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2012: Gingrich struggles to expand campaign

“Political groups representing the left and the right have already spent an eye-popping $35 million to influence the outcome of the 2012 election, according to an investigation by The Hill. Over the last several weeks, The Hill interviewed media advertising trackers and officials representing major outside groups and reviewed Federal Election Commission records. The analysis reviewed groups that are directly spending on elections and those seeking to influence the policy debates.”

More: “The main drivers of the outside-group spending have been American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, Republican-affiliated groups co-founded by Karl Rove. They have dropped an unprecedented $20 million attacking Democratic Senate candidates and President Obama. Liberal and conservative groups have combined to spend more than $10 million on Senate races alone.”

BACHMANN: The New York Daily News wonders if “Michele Bachmann is trying to compete with Rick Perry for best ‘oops’ moment of the year.”

Per GOP 12, The Iowa Republican reports: “The Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE) has sent out an email to its members that says Michele Bachmann’s campaign uploaded the group’s email list into their campaign database without permission.”

NBC’s Jamie Novogrod reports that Bachmann won the endorsement of Congressman Trent Franks, a Republican from Arizona’s second district.  It’s the first endorsement inside Congress for Bachmann, a Representative from Minnesota. Romney leads in congressional endorsements, with 44 members of the Senate and House announcing their support, per NBC’s Garrett Haake. Rep. Franks made news in 2009 when called President Obama “an enemy of humanity.”

CAIN: The Boston Globe notes his interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, in which he notes he paid a woman who is now accusing him of having an affair without his wife’s knowledge, “was one of the most revealing Cain has given since White made the allegation on Monday.” Here’s the video.

Cain claimed to FOX, per PoliticalWire: "Somebody, somewhere is paying them off to try and smear my character in order to slow me down.”

The Des Moines Register is officially out with its latest poll Saturday night, but it released one result: “Herman Cain’s once-surging popularity in Iowa has plummeted in the wake of an allegation of a 13-year extramarital affair, leaving him at single-digit support with the Iowa caucuses just over a month away. Cain is now at 8 percent among likely Republican caucusgoers, The Des Moines Register’s new Iowa Poll shows. That’s down from 23 percent in late October.” (Hat tip: Political Wire.)

GINGRICH: “Newt Gingrich, whose sudden surge in the polls has propelled him to the top of the GOP pack, confidently asserted Thursday that he will be the Republican Party's nominee in 2012,” The New York Post notes. He told ABC: "I'm going to be the nominee," he said. "It's very hard not to look at the recent polls and think that the odds are very high I'm going to be the nominee."

But Politico notes that Gingrich is struggling to create a national campaign team and infrastructure to rival Romney.

RealClear’s McPike reports that Gingrich doesn’t want his team attacking Romney. “According to Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond, ‘In response to the dynamics over the last 24 hours about the attacks coming our way, his instructions to us were to not say anything bad about Mitt Romney.’” Instead, “As one informal adviser familiar with the call put it, ‘Newt instructed his team . . . to remain focused on what obviously has resonated: Voters want a nominee who can go toe to toe with President Obama on issues and substance.’”

But it doesn’t look like Gingrich is taking his own advice. He said after a speech in Iowa yesterday: "I'm not interested in distinguishing myself from Romney. I'm happy to be who I am. … I think that distinguishes me from Romney."

The Hill’s headline from Gingrich’s comments about poor kids and their families working habits: “Gingrich: Poor kids have bad work habits ‘unless it’s illegal’.”

ROEMER: “Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer today became the first candidate to announce that he will seek the nomination of Americans Elect, an advocacy group that is trying to put a third, split-party ticket on the presidential ballot,” the Boston Globe reports, adding, “Voters registering with Americans Elect will choose their nominee via the Internet. If nominated, Roemer will have to choose a running mate from a different party.”

ROMNEY: AP notes that Romney is fighting fights on two fronts – Barack Obama’s reelection team and Newt Gingrich: “With only a month before the Iowa caucuses kick off the nominating fight, Gingrich's rise has forced Romney's campaign to evaluate a new reality: He no longer has the luxury of staying above the Republican primary fray, avoiding tough questions about his own record and hammering Obama at will while essentially ignoring his GOP rivals.”

The Hill: “Mitt Romney’s campaign showed signs of strain this week as Newt Gingrich rose in the polls, Democrats increased their attacks and the former Massachusetts governor stumbled in a national interview.”

The Boston Globe’s Johnson looks at how video-editing technology, available to all of the top campaigns and readily viewable when you walk in the door to a campaign headquarters, is changing the race. One instance, for example, was how Romney’s interview with Brett Baier of FOX was cut up by the Huntsman campaign for a “Mittstant Replay” video and which the campaign said showed Romney was “Scared Mittless” of the press.

A Romney aide says in a Politico eBook, per The Daily Caller: “We didn’t want [opposition research] on him coming out. We wanted him to stay where he is. He keeps Perry down.”