Romney tops Gingrich by 14. Gets Secret Service protection. Huntsman Sr. will back Mitt, if asked.
Happy Wednesday and welcome to February. Mitt Romney routed Newt Gingrich by 14 points in Florida last night, locking up 50 delegates and commanding a strong lead heading into the forthcoming primaries and caucuses. But Romney failed to get a 20 percent margin over Gingrich -- a threshold some pundits had said was needed. Next up: Nevada on Saturday, where Romney again holds a big lead lead. [APviaTrib] [NYTimes] [FoxNews] [NBC]
-> Romney's campaign will start receiving Secret Service protection on Thursday after crowd sizes have grown in recent weeks. The service made the choice and Romney's camp didn't request it. [ABCNews] [CNN] [NYTimes]
Attention Romney campaign: Jon Huntsman is now backing Mitt Romney for president, but what about Jon Huntsman Sr.? The elder Huntsman told The Tribune yesterday that he hadn't thought much about whether he should endorse Romney and doesn't think it would matter much this late in the game. But he's open to it.
"I'd be very happy to support Mitt," Huntsman Sr. said in a phone interview. "I've always enjoyed a close and fine relationship [with him], so I would find it very comfortable to support Mitt and would do so if asked."
-> Rep. Keith Grover wants to ban collective bargaining with local or state government over anything but wages and health care, drawing a quick rebuke from Democrats and unions. [UtahPolicy]
Tweet of the day: From Reuters' @SamYoungman: "Anytime you leave Florida without being eaten -- and without a recount -- it has been a good trip. Thanks for the memories, Sunshine State."
-> Pat Bagley suggests where the press should be looking for those moderate Florida Republicans. [Trib]
-> Paul Rolly says Utah County lawmakers didn't bite on their own county party's fund-raising idea. [Trib]
-> Sen. Orrin Hatch is 11th out of top senators who give back the most of their office budgets to pay down the public debt. (Sen. Mike Lee isn't listed because the research was done over 09-10 session). [Politico]
-> The number of faithful Mormons is on the decline, according to a recent Reuters story quoting an LDS apostle. [ABC4]
-> Lee says Obama's justification for recess appointments are "troublingly hollow." [RedState]
2012 watch: Despite big losses, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul plow ahead, taking their campaigns out west to stir up momentum. [USAToday]
-> Gingrich pins his hopes on Super Tuesday and delegate shares, expecting the race to continue yet five or six months ahead. [NYTimes]
-> Republican Super PACs are helping candidates close in on President Barack Obama's cash flow. [WaPost]
-> The Romney campaign says it refuses to be on "cruise control" with a candidate like Gingrich, likening him to a spewing volcano. [ABCNews]
-> The next states on the docket for primary elections favor Romney, which could pose a problem for Gingrich. [DNews]
-> Because you asked: A Cornflakes subscriber (a Cornflaker?) asked last night how many votes Rep. Jason Chaffetz has missed while campaigning across four states for Romney. The answer: 2. Out of the 12 votes this year, Chaffetz missed a vote on approving the journal and another on moving forward on the CLASS Act.
-> Gingrich sets low expectations for Florida's primary as he trails in polls, saying his goal is to "be happy and do well." [TheHill]
-> Could the Florida primary determine a GOP front-runner? [CNN]
-> Nathan Oman, a Mormon professor, defends the LDS Church from accusations that politicians who are LDS will be subject to the faith's leaders. [NYDailyNews]
-> Cars hopping behind emergency-bound police to dodge traffic might be a thing of the past as a panel moves to outlaw following them too closely to halt related collisions. [Trib]
-> Following the death of a 3-year-old in a car accident with her drugged mother at the wheel, a House committee endorses adding a non-discrimination clause to give fathers more consideration in child custody cases. [DNews]
-> The House GOP bends to Democrats complaints about debating legislation in closed-door caucuses with Republican leaders agreeing to bring their discussions to the floor. [Trib]
-> Lawmakers move a step closer to reversing a legislative decision made last year that would restore funding for students who are headed to technical school. [Trib]
-> Some lawmakers want to go back to the days when Legislatures -- not voters -- elected senators, but others aren't buying the idea of a poll on whom they would have chosen. [Trib]
-> The House OKs a bill that would require hospitals to give the public a tally of infection rates. [Trib]
-> Pharmacists could dispose of patients' unused drugs under this bill, which targets the end of prescription pain pills being circulated through the community. [Trib]
-> The House's calendar now has a bill that would allow paramedics to draw blood from DUI suspects just as doctors, nurses and certified phlebotomists can. [Trib]
-> Half of Utah's roads could get a bit more bumpy since growth in highway funds aren't keeping up with inflation -- but there's legislation that hopes to change that. [Trib]
-> The Senate unanimously approved a bill that would inject $20 million into Utah schools to fund online testing. [Trib]
Where are they?
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-- Thomas Burr and Laura Schmitz