Romney Defended on Bain Capital, The Good and Bad of Bain Scrutiny, George Does Shots with Stephen Colbert (PM Note)

Two to follow on Twitter Tonight: @MichelleObama: Occasionally Really Her - @MexicanMitt: Ribald, Unsympathetic:

Two Views on Mitt's Bain: 1. Rick Klein - Attacks on Mitt Have United GOP Behind Him - But if you need evidence that the attacks on Romney's record at Bain have backfired, and may be doing more to unite conservatives behind Romney more than anything Romney himself could have done, consider this partial list of those who are defending him - and chastising Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry for their "vulture capitalist" attacks:

2. Amy Walter - Mitt Needs to Undergo Enough Scrutiny to Inoculate Himself This Fall - If Romney were forced to defend his corporate record now, he'd have the chance to practice and ultimate hone his response to what everyone knows is going to be the main attack against him this fall. And, as we saw with last week's "pink slip" and "I like to be able to fire people" lines, Romney could use some practice on the whole responding to the attacks thing. Furthermore, the more that Romney's corporate past becomes part of the debate/story now, the less potent attacks on it may be later on.

DOM - Defenders of Mitt "What the hell are you doing, Newt? The stuff you're saying is one of the reasons we're in this trouble now. This whole ignorant populist view of the economy that was proven to be incorrect with the Soviet Union with Chinese communism." - Rudy Giuliani on Fox and Friends this morning.

"Perfect? Hell, no. But damn good." - Tom Donohue, U.S. Chamber Prez on Mitt's Biz Record at Bain.

"It's surprising to see so many Republicans embrace that leftwing argument against capitalism." - Romney's '08 Rival Mike Huckabee in newsletter. Earlier on Thursday, in an appearance on "Fox and Friends," Huckabee refused to define the battle for the GOP nomination as "a conservative vs. moderate" race, but rather "more of a Romney vs. the challengers," contest.

Last night Stephen Colbert did shots of Jack Daniels with George -

Tonight, he announces a quixotic run for… something? - More from Amy Bingham: "Colbert, a South Carolina native, already has a Super PAC, a dedicated fan base and even a lead in a South Carolina poll. "This just got real," Colbert said Wednesday on The Colbert Report. "I've got to ask, what do you think, nation? Should I run for president in South Carolina?" State GOP Chair Matt Moore said Colbert's chances of winning a write-in campaign were "nonexistent."  But it would be fun to watch. George W. and Laura Bush wanted Jeb to run for president in 2012 -

$1.2 Trillion Debt Ceiling Increase -

Warren Buffett Will Match GOP Tax Gifts - Here's lookin' at you, Mitch McConnell -

Chamber Has Elizabeth Warren on the Brain - Matt Negrin: The chamber is careful not to give too many details of its plans for the Senate seat once held by the late Ted Kennedy, and now occupied by Republican Scott Brown. But two chamber leaders suggested to reporters this morning that their influence in the Bay State will be quite noticeable. "We'll be significantly involved," said Tom Donohue, the president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. Bruce Josten, an executive vice president, said, "We were interested there. We were involved in that last cycle. We intend and will be involved in that race this cycle."

Romney Defends Anti-Abortion Record (since conversion) - Emily Friedman reports he said: "I understand that there are some attack ads coming my way that question that and I think it's important for me to remind people that I am pro-life," Romney said during a news conference at a motorcycle dealership after holding a campaign rally. In a speech in Columbia, S.C., Wednesday night, Romney adding the clause "protection of life" into the last line of his stump speech. "I'm convinced that the principles of opportunity and freedom and the protection of life were not temporary but are permanent," Romney said. "And if America's going through tough times, we should not stray from those principles but instead return to them."

Perry Drops "Vulture Capitalist" Line -  Arlette Saenz reports: Rick Perry may have dropped his attacks on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital from his stump speech, but in two interviews today he was questioned about his critique, which some prominent Republicans are labeling as anti-entrepreneurship. "Well it's pretty hard to make the argument that the governor of the state that's created more jobs than any other job in the nation is against the free market," Perry said on FOX today when asked about accusations that his attack on Romney's role at Bain Capital were  anti-free market. "You talk about barking up the wrong tree. That's a waste of time."

Conservative Gonzo James O'Keefe Targets Voter ID Laws -

Watchdogs Scold Obama on FEC - Devin Dwyer: Fed up with "stonewalling" by the White House, a coalition of 10 government watchdog groups today publicly took President Obama to task for what they called an unfulfilled 2008 promise to bring greater accountability to the nation's campaign finance system. The groups are demanding that Obama shake up the board of commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, the only agency able to enforce campaign laws.  They say political divisions among the agency's panel of six leaders have rendered it toothless. "The bottom line is nothing can happen to change the commission unless the White House names new commissioners, and they are refusing to do so," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan advocacy group. "The result is going to be an election with no enforcement."

U.S. Negotiating With Taliban - Carney tells Tapper the negotiations "coexists with our military campaign. It is in fact our military campaign that has set the conditions for initial reconciliation discussions that we hope will begin taking place. But to be clear, we will continue to energetically prosecute the military campaign as we pursue this political effort.

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