Karl Rove is bullish on Obama, Paul Ryan says Catholics can disagree, FreedomWorks endorses against Hatch and Newt Gingrich will “go bye-bye.”

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* Karl Rove is out with his first analysis of the 2012 electoral map. He’s pretty optimistic about President Obama’s chances, giving the incumbent a solid lead in 18 states and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney a solid lead in only 15. Interestingly, he has South Carolina, a state Obama lost by nine points in 2008, listed as a “toss-up.” Lest you think he’s just revving up Republicans, Rove was pretty accurate in 2008. But he’s also going to update his map as we get closer to the actual election.

* House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) responded to Catholic critics today at Georgetown University. Dozens of Catholic faculty members sent Ryan a letter chiding him for defending a budget plan that gives tax breaks to the rich while cutting programs for the poor. Ryan hit back at  “Catholics who for a long time have thought they had a monopoly of sorts, not exactly on heaven, but on the social teaching of our Church.”

* Vice President Joe Biden vigorously defended Obama’s record in a speech at New York University Law School today, telling students, “If you’re looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it’s pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” Biden attacked Romney as a flip-flopper stuck in a Cold War mentality.

* A former member of the National Labor Relations Board stopped advising Romney late last year, the candidate’s campaign said. Peter Schaumber is accused of getting confidential information from Terence Flynn, a current Republican NLRB member. He was advising Romney on labor issues.


* FreedomWorks has endorsed Utah former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist in the Republican primary against Sen. Orrin Hatch. Is that good for Liljenquist? In the run-up to Utah’s GOP nominating convention Hatch successfully turned the outside group into a boogeyman. On the other hand, FreedomWorks helped keep Hatch below the 60 percent of delegates he needed to avoid a primary.

* The first rule of campaigns: Don’t vandalize any cars. The son of Scottie Mayfield, who is challenging Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in the GOP 3rd district primary, has confessed to giving the congressman’s campaign manager a flat tire. Michael Mayfield was caught on camera getting off his dad’s campaign bus and cutting the tire stem on Tyler Threadgill's 2005 Audi.

* The Secret Service is investigating whether agents also hired strippers and prostitutes in advance of the president’s trip to El Salvador last year. As in Columbia, prostitution is legal in El Salvador. Agents and their confidants told the Post earlier this week that such behavior is far from unprecedented on foreign trips.

* Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign will “go bye-bye” soon, he said today, but he plans to campaign through the fall for Romney. “I'm going to look at how I can be helpful, because I suspect people will still show up to hear me,” he told a North Carolina crowd.


Famous painters breathe too.