Utah's national delegate's unbound after first ballot. Outside groups flooding Utah over Hatch race. Etch A Sketch comment shakes up Romney's day.
Happy Thursday. Utah Policy's Bryan Schott looks at how Utah's national Republican delegates will be chosen and points out that those folks are only bound to vote for the state's June 26 primary winner on the first ballot. They can back anyone they'd like after that. [UtahPolicy]
-> That rule could pose trouble if the GOP ends up with a brokered convention and the 37 delegates decide to back someone other than the likely primary winner Mitt Romney. (Utah also has three other super delegates who are unbound by the primary result).
Topping the news: Outside groups have spent some $1.5 million in support of or opposition to Sen. Orrin Hatch's re-election chances so far this cycle and expect more cash to flow into the state before it's over. [Trib]
-> Mitt Romney's top communications adviser Eric Fehrnstrom made the campaign's newest gaffe, saying once the general campaign starts, they can "shake things up and restart all over again" -- like you do with an Etch A Sketch. Opponents quickly ran to their nearest toy stores to get props to poke fun at Romney. [WSJ]
Tweet of the day: @GingerGibson: "Newt gave the etch-a-sketch to a kid in the front row and said, 'You can now be a presidential candidate.'"
Happy birthday: To Sen. Orrin Hatch, who turns 78 today, and to Utah GOP Field Coordinator Extraordinaire David Neilsen.
In other news: Tom Wharton argues that outdoor enthusiasts should be hoping that the latest sagebrush rebellion fails. [Trib]
-> Pat Bagley paints a sharp contrast between Temple Square and the new shopping mall. [Trib]
-> Community activists come together to discuss options for action after three refineries announced plans to expand. [Trib]
-> There isn't much sunlight between the policy positions of Hatch's challengers. [UtahPolicy]
-> Peg McEntee says the Legislature's mandate a 72-hour wait period for abortions undermines women's competence to make decisions. [Trib]
-> Advocates for women and civil rights plot their case against Herbert's extended wait time for abortions. [DNews]
-> Utahns now have another option to cast their votes, after the ability to request an online absentee ballot was added. [Trib]
-> Facing $13,000 in fines, Hill Air Force Base is being asked to explain a five-year cover up of a mercury spill that was cleaned up only weeks ago, despite it posing no health risks according to a state regulator. [Trib]
-> Although Herbert signed the "ag-gag" bill into law Tuesday, experts say its constitutionality could come into question. [DNews]
-> Former Supreme Court clerk, Sen. Mike Lee, gives an inside peek at the inner-workings of the nation's highest judicial body just days before the big health reform hearings. [YouTube]
-> The Sutherland Institute releases its annual "report card" on the Utah Legislature and, as usual, Democratic Sens. Luz Robles and Ross Romero scored the lowest on the conservative group's rankings. In the House, it gave the lowest score to Rep. Mark Wheatley. [Sutherland]
2012 Watch: Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum seize upon the Etch A Sketch comment, bringing in the toy as a props, mocking their rival. [Politico]
-> Despite the ruckus caused by his adviser's comment, Romney gains traction with a nod from Jeb Bush and a softening of opposition from FreedomWorks. [WaPost]
-> Ron Paul appears on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and says the abortion laws change in tandem with the people's morality. [ABCNews]
-> Santorum didn't skip a beat after Tuesday's loss, refocusing his efforts on his home state of Pennsylvania where he's labeled himself as the only trustworthy conservative. [LATimes]
-> Porn-makers dismiss Santorum's vow to ban their products, and say the candidate has no facts to support his claims that their industry is ruining the country. [BusinessWeek]
Where are they?
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-- Thomas Burr and Laura Schmitz