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Less than a week before Tuesday’s crucial Republican presidential primary in Michigan, a new NBC News/Marist poll shows Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum locked in a statistical tie, while a separate NBC/Marist survey shows Romney comfortably leading in Arizona, which holds its primary the same day.
And that's the conventional wisdom. Wait for the "did Santorum peak too early?" and "did Romney buy Michigan?" articles. OTOH, in MI, Obama crushes Romney 51-33. 63% say the bailout was a good idea. Chuck Todd: "MI is no battleground."

Eugene Robinson:

Republicans haven’t quite thrown away what they see as a winnable presidential election, at least not yet. But they’re trying their best.

In GOP circles, there is more than a whiff of panic in the air. Unemployment is still painfully high, Americans remain dissatisfied with the country’s direction, even the most favorable polls show President Obama’s approval at barely 50 percent — and yet there is a sense that the Republicans’ odds of winning back the White House grow longer day by day.

NY Times:
Weeks of intense campaigning in the early nominating states have left the leading Republican presidential candidates increasingly dependent on millions of dollars spent on their behalf by outside “super PACs,” reports filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday showed.
Anthony Kennedy, you have a lot to be ashamed about. Oh, and the SCOTUS is yet another reason to vote for Democrats.

WaPo:

Simmons is part of a rarefied group of millionaires and billionaires acting as kingmakers in the GOP contest, often helping to decide, with a simple transfer of money, which candidate might survive another day.
I love the smell of money in the morning. The smell, you know that money smell, the whole state of Michigan. Smelled like... victory.

NY Times editorial:

In last week’s flurry of budget deals, Congress patched together yet another temporary fix for a flawed formula used to calculate the fees paid to doctors by Medicare. It will hold payments flat for the next 10 months instead of cutting them by 27 percent as the formula required, and the $18 billion to pay for it will be taken from other health care programs. But the fix only lasts until the end of the year. On Jan. 1, doctors will face another big cut unless Congress again steps in.
The disparity is based on the payments not keeping pace with expenses. But a dysfunctional Congress never gets anything right.

Maureen Dowd:

Rick Santorum has been called a latter-day Savonarola.

That’s far too grand. He’s more like a small-town mullah.

enator Sanitarium, as he was once dubbed on “The Sopranos,” sometimes tries to temper his retrogressive sermons so as not to drive away independent and Republican women who like to work, see their kids taught by professionals and wear Victoria’s Secret...

He told The Washington Post on Friday that, while he doesn’t want to fund contraception through Planned Parenthood, he wouldn’t ban it: “The idea that I’m coming after your birth control is absurd. I was making a statement about my moral beliefs, but I won’t impose them on anyone else in this case.”

That doesn’t comfort me much. I’ve spent a career watching candidates deny they would do things that they went on to do as president, and watching presidents let their personal beliefs, desires and insecurities shape policy decisions.  

Ross Douthat:
All things being equal, a Rust Belt background would be a potential advantage for a Republican presidential candidate. But a Rust Belt background that includes an 17-point repudiation from the Pennsylvania electorate that knew Santorum best looks more like a liability instead.

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