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February 26th, 2012
02:40 PM ET

SOTU Crib Sheet February 26th

Today on State of the Union we spoke exclusively with U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker. He says the U.S. should resist the urge to pull troops out of Afghanistan ahead of schedule due to the violence against Americans over the burning of Qurans at Bagram Airfield.

On the 2012 presidential race, senior adviser to President Obama's re-election campaign Robert Gibbs told us that Rick Santorum has a "legitimate chance" to become the Republican nominee, describing him as a candidate with blue-collar appeal who offers something "different" than the other GOP frontrunner. Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham said they expect Mitt Romney to win the the upcoming Michigan and Arizona primaries. While Graham hasn't endorsed a candidate, he praised Romney for "getting better and better" throughout the campaign season.

Former Shell Oil CEO John Hofmeister warned that Americans are likely to pay the highest average price for gasoline in history this year.

Candy's post show analysis here

With a nod to the Academy Awards tonight see who won political gold on the campaign trail here.


Highlights:

Ryan Crocker, U.S Ambassador to Afghanistan

"Tensions are running very high here and I think we need to let things calm down, return to a more normal atmosphere, and then get on with business. And that doesn't mean that we're not doing business now, we are. With both military counterparts and civilian counterparts, again, these are terrible tragedies. And very worthy of the condemnation they received. But this is not the time to decide that we're done here. We have got to redouble our efforts. We've got to create a situation in which Al Qaeda is not coming back."

Robert Gibbs, Obama Campaign Senior Adviser

"I don't think Tuesday's going to be a clarifying event in the Republican primary. I think because of the way delegates are apportioned, this is going to go on for weeks and weeks and I think he's (Santorum) got a legitimate chance to be the Republican nominee. He's clearly somebody who has a very different economic background than Mitt Romney. He's somebody that is, you know blue collar, he's from Pennsylvania. Not worth $250 million, I assume his wife doesn't have several Cadillacs. I think he clearly brings a little bit different challenge."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) South Carolina

"If Romney had lost Michigan and he's not going to lose Michigan, that would’ve thrown things in the ditch, but I think he's going to win both states. Let me tell you, Governor Romney is a better candidate today because of the primary process. South Carolina, Newt beat Romney. He beat him bad. He just dominated the state and he dominated the debates. By the time Florida came around Romney took it to the field and he's getting better and better. So the upside of the primary process is our front-runner, Mitt Romney, really has sharpened his skills and i think that will pay dividends if he gets the nomination."

Sound of Sunday

Two days before her state's primary, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer revealed her pick for the Republican presidential nomination: Mitt Romney, a guy who is feeling pretty bullish about Tuesday's primaries.

Mitt Romney (R) Presidential Candidate on "Fox News Sunday"
"Well, I'm planning on winning here in Michigan and also in Arizona. Obviously, that will be huge for us if we're able to do, particularly having come from so far behind here in Michigan. So, we are planning on winning. We're making - obviously, the momentum is in the right direction."

And though they rarely find commonality along the campaign trail, Romney and Rick Santorum found some on the Sunday morning talk shows: President Obama's apology to Afghans for the apparently accidental burning of the Koran by U.S. personnel:

Mitt Romney (R) Presidential Candidate on "Fox News Sunday"
"We've made an enormous contribution to help the people there achieved freedom and for us to be apologizing at a time like this is something which is very difficult for the American people to countenance."

Rick Santorum (R) Presidential Candidate on ABC's "This Week"
"I think it shows weakness. I think what we say is, look, what happened here was wrong. But it was - it was not something that was deliberate, and we are - we - you know, we take responsibility for it. It's unfortunate. But to apologize, I think, lends credibility that somehow or another that it was more than that."

All that talk about a brokered convention or a knight in shining armor riding in at the last minute to unite the party remains Washington's favorite parlor game. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has repeatedly said no to questions about whether he would play that role. But, hey, while we're on the subject, what about Vice-President?

Governor Chris Christie (R) New Jersey
"If Governor Romney were to come and talk to me about it, I'd listen because I love my party enough and I love my country enough to listen. But, I love being governor of New Jersey."

Though not as prominent in the republican primary season, democrats are cheering for a prolonged and bitter GOP battle...And happy to show up Sundays and sell the Obama re-election team mantra. Sure the president's not perfect, but the alternative is dangerous

Governor Jerry Brown (D) California on NBC's "Meet the Press"
"Obama took over the country after it was in a gigantic mess, we were losing 7-hundred thousand jobs a month and now we're on the road to recovery, and I think what we're looking at is a reasonable man versus reckless men, and that's really becoming very evident through the republican primaries."

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