Heard on the Hill

Republicans Love (to Own) NASCAR

GOP presidential candidates really love to be part of the teams of people who help fast cars win races. Except it is a bit doubtful whether they watch — let alone love — the country’s No. 1 spectator sport. While everyone else was waiting for the final call on whether the season-opening Daytona 500 would be called due to rain, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney opened his mouth and inserted his foot. First, the former Massachusetts governor admitted that while he isn’t a diehard NASCAR fan, “I have some great friends that are NASCAR team owners,” according to the Associated Press. These might include those everyman blue-collar team owners such as former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, who runs Joe Gibbs Racing. The Democratic National Committee’s Brad Woodhouse jumped on the comment with a series of parody tweets directed at Romney, including, “I don't know people who fish but I know people who own yachts.” Later in the day, Romney, wandering around the damp Florida speedway, told a group of poncho-wearing race fans, “I like those fancy raincoats you bought … really sprung for the big bucks,” according to the New York Times. Hmm … perhaps we missed the runway show of those charming plastic people-tents at the last Fashion Week. Not to be outdone, Romney rival Rick Santorum is sponsoring Tony Raines'  No. 26 Ford Fusion in tonight’s race. The car’s hood and side features a patriotic “RICK 2012” paint scheme, which the former Pennsylvania Senator described as “pretty spiffy” on Fox News. The presidential hopeful urged driver Raines to deploy the “Santorum Strategy,” which apparently goes as such: “Hang back and let the other cars in front get in wrecks ... or drop out of the race and then move up at the end.” Guess it can’t hurt. Raines has yet to crack the top five in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race.