Alec MacGillis
Senior Editor

Third Wheel
October 26, 2011

There is a movement afoot in the land, but I don’t mean the one amid the tarps at Zuccotti Park. Instead, it’s a 148-person operation headquartered in a tenth-floor office on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington decorated with sleek posters that proclaim, “Make My Vote Count” and “Open Up The Ballot.” Hanging in the reception area is a framed op-ed column praising the movement, written by the man who is its Marx or Engels: Tom Friedman. This is Americans Elect, the latest attempt to challenge the country’s two-party duopoly from the political center.

Romney Flips Back On His Flop
October 26, 2011

Well, that didn't take long. One day after being ridiculed for showing up at a phone bank in Ohio that was making calls on behalf of upholding Ohio's Senate Bill 5, the new law aimed at public employee unions, but refusing to actually endorse the law (as he did back in June), Mitt Romney has flipped back again. On a visit to Virginia today, he declared that he was "110 percent" for the Ohio ballot issue to uphold the law. "I fully support Gov. Kasich's Question 2 in Ohio," Romney said. "I'm sorry if I created any confusion there." No, no confusion at all.

Mitt on Ohio's Union Fight: A Flip Too Far?
October 25, 2011

The fight to repeal Ohio's Senate Bill 5, the sweeping anti-union law signed this past spring by Republican Gov. John Kasich, has been intense but largely off the national radar leading up to the state's referendum on Nov. 8. Who'd have guessed that it would be Mitt Romney who, with his finely tuned sensors for the prevailing political breeze, would announce to the rest of the country that the law's defenders were in trouble? Romney came to Ohio Tuesday for a fundraiser in Cincinnati.

Hillary v. Obama After-effects in N.H.?
October 25, 2011

With the political press' attention on New Hampshire focused on the Republican primary, there's been little made of today's announcement by Maggie Hassan, a former Democratic state senator, that she will run for governor next year to replace John Lynch, the popular two-term Democrat who has decided not to run for reelection. But the governor's race will undoubtedly have an impact on whether Obama is able to hold onto New Hampshire next fall.

Insider's Insights on the Perry Shake-up
October 25, 2011

When I was in Austin last month reporting on the rise of Rick Perry, Texas political insiders again and again would praise Perry's political team for its cohesion and stability -- a close-knit group of associates and advisers he'd accumulated over the years, each of which knew his or her role and strengths and weaknesses, and each of which ultimately deferred to the unquestioned leader, Dave Carney, Perry's acerbic chief strategist. There was just one caveat I kept hearing: it would not necessarily be an easy transition for this team to move onto the national stage.

In Defense Of New Hampshire
October 24, 2011

Now that Nevada has backed down from its plan to hold its caucuses January 14, the path is clear for New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner to set his state's primary for January 10 without violating the state's self-decreed law that there be no "similar contest" within a week of the primary. Once again, New Hampshire has triumphed in the game of chicken, after having once again gone so far as to threaten the nuclear option -- moving the primary forward before Christmas.

Sunday's Lunch Special
October 23, 2011

What's for lunch today? Once again, nothing at all if you're one of 23,000 inmates in the Texas state prisons, which have decided to eliminate weekend lunch in order to save $2.8 million this year.

Saturday's Lunch Special
October 22, 2011

What's for lunch today? In many Texas prisons, nothing. The Times had a remarkable story tucked inside Friday's paper noting that Rick Perry's administration has decided to stop serving lunch on Saturdays and Sundays in order to help deal with the state's budget troubles. Not serving lunch to 23,000 inmates is the better part of $2.8 million in prison-system savings being sought this year.

Is Florida Back On The Map?
October 21, 2011

Marco Rubio just put out a sharply-worded rebuttal to today's talker, the Washington Post's disclosure that the senator's parents left Cuba for Florida in 1956, two and a half years before Fidel Castro seized power -- contradicting Rubio, who often left the impression (including on his own Web site) that they were part of the wave of exiles that fled Castro. In his rebuttal for Politico ("exclusive!"), Rubio writes: If The Washington Post wants to criticize me for getting a few dates wrong, I accept that.

Republican Candidate For Death Panels
October 21, 2011

There's been some online chortling today about some seemingly off-message comments by Tommy Thompson, the lugubrious-looking former Wisconsin governor, who is planning to seek the open Senate seat in Wisconsin next year. Thompson, who also served as HHS secretary under George W. Bush, made some unusual comments about end of life care, suggesting that many Americans go out of their way to approve extreme measures to keep their older family members alive in the final stages of life out of guilt over not having spent enough time with them.

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