Morning Briefing: January 27, 2012

Mitt Romney has surged to a 9-point lead in a new poll of Florida primary voters, as he leads Newt Gingrich 38-29 in a race that was a dead heat just days ago. The poll isn’t all good news for Romney: he is still struggling with conservatives — trailing Gingrich by 21 — and the percentage of voters who view him unfavorably increased by 9 points.

While attention focused on his low effective tax rate, Romney actually paid $44,000 more than he owed in taxes, thanks to an accounting error that overstated his investment income by $300,000. Meanwhile, Romney saved more than $129,000 in foreign tax credits, and $1 from a tax credit for hiring a disadvantaged worker.

Rep. David Rivera (R-FL), responding to remarks during Monday’s debate, has introduced a military-only version of the DREAM Act, which would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who serve in the military, but not for college students.

Ford Motor Company announced record annual profits of over $20 billion after announcing a net income of $13.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011. This marks the third consecutive year of profitability for the American automaker after nearly falling into bankruptcy in 2008.

President Obama is expected to outline his plan for overhauling the financial aid system this morning, which would tie colleges’ eligibility for campus-based aid programs to the institutions’ success in improving affordability and value for students.

Noting that buzz around Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) as a possible GOP vice presidential nominee is growing, a Latino organization Presente Action will launch a national anti-Rubio campaign today at the Hispanic Leadership Network conference. The group points to recent surveys that show “Rubio’s positions on several key issues, immigration in particular, are far from the mainstream of the Latino electorate.”

A suicide bomb blast in Baghdad killed at least 31 Iraqis and injured at least 60 attending a funeral procession in a Shiite neighborhood this morning. Violence has increased in Iraq over the last six weeks and a recent al Qaeda-affiliated video said “it would focus attacks against Iraqi’s Shiites and the country’s Shiite-led government.”

Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton again insisted that she is done with politics after a staffer asked at a State Department town hall meeting if she would run for vice president. She said she would stay until the president nominates someone else, but “after 20 years …of being on the high wire of American politics, and all of the challenges that come with that, it would probably be a good idea to just find out how tired I am.”

And finally: President Obama’s soulful, three-second-long rendition on “Let’s Stay Together” has given an unexpected economic surge to a very popular but narrow sector: Al Green. The crooner-in-chief sparked a 490 percent weekly sales increase for the song, which sold 16,000 downloads in the week of his serenade at the Apollo Theater.

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