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Obama, Romney Pursue Women Vote

Mitt Romney and President Obama spent much of Wednesday battling for the support of women voters — a form of electoral hand-to-hand combat that is likely to persist all the way to Nov. 6. As Time Magazine's Michael Scherer put it, "there was no doubt about the winner of the second presidential debate: Women. Both candidates lurched onto the campaign trail Wednesday with new appeals to shore up support among a key demographic that may decide the outcome in key swing states." And ABC News political analyst Nicolle Wallace said on "Good Morning America" today that "all women are making trade-offs with both of these guys. I don't think men — but particularly women — were attracted to the nastiness in that debate. Women, more than men, are turned off when it gets below the belt"/Michael Falcone & Amy Walter, ABC News. More here. (AP file photo)

Question: Why does the media and candidates try to focus on women as a monolithic group that can be pidgeon-holed rather than a widely diverse group that simply shares gender?

Poll: Most Tune In To Debate

  • Wednesday Poll: Prior to the first 2012 presidential debate last night, 7f6 of 123 respondents (61.79%) said they planned to watch the event. Only 38 of 123 respondents (30.39%) said they wouldn't. 9 (7.32%) were undecided.
  • Today's Question: Who do you think won the debate?

Obama, Romney Come Out Swinging

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talk at the end of the first presidential debate in Denver Wednesday. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

In a showdown at close quarters, an aggressive Mitt Romney sparred with President Barack Obama in their first campaign debate Wednesday night over taxes, deficits and strong steps needed to create jobs in a sputtering national economy. “The status quo is not going to cut it,” declared the Republican challenger. Democrat Obama in turn accused his rival of seeking to “double down” on economic policies that actually led to the devastating national downturn four years ago – and of evasiveness when it came to prescriptions for tax changes, health care, Wall Street regulation and more. With early voting already under way in dozens of states, Romney was particularly assertive in the 90-minute event that drew a television audience likely to be counted in the tens of millions – like a man intent on shaking up the campaign with a little less than five weeks to run/AP. More here. (AP photos)

Question: Who won the debate?

Obama Slightly Ahead Before Debate

Five weeks before Election Day and two days before the first presidential debate, a set of new polls shows that President Obama has a slight two-point edge over Mitt Romney nationally. While both campaigns have tried to lower expectations for their respective candidate's debate performance, it's clear that conservatives expect Romney to use the debate to alter the campaign trajectory. The polls, meanwhile, show that there are also high expectations for Mr. Obama to perform well in the first debate. In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, Mr. Obama leads Romney among likely voters nationally, 49 percent to 47 percent. The poll shows Mr. Obama with a more comfortable lead in swing states, where he leads among likely voters 52 percent to 41 percent/CBS News. More here. (AP photo)

Question: How do you expect the two major candidates to do in Wednesday's presidential debate?

Romney Learning To Like Grits

Mitt Romney is trying to be a Southerner. "I am learning to say y'all, and I like grits and things," he joked with a Mississippi audience last night. "Strange things are happening to me." Romney, who campaigns today in Mississippi and Alabama before primaries there next week, has acknowledged that the next two states are an uphill climb/USA Today. More here. (Wikipedia photo of grits)

Question: Do you like grits? And/or: Do you like southern cooking?

McMorris Rodgers for Veep meme continues

Yet still another website is doing a post on the prospect of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers getting the No. 2 spot on the GOP national ticket this fall. This time it's Human Events, Powerful Conservative Voices.

It has the standard bio information that's familiar to most Spin Control readers, or at least the ones in our main readership area of the Inland Northwest. It talks about her spot in House Republican leadership. It also suggests the whole thing was "conceived in cyberspace", being first mentioned online, then picked up in print in Washington, D.C., news outlets.

It also contains the standard "it's an honor to be considered or even mentioned" comment that is de rigeur for any potential veep candidate at this stage. What it doesn't ask — or at least answer in print — is, "Have you talked to Mitt Romney about this?"

Which seems a logical question, considering McMorris Rodgers is the Washington state chairwoman for the Romney campaign, and Mitt was in the state just last week in advance of the precinct caucuses.

Spin Control did ask that question on Saturday night, in discussing Romney's win in Washington with McMorris Rodgers. The answer: No, they haven't talked about it at all.

Which is about what you'd expect, considering that it is March.

So let's start a new meme: HBO's movie about the 2008 campaign, "Game Change", has Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin. If McMorris Rodgers is selected as the GOP vice presidential candidate, and the 2012 campaign is made into a movie, who will be cast as Cathy?

Click the comment link to weigh in.

Kootenai caucuses: Santorum edges Paul

Welcome to the unpredictable, and often protracted, world of caucuses, Idaho Republicans.

The system the Idaho GOP set up for balloting led to a long night in Kootenai County, where as many as four ballots were needed to winnow the field down to a winner.

As colleague Jonathan Brunt reported from Lakeland High School in Rathdrum, the only person knocked out in the first round of balloting was Buddy Roemer. Who? you might well ask. Roemer is a former Louisiana governor who has been shut out of the plethora of GOP debates and is now running as an independent.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich was eliminated on the second ballot. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on the third, and the fourth ballot showdown between former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul went to Santorum. Not that it mattered because by then, the statewide winner was already decided.

Read Jonathan Brunt's account here.

To see a map of who won each Idaho county, click here.

It’s Super Tuesday for Idaho GOP. Do you know where your caucus is?

Idaho Republicans play a role in Super Tuesday this evening as they gather throughout the state for presidential caucuses.

If you're planning on attending a caucus, but don't know where yours is, look inside the blog to find a list of caucus locations for North Idaho.

If you're wondering what the heck this is all about, click here for  this morning's story about the caucuses.

Christa: Huge Caucus Line @ Resort

Christa Hazel reports from Coeur d'Alene Resort: "Reporting that the line into the Resort Caucus sit was out the the front door.  A lot of people checking in for what everyone is saying will be a long night."

DFO: Feel free to use this post for notes/comments about the Idaho GOP caucuses.

Raul Mum As Boise Caucus Begins

Several hundred voters arrived before the doors opened at 4 p.m. for Tuesday's first-ever Idaho GOP presidential caucus. Lines for registration were moving smoothly and participants were given color-coded wristbands to spread them around the Taco Bell Arena at Boise State University. Among the early arrivals was 1st District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador, who said he will continue to keep his preference to himself. Labrador said he has supporters who divide their allegiance among all four major GOP candidates. "I have made it a point to not to endorse in this race," Labrador said. "I don't think the people of Idaho want to know how I'm voting. They're independent and they're going to make up their own minds"/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.


Read more here: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2012/03/06/idahopolitics/ada_county_caucus_hundreds_already_arena_rep_labradors_powder_st#storylink=cpy

Romney wins Spokane County straw poll

Mitt Romney pulled off a razor thin victory in the straw poll of Republicans attending their precinct caucuses Saturday morning.

The former Massachusetts governor topped former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum by 10 votes — 1,521 to 1,511 — in Spokane County. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul was third with 1,340 and former Newt Gingrich a distant fourth with 411.

Paul won Spokane County in 2008, and his supporters became active in the local party. He made two visits to Spokane in the last two weeks, but Santorum may have received a boost from a stop in the heavily Republican Spokane Valley on Thursday.

Romney didn't make a campaign stop in the Spokane area, but one of his sons did, and his state campaign chairwoman is Eastern Washington's congresswoman, Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

"I hope that we can start unifying behind our nominee and start building that enthusiasm," an ecstatic McMorris Rodgers said Saturday evening.

AP: Romney wins Washington straw poll

Mitt Romney won Washington's presidential straw poll that accompanied today's Republican precinct caucuses, the Associated Press reports.

The AP bulletin goes a bit far by saying Romney was "nominated president, Washington."

The straw poll doesn't award delegates who will vote to nominate a candidate at the Republican National Convention this summer. That's decided in a process that began today with the precinct caucuses, but doesn't conclude until early June when delegates to the national convention are selected at the state convention.

The results are from a ballot handed to caucus attendees as they entered the meetings Saturday morning.

With tallies still coming in, the former Massachusetts governor has about 37 percent of the votes, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum have about 24 percent each. 

GOP caucuses: Romney leading in King, Pierce

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took an early lead in the state's most populous counties, King and Pierce, in a straw poll conducted for the state Republican precinct caucuses.

In early returns, Romney had more than half the votes reported  in Seattle and King County, and more than a third of the votes in Pierce County. He was leading in most of western Washington counties that had reported. In Eastern Washington, final results showed him with 60 votes in Adams County, which was about 58 percent of the ballots cast, and 281 votes, or 40 percent of those cast in Franklin County.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul had won Okanogan, Ferry, Pend Oreille, Pacific and Klickitat counties, which are less populous and have already turned in complete results. He was leading in Whitman and Asotin counties as well. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum took more than half the votes in Columbia County and finished four votes ahead of Paul in Lincoln County.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich trails the field with about 11 percent of the votes statewide, and has not yet finished first in any county.

The straw poll results are based on a ballot caucus attendees were given as the arrived for the meetings. It doesn't award delegates to any of the candidates; that happens through a process that begins with the precinct caucuses and ends at the state convention in June.

GOP caucuses: Paul leads Pend Oreille, Ferry; Santorum leads Lincoln

Eastern Washington appears split on its favorite for the Republican nominee to take on Barack Obama in the fall.

In early returns from a straw poll of people attending the GOP precinct caucuses, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul is leading in Asotin, Pend Oreille and Ferry counties, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in Lincoln and Columbia counties, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Adams and Garfield counties.

Statewide, Romney holds a slim lead with 1,272 votes or about 31 percent of those counted; Paul is second with 1,116 votes or 27 percent and Santorum third with 991 or 24 percent. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich is a distant fourth, with 556 votes or 13.5 percent. 

GOP Caucuses: Romney takes early lead

Mitt Romney took an early lead over Ron Paul as counting began of the straw poll conducted today with the Washington state Republican precinct caucuses.

The state Republican Party said results from 15 of the state's 39 counties showed Romney with 1,213 votes, or about 31.5 percent and Paul with 1,035 votes or about 27 percent.

Rick Santorum was in third, with 938 votes or 24 percent and Newt Gingrich a distant fourth with 495 votes for 13 percent. Another 166 caucus attendees had marked their straw vote ballot as "undecided."

The straw poll was conducted by a ballot given to all caucus attendees as they arrived for the 10 a.m. meetings. It's a non-binding poll and delegates who will attend the national convention and vote for the presidential nominee are chosen through a process that begins with the precinct caucuses today and ends with the state convention in June.

Happy caucus day, Republicans. Here are some tips

Washington Republicans gather this morning for caucuses, to start the process to select a presidential nominee, and to talk issues.

Spokane County Republicans have more than 90 locations for their precinct caucuses, which begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. For help finding yours, click here.

To find GOP precinct caucus locations elsewhere in Washington, click here.

For a primer on the caucuses, click here

How to find your GOP precinct caucus location

Spokane County Republicans have more than 90 locations for their precinct caucuses, which begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. For help finding yours, click here.

To find GOP precinct caucus locations elsewhere in Washington, click here.

Precinct caucuses: The where, what and how

Eastern Washington Republicans might know the “who” for their precinct caucuses this weekend. Three of the four presidential hopefuls have stopped in Spokane over the last three weeks, and all of them have been debating and campaigning for months.
Caucus goers might also know the when, but it’s worth repeating: 10 a.m. Saturday.
They may be wondering about the where, which is a bit more complicated, considering there are more than 90 locations in Spokane County alone. Before getting to that list, a brief primer on the what and how of precinct caucuses:
Caucuses are essentially meetings of like-minded individuals. There are Democratic and Republican caucuses in Congress and the Legislature, as well as caucuses formed around geographic proximity or causes ranging from military families to farm products. A precinct caucus is a chance for people in a small geographic area, who consider themselves party  members, to gather every two years to discuss issues. Every four years, they also discuss presidential candidates.
Washington voters don’t register by party. To attend a GOP caucus this weekend, you’ll have to declare yourself a Republican and promise not to attend Democratic caucuses in April. Upon arriving, you’ll get a straw poll ballot to mark a preference for one of the four GOP presidential candidates. The straw poll won’t decide presidential delegates, it’s just a snapshot of where caucus-goers are, and results for the state will be released that evening.
During the caucus, the group may discuss the merits of one or all candidates before asking for a show of support for each one. You can change your mind, and decide to support a different candidate than you marked on the ballot.
Based on the strength of the candidates, delegates from each precinct will be awarded for the county convention in April. The delegates at county conventions pick delegates to the state convention, who pick delegates to the national convention. That final group of delegates are pledged to presidential nominees, and changes in support can occur along the way. The caucuses are the beginning, not a conclusion, of determining the state’s support for presidential candidates.
The caucuses also deal with issues that may be part of the GOP county platform, or statement of principles. Depending on attendance for your particular precinct, the process can be over in less than a half hour, or it could go the full two hours. Party rules say the caucuses must end by noon.

To see the list of Spokane County precinct caucus locations, click here to go inside the blog.

McMorris Rodgers gets another veep mention

No. 6 in line? McMorris Rodgers at a recent press conference.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is ranked No. 6 on a list of 10 possible Republican vice presidential candidates by a GOP leaning election blog, Race 4 2012.

It describes her as "the biggest potential dark horse candidate" and plunks her down between Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.  It also commends her "gravitas."

As nice as it is to have a Washington congresswoman on someone's short list, it should be noted that this blog doesn't even seem to know that the state's precinct caucuses are being held this weekend. So we'll take their Veep list with a grain of salt.

Gingrich: WA going right route on gay marriage, but people should vote it down

Gingrich answers questions at an Olympia press conference.

OLYMPIA — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he thinks allowing same-sex couples to marry is wrong, but the path Washington is taking to change its law is right.

Voters should have a chance to decide the issue, rather than the courts, Gingrich said. The Legislature passed, and Gov. Chris Gregoire signed, a bill to allow same-sex marriage but opponents have filed a referendum that would delay the law and block it if they gather enough signatures by June 6.

"I don't agree with it. If I were voting, I'd vote no," Gingrich said during a break in meetings with Republican legislators this morning. "But at least they're doing it the right way."

During a later news conference with local reporters, the Republican presidential candidate said he's changed his mind on medical marijuana and no longer supports efforts to have the federal government reclassify the drug so it could be prescribed for certain conditions.

He did support such reclassification in the 1980s, he said, but changed his position: "I was convinced by parents who didn't want any suggestion made to their children that drugs were appropriate."

States don't have the right to pass medical marijuana laws and then allow some sort of distribution system to be set up, he added. "I think the federal government has been very clear… that federal law trumps state law."

Ron Paul picking up endorsements, headed for Spokane

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. rally Friday evening at the Spokane Convention Center, and is picking up endorsements in and around Spokane.

State Rep. Matt Shea, Spokane County Treasurer Rob Chase, and Republican Central Committeemembers John Christina of Spokane and Karen Skoog of Elk all endorsed Paul, the campaign announced today.

Many of those endorsements come as  no surprise. Chase, like Paul, was once a Libertarian candidate; he became active in the Paul campaign in 2008 and was part of the Texas congressman's delegation that helped shape the Spokane County GOP platform.

Shea, R-Spokane Valley, shares many of Paul's views on state's rights, limited government and less spending. He was among legislators who met with GOP contender Rick Santorum on Monday, when the former Pennsylvania senator was in Olympia. Shea was complimentary of Santorum but said he wasn't endorsing him, adding he thought the Spokane Valley's 4th Legislative District would probably split between Santorum and Paul.

Christina was an alternate delegate to the 2008 convention for Paul.

Paul's visit is the latest sign of the increasing interest Washington and Idaho are drawing this year, as the GOP nomination contest continues with four candidates. Santorum was in Washington on Monday and Idaho on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney is scheduled for a fundraiser in Seattle on March 1, and either Romney or one of his family members may be in Spokane before the March 3 caucuses.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has no campaign events scheduled in the region at this time. "Stay tuned," campaign spokesman Lew Moore said. Gingrich does expect to make a stop in Washington, and the campaign would like to have him visit both sides of the state, Moore added.

Could we boycott the Iowa caucuses?

If no one else has yet proposed this, might I suggest the news media stop paying attention to the results of the Iowa precinct caucuses…or any precinct caucuses, for that matter.

That includes Washington. No offense, all you good party loyalists who are preparing for the big March 3 event. 

As a party-building exercise, caucuses are a useful tool. Anyone who is willing to leave the comfort of their home; drive or be driven to a school, church or community center; sit around for about an hour with family, neighbors and total strangers while someone reads arcane rules for awarding delegates; then speak or listen to others speak about the virtues of a particular candidate isn’t just a glutton for political punishment. He or she is an invaluable find for a political party.

To read the rest of this post, click here to go inside the blog.


Ron Paul Connects With Youth

Ivy Littlejohn, 13, of Pacolet, S.C. watches as Republican presidential candidate, Rep.  Ron Paul, R-Texas speak in West Columbia, S.C. A 76-year-old great-grandfather who gives eye-glazing speeches on monetary policy, displays a crotchety streak and disappears from the Republican campaign trail for days at a time to rest up is captivating young voters. Texas Rep. Ron Paul's libertarian message clicks with young people, who are supplying zest to his stronger-than-expected presidential campaign. Why would young people gravitate to the oldest guy in the field? “Freedom is a young idea,” says one youthful voter. Story here. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Question: Why is 76YO Ron Paul connecting with today's youth?

Will Santorum catch fire in WA?

Washington Republicans held a "straw poll" over the last week of December to test the strength of the presidential candidate field. It pretty well mirrored Iowa and the nation…at that time.

Here's the breakdown, released yesterday by the Washington State Republican Party:

Candidate Percentage
Mitt Romney 27.49%
Newt Gingrich 25.77%
Ron Paul 18.43%
Rick Santorum 11.31%
Michele Bachmann 8.76%
Rick Perry 5.47%
Jon Huntsman 2.77%

In that least week of 2011, Gingrich was starting to fade and Rick Santorum was just beginning an uptick in Iowa, and that can be read in to the Washington numbers. Swap those two results, and the top four look quite a bit like Iowa caucus results.

Remember: Washington is also a caucus state this year…as opposed to some strange hybrid of a caucus and a presidential primary, as it has been for the last couple of cycles.

Iowa Caucuses Launch Election Year

A relaxed Mitt Romney quoted from “America the Beautiful” and projected confidence Tuesday in one of his final appearances before tonight’s Iowa caucuses. Leaving no stone unturned in his appeal to the patriotism of Iowan voters, Romney quoting from three verses of “America the Beautiful,” which he described as "one of the hymns that I love." Romney has been dogged by suggestions that his Mormonism is off-putting to conservatives among the Republican base. But a victory in Tuesday evening's caucuses could deflate some air from that theory and go a long way to delivering the Republican presidential nomination/Niall Stanage, The Hill. More here. (AP photo)

Question: Predict how the candidates will do tonight?

McMorris Rodgers endorses Romney

The campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has won the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, Romney's campaign announced today.

McMorris Rodgers will serve as Romney's chairwoman in Washington, his campaign said in a news release.

Fact Checking Tuesday’s prez debate

Most Republican presidential candidates were in Las Vegas Tuesday night for the CNN debate. But what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas when you're running for president, and what's said in a presidential debate gets dissected before you get out of the auditorium at the Venetian and walk past the blackjack tables.

It was a pretty feisty debate, which opened with most candidates piling on Herman Cain, who is rising in the polls, and offered some spirited exchanges between Mitt Romney and Rich Perry. Hard to say who the winner was, but it's pretty clear the loser was moderator Anderson Cooper, who lost control of the debate at several points when the candidates tried talking over each other and wouldn't stop.

"I thought Republicans followed the rules," he complained at one point. Get a grip, Anderson. Anyone who occupies the Oval Office doesn't have to play by the rules…a president gets to make  his or her own rules.

FactCheck.org has a rundown of some of the main points that came up in the debate, including Cain's 9-9-9 plan and Romney's Massachusetts health care plan.

Caucuses set on different dates

OLYMPIA — Washington Republicans and Democrats will hold their precinct caucuses on different days — actually they'll hold them in different months — in the first step of the presidential nominating process next year.

Republicans have scheduled their precinct caucuses for Saturday March 3, which should be fairly early in the nominating process. Some people might argue that right now seems late in the nominating process, after all the GOP presidential debates, but in truth the picking doesn't begin in earnest until the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Those aren't scheduled yet, but are expected to occur in February, followed quickly by the South Carolina primary and the Nevada caucuses.

Under national GOP rules, only states which award delegates proportionately to the top candidates can hold their primaries or caucuses in March. States that have "winner take all" systems must wait until at least April.

Washington Republicans theoretically will split their delegates among candidates based on caucus support. But it's important to remember that the caucuses are just the beginning of the process. Supporters who become delegates must then fight through a county and state convention where the delegates to the national convention are finally decided. So in theory a candidate who did very well in in the March precinct caucuses might be out of the race by the June state convention, and those delegates might realign with someone else.

On the Democraticside, things are a bit less complicated, because, well, they already know who their nominee is going to be. They scheduled precinct caucuses for April 15, which is a Sunday. County conventions will follow soon after.

By holding the caucuses on different dates, the parties theoretically have allowed for something they always complain about with primaries in a state in which no one registers by party. That is, that Democrats could attend Republican caucuses to cause mischief, and vice versa. It's possible because the only critieria for participating in a party caucus is to say that for this particular day, you consider yourself a member of that party.

That could change tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day, as Scarlett O'Hara once observed.

Which is not to say that we believe such chicanery will happen. But for parties that were always extremely suspicious of it happening in primaries — to the point of suing to overturn more the blanket primary system that lasted for more than a half century — they seem unconcerned about that happening in the caucuses.

Bottom line, though, is that for the Republican presidential selection, the Washington precinct caucuses might be early enough to draw some attention from candidates.

Why The Anti-Christ Matters In Politics

he end is near — or so it seems to a segment of Christians aligned with the religious right. The global economic meltdown, numerous natural disasters and the threat of radical Islam have fueled a conviction among some evangelicals that these are the last days. While such beliefs might be dismissed as the rantings of a small but vocal minority, apocalyptic fears helped drive the antigovernment movements of the 1930s and ’40s and could help define the 2012 presidential campaign as well/Matthew Avery Sutton, WSU associate professor of history, in New York Times. More here. (Wikipedia illustration: Antichrist and the devil. From the Deeds of the Antichrist fresco by Luca Signorelli,)

Question: Do you believe in a literal fulfillment of biblical prophecy re: a future anti-Christ?

Another GOP prez debate tonight at 5

Caller wondered if it was true that there is yet still another GOP presidential debate tonight.


A debate jointly sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party — proving the old "strange bedfellows" adage — will be llive on the cable news channel starting at 5 p.m. Pacific It will have eight debaters : Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, Herb Cain and Michele Bachmann. (We did that in reverse alphabetical order, just to be different.)

Remains to be seen whether this will be a Perry vs. Romney show with the other candidates as secondary players, like last week's debate on a rival 24-hour news network, or if it will be a more even-handed approach.

For those who can't get enough of the GOP debates, and for those who think there's never anything new in the GOP debates, consider this Huffington Post photo feature in which the candidates get extreme makeovers with each other's hairstyles.