ROMNEY AND HUCKABEE?…. I often wonder what the standard is for major news outlets that receive press releases from political figures who no longer hold public office. How do editors decide what constitutes actual news, when these folks issue a statement about something?

We know, for example, that Newt Gingrich’s every thought is frequently considered news worthy, despite the fact that he hasn’t held public office in more than a decade. Today, Mitt Romney’s dissatisfaction with Judge Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination was also deemed news.

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney issued a statement Tuesday on Sotomayor’s nomination:

“The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is troubling. Her public statements make it clear she has an expansive view of the role of the judiciary. Historically, the Court is where judges interpret the Constitution and apply the law. It should never be the place ‘where policy is made,’ as Judge Sotomayor has said. Like any nominee, she deserves a fair and thorough hearing. What the American public deserves is a judge who will put the law above her own personal political philosophy.”

This is pretty hackish, of course, but content aside, who cares what Mitt Romney thinks about a judicial nominee? He finds Sotomayor “troubling.” So? There are plenty of former governors out there; Romney’s thoughts on Supreme Court vacancies are as relevant as theirs are.

Around the same time, Mike Huckabee weighed in, too.

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee issued a statement Tuesday on Sotomayor’s nomination:

“The appointment of Maria Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is the clearest indication yet that President Obama’s campaign promises to be a centrist and think in a bi-partisan way were mere rhetoric. Sotomayor comes from the far left and will likely leave us with something akin to the ‘Extreme Court’ that could mark a major shift. The notion that appellate court decisions are to be interpreted by the ‘feelings’ of the judge is a direct affront of the basic premise of our judicial system that is supposed to apply the law without personal emotion. If she is confirmed, then we need to take the blindfold off Lady Justice.”

As a substantive matter, Huckabee’s whining is blisteringly dumb. But in terms of actual news, the only thing interesting about the former governor’s press release is that Huckabee, after weeks of coverage about Sotomayor and her prospective nomination, is under the impression that her first name is “Maria.”

Collectively, Romney and Huckabee have no power, no influence, and no public responsibilities. So why would CNN run their silly public statements as news?

I suppose this is a lesson on why so many politicians flirt with possible presidential campaigns — it prompts major news outlets to pay attention to your press releases. Otherwise, various rants from Romney, Huckabee, and Gingrich would — I hope — be easier for editors to ignore.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.