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Campaign Journal: The bane of Bain

Published by James O'Toole on .

There's still a bit of suspense on the South Carolina Republican primary, but you wouldn't know it if you were hanging around the DNC folks. Here as in the earlier venues of the nomination fight, they've been stalking Mitt Romney non-stop.

On Wednesday, under the rotunda of the historic Capitol building in Columbia, former Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges joined several Democratic legislators in demanding that the former Massachusetts governor release his tax returns. Noting that Mr. Romney had said that he would release at least one year's tax data in April, Mr. hodges said, "That's far too late."

Echoing an argument made by Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry the previous day, he insisted that South Carolina voters needed to know more about the front runner before they vote on Saturday.

Spotlighting Mr. Romney's record at Bain Capitol, Mr. Hodges contended that said that the personal tax records are particularly relevant since Bain frequently took advantage of tax breaks in reorganizing the companies it took over.

"He's taken advantage of the system," the former governor said. "His record as a corporate raider had had devastating consequences. "

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Daily Santorum: Three critical days

Published by Tim McNulty on .

As we wait to see if Rick Santorum actually won the Iowa caucuses (it looks unofficially like he did), it's back to South Carolina . . .

Newt Gingrich has been knocking Santorum on his electability for the White  for his 17-point loss to Bob Casey, saying the 2006 loss was "by the largest margin in Pennsylvania history." It was a really bad result for an incumbent for sure, but Gingrich is wrong on the facts: there have been three worse Senate losses in the state going back to the 1980s.

In 1988, Democrat Joe Vignola lost to incumbent Republican John Heinz by 1.48 million votes or 34 percentage points. In 1998, Democrat Bill Lloyd lost to incumbent Arlen Specter by 785,341 million votes, or 26 percentage points. In 1982, Democrat Cyril H. Wecht lost to Mr. Heinz by 723,453 votes, or 20 points.

But whatever Gingrich is up to in South Carolina it's working to Santorum's detriment. He's stuck at 4th in the polls, complaining about ads and getting hammered for his record in Congress. And the Romney campaign is obviously taking the former Speaker seriously, releasing the web ad above (called "Unreliable Leader") above.

The three days left before Saturday's polling may be the most critical ones of his presidential campaign, and he has to show voters his conservative credientials are better than those of Gingrich and Romney, argues Jennifer Rubin in the WashPost:

It’s hard to fight a two-front war, but in essence that is what Santorum must do. He’s got to convince voters he can take it to Romney if it becomes a one-on-one face-off, and he’s got to knock Gingrich down to third place. If not, it will be hard to maintain the argument that he is the most viable alternative to the front-runnner.

Interesting how Rick Perry kept calling Santorum "a good Catholic" during an appearance in S.C. yesterday, a state that is mostly Southern Baptist (as is Perry), notes Tom Fitzgerald at the Inky:

South Carolina is one of the most religious states in the nation, measured by attendance at worship services, according to various surveys. Yet only 10 percent of South Carolinians identify themselves as Roman Catholics – one of the lowest percentages in the nation, according to a massive 2010 Gallup Poll analysis of religious beliefs across the nation.

Now, there’s nothing especially nasty about mentioning Santorum’s religion, and it is factually true that he's Catholic. But the polls show that both Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, also a Catholic, are leading Perry overall and among Christian conservative voters.

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Weds: Wagner, petitions, Tebow

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Chelsa Wagner/KDKASome random Wednesday headlines . . .

KDKA-TV's Andy Sheehan pressed new county controller Chelsa Wagner on her 35% salary bump (also given to county treasurer John Weinstein), and she responded that the cost-of-living increase was awarded in December, before she took office. Besides, she argues, she still makes less than the average county department head:

Sheehan: “Why have you not responded to questions about your 35 percent pay increase?”

Wagner: “We’re always happy to respond to factual inquiries.”

She referred back to memos provided to Sheehan last week by her staff which state that the raise went into effect January 30th — three days before her swearing in.

Sheehan: “Why did you accept the pay increase? If you ran for office at $66,500, why did you accept a 35 percent increase?”

Wagner: “This was all provided to you in a memo with respect to all the different pay levels of all of the people throughout the county.”

Last week the Department of State hand-delivered election petitions to legislative offices in Harrisburg, which seemed odd in the wake of Tom Corbett's Bonusgate investigations on political work on public time. The administration said it was done to save money on UPS charges (they used to be mailed to offices), while the House ethics committee's counsel warned staffers not to touch them. (PoliticsPa)

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's charity Ebay auction of his Tim Tebow jersey ends just after 2 p.m. today. As of this morning the bidding had reached $1,375 and appeared to be mostly among sports memorabilia collectors.

Photo: Chelsa Wagner, KDKA-TV

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Corbett official resigns over writings

Published by Tim McNulty on .

The state's Department of Welfare has been in the news lately for its new rules on food stamps, cutting people out of the food program who have more than $2,000 in savings/assets. (State Sen. Jim Ferlo: not a fan.) Now it's in the Inquirer for another reason -- a top Corbett administration welfare advisor, Robert W. Patterson, "resigned his $104,470 position Tuesday after questions were raised about his outside role as editor of a conservative faith-based journal."Patterson

Here's a sampling of some of the man's writings in "The Family In America", via Angela Couloumbis and Amy Worden:

Patterson began writing for The Family in America in 2004 and became its editor in 2009, according to the publication's website. The journal is the flagship publication of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society in Rockford, Ill., which opposes abortion, divorce, and homosexuality and advocates for the "child-rich, married-parent" family. Patterson is also an adjunct research fellow there, according to the center's website.

In last year's spring issue of the journal, Patterson co-authored a piece summarizing and reviewing recent studies related to families.

Among them: a recent study suggesting condom use robs a woman of "remarkable" chemicals found in semen that have been shown to elevate mood and self-esteem.

What's more, the study found that "semen-exposed women" perform better on concentration and cognitive tasks, Patterson reported.

He also referenced a 2004 study that suggested birth-control pills weakened a woman's "natural sense of attraction to men who would be a good biological match and enable her to conceive easily and bear healthy children."

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Expect Dan Rooney on the trail

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Rooney & Obama

Get ready to see a lot of Dan Rooney campaigning for Barack Obama's reelection this year.

Ed Bouchette's state-of-the-Steelers interview with Steelers president Art Rooney II notes the elder Rooney is expected to step down as ambassador to Ireland this year and resume some kind of role with the team. But that will also allow him to campaign, as the Republican did for Obama in 2008.

Rooney said as much to The Irish Times in April 2011 on the eve of a presidential visit to Ireland:

The ambassador loves his life in Ireland, but as Obama’s unconditional fan, he’s thinking of returning to the US soon.

“I would probably have to resign to campaign for President Obama’s re-election,” Rooney says. “I think that would be the number one thing I can do for him, and I’d be willing to do so. He’s the best man for the job, without question.”