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March 18th, 2012
01:23 PM ET

SOTU Crib Sheet for March 18th


Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum spoke about GOP rival Mitt Romney, the possibility of a brokered convention, and defended his assertion that the Department of Justice favors pornographers over children and families.

Then, mixed messages in a war zone. Afghanistan's Ambassador to the United States Eklil Hakimi discussed relations between the two countries in the wake of the shooting deaths of 16 Afghan civilians. And getting a grip on a complicated region, with two men familiar with the complicated U.S.-Afghanistan relationship Zalmay Khalilzad, who was the first U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, and Adm. Dennis Blair (Ret.), who was President Obama's first director of national intelligence.

Finally, the push toward November with former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie.


Tensions between U.S. and Afghanistan

Santorum: Obama is appeaser in chief

Santorum's Delegate Troubles

Hakimi: We are allies in war on terror

The Campaign Trail

Political Panel: Can Republicans Win Female Voters?

Political Panel: Why Can't Romney Close the Deal?

Rick Santorum, (R) Presidential Candidate, on Mitt Romney’s criticism of his experience:
"I was the number two guy at a small technology company and did, in fact, help manage and get this company off the ground and as a startup. And it was a great experience and one that I learned a lot through that process. ... I served on the board of a public company. So I, you know, I have some - obviously was a lawyer and practiced law for a while. So I've had a fair amount of experience in the private sector."

Rick Santorum, (R) Presidential Candidate, on the possibility of a brokered convention:
"We are in this to win. We're in this because we think that we're the best candidate to take on President Obama, and we believe that Governor Romney is not. ... I think conservatives would like an opportunity to nominate a conservative and we're going to give them that opportunity."

Rick Santorum, (R) Presidential Candidate, on Mitt Romney:
"When you have this amount of resources and this amount of advantage, you can't manage and deliver the mail and win this nomination, that shows a real weakness in his ability to be able to govern."

Rick Santorum, (R) Presidential Candidate, on his assertion that DOJ favors pornographers over children and families:
CROWLEY: Do you honestly believe there are people in the Department of Justice who favor pornographers over children and families? Do you believe that?
SANTORUM: You have to look at the proof that's in the prosecution. Under the Bush administration, pornographers were prosecuted much more rigorously than they are under existing law, than they under the Obama administration. So you draw your conclusion.

Rick Santorum, (R) Presidential Candidate, on his assertion that President Obama has been "the appeaser-in-chief around the world with evil"
"Iran is the principal place. That is the principal problem that we're facing on the national security front right now. A nuclear Iran. And he has repeatedly sided with the government of Iran. ... He should have been aligning himself with the Persian people and the pro-democracy movement in Iran to topple this regime. This radical theocracy that's developing a nuclear weapon and spreading terror around the world. And he did not do that. "

Eklil Hakimi, Afghanistan Ambassador to the U.S., on U.S. relations with Afghanistan
"We are an ally in war against terror. And we are an ally to make Afghanistan a safe place to not allow terrorist groups to use Afghanistan as a base to threaten the security of other countries from there. So having said that, we have a strategic partnership and now we are working on another partnership to define our relationship for the years to come. So this is the bigger picture. We should not forget that. But down the road, it's a bumpy road."

Eklil Hakimi, Afghanistan Ambassador to the U.S., on Afghan President Hamid Karzai's comments:
CROWLEY: You mentioned that Afghanistan is grateful for some of the help that the U.S. has done and that it's an ally. And yet when you see the president of Afghanistan talking about the U.S. in the same breath as the Taliban, as a demon, there's a disconnect. Why is there a disconnect? ...
HAKIMI: Our president is doing whatever any legitimate president would do. He's reflecting somehow whatever our people are saying, the situation there, especially with this very tragic incident, is not that easy. Meanwhile he understands very well the relationship and also the partnership that we have with the international community. Mainly, with the United States of America. He attaches great importance to that. ... But to whatever he said, I think sometimes in media they are putting that out of the context.


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THE AAA reports that the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is up to to $3.84 – an increase of almost 17% so far this year. A nice jumping off spot for Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney who used his Sunday spot and the campaign trail to blame President Obama and company:

Mitt Romney, (R) Presidential Candidate, on "Fox News Sunday"
"When [Obama] ran for office, he said he wanted to see gasoline price go up. He said that energy prices would skyrocket under his views, and he has selected three people to help him implement that program. The secretary of energy, the secretary of interior and EPA administrator. And this gas hike trio has been doing the job over the last three and a half years, and gas prices are up. The right course is they ought to be fired."

On the president's team, top campaign strategist David Axelrod dismissed Romney's critique as election year rhetoric – though there is plenty of that to go around:

David Axelrod, Obama Campaign Senior Adviser, on CBS's "Face the Nation":
"Well, I think it's about nonsense is what it's about. ... We have to have a national strategy for getting control of our energy future, and that involves persistence, not just in increasing domestic oil and gas production. And we've freed up tens of millions of new acres for exploration and for oil production in the future. But we have to explore these other avenues. If we don't do all of those things we're going to be right back here again every election season, and politicians like Mr. Romney will pander, and the poor American consumer will be left in the same position."

A top Republican strategist on this show denied suggestions some of the rhetoric from his party is alienating female voters, but across town, Senator John McCain conceded the issue:

Sen. John McCain, (R) Arizona, NBC's "Meet the Press":

"I think we have to fix that. I think that there is a perception out there, because of the way that this whole contraception issue played out. We need to get off of that issue, in my view. I think we ought to respect the right of women to make choices in their lives and make that clear. And get back onto what the American people really care about, jobs and the economy."

And that's today's Sound of Sunday.

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