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2012: Courting Sheriff Joe

A Bloomberg poll finds Rick Perry leading Mitt Romney 26%-22%, with no other candidates in double digits.

In Virginia, Perry leads Romney 25%-19% with no one else cracking double digits, according to a Quinnipiac poll.

BACHMANN: “If you're running for president, how do you convince supporters you are tough enough on immigration? Get the endorsement of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America whose uncompromising stand on illegal immigration is a point of pride,” the AP writes. “On Wednesday Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann was the latest Republican presidential candidate hoping for Arpaio's backing…  Arpaio said he hasn't yet decided which candidate he will back in the GOP primary race.”

PALIN: She makes the cover of the New York Daily News for a racy detail leaked from a forthcoming anti-Palin book.

PERRY: “Perry became a millionaire through a practice common to many other politicians over the years: taking part in profitable deals involving political friends and their businesses. He made more than $800,000 in 2007 reselling a resort development plot he had gotten from a Republican friend in the Legislature, and he cleared a quick $38,000 in 1995 by flipping stock in a company owned by one of his top campaign donors,” AP writes. “Private deals involving campaign supporters are widely criticized by government reformers as a potential form of backdoor donations or influence-buying. But they are often legal; in Perry's case, the Securities and Exchange Commission did not act on a complaint about his stock windfall.”

More: “However, even if perfectly legal, the transactions still raise questions about Perry's ethics, said Craig McDonald, the director of Texans for Public Justice, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign money and lobbying activities in Texas. ‘It clearly looks like he got some special favors,’ MacDonald said. ‘Perry has a lifestyle that is probably beyond even his own million-dollar finances because people want to get close for many reasons to the governor of the state of Texas.’”

“Rick Perry criticized Michele Bachmann Wednesday for relaying the story of a woman who claimed her daughter became mentally retarded after being vaccinated against HPV,” Politico writes. “ ‘I think that was a statement that had no truth in it, no basis in fact,’ Perry said of the comments Bachmann made in a TV interview following the CNN/Tea Party Express debate.”

Texas is up to 235 executions, by the way. One has already been executed this week. Three more are scheduled for execution this week.

ROMNEY: NBC’s Garrett Haake reports Romney wants a VP like Dick Cheney.

“The former Massachusetts governor has an eight-point lead over Texas Gov. Rick Perry among Republican voters in California, according to a new Field Poll, and will be scouring California on a fundraising drive Friday,” the San Francisco Chronicle writes. “But while he'll visit San Diego, Atherton and Pebble Beach, Romney doesn't plan to greet hundreds of activists who make up the nation's largest Republican organization as they kick off a three-day state convention this weekend in Los Angeles.”