NY-26 is heating up, Rick Santorum isn’t buying Mitt Romney’s speech, Mike Huckabee is endorsing Mike Haridopolos and American Solutions is going on without Newt Gingrich.

Make sure to sign up to get “Afternoon Fix” in your e-mail inbox every day by 5 (ish) p.m.!


Mitt Romney’s authenticity appeal on health care

What we already know about Mitt Romney’s health care speech

Who is Jack Davis?

Five Republican Senators to watch in Obama debt meeting


* The National Republican Congressional Committee is making an initial buy in the New York 26th congressional district race, which could be augmented as the May 24 special election approaches. $260,260 will go into ads in Rochester and Buffalo; another $4,136 will to cable spots on Fox. That matches the $250,000 ad buy national Democrats put into this race yesterday. The GOP ads start Monday.

* The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is already out with its NY-26 special election ad. The group ties Republican Jane Corwin to ‘Tea Party’ candidate Jack Davis (who, as we explained today, doesn’t readily fit into any political box. The ad hits Corwin for supporting the end of Medicare as an entitlement program (an issue Democrats hope is resonating in this senior-heavy district) and tries to lump her in with Davis, who is pulling votes from both major party candidates.

* Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) plans to launch his presidential bid on Friday, aides tell the AP. The libertarian-minded congressman is expected to make his announcement from New Hampshire. He raised over $1 million in advance of the May 5 presidential debate — but he raised lots of money in the 2008 election and wasn’t able to translate that fundraising prowess into votes.

* Newt Inc. (the network of political and fundraising enterprises built by Newt Gingrich) is going on without Gingrich himself. American Solutions, the lead organization in that world, will continue under the leadership of CEO Joseph Gaylord. That means that Gaylord, a long-time political consultant to the former House speaker, won’t be involved in the presidential campaign. “Because I believe so strongly in the mission of American Solutions, and want to continue our work as one of the leading grassroots organizations on the center-right, I have decided to remain as its CEO,” Gaylord said in a statement.


* The Senate Ethics Committee declared today that it has “substantial and credible evidence” that former senator John Ensign broke federal laws in his effort to cover up an extramarital affair with an aide, referring the case to the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission. The Nevada Republican chose to resign this month rather than face questioning under oath by the committee; Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said today that he might have been expelled had he stayed.

* Amy Klobuchar might have a new challenger soon -- state Sen. Dave Thompson (R) is considering challenging the Minnesota Democratic senator in 2012. A former radio host and current assistant majority leader, Thompson would likely need a Republican wave even larger than last year’s to defeat Klobuchar, who is well-liked and widely considered safe.

* As expected, Mitt Romney refused to apologize in a speech today for signing a universal health-care in Massachusetts. Former Pennsylvania senator (and likely 2012 rival) Rick Santorum was quick to hit back, saying in a statement that the Massachusetts law showed “a lack of foresight on Governor Romney’s part to understand the implications of his policy proposals.”

* Mike H.’s stick together. Florida Senate Majority Leader Mike Haridopolos (R) got a high-profile supporter for his Senate campaign today — Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor announced in a web video that Haridopolos has “a tremendous record of conservative leadership in Florida.” Haridopolos was an early Huckabee backer in the 2008 presidential campaign. It’s a piece of good news for the Florida Republican after last weekend’s messy, dramatic legislative fight.

* Cheri Daniels, wife of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, is speaking at tonight’s Indiana Republican Party spring dinner. Whether or not his wife feels comfortable getting into the spotlight of a presidential campaign is considered a major factor in Daniels’ 2012 decision. So observers will we be watching carefully for any sign of her thinking. Us included -- we’ll be covering the event, scheduled to begin at 6:30 P.M., live for The Fix.


For Sarah Palin:

With Rachel Weiner