Happy Friday morning! Here’s what you need to know:
- Last night’s FOX News GOP presidential debate quickly devolved into a slugfest between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Gov. Mitt Romney, who duked it out over Social Security, healthcare and immigration (among other issues). Romney clearly out-performed his main rival, delivering sharp elbow jabs, while brushing off Perry’s attacks as incoherent and contradictory. Perry made a strong showing in the first hour, but that performance was overshadowed by his inarticulate mumbling in the second half.
- The GOP candidates remain in Florida today, where most of them will address the Conservative Political Action Committee. It’s another opportunity for them to win over Florida’s Republican activists, and could give Rick Perry the chance to redeem himself with voters who may have been turned off by last night’s debate performance. Bachmann goes first at 9:15 a.m., immediately followed by Romney and Newt Gingrich. Perry starts the afternoon session at 1 p.m. and will be followed by Gary Johnson, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio speaks at 10:45.
- Former Ronald Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan skewered Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Israel speech from earlier this week, saying he was playing politics by undercutting the president during a time of tense negotiations, and more generally, acting like a “cheap, base-playing buffoon.”
- Congress is once again bringing the country to the brink of shutdown. This time, Democrats and Republicans are arguing over spending cuts to offset addition disaster relief necessitated by an particularly damaging year of hurricanes, flooding, and tornadoes. The House passed a temporary funding measure early this morning that the Senate called “dead on arrival.” But the House will begin its weeklong vacation at noon today to try to force the Democratic Senate to take it, or leave it.
- Here’s what happens if the government shuts down.
- In a fiery and partisan speech yesterday, President Obama positioned embraced the title of “warrior for the middle class,” trying to reframe the debate over his “Buffett Tax” on millionaires and billionaires. But Reuters reports that Obama is having difficulty selling his tax plan — like his jobs plan — to Democrats.
- The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on Solyndra today — sans company executives who decided to plead the Fifth. In the meantime, The New York Times is out with a revealing look inside the White House’s review process of the doomed loan. While there’s no smoking gun, it’s clear that regulators either ignored, or missed some big red flags.
- The Obama administration is likely elated after reading a scathing takedown of Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men by Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg. Weisberg writes: “When challenged on his conclusions, Suskind points to his meticulous reporting; when challenged on the facts, he pleads the larger picture. But his bigger points are equally inaccurate. The larger thesis of his book, to the extent it has one, is that the Obama White House is rife with sexism and that its economic policymaking has been misguided and chaotic. To support these claims, Suskind stretches the thinnest of material well beyond the breaking point.”
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