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2012: Give me Liberty

BACHMANN: Per NBC’s Jamie Novogrod, Michele Bachmann defended herself against the backlash she’s facing for lending credence to the false notion that vaccines can cause “mental retardation.” “I am not a doctor; I am not a scientist; I’m not a physician,” she said on Hannity’s radio show. “All I was doing was reporting what this woman told me last night at the debate. And as a mother, my husband and I have five biological children. Three daughters, and we raised 23 foster children in our home. As a mother, I would not want the federal government, or a state government, to mandate that my child has to have an injection just because government says so.”

The New York Daily News wraps the backlash Bachmann’s facing.

CAIN: “Facing concerns from supporters in Iowa, Herman Cain's presidential campaign tried to conceal the role of a top adviser who had been ousted as leader of a gay pride group in Wisconsin amid a financial scandal, a former staffer has alleged in legal testimony,” AP reports. “Cain's former Iowa straw poll coordinator, Kevin Hall, made the allegation in a letter applying for unemployment benefits and in testimony during a hearing last week. The Associated Press obtained the letter, supporting documents he submitted and audio of the hearing from Iowa Workforce Development. A Cain campaign lawyer did not dispute Hall's allegations during the hearing and Administrative Law Judge Bonny Hendricksmeyer awarded benefits, ruling he resigned only after the campaign tried to get him involved in the alleged cover-up and changed the conditions of his job.”

PERRY: AP: “Texas Gov. Rick Perry is addressing students at the nation's largest evangelical university just as he's fending off criticism from his Republican presidential rivals over cultural issues. It's not clear whether Perry will use the speech Wednesday at Liberty University to defend — or even address — his effort to require girls to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease or a law allowing children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition. Neither issue sits well with social conservatives, who hold great sway in the GOP nomination race.”

“Texas Gov. Rick Perry is being asked to stop Thursday's scheduled execution of an African American murderer who was sentenced to die after jurors were told that blacks are more likely to pose a future danger to the public,” the L.A. Times reports. Duane Edward Buck faces execution for shooting two people near Houston in 1995 while under the influence of drugs, but his attorneys say the racially charged testimony calls for a new sentencing hearing.”

“GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry brought his Texan swagger to rival Mitt Romney’s home turf last night, touting his jobs record as governor of the Lone Star State while subtly tweaking the former Bay State governor,” the Boston Herald reports. “ ‘I know I can be hard on Massachusetts from time to time, in particular Massachusetts politicians,’ said Perry, who packed the Boston Hyatt Regency last night as the keynote speaker at an event held by the conservative think-tank the Pioneer Institute. He went on to slam Romney’s habit of flip-flopping on issues without naming him, saying voters need candidates who don’t just ‘campaign like conservatives, but they also govern like that, too.’”

ROMNEY: He was on O’Reilly last night, where he defended the mandate and said Obama’s foreign policy will have more lasting effects than his domestic policy. (Via GOP 12.)

“Mitt Romney’s visit today officially kicks off the 2012 presidential campaign in Arizona, an important GOP battleground state that now is set to have an earlier-than-most primary,” the Tucson Citizen reports. Romney, it writes, “is staking out ground in a state that, despite its size, is ground zero for issues that resonate on a national level and will play well in the battle for the Republican nomination.”