VOTE in our end-December survey: Who do you want to be the GOP nominee? Do you agree with Gingrich that Ron Paul is too extreme? Do you think the GOP will win the Senate? VOTE NOW.
Sensing Iowa win, Romney plans late push - WSJ
"Mitt Romney unveiled plans Thursday for an aggressive finishing sprint in Iowa designed to lock down a victory in Tuesday’s caucuses that would leave his rivals scrambling to catch up." - Washington Post
Gingrich perseveres in Iowa despite halving of support...
"Newt Gingrich tried to shrug off his disappointing poll numbers Thursday as he began his third day of a 22-stop bus tour in one of the most conservative stretches of Iowa. In one month his support has been halved and he has fallen from first to fourth place, according to the latest CNN/Time/ORC International poll. His message to Iowans: Nothing is settled yet." - WSJ | Highlights experience - NPR
...and maintains attacks on Romney
"Gingrich said that he has always stood with the conservative wing and that Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, represents the “timid,” “moderate,” “conciliatory” wing." - Washington Post
Voters seem to like Gingrich's pro-growth message but still have doubts about the messenger - Kimberley Strassel for the Wall Street Journal
Tea-Party groundwork does NOT pay dividents for Gingrich - WSJ
Perry’s internal polling confirms that Santorum’s surge is real - HotAir
Mitt Romney dismissed any possibility that Ron Paul might win the Republican nomination - RCP
Ron Paul’s position that states should outlaw abortion even in “hard cases” but the federal government should not extend any rights to the unborn ought to be more disturbing to the pro-life movement than even an outright pro-abortion position - Eli Lehrer for FrumForum
Rollins says Bachmann eyeing VP slot avoided attacking Romney - NRO
And on the subject of Margaret Thatcher... Her lesson is that decline is inevitable only if its self-fulfilling prophets prevail - Rich Lowry for NRO
Cato Institute finds that all candidates are light on details about what spending they'd cut - Daily Caller
Some candidates have bigger entourages than others
See the full graphic for all the candidates in the New York Times.
Peggy Noonan chooses her most memorable line of the campaign
"The most memorable line of the first phase? There's "9-9-9" and "Oops," but the best came from Mitt Romney when he was asked about the Gingrich campaign's failure to qualify for the Virginia ballot. Mr. Gingrich had compared it to Pearl Harbor, a setback, but we'll recover. Mr. Romney, breezily, to a reporter: "I think it's more like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory." It made people laugh. It made them want to repeat it, which is the best free media of all, the line people can't resist saying in the office. And they laughed because it pinged off a truth: Gingrich is ad hoc, disorganized." - Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal
Joe Scarbourgh: GOP must now focus on independents
"Instead of calling Obama names or comparing political opponents to Joseph Stalin, Republican presidential candidates must learn to persuade swing voters in Bucks County, Pa., Tampa, Fla. and Columbus, Ohio." - Joe Scarborough for Politico
"A Gallup tracking poll released Thursday showed that Obama is once again underwater, plummeting to 41 percent approval and 50 percent disapproval, a sharp drop from earlier in the week" - The Hill
Team Obama lays out electoral map strategy - LA Times
Obama is NOT the clean guy he presents - UK Spectator
Sen. Ben Nelson's Retirement Signals Twilight of Blue Dog Democrats - Daily Beast
"Since 2000, the median income of working age households has fallen more than 10 percent. With the top 25 percent of earners grabbing a much larger slice of a shrinking pie, income losses for folks in the middle and working classes are much greater." - Peter Morici for Fox
Fox is number one cable news network for tenth year running - Commentary
The tension between communitarian and market conservatism - David Brooks in the New York Times
More from Rod Dreher at the American Conservative.
Petraeus considered resigning over Afghan drawdown - Weekly Standard
And finally... Resolutions that USA Today would like to see from politicians and others...
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VOTE in our end-December survey: Who do you want to be the GOP nominee? Do you agree with Gingrich that Ron Paul is too extreme? Do you think the GOP will win the Senate? VOTE NOW.
Ron Paul has a 56% chance of winning Iowa - Nate Silver
BUT FOR MEDIA FOCUS... IT'S SANTORUM'S TURN
Romney and Santorum surge as Iowa caucuses near - Washington Post
Byron Yorke explains why Santorum's support may grow over coming days - Washington Examiner
Rick Santorum says he'd cast vote for Ron Paul after taking 'a lot of antacid' - The Hill
The GOP's TOP priority is STOP PAUL - TIME
Ron Paul Salutes Veterans, Says He Plans to Bring the Troops Home - ABC
Marching orders for Paul’s volunteers: Do Shave, Don’t Tweet - New York Times
"The key to wrapping up a nomination quickly has always been an Iowa-New Hampshire one-two punch, and the Granite State, which votes Jan. 10, seems to be a Romney fortress" - E J Dionne in the Washington Post
Gingrich uses Bolton, Forbes and Reagan to bolster ebbing campaign
Corporate money poured into his nonprofit after Gingrich became pro-drilling and anti-cap-and-trade - Washington Post
What Iowans are getting in the mail...
"CBS News and National Journal collected an assortment of flyers sent to Iowans last week, many of them revealing that the other candidates were focused on chipping away at Newt Gingrich's standing in the polls."
Obama's approval numbers sink downwards again... according to PowerLine...
...but they still look better at RCP
Obama may lose gay voters to Gary Johnson in 2012 - Daily Caller
In 2008 49% of new voters registering were Democrats and only 25% were Republican; now it's 32% Democrat and 34% Republican - Wall Street Journal
The Obama administration is poised to announce the sale of nearly $30 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia - Politico
Rising National Debt is Obama's biggest foreign policy failure - Will Inboden for Shadow Government
Many say Shia Iran and Sunni al-Qaeda can’t work together. They are wrong - Clifford May at NRO
John Stossel: Too many Americans still want free lunch
"I fear that much of the country is in agreement with the Wall Street protestors who love free stuff from government -- free health care, free college education, free lunch. Elderly Americans want no cuts to Medicare. Even after the Solyndra scandal, 62 percent of Americans say America should continue to invest in clean-energy jobs. Don’t they think about what that money would be producing if left in the hands of free, entrepreneurial individuals? No." - John Stossel for Fox
And finally... If Romney, Perry, Gingrich and Cain could be any superhero they'd be Superman, Santorum - Mr Incredible, Cain - Spiderman... WATCH THE VIDEO!
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VIDEO: Gingrich on Ron Paul: "His views are totally outside the mainstream of virtually every decent American". The former House Speaker says he wouldn't vote for Paul if he was the GOP candidate.
Mitt Romney in striking distance of Iowa win - Politico
John Hinderaker at PowerLine backs Romney: "It is time for Republicans to get serious. After flirting with just about every candidate in a large presidential field, is is time to come home to the one candidate who has the demonstrated ability to run the largest organization in the United States, the Executive Branch of the federal government; who has never been touched by the slightest taint of scandal; whose success in the private sector makes him the outsider that Republicans say they are looking for; and who has by far the best chance of beating President Obama: Mitt Romney."
Meanwhile, at RedState, Erick Erickson backs Gingrich over Romney: "Put simply — as Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney moved the state left, socializing its healthcare system and doing nothing to stop gay marriage until he knew it was too late to do anything about it. As Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich moved the nation right with a balanced budget and welfare reform."
Jonathan S Tobin at Commentary dissents: "The argument that Gingrich — whose deviations from conservative principles over the years are too numerous to count — is more authentically conservative than Romney is unsustainable."
Don't believe the mythology about Iowa, voting has tracked the national campaign - Michael Crowley for TIME
What should be encouraging all of the Republican candidates is the lead a generic Republican has over President Obama in the latest polls - Pete du Pont in the Wall Street Journal
Du Pont also lists the six things that most unite the GOP candidates:
One good idea each from the seven Republican presidential candidates - Ross Douthat in the New York Times
"To hear Donald Trump tell it, “millions of people” are waiting for him to make an endorsement in the Republican presidential primary. And at some point, he says, he’ll likely grace a candidate with one — that is, unless he decides to run himself as an independent." - Washington Post
The third party factor
Obama seeks $1.2 trillion debt ceiling increase - CNN
Bill Nelson's retirement as centrist Democrat in conservative-leaning Florida increases likelihood of GOP takeover of Senate - WSJ
"Nelson is the seventh member of the Democratic Caucus to announce his retirement, and his decision means Republicans can shift resources elsewhere and spend more targeting other vulnerable Senate Democrats this cycle, including Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.)." - The Hill
"Mr. Nelson's retirement means Republicans are closer to picking up the four seats they'll need to retake the Senate in 2012. It's also a reminder that when Democrats govern from the left, they do so at the cost of the red state Members needed to build a majority." - WSJ editorial
Roll Call has another way of seeing it: Senate Democrats Losing Least Supportive Member
And for some cold water on GOP hopes Hotline has this: "There are encouraging signs for Democrats. In the two races where the party stands a serious chance of picking up a seat -- Nevada and Massachusetts - recruiting has yielded candidates that have run solid campaigns so far. And the lack of top notch Republican gets in places like Florida, Missouri, and Pennsylvania have been an unexpected blessing for the party."
"Achieving parity with the Democrats in campaign spending would be no small feat. Yet it appears possible." - Fred Barnes in the Wall Street Journal looks at how groups like American Crossroads are countering the way union money pushed America leftwards.
National Review goes Establishment Republican - Jeffrey Lord for the American Spectator
Paul Bremer: President Obama made a serious mistake in withdrawing all American forces from Iraq
"A residual American military presence in Iraq would have helped us achieve three security goals: striking al Qaeda and Iranian terrorists still active in Iraq; helping train Iraqi security forces; and dampening tensions along the "green line," the contested demarcation between the Kurdish north and Arab south. Our withdrawal makes all three objectives more difficult to sustain." - Paul Bremer in the Wall Street Journal
And finally... Politico has a gallery of Rick Santorum's trademark turtle necks
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Ron Paul has come under fire for racially derogatory comments in newsletters he published some two decades ago
Ex-Aide says Ron Paul is a 9/11 Truther and isolationist who thinks US shouldn't have fought Hitler - Weekly Standard
The dominant storyline at the Republican convention will be figuring out how to appease Paul
Peter Beinart at the Daily Beast says Paul has already changed the GOP, exposing its fundamental splits.
Ron Paul has 1.3% lead... in RCP's poll of polls for Iowa.
But Byron York at the Washington Examiner notes that Ronulans aren't necessarily registered Republicans: "Given Paul's views on the Fed, the gold standard and social issues, not to mention his isolationist foreign policy, the polls have left some politicos wondering whether Republican voters have somehow swerved off the rails. But there's another question that should be asked first: Who are Ron Paul's supporters? Are they, in fact, Republicans? In an analysis accompanying his most recent survey in Iowa, pollster Scott Rasmussen noted, "Romney leads, with Gingrich in second, among those who consider themselves Republicans. Paul has a wide lead among non-Republicans who are likely to participate in the caucus.""
Iowa caucus near, race is still up in the air - New York Times
Gingrich and Perry both fail to qualify for Virginia ballot - Fox
"Mitt The Massachusetts Moderate" - MSNBC notes the Gingrich campaign's full throttle attack on Romney.
“The dynamics couldn’t be better for us,” says a senior Romney strategist. “I don’t see any scenario where we’re not the nominee.” - Politico
Rick Santorum goes shooting with Iowa's evangelical congressman Steve King but doesn't bag an endorsement - LA Times
The Tea Party Express offered its “support” to Michele Bachmann but the leading conservative activist group stopped short of officially endorsing the Minnesotan - Roll Call
This cycle's 13 GOP White House candidates have collected nearly $90 million — about 40 percent less than the $150 million that the 10 GOP contenders had raised at the same point in the 2008 cycle - Roll Call
Those denouncing the conservative establishment don't seem to realize they're apart of it - Jonah Goldberg in the LA Times
According to the latest Gallup tracking poll, more Americans approve of the job that President Obama is doing than disapprove for the first time since this summer - Politico
BUT... "The economy in 2012 is likely to sway Mr. Obama’s fate in his fall re-election campaign, and there he still has far to go before winning an edge among voters. The WSJ-NBC poll found 39% of Americans approve of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, with 57% disapproving." - WSJ
The Obama administration is wrong to compare today’s problems to those of the Great Depression
"In the progressive era, the country was young and vibrant. The job was to impose economic order. Today, the country is middle-aged but self-indulgent. Bad habits have accumulated. Interest groups have emerged to protect the status quo. The job is to restore old disciplines, strip away decaying structures and reform the welfare state. The country needs a productive midlife crisis." - David Brooks in the New York Times
The most important social trend of the past 20 years is as positive as it is underappreciated: the United States’ plunging crime rate - Charles Lane in the Washington Post
We aren't just broke we are barren - Mark Steyn at NRO on the West's fertility problem.
"Obama’s green-technology program was infused with politics at every level"
"The Washington Post found in an analysis of thousands of memos, company records and internal e-mails. Political considerations were raised repeatedly by company investors, Energy Department bureaucrats and White House officials."
"Disturbing revelations continue to emerge about how more than half a billion dollars of taxpayer dollars were shoveled into the Solyndra solar-panel boondoggle. It is becoming increasingly clear that the only “green” involved in this scandal is money." - Washington Times
GOP caves into Obama on payroll tax
Senate GOP worries tax standoff could cost them chance at upper chamber
"Senate Republicans are worried the standoff over extending the payroll tax holiday could hurt their chances of winning the upper chamber next year. ... The political operative said incumbents such as Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) could pay the price. These Republican senators have spoken out against House GOP colleagues. Others lawmakers on the ballot next year have urged House members to pass the payroll tax package to avert tax hikes in January. " - The Hill
Having been a frontrunner weeks ago, now Newt Gingrich tries to lower expectations for an Iowa victory
"Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Thursday seemed to be lowering expectations for the upcoming Iowa caucuses, saying he'd be happy with a third or fourth place finish. "My goal is to be the top three or four [in Iowa]," the former House speaker said at a campaign stop in Richmond, Virginia. "I'd love to win."" - CNN
Romney turns down Gingrich debate challenge out of ‘respect’ for rest of field - The Hill
President George H W Bush backs Mitt Romney
"Said Bush: "I think Romney is the best choice for us. I like Perry, but he doesn't seem to be going anywhere; he's not surging forward." As for Newt Gingrich, Bush said, "I'm not his biggest advocate."" - Political Wire
In an ad for his newsletter, Ron Paul forecast "race war"
"A direct-mail solicitation for Ron Paul's political and investment newsletters two decades ago warned of a "coming race war in our big cities" and of a "federal-homosexual cover-up" to play down the impact of AIDS. ... Among other things, the articles... said that AIDS sufferers "enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick." ... Paul has said that he is not sure who wrote the articles that were published under his name. He has said the articles do not reflect his views, and noted that his public stances - supporting gays in the military for example - have run counter to the incendiary statements in the newsletters." - Reuters
Latest Iowa polling: Romney leads, Paul second, and Gingrich close behind
"The new Rasmussen Reports survey of Iowa caucus participants shows Romney on top with 25% of the vote followed by Paul at 20% and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 17%." -Rasmussen Reports
Second tier candidates fail to make ballot in Virginia primary
"Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum all missed the deadline and will not be in the running on March 6 for the commonwealth's 50 delegates. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul will all be appearing on the ballot." - National Journal
More than two million voters have left the Republican and Democratic parties since 2008
"A USA TODAY analysis of state voter registration statistics shows registered Democrats declined in 25 of the 28 states that register voters by party. Republicans dipped in 21 states, while independents increased in 18 states. The trend is acute in states that are key to next year's presidential race. In the eight swing states that register voters by party, Democrats' registration is down by 800,000 and Republicans' by 350,000. Independents have gained 325,000." - USA Today
Democrats confident they will recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
"Overlooked in the effort to get Walker's name on the ballot next year is the fact that Democrats are targeting four GOP state senators as well ... if they [win], it will mean another opportunity to put control of the state's upper chamber in the hands of voters (Republicans currently hold a slim 17-16 advantage) ... Here's one possibility: Walker survives a recall election, but Democrats pick up at least one seat in the state Senate. Then, the overall effort will be viewed as at least a partial victory." - National Journal
"The first section blocked makes it a felony to transport or conceal a person "with intent to further that person's unlawful entry into the United States" or to help that person avoid apprehension. A second section makes it unlawful for an adult to "fail to carry" an alien registration card or receipt. And the final section blocked would have allowed local law enforcement with "reasonable suspicion" to detain any person the officers believe is in the United States illegally." - CNN
Obama presses Boehner on tax impasse
Senate Republican frustration mounting with House GOP
"Multiple Senate GOP sources told CNN that frustration with their counterparts in the House is mounting. "The House Republicans have painted themselves into a corner. They are on their own," a Senate GOP leadership aide told CNN. "This is a lose – lose situation for us. They've let the Democrats get the messaging advantage and more specifically we've turned one of our key issues on its head. The Republicans look like they are the ones blocking tax relief," said the Senate GOP leadership aide" - CNN
2012ers missing from House-Senate spending debate
"The latest example: far from rushing to steer the party away from a potentially disastrous showdown over the payroll tax holiday with President Barack Obama, the top Republican candidates are doing what they can to make themselves scarce." - Politico
Romney says Gingrich can't take the heat, so Gingrich challenges him to a one-on-one debate
"Mitt Romney says if Newt Gingrich can't stand the heat coming from his allies, then just wait until President Obama starts coming after him." - USA Today
Newt responds: "Newt Gingrich threw down a “debate me in Iowa’’ challenge to his chief Republican rival, Mitt Romney, on Wednesday night, hours after Mr. Romney said in a television interview that Mr. Gingrich should stop complaining about negative advertising." - New York Times
The perils of not being organized: Newt has to take time out of Iowa campaign to get on Virginia ballot
"Gingrich will campaign in the state Wednesday and Thursday, even though its GOP presidential primary isn’t until March. And therein lies the problem. The former House speaker has been struggling to amass enough signatures to get on the Virginia ballot before Thursday’s deadline. He needs 10,000—and at least 400 from every congressional district." - LA Times
George Will: Newt is an anti-conservative
"Gingrich’s unsurprising descent into sinister radicalism — intimidation of courts — is redundant evidence that he is not merely the least conservative candidate, he is thoroughly anti-conservative. He disdains the central conservative virtue, prudence, and exemplifies progressivism’s defining attribute — impatience with impediments to the political branches’ wielding of untrammeled power. ... Atop the Republican ticket, Gingrich would guarantee Barack Obama’s reelection, would probably doom Republicans’ hopes of capturing the Senate and might cost them control of the House. If so, Gingrich would at last have achieved something — wreckage, but something — proportional to his swollen sense of himself." - George Will for the Washington Post
Ron Paul defends controversial newsletters
"When asked... whether he looked at them when they were published and decided they did not represent him accurately, he said "not all the time." Pressed on whether he read them he said, "Not all the time. Well, on occasion, yes." ... Paul, who had left Congress at the time and was practicing medicine, has repeatedly disavowed the controversial remarks in the newsletters. "I've never read that stuff. I've never read - I came - I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written"" - CNN
Dorothy Rabinowitz: Ron Paul is a propagandist for our chief enemies in the world - WSJ
Bachmann fans in Iowa have a dilemma: they love her, but don't think she's a credible candidate - Politico
New Hampshire observers find Huntsman's campaign confusing - Daily Caller
Karl Rove: How Obama will run in 2012
"Lacking a popular record or constructive agenda, Mr. Obama will resort to ad hominem attacks on Republicans. The president, who in 2008 spoke constantly about healing divisions, seems to relish being an attack dog. So he'll say Republicans don't just disagree with him; they want to harm the nation. He'll label any dissent as unpatriotic. ... Dividing Americans along class lines and pretending the last three years are someone else's responsibility may be therapeutic for the president and his liberal followers. But it's hard to see it working." - Karl Rove for the WSJ ($)
Philip Klein: Blame Bush if you don't like the GOP 2012 field
"Though Bush inherited a GOP-controlled Congress in 2001, eight years later his party had lost the presidency as well as both chambers of Congress -- and the Senate soon became filibuster-proof for Democrats. But it also had the detrimental effect by weakening the bench of potential conservative presidential candidates. Between 2001 and 2009, Republicans who were in the typical grooming positions for the presidency got coaxed into supporting Bush's big government policies -- all of which makes them less appealing to today's Tea Party electorate." - Philip Klein for the Washington Examiner
National Journal's 2012 Senate race rankings, Christmas edition - National Journal
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback implements real fiscal restraint
"In the past year, three state agencies have been abolished and 2,050 jobs have been cut. Funding for schools, social services and the arts have been slashed. The new Republican governor rejected a $31.5 million federal grant for a new health-insurance exchange because he opposes President Obama’s health-care law. And that’s just the small stuff. A new “Office of the Repealer” has been created to reduce the number of laws and regulations, and the Repealer is canvassing the state for more cut suggestions." - Washington Post
NRSC Outraises Democratic committee in November - Roll Call
Obama is achieving his goal of higher energy costs - Washington Examiner editorial
Jimmy Carter sends condolences to Kim Jong-un
"Former President Jimmy Carter has sent North Korea a message of condolence over the death of Kim Jong-il and wished "every success" to the man expected to take over as dictator, according to the communist country's state-run news agency." - Washington Times
Republicans in House Reject Deal Extending Payroll Tax Cut - New York Times
Boehner calls on Obama to recall Senate - The Hill
Wall Street Journal: How did Republicans manage to lose the tax issue to Obama?
"The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play." - WSJ editorial
Fred Barnes on Obama's big tactic
"Short of an economic turnaround and a suddenly booming housing market, Obama is wary of running on his record. Instead, he’s trying to turn middle class Americans against Republicans, accusing them of defending the interests of the rich. And he’s shaped his policies—on taxes, especially—and his speeches to promote this division." - Fred Barnes in the Weekly Standard
In A Year Of Partisan Brawls, Congress Goes One More Round - NPR
"The Super PAC backing presidential candidate Mitt Romney, which has blistered Newt Gingrich in this state, became the center of controversy on Tuesday, when Mr. Gingrich demanded its attack ads be pulled and said Mr. Romney was being "purely dishonest" in his refusal to intervene." - WSJ
Romney: The Choice is Merit Society or “Entitlement Society” - WSJ
"Mitt Romney framed the 2012 presidential election in a speech here Tuesday night as a choice between an “entitlement society” dependent on government welfare and an “opportunity society” that enables businesses to flourish." - Washington Post
"Over the past week, he has spent more than $600,000 on attack ads that are cutting into support for a fellow front-runner, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.). And Paul has built an organization that will allow him to remain in the race well beyond the early-voting states and amass convention delegates." - Washington Post
Paul ahead in Iowa - Washington Times
'Ron Paul Nader'? He owes GOP voters a straight answer on a third-party run - WSJ editorial
But one candidate is already running as a third party libertarian...
Former two-term New Mexico governor and GOP hopeful Gary Johnson is dropping out of the Republican nomination race to run as a Libertarian candidate - MSNBC
Iowa faith leaders endorse Rick Santorum - USA Today
"The RNC’s new nominating contest paves the way for a protracted delegate fight this spring, likely drying up the resources of the presumptive nominee before the general election." - Roll Call
Is a brokered convention just a fantasy? A splintered Republican field and new party rules mean it just might happen - Michael Medved for the Daily Beast
Speculation about Jeb Bush running is a sign of disappointment at current field, not a sign that the ex-Florida Governor is seriously thinking of throwing his hat in ring - Byron York in the Washington Examiner
2011 was the year in which ObamaCare began to unravel without much help from Republicans - Daily Caller
POLITIFACT, the fact-checking project of the St Petersburg Times, has got itself in trouble today for giving its "Lie of the Year" award to the Democratic claim that "Republicans voted to end Medicare" - Economist
Iraq’s fragile political order appears in danger of crumbling just days after the departure of U.S. troops - Washington Post
"Republican senators hammered President Obama on Tuesday for allowing U.S. troops to leave, blaming the renewed tensions on the lack of a U.S. deterrent. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called for the administration to re-open negotiations for a small U.S. military presence in Iraq." - The Hill
House GOP postpones vote on payroll tax bill...
"House Republicans postponed a planned Monday night vote on the Senate-passed payroll tax cut bill, bowing to pressure from rank-and-file lawmakers to fight the battle in a fresh media cycle, avoid a dark-of-night vote and... find a way to reject the Senate bill without voting directly against a tax cut. House leaders had hoped to vote down the Senate bill, which would extend for two months President Barack Obama’s payroll tax cut, certain unemployment insurance benefits and the current Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors. But after a long debate Monday night, it appeared more likely that they would vote to create a House-Senate conference committee rather than first rejecting the Senate bill outright." - Politico
...And will vote on it today
"The vote had been expected Monday night, but after a long meeting of the House Republican conference, GOP leaders said they would wait until Tuesday. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-California, told reporters that it was better to hold the vote "not in the dark of night but in the light of day."" - CNN
Romney criticizes Gingrich on judges, outlines anti-abortion views
"Appearing on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, the former Massachusetts governor said Gingrich’s proposals for taking on what he regards as excessive judicial activism -- including abolishing whole courts -- are unconstitutional. ... Romney also said his handling of abortion was probably the biggest mistake he made as governor. At that time, he decided not to change provisions in Massachusetts’s abortion-rights laws based on the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision." - National Journal
Gingrich in defensive mode in Iowa
"Newt Gingrich spent Monday in defensive mode in Iowa trying to shift the message away from negative attacks on the day a new poll showed momentum slipping for the Republican presidential candidate. ... Gingrich shot back at his rivals who have been questioning the competitive frontrunner’s conservative credentials." - CNN
Latest polling: Newt and Mitt in dead heat
Rick Perry tries to save his campaign during busy Iowa campaign
"Mr. Perry, aiming to reintroduce himself to voters before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, is casting himself as a political outsider equally conversant in job creation and scripture—with a heavy emphasis, at times, on the latter. ... Some here seem ready to take a second look at Mr. Perry, who led in polls in Iowa this fall before a series of stumbles drained much of his support." - Wall Street Journal ($)
Sarah Palin teases, says it’s not too late for ‘folks’ to jump into presidential race
"She announced in October that she would not be a candidate herself. But she told Fox News on Sunday that she was not ready to endorse anyone. “You know, my endorsement is going to be with sincerity and enthusiasm,” she said, “and I’m just not there yet with the field as it stands.” She said she was looking for a candidate “who understands the fiscal crisis” that America faces." - New York Times
Delusional: Obama suggests he's the fourth-best President of modern times
"With nary a mention of Solyndra or Fast & Furious, Steve Kroft's recent 60 Minutes interview of President Obama was already one of the year's finest examples of softball, newsless thumb-suckers that lead the right to tar reporters as liberals. ... "As you yourself said, Steve, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president -- with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR and Lincoln. You know, just in terms of what we've gotten done in modern history," Obama said, according to a clip that never made it to broadcast." - Miami Herald
Following New York special election win for Republicans, Democrats are taking no chances in upcoming OR-1 election
"The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched a blistering, high-priced offensive aimed at cutting down Republican Rob Cornilles and boosting the party’s prospects in a race it should win easily. It has reserved around $1 million on the Portland airwaves, airing TV ads hammering Cornilles as an enemy of entitlement programs and casting him as a tea party pawn." - Politico
Supreme Court to hold Obamacare hearings in March
"If you’ve been following the battle over President Barack Obama‘s health law, set your calendar for Monday, March 26, through Wednesday, March 28. The Supreme Court, which usually gives litigants just an hour of its time, has set aside those three days to hear five and a half hours of arguments on the law passed by Congress on March 23, 2010." - Wall Street Journal
John Bolton: There's no guarantee that the North Korean military will accept another hereditary ruler - Wall Street Journal
And finally 1... Mitt Romney on the Late Show with David Letterman
"“Newt Gingrich… really,” joked Romney as if he were questioning the rise of his closest competitor in the race for the Republican nomination. And the big reveal came at number one, when Mitt Romney shared that his widely admired hair was “a hairpiece.” ... "What's up gangstas, it's the M-i-double tizzle,” Romney said at number 9. “My new cologne is now available at Macy's. It's Mitts-tified,” was number 5." - CNN
And finally 2... lesser-known presidential candidates debate in New Hampshire
""I am here to tell you about thorium -- an overlooked energy alternative," Democratic presidential candidate Bob Greene said. And then, there's Vermin Supreme -- a veteran candidate and consummate anti-politician. "My name is Vermin Supreme. I am a friendly fascist. I am a tyrant that you should trust," Democratic presidential candidate Vermin Supreme said." - WMUR
"In an interview on “Meet The Press” on NBC, Speaker John A. Boehner said his members broadly opposed the two-month extension that passed the Senate 89 to 10, believing that it would be “just kicking the can down the road.” “It’s time to just stop, do our work, resolve the differences and extend this for one year,” Mr. Boehner said. “How can you have tax policy for two months?”" - New York Times
John Boehner says he's not abandoned efforts to cut bipartisan deals with President Obama
""I never give up, and I'll never give up on this president and this process to try to help do what the American people sent us here to do ," Boehner declared on NBC's "Meet the Press." Boehner was responding to Obama's assertion that Republicans will oppose anything that he supports in order to see a Republican win the White House." - Politico
With Iowa voting just weeks away, a look at how the candidates are scrambling for support
More at the New York Times
Newt Gingrich’s assault on ‘activist judges’ draws criticism, even from right - Washington Post
"Newt Gingrich is giving fair warning to judges and courts across the country: If he becomes president, the judiciary won’t reign supreme. The former House Speaker and current Republican presidential front-runner convened a conference call with reporters on Saturday to expand on his call for Congress to subpoena judges or even abolish courts altogether if they make wrong-headed decisions. Those arguments from Gingrich at Thursday's debate in Iowa drew scrutiny and criticism from his rivals. - Fox
Andrew McCarthy questions National Review's critique of Gingrich - NRO
After avoiding Sunday morning interview shows for nearly two years, Mitt Romney makes tame return, sticking to talking points - Politico
...but the Wall Street Journal notices a more personal Romney: "Mitt Romney, described by some as too stiff and passionless to win the presidency, opened up a bit Sunday, recounting how he and his wife, Ann, learned years ago that she had multiple sclerosis."
Romney: Obama is 'Great Divider,' doesn't get how economy works - Fox
Des Moines Register endorses Romney: "Sobriety, wisdom and judgment. Those are qualities Mitt Romney said he looks for in a leader. Those are qualities Romney himself has demonstrated in his career in business, public service and government. Those qualities help the former Massachusetts governor stand out as the most qualified Republican candidate competing in the Iowa caucuses."
Seeking Iowa rebound, Bachmann hits Gingrich on Freddie Mac - LA Times
Bachmann: Obama spending 'like a banana republic' - USA Today
Huntsman: Everyone gets 15 minutes of fame... except for me - CNN
There are going to be a lot of institutional GOP folks doing a spit-take over this... Ron Paul is leading in Iowa - Weekly Standard
Rick Santorum in extended interview with... The Daily Caller
Independent groups supporting Republican presidential candidates have sprung to life, funding a flurry of new commercials in recent days to influence the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and other early primary contests - USA Today
Evangelicals divided on whom to support in GOP presidential race - Washington Post
Four economic scenarios for 2012 - National Journal
Mark Steyn: Tweedlemitt and tweedlenewt are micromanagers when America needs radicalism
"This next term is critical for America, not just because (if the IMF is correct) it may mark the end of America’s long run as the world’s leading economy but because, if Obamacare is not repealed in the next four years, it will never be repealed. As I’ve said for years, government health care fundamentally (as Newt would say) redefines the relationship between the citizen and the state into one closer to junkie and pusher. Once the Obamacare goodies kick in, getting back across the Rubicon will be a tough job." - Mark Steyn for NRO
Jeb Bush: In freedom lies the risk of failure. But in statism lies the certainty of stagnation
"Congressman Paul Ryan recently coined a smart phrase to describe the core concept of economic freedom: "The right to rise." Think about it. We talk about the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to assembly. The right to rise doesn't seem like something we should have to protect. But we do. We have to make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise. We have to let them compete. We need to let people fight for business. We need to let people take risks. We need to let people fail. We need to let people suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And we need to let people enjoy the fruits of good decisions, even good luck." - Jeb Bush in the Wall Street Journal
Marriage versus cohabitation - Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post
Little talk of triumph as Iraq war ends - The Hill
"On balance, it has been an extremely painful and costly decade. But it does seem possible to conclude, with cautious optimism, that America is somewhat safer. And we are certainly closer than ever to ending our current round of overseas wars." - New York Times
Blame Canada! The Right-Wing Menace To Our North
"Harper, a churchgoing evangelical... has perhaps the most doggedly right-wing temperament of any twentieth-century Canadian prime minister. A veteran of the conservative movement, Harper has been president of a prominent Canadian libertarian lobbying group and helped get the insurgent, Western Canada-based Reform Party off the ground in the late eighties by arguing for the deregulation of oil prices and lowered taxes, and against gay marriage and abortion. He’s an admirer of Friedrich Hayek and William F. Buckley. And he has devoted his life to pushing Canadian politics to the right." - TNR
Václav Havel: A man for all seasons on behalf of liberty - Wall Street Journal editorial
North Korea's Kim Jong Il reportedly dead - The Hill
Harry Reid floats idea of a two-month payroll tax cut extension in case a larger deal was out of reach - Roll Call
If the payroll tax holiday is extended, it will become permanent. Social Security will become another welfare program - Ari Fleischer for the Wall Street Journal
Congress agrees spending deal likely to avert government shutdown - Fox
National Review: There is a surprising degree of agreement within the GOP field, the White House is winnnable... but Gingrich should not be the candidate...
"Gingrich’s colleagues were right to bring his tenure [as Speaker] to an end. His character flaws — his impulsiveness, his grandiosity, his weakness for half-baked (and not especially conservative) ideas — made him a poor Speaker of the House. Again and again he combined incendiary rhetoric with irresolute action, bringing Republicans all the political costs of a hardline position without actually taking one. Again and again he put his own interests above those of the causes he championed in public." - NRO Editors
The underdog candidates question the conservative credentials of Gingrich and Romney during Iowa debate - Politico
R-i-c-h becomes a four letter word in GOP politics
"The GOP is supposed to be the party that celebrates individual success and achievement. Leave the politics of envy to the Democrats, Republicans always say. The GOP is about dynamism, unleashing the creative forces of growth and rewarding the hard-working, job-creating wealth builders. Or they used to be. Last night saw a remarkable moment in the changing politics of wealth. One Republican candidate accused the other of being “wealthy.” And it wasn’t mean to be a compliment. Mitt Romney – net worth $190 million plus – told CBS News that rival Newt Gingrich (net worth more than $6 million) is too wealthy to be in touch with the middle class." - WSJ
"The polling data I’ve seen over the past two or three days suggests that Newt Gingrich’s momentum has stopped — and has probably reversed itself." - Nate Silver
For Romney, no states are too small or vote too late in the primary cycle as he prepares for long fight to win nomination - WSJ
Ron Paul: Strike against Iran would risk a repeat of 'useless' Iraq war - LA Times
Herman Cain sees himself running the Pentagon - CBS
Obama's appeasement of Russia and Iran has failed - Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post
"The Iraqis who loyally served us are under threat. We must give them refuge." - Kirk Johnson in the New York Times
The United States is holding about 2,500 detainees captured in operations against al Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist forces, President Obama told congressional leaders in a letter Thursday - Washington Times
Nature magazine admits that the latest climate change summit was a failure
"Of course, Nature is hoping for some kind of economy-killing super-Kyoto Protocol, but is honest enough to recognize that the latest agreement—the “Durban Platform”—is merely a fig leaf over the increasingly abject failure of this whole idiotic process, though it did achieve the most important objective of dipsomanaics diplomats, an agreement to meet again next year. As Nature puts it, “In the search for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, we now have the Durban Platform, which comes on the heels of the Bali Road Map and the Copenhagen Accord.”" - PowerLine
And finally... A world without Christopher Hitchens - Matt LeBash in the Weekly Standard
"Hitchens is gone. And the phrase that echoes in my mind is Nehru’s at the death of Gandhi: “The light has gone out of our lives.” For every young writer – and every victim and opponent of authoritarianism – there is now darkness. To Hitchens, there was no difference between the two: he rejected the line that separates the observer from the doer. The master stylist of the English language was also the Western world’s most forceful opponent of authoritarianism. He savaged intellectuals who, obsessed with playing the thinker, refused to engage with reality and often became apologists for tyranny." - FrumForum