Morning Briefing: March 21, 2012

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"Morning Briefing: March 21, 2012"

Mitt Romney cruised to victory in Illinois last night, beating Rick Santorum by a substantial margin, 47 to 35 percent. After a string of middling performances in battleground states like Michigan and Ohio, and losses in the South, Romney needed a big win to maintain his frontrunner status. “Enough,” he said in a victory speech attacking Obama. “We’ve had enough.”

The Karl Rove-linked American Crossroads super PAC has $23.5 million in cash on hand — “millions more than what any Republican presidential candidate reported for the same period.” Crossroads took in million dollar contributions from a Texas company that owns Golds Gym and an oil exploration company, and from Irving Moskowitz, a hospital and gambling magnate.

The Trayvon Martin case has highlighted the role of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense gun law, which says a citizen doesn’t have to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker. Shooter George Zimmerman may use the law to fend off prosecution. Activists will hold a rally today in Orlando today to highlight their concerns with Zimmerman’s actions.

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs dives through the comments section at Fox News to find reactions to the murder of Trayvon Martin. Some of the outrageous remarks included, “Good shot Zimmy. lol” and “I’m just glad Zimmerman didnt miss and hit an innocent bystander.”

During an economics lecture at George Washington University yesterday, Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke poured cold water on libertarian calls for returning to the gold standard, arguing it “would not be feasible for practical and policy reasons.” “Since the gold standard determines the money supply, there is not much scope for the central bank to use monetary policy to stabilize the economy,” Bernanke said.

One Russian blogger was told yesterday that he is under criminal investigation “for inciting riots with comments on demonstrations against Vladimir Putin,” raising fears that the new Putin regime will restrict online activities. “I don’t expect mass trials of journalists and bloggers, but just enough to frighten them,” another influential Russian blogger said.

Senate Republicans blocked reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) encouraged his colleagues to obstruct the measure. The bank’s reauthorization was added to a House Republican-backed anti-regulation bill. That bill’s sponsor, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), blasted Democrats for attaching the “partisan amendment,” even though many Republicans support the Ex-Im bank.

And finally: Famously emotional House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was photographed weeping Sunday while listening to traditional Irish music as part of a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. It’s at least the 13th time since 2007 that the pol got weepy, according to Politico’s comprehensive list. He’s teared up at everything from singing of “America the Beautiful,” to completing budget negotiations, to giving a medal to astronaut Neil Armstrong.

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