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2012: 'Mitt and the Munchkins'

National Journal looks at the winners and losers off the CNN debate stage, writing that the negative reactions to Jon Huntsman’s no-show resulted in the candidate quickly announcing a four-day, six-state campaign launch next week. Plus, Texas Gov. Rick Perry may have viewed the lesser-known candidates’ reluctance to take on nominal frontrunner Mitt Romney for an opportunity for Perry himself to fill that void. 

While the Obama campaign is building on the Hispanic support it received in 2008, Republicans have been slow to reach out to the increasingly important demographic, USA Today writes. “Candidates must do three things to reach out to Hispanic voters effectively, said Hector Barajas, the Latino communication specialist for Republican Meg Whitman's California gubernatorial campaign in 2010, They must identify the issues that Latinos care about, employ the right people to deliver the campaign message to their communities and be culturally sensitive.”

BACHMANN: “Rep. Michele Bachmann will not run for re-election for Congress while she is campaigning for president. The Minnesota Republican said Tuesday in a press release that she has "suspended" her Congressional campaign, one day after announcing her long-expected White House bid during the GOP debate,” Roll Call writes.

CAIN: The Boston Globe fact-checks several candidates from the debate, including that “Cain missed on use of Sharia law.”

GOP 12’s Heinze pushes back in a column in The Hill on the idea that Herman Cain is the 2012 version of Mike Huckabee, a Southern social conservative underdog with a talk show. Pointing to Huckabee’s executive experience as governor of a state, foreign policy knowledge and electoral success, Heinze writes that the Huckabee comparison sets up false expectations for the Cain campaign. “If critics are so hungry to advance the ‘Cain is Huckabee’ narrative, they’ll have to embrace its electoral implications as well. If Cain is the next Huckabee, then you’re effectively predicting that he’ll finish second in the GOP nomination battle. “

GINGRICH: National Journal’s Charlie Cook writes that the Newt Gingrich campaign’s fatal flaw was that the candidate simply wasn’t willing to give up his comfortable post-public service life of speaking engagements and weekend trips: “[H]e tried to marry his great post-speaker lifestyle with running for president, two things that if either is done right are absolutely irreconcilable. You can’t have great vacations, sleep most nights in your own bed, have other people deal with raising money, or speak only on lofty subjects and in the long form.”

Of his staff’s mass exodus, Gingrich said on FOX last night: “I, frankly, feel liberated."

HUNTSMAN: The New Hampshire Union Leader’s editorial page on Huntsman’s decision not to participate in the debate Tuesday, and his subsequent announcement-of-an-announcement: “Did he watch the debate and then decide to get into the race? Or had he already decided to run, but to skip the debate for strategic purposes? Either way, he missed a great opportunity to do three very important things: 1) introduce himself to a statewide and national audience that surely will be bigger than the audience for his solo announcement; 2) distinguish himself from the pack; 3) launch himself into the race with some serious forward momentum.”

The Boston Globe’s Lehigh suggests Jon Huntsman won by not being at the debate. Why? “With Romney holding a strong advantage in New Hampshire, the big question has been, who will emerge as his principal rival? No one made much headway there. Instead, the evening's storyline was mostly Mitt and the Munchkins.” And: “All told, Romney emerged not just unscarred but enhanced. He's now the clear frontrunner. But the search for a Romney alternative also remains wide open, which means that Huntsman has an opportunity the others mostly muffed on Monday.”

PERRY: While speaking at a New York County Republican Party dinner in New York City last night, Texas Gov. Rick Perry boasted of his state’s economic affluence, which he argued is a product of his administration’s policies, National Review Online writes. He also asked members of the audience to text “leadership” to a phone number, promising the crowd that “We’ll keep you in the loop.”

Perry told the Texas Tribune before his speech that “people would like to have some other options in the race, obviously.”

Perry and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani are set to have a private meeting this morning, Politico writes.

Introducing Perry at his speech in New York was Guardian Angels founder and radio talk-show host Curtis Sliwa, who made some eyebrow-raising remarks, NBC’s Lauren Selsky notes. “If you do take the plunge,” Sliwa said, “let me warn you about the shark-infested water of New York State politics, because the pitbull terriers will be sikked on you. First, you'll have to deal with Al Slim Shady Sharpton and the National Action Hate Network -- at the beck and call of the Obama administration, because here's a guy who owes more taxes than all Americans combined and yet he's in photo ops with the president at the white house he will label you a racist.”

More: “Then the schlepper Chuck E Cheese Schumer, the father of Anthony the whiner Weiner…

He will claim you cannot trust Gov Perry because he is from a state where there is Palestine, Texas and he will somehow try to convolute the fact that you have some kind of linkage in your family tree to Hamas or Hezbollah where as hell say look at Barack Hussein Obama and his state has Zion, Illinois and he is truly a Zionist and then you'll have to deal with the Hyman Roth, the Meyer Lansky of all Democratic state politics Sheldon Silver himself.”

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports that Perry and his camp were unaware of Sliwa’s remarks.

ROMNEY: A little presumptuous? “Romney felt confident enough, in chatting with the owner of a local hardware store, to promise a return visit in four years, when ‘I'll probably have Secret Service with me,’” the Los Angeles Times reports from New Hampshire.

The Hill writes that Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and James Inhofe both criticized Mitt Romney’s stated position on the Afghanistan war that “Our troops shouldn’t go off and try to fight a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan’s independence from the Taliban.” Graham said, “From the party’s point of view, the biggest disaster would be to let Barack Obama become Ronald Reagan and our people become Jimmy Carter.”

“Four years ago, Mitt Romney was accused of abandoning positions he had held in Massachusetts and replacing them with views more in line with national Republican voters,” the Boston Globe writes before adding, “Now, eager to avoid being re-labeled a flip-flopper, he appears more reluctant to switch positions, even if it puts him out of step with the current brand of Republicanism.”

The Boston Globe fact checks Romney from the debate on his claim that the auto bailout wasn’t a success and that $17 billion was used unnecessarily. In fact, “Romney’s statement actually targets Bush, though he criticizes Obama later in his answer.” And: “Romney’s advocacy of a managed bankruptcy is more similar to the plan President Obama implemented.”