Mitt Romney is mocked by rivals for firing comment, the Club for Growth wants Gingrich to knock it off, Huntsman is gearing up for South Carolina and Scott Brown is riding high.
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EARLIER ON THE FIX:
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:
* Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney made a comment today that is sure to haunt him. Talking about being able to cut off health insurance companies that provide poor service, Romney said, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” John Weaver, senior strategist for former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, responded in a statement that “John Kerry's legacy lives on with Mitt Romney.” Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign went a step further — they’ve made the quote into a ringtone. The Romney campaign sent around a fact sheet clarifying that he was talking about firing health-insurance providers and the quote was taken out of context.
* A new Pew poll finds that Republican voters are still unenthusiastic about their options in 2012. Only 51 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say their candidates are excellent or good; 44 percent say they are fair or poor. In January 2008, 68 percent of Republicans said they had a good candidate roster.
* Gingrich has set up a new website attacking Romney’s “pious baloney.” The site features a video of Gingrich using the line during Sunday’s MSNBC debate after Romney claimed he was not a professional politician.
* The Club for Growth, which has been pretty critical of Romney, is defending the candidate against attacks from Gingrich on his Bain record. “Newt Gingrich’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital are disgusting,” aid Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a statement. “Attacking Governor Romney for participating in free-market capitalism is just beyond the pale.”
* Fergus Cullen, the former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, has endorsed Huntsman. The candidate’s intense focus on the Granite State appears to be finally paying off — he is steadily gaining in polls there over the past week.
WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:
* A super PAC supporting Romney has bought $2.3 million of airtime in South Carolina, the same day that a super PAC backing former House speaker Newt Gingrich announced a $3.4 million buy in the state. All signs point to a ugly showdown coming in the Palmetto state.
* Huntsman is buying air time in South Carolina starting tomorrow, Weaver told The Fix — a sign that the campaign is feeling good about New Hampshire and already looking to the next fight. A super PAC supporting Huntsman might also buy time in the state soon.
* Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) brought in $3.2 million in the last quarter of 2011, a typically impressive haul for the vulnerable freshman. Over the course of last year Brown raised just under $8.5 million raised, and he has approximately $12.8 million cash on hand. Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren (D) hasn’t released her numbers yet, but she’ll likely rake in a ton of cash.
* Former Euphora Mayor Henry Ross is challenging freshman Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) in the GOP primary for his 1st district seat. Ross battled Nunnelee in the primary in 2010 and lost by nearly 20 percent.
* Politics and Pints is tonight! Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep us from holding trivia tonight, so come on out. Capitol Lounge, 7 P.M., but get there early for prime seating.
THE FIX MIX:
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With Rachel Weiner and Aaron Blake