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3:20 PM ET, December 13, 2011


 Top Items: 
Susan Page / USA Today:
Swing States Poll: Downbeat Dems, resurgent Republicans  —  WASHINGTON - President Obama is moving to energize the Democratic base for his re-election campaign, but in the case of a dozen battleground states, he'll have to work harder than four years ago to find it.
Tom Jensen / Public Policy Polling:
Paul closes in on Gingrich  —  There has been some major movement in the Republican Presidential race in Iowa over the last week, with what was a 9 point lead for Newt Gingrich now all the way down to a single point.  Gingrich is at 22% to 21% for Paul with Mitt Romney at 16% …
Ben Smithand Maggie Haberman / The Politico:
Romney's role: The Hillary Clinton of 2012?  —  For Mitt Romney this December, it's beginning to look a lot like Clinton.  —  Like the great, fallen front-runner of 2008, here is another well-funded, Establishment-blessed, presumptive nominee whose supposedly firm hold on his party's greatest prize seems to be slip-sliding away.
Discussion: CNN, and Taylor Marsh
Dylan Byers / The Politico:
Romney '02 edition  —  Thanks to Andrew Kaczynski, the Internet's favorite new oppo research hobbyist, a 2002 video of Mitt Romney is making the rounds that features potentially damaging fodder for his opponents:  —  “I'm not a partisan Republican,” Romney says in the interview.
Alexander Burnsand Jonathan Martin / The Politico:
The South is up for grabs
Discussion: CNN
Jonathan Chait / New York Magazine:
Why Republicans Don't Nominate Swells
New York Post:
GOP cruise missiles
Jason Zengerle / New York Magazine:
Playing With Mud  —  The hobbyist oppo researcher.
Lynn Sweet:
Axelrod on Newt: “the higher a monkey climbs...the more you can see his butt.”  —  Obama 2012 Press Secretary Ben LaBolt, Strategist David Axelrod, Campaign Manager Jim Messina, Deputy Manager Stephanie Cutter at Tuesday press briefing at the DNC.  (photo by Lynn Sweet)
Discussion: Taegan Goddard's …
Dave Levinthal / The Politico:
Super PAC forms for Gingrich  —  A longtime executive and fundraiser for Newt Gingrich's American Solutions for Winning the Future organization is forming a super PAC to back the former House speaker's presidential candidacy.  —  Calling itself Winning Our Future, the new Atlanta-based super PAC materializes …
Discussion: CNN, GOP 12 and The Daily Caller
The Politico:
POLITICO Influence: High stakes
Discussion: Erick's blog
Kevinliptak / CNN:
Axelrod: Longer GOP primary helps Obama
Discussion: The Politico
Josh Lederman / The Hill:
Mitt Romney starts to show cracks as front-runner status slips further
Discussion: Prairie Weather
Danny Yadron / Washington Wire:
Perry Ad Indirectly Targets Gingrich
Justin Sink / The Hill:
Trump pulls out of GOP debate  —  Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he will not moderate next month's GOP debate sponsored by Newsmax.  —  The reality televison show host's decision came after most Republican candidates declined to participate in the debate, with only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum agreeing to appear.
Discussion: CNN, Michelle Malkin and GOP 12
Catalina Camia / USA Today:
Donald Trump bows out as GOP debate moderator
Discussion: Gothamist and Campaign 2012
Alexander Burns /
Trump bows out  —  This just in: Donald Trump has bowed …
Bobby Bank / ABCNEWS:
Donald Trump Backs Out of Debate, Floating Independent Bid
Hank Stuever / Washington Post:
Chelsea Clinton makes broadcast debut on NBC's ‘Rock Center’  —  It's no surprise whatsoever that Chelsea Clinton didn't electrify broadcast journalism with her debut Monday night on NBC's “Rock Center With Brian Williams,” because she has no experience in broadcast journalism.
Alessandra Stanley / New York Times:
The TV Watch: Chelsea Clinton Finally Embraces Her Celebrity
Rep. Dennis Cardoza / The Hill:
Opinion: Obama would rather be university professor than president  —  After observing President Obama for the last three years, it has become obvious to me that the President might prefer to be a university professor rather than do the job he holds today.  While he may not realize that he feels …
The Hill:
Republican leaders say they'll have the votes to pass payroll-tax bill  —  House Republican leaders on Tuesday predicted they will have the votes to pass legislation to extend a payroll tax cut.  —  The leaders are “close” to securing enough support to pass the bill, members leaving a closed-door GOP conference meeting said Tuesday.
Discussion: CNN and The Politico
Andy Bloxham / Telegraph:
Belgium grenade attack: latest  —  At least two people have been killed and dozens wounded when up to four grenades exploded outside the main courthouse in the eastern Belgian city of Liege.  —  The scene of the grenade attack in Liege … Live  —  15.51 In another shocking attack in Europe today …
Pete Kasperowicz / The Hill:
House Dem blasts Lowe's for pulling ads from Muslim-centered TV show  —  Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Tuesday morning accused Lowe's, the nationwide home-improvement chain, of giving weight to anti-Muslim views by pulling its ads from the TLC show “All-American Muslim.”
Ben Smith / The Politico:
Gingrich misses a McCain moment  —  John McCain in 2008 took the occasional strange, xenophobic question about Barack Obama, and routinely batted them back: Obama wasn't scary, or (God forbid!) “an Arab,” as one woman memorably told him.  He was a decent family man, just wrong on the issues.
Jennifer Steinhauer / New York Times:
Millionaires on Food Stamps and Jobless Pay?  G.O.P. Is on It  —  WASHINGTON — It's an image many Americans would find rather upsetting: a recently laid-off millionaire, luxuriating next to the pool eating grapes bought with food stamps while waiting for an unemployment check to roll in.
Mike M. Ahlers / CNN:
NTSB recommends full ban on use of cell phones while driving  —  Washington (CNN) — Federal accident investigators Tuesday called for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging devices while driving.  —  Study: Half of young people text, drive
Discussion: The Moderate Voice and Shakesville
Alicia M. Cohn / The Hill:
Rep. Issa asks Obama official why illegal camping of Occupy DC was permitted  —  Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Tuesday announced he wants answers on whether “political judgments played a role” in allowing Occupy D.C. protesters to remain camped in Northwest Washington.
Discussion: The Politico and Weasel Zippers
Erik Wasson / The Hill:
Yearly deficit falls below $1 trillion for the first time under Obama  —  The Treasury Department forecast Monday that the budget deficit for fiscal 2012 will come in at $996 billion, the first time President Obama has presided over an annual deficit of less than $1 trillion.
Washington Post:
Eric Holder wades into debate over voting rights as presidential election nears  —  The Obama administration on Tuesday will wade into the increasingly divisive national debate over new voting laws in several states that could depress turnout among minorities and others who helped elect the president in 2008.
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 More Items: 
Jonathan Easley / The Hill:
House Democratic Whip Hoyer's chief of staff leaving
Discussion: The Politico
Stephanie Saul / New York Times:
Online Schools Score Better on Wall Street Than in Classrooms
Discussion: Balloon Juice and Eduwonk
Fars News Agency:
Obama Begs Iran to Give Him Back His Toy Plane
Discussion: Washington Post and Campaign 2012
Jon Hilsenrath / Wall Street Journal:
Bernanke Joins Bargain Hunters Who Refinance
Igor Volsky / ThinkProgress:
Gay Vietnam Vet Who Challenged Romney On Marriage Equality Speaks Out
Jonathan Allen / The Politico:
House to close ‘strip club loophole’
Discussion: Business Insider
 Earlier Items:
‘Us vs. Them’ in Pa. Gaslands
Discussion: TalkLeft and ECHIDNE of the snakes
Iran army declines comment on MP's Hormuz exercise remarks
David Corn / Political Mojo:
Romney in 2002: I'm “Moderate,” “Progressive,” and “Not a Partisan Republican” [VIDEO]
Saudi woman executed for ‘witchcraft and sorcery’