Nothing like having your speaker's bureau post your initial paid stump speech online, which is what apparently happened to former White House adviser Dan Bartlett. His analysis of the GOP presidential field, particularly the tough, um, love he had for Thompson and Romney is getting lots of play this morning.
Bartlett went on TODAY to clean up the damage since many MAY have read Bartlett's quotes and wondered if he was channeling the White House. He stood by his analysis, but made sure to find nice things to say about all three frontrunners: Romney, Giuliani and Thompson.
HUCKABEE: No one gets off better one-liners than Huckabee but a joke about suicide seemed to fall flat with some. There's not really anything funny about suicide.
MCCAIN: Per NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann, McCain hits the road today for a three-day swing through Iowa, where he'll focus on an issue that other Republican front-runners have largely kept on the backburner. McCain will propose his solutions for health care here in a state where older caucus voters with big concerns about medical insurance abound. It's noteworthy because the GOP's front-runners in the state haven't really made health care "their" issue because of previous baggage (Romney) and a reliance on market solutions (Rudy and Thompson). If McCain is rewarded for his attention to the issue, it will prove groups like the powerful AARP/SEIU Divided We Fail organization right; they believe that health care is a crucial issue that crosses party lines, and that candidates who harness health care voters will see healthy support on caucus night.
ROMNEY: The Log Cabin Republicans are running a 30-second ad in Iowa and on FOX that portrays Romney as a flip-flopper on abortion, gun rights, and his opinion of Ronald Reagan, the Washington Times reports. "The ad closes with the narrator saying: 'A record fighting the religious right, a pro-choice record, Massachusetts values — Mitt Romney.' The Romney camp fired back after the ad debuted, calling it a 'personal, negative attack.'"
Be sure to check out Harry Reid's speech to BYU students Tuesday. Could it end up being the model for how Romney will handle questions about his faith?