Ex-Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt says he expects to spend some serious time in Washington this summer as he plans what a Mitt Romney presidency would look like.
The Salt Lake Tribune spotted Leavitt just off of the Senate floor last week, and he remained tight-lipped because of his new role as the head of the Romney campaign's transition team.
"I just came up to visit some friends," said Leavitt, smiling. "I've been having some visits on various subjects, and I'll probably wander around here fairly often over the next little while."
A day earlier, a Washington Post reporter caught Leavitt, a former Health and Human Services secretary, coming out of a meeting with House Republicans in which he said he talked about health care.
Since the end of the Bush administration, Leavitt has run his own health care consulting business, Leavitt Partners, which is assisting states as they create online insurance exchanges as required by the Affordable Care Act.
Romney helped set up the nation's first exchange as Massachusetts governor but has opposed the federal health bill in its entirety, including the mandatory exchanges.
Asked about health reform, Leavitt said: "I'm helping Governor Romney, and I'm just not making any public-policy statements."
He did confirm that he's still doing consulting, but it's clear the transition work is dominating his time and attention.
"Most of my focus is on thinking this problem through. It is just planning," he said.
Coffee, yes, Coke, no • Florida Sen. Marco Rubio discusses in his recently released book the short time he spent as a Mormon in his youth but noted he later convinced his mother and sister to convert to Catholicism. Rubio also writes about the struggles his mother and father, the latter of whom didn't officially join the LDS faith, had with Mormonism's ban on alcohol, coffee and tobacco.
"Both my parents loved Cuban coffee, a staple in Cuban households, and could never permanently give it upâ¦ although they did discourage us from drinking Coca-Cola."
Officially, the church doesn't have a position prohibiting Coca-Cola, although some members abstain from the beverage. The church-owned Brigham Young University only sells caffeine-free sodas on campus.
It was unclear from the rest of Rubio's book if he resumed drinking Coke.
Hit, not hick • Rep. Rob Bishop was on the U.S. House floor last week promoting his legislation to allow Border Patrol agents to bypass major environmental laws when it appeared that he called a group of Montana folks a bunch of hicks.
That's at least what it sounded like and what the closed-captioning said on the screen and what was initially reported in the C-SPAN transcript archive.
But it wasn't so.
Bishop said the word "hit" not "hick."
"In this campaign in Montana, there is another group called Montana Hunters and Anglers, who, unfortunately, are simply a partisan hit group that are taking out ads directly against this particular provision and saying that other members in the delegation from Montana are supporting something that is wrong," Bishop said. "Unfortunately, the members of that hit group have ties to Democrat organizations."
Calling the Montana folks a "hit group" makes more sense for Bishop. No self-respecting Brigham City native would dare call a fellow Westerner a hick.
Bishop jabs Perry? • In the same debate, Bishop apologized for calling out a fellow member's comments as "disingenuine," although he also seemed to poke fun at Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who made the "oops" heard round the world in a Republican debate.
"That was the wrong word. That was, indeed, the word I said, but it is not what I meant to say, and I apologize for saying that. That goes over the line of comity, and I'm sorry, and I just want you to know that I apologize for 'oopsing.' That should only be done by governors, not by members of Congress."
At least Bishop didn't make a Britney Spears joke.
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