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2012: Newt continues to surge

“Two new political ads released [yesterday] couldn’t be any more different from one another than the Republican presidential candidates they represent,” the Boston Globe writes. “The bold and brash ad from Texas Representative Ron Paul features a barking Rottweiler, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sticks with the tried and true patriotism of American flags and the Statue of Liberty. The ads presage what is likely to be a massive increase in television advertising in the final month before the early states start voting, with Iowa’s caucus on Jan. 3 followed by New Hampshire’s Jan. 10 primary.”

Conservative Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is likely running for governor in 2013, asked questions of Gingrich and Romney at Mike Huckabee’s forum Saturday, and he was not impressed with their answers.

BACHMANN: “Rep. Michele Bachmann said Tuesday she still thinks she has a good chance of winning the Iowa Republican caucuses, saying presidential campaign rivals Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney ‘have significant flaws,’” AP writes.

Per NBC’s Jamie Novogrod, Bachmann is citing concerns about Donald Trump's "objectivity" as moderator of the Dec. 27 Newsmax debate. On CBS this morning, Bachmann said her team has not yet accepted the invitation, saying: "We're still in the process of looking at it." Pressed to elaborate, she added: "One concern was he said he'd already - he's already leaning toward a candidate, and so, you know, there's questions about objectivity. But I have great respect for him."

GINGRICH: Newt Gingrich leads a new poll of South Carolina voters from Winthrop University, taking 38% to Romney’s 22% of likely primary voters, NBC’s Ali Weinberg reports. No other candidates came in double digits. Rick Perry was third with 9%. Polling, which was conducted from Nov. 27th to Dec. 4th, began before Herman Cain announced his suspension of his campaign. Cain received 7%.

Gingrich also leads in a new Iowa Washington Post-ABC poll of likely caucus-goers with 33%. Romney is tied for second with Ron Paul at 18%. Rick Perry gets 11%, followed by Bachmann 8% and Santorum 7%.

“Republican front-runner Newt Gingrich called Donald Trump ‘a great showman’ Monday as he became the latest Republican presidential candidate to kiss The Donald’s ring,” The New York Daily News writes. Gingrich further ingratiated himself with Trump by defending the brash developer against criticism from rival GOP candidates like Ron Paul who say having Trump moderate a presidential debate would create a ‘circus’ atmosphere.”

A new Web ad posted by and paid for by an anonymous group called Iowans for Christian Leaders in Government hits Gingrich and is called, “Newt Gingrich. Judas,” NBC’s Alex Moe reports. It also criticizes him for cutting an ad with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and for his comments on global warming. Another ad posted by the same group last week, Dec. 1, also hit Gingrich and is called "Newt Gingrich: Serial Adultery.” This one focuses on his three marriages and extramarital affair. The Iowans for Christian Leaders in Government website describes the group this way: “Christian Values are important to all of us – shouldn’t it be for our candidates too?” it does not list who is part of the group and an Internet domain database search revealed the site was registered through GoDaddy.com via DomainsByProxy, a group that markets itself as a way to create a website and not have an identity revealed.

The New York Post with this headline: “Out to Newter him.” “The Democratic Party yesterday fired its first shot at surging GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich — reviving ethics violations leveled against him when he was House speaker in the 1990s — a sign they now seriously consider him a potential challenger to President Obama.”

Gingrich’s campaign acknowledged that it used the theme music from the movie “Rudy” for its new TV ad. But it said it will likely be swapped out. “The music from the movie Rudy, a classic underdog story, was used as a place holder during production of the campaign's first ad - the same ad with a different music track is being distributed to Iowa television stations,” Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told NBC’s Moe. “Was the music chosen intentionally?  I can share with you the following.  For future place holder music  the campaign is auditioning soundtracks from the movies Rocky, Miracle (The story of the '80 U.S. Olympic Hockey team) and Hoosiers.  Not to be left out we are also considering scores from the movies Braveheart and Seabiscuit.”

HUNTSMAN: He said of Donald Trump and why he turned down his invitation to his debate: “I’m not going to kiss his ring and I’m not going to kiss any other part of his anatomy. This is exactly what is wrong with politics. It’s show business over substance.”

PAUL: The Republican Jewish Coalition didn’t invite Ron Paul to speak at its GOP forum this week. He’s the only major candidate left out.

PERRY: “It could prove an awkward encounter for Gov. Rick Perry as he heads to Washington on Wednesday to appear at a presidential candidate forum and meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill — lawmakers whose work hours and salaries he has proposed slashing,” the Texas Tribune reports. “Perry's campaign will hit the city he vows to shake up this week, and it remains unclear just how warm the reception will be from the lawmakers who have borne the brunt of his campaign rhetoric.”

ROMNEY: Dan Quayle is set to endorse Romney today. Romney will be in Arizona to get it.

SANTORUM: “Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told Radio Iowa on Monday that his GOP rival Newt Gingrich is taking too much credit for Republican accomplishments during the former House Speaker’s tenure,” The Hill writes. Santorum said, “Newt Gingrich takes a lot of credit for the ‘Contract with America’ and winning the House in 1994. But if you go back in 1994, the real issue was corruption in Washington and the real reason for that was because Rick Santorum and [former Iowa Rep.] Jim Nussle and several others stood up and exposed the rampant corruption going on in Congress.”