Christie (R) will set a special election date for his seat; Garden State history suggests it will remain vacant until the November general election.

* Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) will be the special guest of Hawaii Senate candidate Linda Lingle at a fundraiser tonight — just a few days after his controversial health-care amendment died in the Senate. Meanwhile, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) says she regrets voting for the measure, which would have allowed employers to refuse to fund health-care expenses for moral reasons.

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:

* Advertisers are continuing to cut ties with radio host Rush Limbaugh over his attacks on a Georgetown law student who advocated for birth control coverage at a Capitol Hill panel. President Obama declined to comment on pressure campaigns against Limbaugh sponsors today, saying “I'm not going to comment on either the economics or the politics of it.”

* The Club for Growth has endorsed Nebraska Treasurer Don Stenberg in the state’s March 15 GOP Senate primary over Attorney General Jon Bruning — joining Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) in snubbing the frontrunner. Internal Bruning polling out today shows him leading Stenberg in the primary 52 percent to 19 percent.

* Democratic National Committee executive director Patrick Gaspard knocked Romney in a memo today, pointing to a Monday NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showing the former Massachusetts governor as increasingly unpopular. “It’s very bad news for Mitt Romney, whose standing among voters is now worse than virtually all other recent presidential candidates who went on to capture their party’s nomination,” he wrote.

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