* Mitt Romney’s central jobs claims revealed to be bogus: Finally! The Romney campaign has now been pressed to justify the central claims he’s been making about jobs and the economy. As I’ve noted here, Romney has been saying over 100,000 jobs were created on his watch at Bain Capital — an assertion that’s never been proven -- while arguing that jobs were destroyed on Obama’s watch, proof that Romney is the superior candidate on jobs.

And guess what: Romney’s argument has now been revealed to be thoroughly bogus.

Post writer Glenn Kesler pressed Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom to justify the 100,000 jobs assertion, and he offers this:

Fehrnstrom says the 100,000 figure stems from the growth in jobs from three companies that Romney helped to start or grow while at Bain Capital: Staples (a gain of 89,000 jobs), The Sports Authority (15,000 jobs), and Domino’s (7,900 jobs).

This tally obviously does not include job losses from other companies with which Bain Capital was involved — and are based on current employment figures, not the period when Romney worked at Bain.

Got that? Romney is only counting jobs gained at companies restructured at Bain during and after his years there — and is not factoring in jobs lost — in claiming he created over 100,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, as the Romney camp concedes to Kessler, in making the claim Obama is a job destroyer, Romney is factoring in the jobs that were lost during Obama’s presidency — before Obama’s policies went into effect. In other words, Romney is calculating a “net” number for Obama, and isn’t calculating a net number for himself. Just wow. As the charts drawn up by Steve Benen and Paul Krugman show, if you apply to Obama the metric Romney is applying to himself, around 2.3 million jobs were created on Obama’s watch.

While there’s no denying that Obama’s policies haven’t created jobs as fast as we would like, it’s obvious that Romney’s “net” Obama job loss claim is itself silly. That’s because he’s pointing to it as proof that Obama’s policies failed — even though hundreds of thousands of the jobs lost predated the stimulus kicking in. But more broadly, it’s now beyond doubt that the overall comparison Romney continues to draw between the two records is just laughably dishonest. Here’s hoping media outlets will point this out the next 100 times Romney makes these claims.

* Iowa results contain good and bad news for Romney: With Romney appearing to edge Rick Santorum by a mere eight votes, there are two main takeaways. The good news for Romney is that it winnowed out the two main rivals with the best long-term chance to defeat him. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. Newt is vowing to revamp his campaign, but he now seems like a long-shot at best, and it seems Perry is likely to drop out.

The bad news is that Romney has still proven unable to pull in more than roughly one-quarter of the vote. The Associated Press’s Charles Babington boils it down this way:

It’s easy to argue his showing was unimpressive... That’s precisely the lackluster level he has pulled month after month, in poll after poll of Republicans.

It’s also the same percentage Romney got when he finished a deeply disappointing second in the 2008 Iowa caucus. Campaign veterans say Romney must find a way to excite more conservatives if he is to beat President Barack Obama in November.

Or, as Paul Begala tweeted: “In 08 Romney got 30,021 votes. Last night he got 30,015. Mitt & his SuperPAC spent $4 mill to lose 6 votes.”

* Ideological divide remains within GOP: As Jim Rutenberg notes, the primary meaning of last night’s results is that conservatives still aren’t prepared to consent to Romney as their nominee, because they are hoping for a standard-bearer who will mount a genuine ideological showdown with Obama over the country’s direction.

* The limits of Romney’s electability argument: Don’t miss Philip Rucker’s look at how last night’s results revealed Romney’s inability to offset conservative skepticism with his electability argument and his failure to expand among key GOP constituencies.

* It’s Romney versus Santorum: The key question is whether Santorum’s strong showing last night among born again Christians and social conservatives can translate to success in states like South Carolina, and whether Santorum can broaden his message to compete with Romney on electability and on the economy.

It’s worth noting, though, that Santorum is suddenly about to face far more intense scrutiny — and that every other non-Romney has collapsed once it kicked in.

* The Santorum surge is real: John Dickerson on why Santorum was the big winner last night, and the growing pains his campaign will now face.

* The changing Republican party: Smart stuff from E.J. Dionne on how last night’s results revealed another hurdle for Romney: “the split in the Republican Party is no longer between conservatives and moderates, but between members of the party who are very conservative and those who are only somewhat conservative.”

The key question is whether Santorum can peel off the “somewhat” conservative voters who are inclined towards Romney and unite the party’s right flank.

* The Gingrich factor remains real: As Josh Marshall notes, even if he is now a long shot, Gingrich seems to have settled on a new goal, one that can’t be dismissed as a factor, given his formidable debating skills: Kill Romney’s candidacy.

* Will Obama appoint Richard Cordray today? Liberals continue pressure Obama to appoint Cordray as top consumer cop by recess appointment, which would pick a high profile fight with Republicans and possibly swing the spotlight back towards Obama’s continuing push for the middle class, even as the GOP candidates hurl insults at each others.

Meanwhile, White House lawyers have concluded they have the legal means to appoint him, another sign it could happen during Obama’s speech in Ohio, where Cordray was Attorney General.

* We won’t have Michele Bachmann to kick around anymore: Millions of Americans shed hot tears as Bachmann cancels her trip to South Carolina and prepares for a press conference where she’s likely to drop out.

* And the question of the day: Andrew Sullivan, refering to Romney’s ongoing insinuations about Obama’s commitment and intentions towards America, asks:

Why has it not been more noticed that Romney has been the crudest, nastiest McCarthyite in this race so far?

Because media figures continues to politely look the other way without reckoning with just how monumental and ubiquitous Romney’s Big Lies have become.

What else is happening?