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2012: Santorum makes his move

The results from the latest Des Moines Register poll, the gold-standard in the state: Romney 24%, Paul 22%, Santorum 15%, Gingrich 12%, Perry 11%, Bachmann 7%. (Msnbc.com’s Michael O’Brien wraps it here.)

But check THIS out: “Santorum, who has been largely invisible in the polls throughout the campaign season, is now beating the other evangelical choices and has a clear shot at victory Tuesday night,” the Des Moines Register notes. “What makes Santorum’s growth spurt particularly striking is his last-second rise: He averaged 10 points after the first two nights of polling, but doubled that during the second two nights. Looking just at the final day of polling, he was just one point down from Romney’s 23 percent on Friday.”

The Register’s Obradovich: “The deck has been reshuffled in the final days of the Republican presidential campaign in Iowa, and there’s still one more hand to play out on caucus night. Rick Santorum, who hasn’t held so much as a ten-spot through months of campaigning in Iowa, is suddenly drawing aces. If the trends reported today in the Register’s Iowa Poll continue, Santorum is in position to win the big pot come Tuesday night.”

The New York Times’ wrap on yesterday’s activity: “The Republican presidential candidates spent the final day of the year jostling for a large share of undecided voters on Saturday, with the cast of former front-runners fighting to not be left behind when the contest to pick a challenger to President Obama begins on Tuesday.”

BACHMANN: Despite the trends in the polls and the low turnout at Bachmann events, she “assured her volunteers on Saturday that together they were poised to pull off a caucus night surprise,” the Des Moines Register writes. She contended: “The 99-county tour was our path to victory.” Brad Zaun, Iowa campaign chairman “went so far as to say the campaign expected a top-three finish on Tuesday night.”

HUNTSMAN: His campaign is up with a new web video hitting Paul, NBC’s Jo Ling Kent reports.

PAUL: Fellow libertarian Gary Johnson endorsed Ron Paul in Iowa. Johnson switched parties and is launching an independent presidential bid.

Passing the torch: And look who’s coming to town… “Ron Paul is planning a Jan. 2 whistle-stop tour throughout Iowa with his son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, in a final push on the last day before the Iowa caucuses,” The Hill writes.

PERRY: “After the last two scheduled stops of his tour today, Gov. Rick Perry made an impromptu visit to a local precinct leader and knocked on a few doors in a West Des Moines neighborhood,” the Texas Tribune writes. It says he’s gotten some bigger crowds and more media attention. He’s harped on his outsider credentials and that Santorum has “continued to be his main target. He slammed the former Pennsylvania senator for earmarks and his votes to increase the debt ceiling while in Congress.”

ROMNEY: Taegan Goddard asks, “Like Father, Like Son?: “A reader flags this passage from Theodore H. White's The Making of the President 1968, which was published in 1969, on Gov. George Romney, Mitt's father: ‘Above all, he looked like a President. Handsome, silver-haired, robust, masculine, smiling or stern, he seemed cast for the part by Hollywood's Central Casting. Correspondents who liked him called him 'Mr. Straight Arrow;' those whose flesh crawled at his pieties called him 'Mr. Square,' or worse... He would make a forthright statement one day, then, like a man making up his mind in public, contradict it or modify it on another.’”

Romney today picked up an endorsement from the Quad City Times.

SANTORUM: Sen. Chuck Grassley had nice things to say about Santorum: “I can say this: The sincerity and effort that he has to get his point across in the presidential campaign is almost a total reflection of how he operated as a United States senator. He is transparent. A tough fighter. A person not afraid to take on tough issues.” (Hat tip: GOP 12.)