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2012: Paul, Perry top CA GOP straw poll

BACHMANN: Per NBC’s Jamie Novogrod, Bachmann begins a two-day swing through Iowa today.  The tour will be jobs and economy focused, and will take her to factories in Sheffield and Waterloo Monday, and Des Moines Tuesday.

A USA Today editorial takes Bachmann to task over her HPV comments: “Presidential candidates get big megaphones and an outsized opportunity to steer the national debate. But there's an implicit requirement to be careful, and even by the low standards of political speech, Bachmann's nationally broadcast suggestion that a vaccine can cause mental retardation was appallingly irresponsible.”

PAUL: Novogrod reports from Los Angeles that Ron Paul won the first-ever California GOP straw poll, held during the party’s fall convention this weekend with 45% of the vote, followed by Rick Perry 29%, Mitt Romney 9%, Bachmann 8%

Paul is also touting that he finishes one point behind where Romney does against Obama in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, NBC’s Anthony Terrell reports. And “Could it be magic?” Paul got the endorsement of songwriter Barry Manilow. He was also introduced this weekend at an event by actor Vince Vaughn in Reno, who was also on board in 2008; he might think Paul is “so money, baby.”) Paul also raised more than $1 million this weekend from 18,000 donors, his campaign says.

Paul will make three campaign stops in western Iowa on Tuesday and then join the other GOP presidential candidates in Orlando, Florida on Thursday for the FOX News debate.  On Friday, Paul will address the Florida Conservative Political Action Conference ahead of the straw poll, one the state's Republican Governor, Rick Scott, claims is extremely important. "I personally believe whoever wins that straw poll, they will be the next president of the United States," Scott told Fox News on Sunday.

PERRY: The New York Times profiles Perry's hometown of Paint Creek, TX. "People here in Haskell County do understand Mr. Perry in a way few can, seeing the spirited, mischievous child in the brash, ambitious politician and recognizing how far this son of a dry-land cotton farmer has already traveled from a county with one stoplight. But they also know that this town 'too small to have a ZIP code,' in Mr. Perry’s words, propelled a restless farm boy whose disciplinarian father was a local power broker into a life of politics that fed off his roots while he moved beyond them and, some say, betrayed them."

The Statesman speaks to some of Perry's military colleagues: “In interviews with half a dozen men who served with Perry 35 years ago, a picture emerges of Perry as a good pilot, a competent and safety-conscious airman and a magnetic personality who often invited his comrades on hunting trips near his hometown of Paint Creek in West Texas and who could be the life of the party on the unit's many overseas deployments. But the picture is in some ways incomplete: Perry and his campaign have so far refused to release any of the governor's military records, including evaluations he received during his Air Force career, which spanned 1972 to 1977. And Perry's military years have largely gone unexplored by Texas or national media outlets. Except for rare interviews on the subject and brief references in his two books, little more than a general narrative has become part of the public record.”

The Houston Chronicle outlines some of the hefty taxpayer-paid bills for Perry's security detail.

And the Washington Post gives Rick Perry two Pinocchios for his comments on the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. “Perry is stuck in a time warp,” the Post’s  Kessler writes. “He’s describing a situation that existed in the 1980s, not really today. …  Just to be sure, we sent Perry’s remarks to three experts on Middle East diplomacy—an Israeli, a Palestinian and an American. All three said he appeared to be remarkably uninformed.”

SANTORUM: NBC’s Jo Ling Kent reports, Santorum was in New Hampshire yesterday and said he doesn’t do debate prep and that, as a Steelers fan, he respects but dislikes the Patriots. "I don't do debate prep,” he said. “I don't. I go out and let folks see who I am. I'm not a trained seal. I don't have whole team of advisers crafting lines for me or one liners or attacks. I haven't done one minute of debate prep. My debate prep is doing town halls talking to people, answering questions like yours." And on a football Sunday, asked about the Patriots, he said holding a pumpkin spice ber, "I don't like the Patriots but I respect them.”