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2012: Pro-Perry ad up in Iowa

“Same-sex marriage might seem like a straightforward issue: You're for it or against it,” the AP writes. “Yet for the field of Republican presidential hopefuls, it's proving to be an awkward topic as public attitudes change and more states legalize gay unions, the latest being New York.

The University of Minnesota’s SmartPolitics blog finds: “’Affair,’ ‘gay,’ ‘wives,’ and ‘Paul Revere’ are among the most commonly-searched terms associated with announced and rumored 2012 Republican presidential candidates.”

BACHMANN: “Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, during a town hall meeting in Fort Dodge, derided the latest proposed deal to raise the debt ceiling,” the Des Moines Register reports. “Bachmann said raising the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion would just get Washington politicians through the next election.”

CAIN: Over the weekend, per NBC’s Carrie Dann, Herman Cain won a presidential straw poll of Republicans in Colorado, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- who traveled to address the Denver conservative conference amid speculation that he will soon mount a run -- coming in a distant second in the survey.

NBC's Ali Weinberg reports that Cain celebrated his first-place finish -- and took a subtle dig at the wide margin between him and second-place finisher Rick Perry. Surprising a conference call of grassroots supporters by dialing in from Denver, Cain said the results of the Western Conservative Summit's straw poll were “almost overwhelming.”

“Let me just tell you that second place got 13% of the vote,” Cain continued, indirectly referencing Perry’s showing. “First place got 48% of the vote, and it was yours truly, Herman Cain.”

HUNTSMAN: In Utah, Huntsman is known as “a diplomat to the core,” someone “well known here as a likable guy who prefers compromise to combativeness. Niceness is such a strong part of his persona that the Republican pledged to run a civil campaign for president,” the AP says. “But now, as Huntsman struggles against better-known opponents, he is both subtly and directly criticizing GOP front-runner Mitt Romney as well as the Democrat who named him U.S. ambassador to China just a few years ago, President Barack Obama.”

Huntsman will be the first candidate to participate in a series of town hall meetings sponsored by Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) planned for each GOP presidential hopeful, the Charleston Post and Courier reports. Huntsman’s town hall will be held at 5 pm this Sunday.

PALIN: “The pro-Sarah Palin documentary, The Undefeated, suffered another huge drop in ticket sales over the weekend, earning just over $5,000,” GOP12 writes.

PAWLENTY: Tim Pawlenty campaigns in Florida this week, but the Tampa Tribune explores whether the former Minnesota governor will be able to gain enough momentum to be a factor when the Sunshine State holds its primary next year.

PERRY: A new Super PAC called Jobs for Iowa is going up with ads calling Perry "a better option" for president, Politico reports. 

The San Antonio Express-News outlines some of Perry's nuanced positions on immigration and states rights: "Complex views can be expected on complex issues, but if he runs, any sign of contradiction will raise questions among voters just learning about Perry."

Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin warns that Perry's reversal on gay marriage could signal some rocky adjustment for Perry as he transitions into being a national candidate. "It should serve as a warning to Perry to figure out exactly how he is going to address and communicate on dozens and dozens of issues, some of which (e.g. foreign policy) he has never faced before."

The Texas Tribune dives into Perry's inner circle. 

ROMNEY: On Sunday, “Restore Our Future” -- the Super PAC supporting Romney -- reported it has raised $12.2 million dollars in the first six months of this year, NBC’s Garrett Haake reports. The Super PAC, which can accept unlimited donations, was funded exclusively by just 86 donors. There were four $1 million dollar donations, and no single donation was less than $2,500. Among the bold-faced names who wrote checks to the committee: members of the Marriott family (on whose board Romney sat until earlier this year), beer magnate August Busch III, and New York investor John Paulson, who was the only individual to write a $1 million check to the Super PAC.

By the way, that $12.2 million haul is substantially larger than the $3 million-plus haul by the Democratic Super PAC supporting Obama, Priorities USA Action.

SANTORUM: Speaking to a group of over 60 people sitting at picnic tables in 100 degree heat, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum -- wearing navy shorts, rolled up shirt sleeves and sandals -- discussed the debt ceiling debate, the economy, health care and education, NBC’s Anthony Terrell notes.

NBC’s Carrie Dann, Garrett Haake, Ali Weinberg, Anthony Terrell, Andrew Rafferty, and Jamie Novogrod contributed.