The Hill and the Hall Week in Review

1217431973Each Friday, Paul McMorrow will take you inside the smoke-filled rooms and darkly-lit corridors of government to bring you the hottest and juiciest political tidbits. This Week: Mitt Romney in 2012! What’s with the mayor and CVS? Plus: Running against DiMasi in Framingham.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney didn’t get a ton of national play during this past week’s exercise in Republican media baiting democracy, mostly because his teenage sons have, thus far, avoided becoming impregnated by finger-tatted hockey players. But that doesn’t mean the state’s onetime one-term chief executive wasn’t making moves in Minneapolis.

Aside from decrying “eastern elites,” “radical violent Islam,” porno, unions, promiscuity, government, liberals, liberals serving their government, Al Gore and/or air travel, China (and, we think, capitalism?), not to mention newspapers and the lying liars who write them, Romney was busy laying the groundwork for a second, assumedly less-disastrous, run at the White House.

Assuming that hectoring the nation about taxes and Paris Hilton proves insufficient, and assuming that John McCain follows other people’s worst instincts into horrible, ass-freckly defeat, the Republicans will need somebody to swoop down in 2012 and stop surrendering to terror already.

By all indications, that person will be Romney. The National Journal polled a number of party insiders this week, and a full 55 percent believe that, in 2012, Romney will be hitting Jack Abramoff’s leftovers as the GOP’s standard bearer. Romney blew everybody else away – placing a distant second with 15 percent was “Nobody.” (A delightful prospect, to be sure.) Jeb Bush trailed “Nobody” by seven full points.

Romney’s already talking the part, assailing the government that, for all practical purposes, his own party controls. “We need change all right,” he thundered Wednesday night. “Change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington – throw out big government liberals and elect John McCain.”

These days, nothing says “ready for primetime” like the ability to whip up stinging feelings of victimhood in the poor, abused majority without betraying a shred of irony.

Locally, Romney’s tenure in the State House generated near-universal derision for its ruthless, naked, utterly transparent ambition. And it looks like that ambition just might pay off. The guy has money and he has built a national organization. He spent the week shoring up the latter, holding daily receptions with supporters.

Safe to say that Jane Swift wasn’t first in line to mingle with Mitt. State House News reported that the former governor, whom Romney elbowed out of the Corner Office in 2002, skipped her successor’s big speech. “I was unfortunately doing another press interview,” she confessed, adding, “I’m sure he did a great job.”

So irony’s not dead after all!

Speaking of Swift, McCain’s vice presidential pick, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, has begun attracting comparisons to the high-flying former acting governor. For those of you reading this from the great frozen north, that’s not a good thing.

The Hill and the Hall spied Brad Jones on CNN during Palin’s speech the other night. He appeared to be listening intently, and was not wearing a cowboy hat. Well done on both counts, sir.

Move over, Cinco DiMasi: Tim Murray will lead a trade mission to Ireland next month. One can only imagine the intense, uh, preparation that goes into a trip like that.

The Boston Public Health Commission’s efforts to ban restaurant patio smoking should generate significant public outcry, but it’s another of the commission’s proposed regulations – the one that would bar pharmacies from selling cigarettes – that is sure to get the city’s political class talking.

While researching his Power profile, we were told by one mayoral observer that the unrestrained vehemence Tom Menino exhibited towards CVS’ in-store clinics (they “seriously compromise quality of care and hygiene,” take advantage of poor sick people in a way that’s “wrong,” and “jeopardize” public safety, Hizzoner said), didn’t just have its roots in the mayor’s fierce allegiance to Boston’s community health centers. It also stemmed, we heard, from a decades-old grudge the mayor nurses against CVS – one that dates to his days as a lowly city councilor.

So is it possible that, having lost the battle to derail the pharmacy’s clinics, City Hall turns around and decides to take a significant chunk out of the store’s bottom line? It certainly puts the explanation in yesterday’s Globe – “Why, in a place where people go to get healthy and get information about staying healthy, would you want to sell something that has absolutely no redeeming value and ends up killing a lot of people?” – in a different light.

News from the suburbs: Somerville isn’t the only city whose residents are being asked to vote in a prospective State Rep specifically because of how little pull that Rep will have with legislative leadership. Framingham’s in on the act, too!

At a forum this week, the town’s incumbent Rep, Pam Richardson, came under fire for staying on Speaker Sal DiMasi’s good side. “I’m not counting on Sal DiMasi looking out for Framingham’s best interest,” one of Richardson’s opponents blasted. Future back-benchers of the world, unite! (Unite, that is, in the cause of not getting any earmarks passed ever.)

Wire services flew to Minneapolis to contribute to this report.