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4.35pm: Treasury secretary Tim Geithner makes an oddly-worded announcement, http://www.bloomberg.com/video/84901442/ that he will not be serving in Obama’s second term administration, because Obama won’t ask him.

I think we all assumed that Geithner wasn’t going to stick around for the second term – and one explanation is that Geithner is on the White House’s short-list being drawn up to replace Robert Zoellick as president of the World Bank, when Zoellick steps down soon.

Here’s what Geithner told Bloomberg TV:

He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident. I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury… Something else for me.

Something else like … the World Bank? Geithner wouldn’t be an inspiring figure for non-American members and his nomination could trigger a fight over the bank’s future.

4.30pm: More http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/25/cnntime-poll-dead-heat-in-florida-ahead-of-debate/ that has just come out, showing how Newt Gingrich‘s bounce from his South Carolina primary victory didn’t last long:

On Sunday, the day after Gingrich won big in South Carolina, he was at 38% in Florida, with Romney at 36%, Santorum at 11% and Paul at 8%. Looking only at Monday and Tuesday’s results, Romney was at 38%, Gingrich 29% Santorum at 11% and Paul at 9%.

4.20pm: Can the GOP primary in Florida get much nastier? Yes it can, thanks to this video from a Romney-supporting Super Pac:

A delightful line there: “From debates, you’d think Newt Gingrich was Ronald Reagan’s vice president,” says the voice-over, along with clips of Gingrich playing the Reagan card at multiple debates.

4.10pm: Many Republicans have got in a huff because of http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/nancy-pelosi-newt-gingrich-will-never-be-president-video-20120124:

John King: Because of your history with Speaker Gingrich, what goes through your mind when you think of the possibility, which is more real today than it was a week or a month ago, that he would be the Republican nominee and that you could come back here next January or next February with a President Gingrich?

Nancy Pelosi: Let me just say this. That will never happen.

King: Why?

Pelosi: He’s not going to be president of the United States. That’s not going to happen. Let me just make my prediction and stand by it, it isn’t going to happen.

King: Why are you so sure?

Pelosi: There is something I know. The Republicans, if they choose to nominate him that’s their prerogative. I don’t even think that’s going to happen.

Never slow to hate on Nancy Pelosi, Republicans have been rumbling about “dirty tricks” and so forth. Pelosi’s knows what she’s doing, sowing terror and confusion among her enemies.

4.05pm: “Our latest poll, released this minute!” says Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Let’s see some numbers.

Oh dear, CNN seems to have some problem, flashing up random numbers but not the headline figures. Throughout the blizzard it appears that it’s Romney 36%, Gingrich 34%, Santorum 11% and Paul 9%.

“We’re seeing a tight race, a very tight race here in Florida,” Wolf goes on – with the numbers suggesting Mitt Romney won back some ground on Newt Gingrich, after the fiery debate on Monday night in which Romney gave Gingrich a bit of a slapping.

3.50pm: Speaking of polls, it would appear that http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20029581-503544.html was positive:

An overwhelming majority of Americans approved of the overall message in President Obama’s state of the union speech on Tuesday night, according to a CBS News poll of speech watchers.

According to the poll, which was conducted online by Knowledge Networks immediately after the president’s address, 91% of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr Obama put forth during his remarks. Only 9% disapproved. Last year, 83% of viewers approved of Mr Obama’s State of the Union remarks.

And https://twitter.com/#!/LOLGOP/status/162175493968375808, some excellent advice for Obama’s re-election campaign.

3.40pm: Polls! Lots of them. In fact, three, with one more to come from CNN shortly.

There’s the Quinnipeac one mentioned earlier today – which showed Mitt Romney ahead of Newt Gingrich by 36% to 34% – and then there’s http://americanresearchgroup.com/pres2012/primary/rep/fl/ with Romney in the lead:

Mitt Romney has maintained his lead in the Florida Republican presidential primary. Romney leads with 41%, followed by Newt Gingrich with 34%, Rick Santorum with 9%, and Ron Paul with 7%.

In a similar survey conducted January 13-15, 2012, Romney was at 42% and Gingrich was at 25%.

And there’s this http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/01/obama-leads-by-wide-margins-among-latinos-but-florida-in-play-for-gop/:

In the Sunshine State, where about one in 10 likely Republican primary voters are Latino, Mitt Romney has a large, 26-point lead over his closest rival Newt Gingrich, 49% to 23% among Latino Republicans.

3.35pm: Newt Gingrich has kept up his attacks on Mitt Romney’s wealth today:

And this coming from http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/55125.html? Remember: you can’t spell Gingrich without “rich”.

3.30pm: Mitt Romney is also out wooing Cuban and Latino voters – who make up one in 10 of Republican primary voters – in Florida, reports Ewen MacAskill:

Romney, speaking at a Univision conference and taking questions, did not threaten military action but possibly trumped Gingrich by welcoming the mantle ‘Mexican-America’. He said he could not, in all honesty, claim it for himself but it would be useful in the Florida primary and if Univision wanted to put it out, he would be happy. His father was born in Mexico, but of American papers and his father never even spoke Spanish. So it is a bit of a stretch, but in the bid for Latino votes anything goes.

Give it a couple of days and Mitt Romney will start shouting “Sí, se puede!” at his rallies.

3.20pm: There has already been much debate about whether Barack Obama has a “Jewish problem,” arguing whether or not the administration’s relations with Israel have given former supporters cold feet.

But a http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/89174/withholding/ shows that Republican Jewish donors aren’t exactly on fire with enthusiasm either:

A Tablet review of campaign-finance records for 175 major Republican Jewish donors shows that, according to the most recent campaign filings, more than 55% have yet to give to any primary candidate. Of that 55%, nearly two-thirds — 64 donors — had already given to a candidate by this time in the 2008 presidential cycle.

3.10pm: One major piece of policy was missing from Obama’s state of the union address last night:

http://bpp.wharton.upenn.edu/betseys/index.asp is a former chief economist at the Department of Labor in the Obama administration.

3pm: On the subject of the Latino immigrants in Florida, the Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill has been out on the campaign trail with Gingrich and Romney:

The next few days in Miami is in danger of witnessing a high-stakes bidding game for the still important Cuban vote. Well, maybe not high stakes, as most presidential candidates once in office tend to forget what they promised on the campaign trail.

I heard Newt Gingrich speak at lunchtime to a group of mainly Latinos, many of them of Cubans or Cuban descent, at the Werthelm Performing Arts Centre in Miami.

“I think it is possible to have a new dawn of freedom across Latin America,” he said to loud applause. Fine. That is vague enough, a crowd-pleaser without commitment. But he went on: “Fifty years of dictatorship (in Cuba) is more than enough…. I do not think it has occurred to anyone in the White House to look south and propose a Cuban spring.”

And how is he going to do that? Gingrich is old enough to remember the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1962, so he stopped short of military action to remove the Castro brothers. Instead he would use all the tools that Reagan, Thatcher and the Pope used to allegedly bring down the Soviet Union: moral and economic pressure, covert action, and so on. “I will use every non-military tool,” he said.

Santorum was due to be next up, at another venue, talking to the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in another part of Miami. Having already pledged to bomb Iran early in his administration, it is not a big jump to promise to bomb Havana. But we may never know, with Santorum cancelling the event because of scheduling problems.

2.55pm: A key player in the forthcoming Florida primary is the dashing young Tea Party-beloved Senator Marco Rubio. He has said he isn’t supporting or endorsing anyone in the primary – but he is playing referee.

This morning http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/01/rubio-scolds-gingrich-camp-says-ad-bashing-anti-immigrant-romney-is-inaccurate-inflammatory.html for its ads attacking Romney for being “anti-immigrant”:

This kind of language is more than just unfortunate. It’s inaccurate, inflammatory, and doesn’t belong in this campaign,” Rubio told The Miami Herald when asked about the ad.

“The truth is that neither of these two men is anti-immigrant,” Rubio said. “Both are pro-legal immigration and both have positive messages that play well in the Hispanic community.

Why? Well it’s not in Rubio’s interests to have the Republican party having a fight over immigration in a state where it is such a big issue, and where Republicans are open to accusations by the Democratic party on precisely that subject.

2.45pm: Perhaps the biggest news this afternoon came from the Federal Reserve‘s federal open markets committee, which made its http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/monetary/20120125a.htm.

According to the FOMC, the latest data “suggests that the economy has been expanding moderately, notwithstanding some slowing in global growth”. That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news:

The Committee expects economic growth over coming quarters to be modest and consequently anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only gradually…. Strains in global financial markets continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook.

The net result is that the FOMC expects to keep interests where they are, around zero, for a while, and low interest rates generally until late 2014 at least.

2.35pm: And we’re back – apologies for the brief stoppage in the news-hose but we had some technical issues.

So what’s happened while we’ve been offline? Let’s quickly get up to speed: Newt Gingrich has remarried, while Mitt Romney has made another $20m. So nothing unusual there.

This is Richard Adams, replacing Matt Wells.

12.33pm: That well-known political commentor, Fidel Castro, has pitched in with his analysis of the Republican race. He’s written a long opinion piece carried by official media in Cuba, in which he says:

The selection of a Republican candidate for the presidency of this globalized and expansive empire is — and I mean this seriously — the greatest competition of idiocy and ignorance that has ever been.

Well, that’s pretty much spot on. Expect Arianna Huffington to sign him up pronto. Well, at least once she’s back from Davos.

Cuba, of course, is a big issue in Florida, and the Republican candidates were asked in Monday’s TV debate in Tampa about how they would react as US president if Castro died. Gingrich said he expected Castro to end up in hell.

According to the Associated Press, Castro didn’t refer to their replies in his opinion piece, reporting that he was “too busy with other things to waste any more time analyzing the Republican competition”.

Again, spot on.

11.39am: Florida senator, Marco Rubio, is staying neutral in the race, but he criticised the Gingrich campaign today over a Spanish-language radio ad that accuses rival Mitt Romney of being “anti-immigrant”. This from an http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/01/rubio-scolds-gingrich-camp-says-ad-bashing-anti-immigrant-romney-is-inaccurate-inflammatory.html:

This kind of language is more than just unfortunate. It’s inaccurate, inflammatory, and doesn’t belong in this campaign.

Rubio is widely touted as a potential running mate for the eventual nominee – and he was careful to temper his criticism, adding:

The truth is that neither of these two men is anti-immigrant Both are pro-legal immigration and both have positive messages that play well in the Hispanic community.

So that’s okay then.

10.55am: Here’s some of the best reaction to the state of the union address.

• The National Journal says Obama’s evocation of the Navy Seal mission that killed Osama bin Laden is a preview to a presidential campaign that will cast him not on his spotty economic record, but as the “http://www.nationaljournal.com/nationalsecurity/obama-s-commander-in-chief-strategy-20120125?mrefid=freehplead_1 perhaps since John F. Kennedy”.

• Mark Sandler in the New York Times casts the speech in the context of the forthcoming presidential campaign, saying http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/us/politics/obama-sets-sights-on-romney-in-state-of-the-union.html?hpin Mr. Obama’s call for a more equitable society”.

Gary Younge said the Occupy movement allowed the president to make his strong remarks about fairness in US society and portrays it as “an election speech, for an incumbent playing defence”.

10.15am: Hello and welcome to our continuing live coverage of the Florida primary campaign, with a bit of state of the union fallout thrown in for one day only.

Here’s a summary of where we’re at this morning.

Newt Gingrich’s momentum in Florida appears to be growing. He drew a crowd of about 2,000 people at a rally on Tuesday night. A Quinnipiac poll out this morning shows him gaining on Romney, although the former Massachusetts governor leads by two points.

• Gingrich has released a second contract with the mortgage provider Freddie Mac. The contract specifically rules out lobbying services, but according to Politico http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71930.html, Mitchell Delk, about “business and public policy issues.” Romney’s campaign insists Gingrich was in effect providing a lobbying service.

Analyists continue to pore over Mitt Romney’s tax returns, released on Tuesday. The returns revealed the existence of a now-closed Swiss bank account, and there were questions about whether the effective 13.9% tax rate paid by the Romneys http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/01/three-key-questions-raised-by-romneys-tax-revelations.php?ref=fpa.

• The Republican nomination candidates took a break from tearing strips out of each other to attack Barack Obama over the state of the union address. Newt Gingrich claimed it showed Obama wanted to increase taxes and expand government, while Romney did not even wait for the speech to launch his attack, saying the president’s speech was designed to divide America.

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