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Off to the races: Christie's surgery

The New York Post reports that Chris Christie had lap band surgery Feb. 16 and checked into a facility for the procedure under a false name. Christie told the Post: “I’ve struggled with this issue for 20 years. For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them.”

And Christie says this has nothing to do with running for president. “It’s so much more important than that,” he said. Because of the operation, Christie can’t eat as much, and he says he’s lost about 40 pounds already. “A week or two ago, I went to a steakhouse and ordered a steak and ate about a third of it and I was full,” he said.

“Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are facing a big obstacle if they seek the White House in 2016 — and it’s not each other,” Politico writes. “State laws could force the two GOP senators into a difficult choice: run for president or run for reelection to the Senate that same year. Because in their home states of Kentucky and Florida, neither Republican can be on the ballot for both offices at the same time.”

HAWAII: EMILY’s List endorsed Colleen Hanabusa in her Senate race against appointed Sen. Brian Schatz (D).

IOWA: Can a Ron Paul Republican win statewide in Iowa? The Des Moines Register: “Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker is taking steps to run for the U.S. Senate, saying he would vote only for legislation that’s constitutional and would pattern himself after tea party favorite U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.”

Other Republicans, like state Sen. Joni Ernst, are still considering bids. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds is encouraging Ernst to run. Reynolds passed on a bid.

MASSACHUSETTS: The AFL-CIO endorsed Rep. Ed Markey.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Sanford could win Tuesday, Roll Call notes. But political observers are shrugging their shoulders and giving a collective, “So what?”

Charlie Cook: “If not on Tuesday night, then certainly by Wednesday and maybe even through Thursday or beyond, one party will be crowing that its victory in the special election for now-Sen. Tim Scott’s former seat in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District is a sign that it is doing great and will have a successful 2014 midterm election. The other party will be downplaying the national significance of the special election, declaring that the results have nothing whatsoever to do with what happens next year. Mark me down as agreeing with the latter. The voting in South Carolina means nothing other than which side can lay claim to that seat for the rest of this year and next.”

Stu Rothenberg: “When the results are in Tuesday night, the spinning will begin. But while the contest has received plenty of national attention, it now appears that the outcome will be largely devoid of significance."

The State on today’s special election in SC-1: “More than former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford’s chance at political redemption is riding on the outcome of Tuesday’s special election for the state’s 1st District congressional seat, political observers say. A win for Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch could ignite hopes that S.C. Democrats again can compete against Republicans for congressional seats and statewide offices, and help them lay the groundwork for picking up support among Lowcountry voters in 2014. A loss, some say, could emphasize just how difficult a statewide win for a Democrat will be.”

NBC’s Michael O’Brien: “Voters in South Carolina’s first congressional district head to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to offer former Gov. Mark Sanford a chance at political redemption, or instead send the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert to Congress.”

Polls are open from 7:00 am ET to 7:00 pm ET. Results will be posted here on the South Carolina State Election Commission site.

Sanford was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and was defensive about his personal failings. “I guarantee you’ve made some mistake in your life,” Sanford said to Mika. He said everyone on that set has had some personal failings. But “one offense does not define your life.”

He defended paying the ethics fine. “I think we explain it because it’s explainable,” he contended. He said that half of the fines were because he used business class tickets for legitimate Department of Commerce trips, something he said “was not an anomaly. There was more to the story than met the eye.”

He said he would have voted against the Toomey-Manchin gun background check bill. “I’m a big Second Amendment guy,” he said, adding that what the gun-show loophole is should be defined more clearly. He said a “couple of guys trading guns in the back of a pickup truck” does not qualify in his view.

On immigration, he said he would vote against the Gang of Eight bill: “We can learn from history,” he said, noting that the “last big immigration bill offered amnesty.” He was referring to the 1980s legislation. He added that any immigration reform should “begin with enforcement first before you get to amnesty. I would not support the bill in the present form.”

The bill in its “present form,” however, does not offer amnesty first, as he claims.

TEXAS: Rick Perry says opposing a ban on gay scouts is like supporting slavery? The Dallas Morning News via Political Wire: "Perry, speaking from the library in the Governor's Mansion, referred to a portrait of Sam Houston, whom he called Texas' greatest governor. He told how Houston's principled stand against slavery and Texas' joining the Confederacy cost him his governorship." Said Perry: "That's the type of principled leadership, that's the type of courage that I hope people across this country on this issue of Scouts and keeping the Boy Scouts the kind of organization that it is today. If we change and become more like pop culture, young men will be not as well served, America will not be as well served and Boy Scouts will start on a decline that I don't think will serve this country well as we go into the future."

VIRGINIA: Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) gets a 64% approval in the latest Washington Post poll.