“To hear some weary rank-and-file Republicans tell it, the increasingly bitter fight for the party's presidential nomination can't end quickly enough,” the AP writes. “Other GOP loyalists argue that patience is virtue as they seek the strongest Republican to challenge President Barack Obama… Interviews with voters across the country find that the segment of the GOP electorate that hasn't yet weighed in on the race is torn over wanting the race to end and wanting to have a say in choosing the eventual nominee. There's also debate over whether the rigorous fight is doing more harm than good to a party going through an identity crisis -- one splintered between the GOP's establishment and its more conservative factions.”
ROMNEY: “In a wide-ranging survey of American opinion on health care, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that most oppose a Medicare proposal put forth by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that would give seniors a fixed amount of money to buy health insurance from private plans or traditional Medicare, according to February poll results released today,” the Boston Globe writes. “Seventy percent of those polled favored the existing Medicare structure, while 25 percent said they would support partial privatization, or “premium support.” The reaction among seniors and younger adults was the same. Among Republicans, a narrow majority -- 53 percent -- said they preferred the status quo.”
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an immigration hardliner who endorsed Romney in 2008 and has long been wooed by GOP presidential hopefuls, went full birther yesterday, claiming President Obama’s birth “certificate is a forgery” and that he “should be subject of a criminal investigation,” the New York Post writes. Arpaio said, “I’m not going after Obama; I’m just doing my job.”
The Arizona Republic dismissed Arpaio’s “news conference” as “part press conference, part political rally and all conspiracy theory.” It also notes that “‘Tea party’ members in the audience broke out in applause” when he rebuffed the notion that “the Maricopa County Sheriff's cold-case posse had more important priorities than to investigate the birth certificate of a Hawaiian-born president.” In fact, “The investigation was launched, Arpaio said, at the request of 250 members of the Surprise Tea Party.” And this: "It has nothing to do with politics," insisted Arpaio, who relied on research from a book by conservative activist Jerome Corsi.
An Arizona Republic columnist skewered Arpaio’s motives (and lack of evidence). Noting Arpaio’s under investigation in an election year, E.J. Montini writes, “This is Sheriff Joe. Pink underwear. Chain gangs. Green baloney sandwiches. The self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America whose department somehow managed to not investigate several hundred sexual-abuse cases involving children.”
SANTORUM: “As he presses for the conservative votes he needs to overtake GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum is hammering away at the role state and federal governments play in running schools,” AP reports. But “back when Santorum was a senator from Pennsylvania, he got a Pittsburgh-area school district to help pay tens of thousands of dollars in tuition for his children to receive online schooling. It's a bit of history that's unknown to many voters outside Pennsylvania as the Republican nomination race closes in on the 10 Super Tuesday contests next week.”
More: “He mocks America's schools as "factories" that stand as "anachronistic" relics of the Industrial Revolution and says he would home-school his kids in the White House if he becomes president. In the fall of 2004, Santorum's use of tax dollars to pay for his kids' home schooling became controversial because his family was primarily living in Leesburg, Va., west of Washington. Following a local newspaper report, the Penn Hills School District near Pittsburgh tried to recover about $73,000 that it contended the state wrongly sent to an Internet-based charter school. Although the Santorums owned a house in the school district, officials argued, they were living out of state. The Pennsylvania Education Department in 2006 agreed to pay the district $55,000 to settle the dispute.”