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2012: Kicking into high gear

The campaign is heating up with mailers and robo-calls, NBC’s Alex Moe reports.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who earlier this year flirted with a potential Republican bid for the White House, warned conservative voters in Florida on Sunday that pushing GOP presidential candidates too far right will hurt the party's chances to beat President Obama, "This election isn't about who can be the most conservative.  Whoever we elect is going to be far more conservative than Barack Obama, OK?" Barbour said, per NBC’s Andrew Rafferty. "And I got news for you. Whoever we nominate, you're not going to agree with them on everything. If we make this election trying to make everyone as conservative as Haley happy, we make it harder for us to win."

The New York Daily News looks at the GOP’s efforts to use social media.

The Boston Globe fact-checks parts of last week’s debate.

BACHMANN: NBC’s Jamie Novogrod says that among Bachmann's eight announced radio interviews today are two hits with evangelical leader James Dobson and his son, Ryan. Per the campaign, Bachmann flew to Colorado Springs last night -- from Iowa -- in order to meet with the elder Dobson. Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, will join her on both radio shows.

Yesterday, Novogrod adds, Michele Bachmann concluded her three-day book tour through Iowa with a visit to a Holiday Inn, where she signed copies of “Core of Conviction” for about 50 people. “I think that they’re going to find out that with me, it’s not about politics,” Bachmann told reporters, of those who read her book.  “I’ve never been a politician.  I don’t even know how to be a politician.”

CAIN: The Cain campaign yesterday released a 30-second "movie trailer" video in anticipation of the five-minute "999 movie" that it will release today, per NBC’s Andrew Rafferty. The federal tax code looks to be the antagonist "monster" of the plot, and it looks as though “999” will be the hero that defeats it. The narrator says, "The 999 plan is simple enough to vanquish squirrelly bureaucrats."

“Cain has denied the accusations and says ‘nothing has gone wrong’ in terms of the campaign's mechanics. But he tells CNN's ‘State of the Union’ that some people ‘are heavily influenced by perception more so than reality,’” The New York Post writes.

GINGRICH: He got the endorsement of the conservative New Hampshire Union-Leader newspaper. The New York Post: “Call it Newt Hampshire.”

Politico's Martin: “The exquisite timing and validating effect of the New Hampshire Union Leader’s endorsement presents Gingrich with the biggest boost yet to his resurgent campaign — a conservative stamp of approval at a pivotal moment. Not only does the former House speaker now have a powerful political voice in his corner as he establishes himself in polls as Mitt Romney’s chief rival, he has it at the very moment his immigration stance is receiving fresh scrutiny from party activists. Now the question is whether the wave of momentum, cresting just weeks before votes are cast, will be significant enough for Gingrich to sweep away unease on issues where he isn’t in alignment with the base.

It’s his position on immigration that could be his toughest hurdle. “I am not for amnesty for anyone,” Gingrich contended in Florida, NBC’s Alex Moe reports. “I am not for a path to citizenship for anybody who got here illegally.”

“Newt Gingrich isn’t backing off his “humane” immigration stance despite complaints from Republican hardliners and fellow Presidential hopefuls — he’s embellishing it,” the New York Daily News writes. The former House speaker issued “10 Steps to a Legal Nation” this week, expanding on his remarks during Tuesday’s GOP debate that prompted former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann to accuse him of peddling amnesty for illegal immigrants.”

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said Gingrich supports a “form of amnesty,” and his position “makes it harder” to support him, per O.Kay Henderson (via GOP 12).

JOHNSON: Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson might run in a third-party bid.

PERRY: NBC’s Carrie Dann reports that, according to NBC promos, Perry will be on Jay Leno’s late-night program this Thursday evening. Per the campaign, he will be in California on a fundraising swing after a two-day New Hampshire campaign trip on Tuesday and Wednesday. Perry will appear on the same show with guests Melissa McCarthy and rapper/noted autotune enthusiast T-Pain.

ROMNEY: “Romney did not schedule campaign appearances on Monday, but his advisers were working to downplay The New Hampshire Union Leader's backing of Gingrich in Romney's back yard. The newspaper's rejection of Romney, who enjoys solid polling leads in that state and has worked to line up activists, stood to potentially reshape the entire campaign,” the AP writes. “The Union Leader's editorial is a sign that conservative concerns about Romney's shifts on crucial issues of abortion and gay rights were unlikely to fade. Those worries have led Romney to keep Iowa's Jan. 3 caucuses -- where conservatives hold great sway -- at arm's length.”

Shortly after Sen. John Thune (R-SD) campaigned with Romney in Des Moines, IA on Wednesday, NBC’s Morgan Parmet notes that the former Massachusetts governor took questions from the audience at a Nationwide Insurance. When a man in the audience said Romney’s plan does not put money back in his pocket, Romney responded, “I’m not looking to put money in people’s pockets.”

Here’s the full exchange:

Question: “First of all, thank you for making your plan available on Kindle for free. I wish everybody did that. One, your tax plan you plan to eliminate the estate tax. You plan to lower the corporate tax. And unfortunately, I don't see -- you want to keep the marginal rates at the current level. That sounds to me like it's not helping the middle class. It doesn't put any money in my pocket. And you want to keep the Bush tax cuts. How will this help the middle class, which is most of us really?”

Romney: “Actually, I'm not looking to put money in people's pockets. That's the other party. But I am interested in lowering the tax burden that gets taken out of your pockets. All right? I don't want you to pay more and more to government. My commitment is this:  I'm not looking to try and reduce the tax burden, the share of the tax burden that's paid by the top 1%. My intent and my passion is not saying how can I lower the burden paid by the wealthiest. I'm not looking to do that. I'm looking to keep that the same and instead to say how do I get relief to middle income Americans and one way to get relief to middle income Americans is lowering the rates as the senator just indicated, but also for it's saying, look this zero tax interest dividends and capital gains only applies to middle income Americans.