TPM News

A pro-Rick Santorum Super PAC has unveiled the first television ad it will air in South Carolina. The Red, White, and Blue Fund sponsored the spot, which has footage of Santorum’s speech from the night of the Iowa Caucuses intermixed with patriotic imagery. The narrator emphasizes Santorum’s two campaign themes: that he is both a hard-edged conservative and that he’s experienced in “big tent” politics, since he served as a Republican in the largely “blue” state of Pennsylvania.

A judge in Wisconsin threw a curveball Thursday evening into the recall campaign targeting Republican Gov. Scott Walker, ruling that state election officials must make a greater effort to screen out fake or duplicate petition signatures -- rather than abide by the pre-existing rules, which have placed more of the burden on the Walker campaign.

The state GOP's lawsuit filed in mid-December against the state Government Accountability Board, which oversees elections in the state, claims that Walker's 14th Amendment rights of Equal Protection are violated by putting a burden on his campaign to review and challenge petition signatures within a ten-day period. Instead, they say, the GAB must thoroughly search for and directly strike out duplicate signatures, and invalid names and addresses.

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Newt Gingrich, in an interview on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, hit back at Mitt Romney’s negative campaigning. Romney “ought to take those ads home and show them to his grandchildren … grandpa did this, what do you think of this kind of trash on television — someone being beaten up like this on television?” Gingrich said, according to the transcript.

The full interview will air on MNSBC tonight, starting at 5 p.m. ET.

Mitt Romney-backers New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will join the GOP frontrunner on the New Hampshire campaign trail this weekend, Romney’s campaign announced Friday.

Eight Republican Senators have written a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him whether the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel issed an opinion on whether four recess appointments made by President Obama when the Senate was conducting pro-forma sessions were legal.

The letter states that previous legal guidances “clearly indicate the view that a congressional recess must be longer than three days – and perhaps at least as long as ten — in order for a recess appointment to be constitutional.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley said in a statement that the Justice Department and the White House “owe it to the American people to provide a clear understanding of the process that transpired and the rationale it used to circumvent the checks and balances promised by the Constitution.”

“Overturning 90 years of historical precedent is a major shift in policy that should not be done in a legal opinion made behind closed doors hidden from public scrutiny,“ Grassley said.

The letter is signed by Senate Judiciary Committee members Grassley, Orrin Hatch (Utah), Jon Kyl (Arizona), Jeff Sessions (Alabama), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), John Cornyn (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah) and Tom Coburn (Oklahoma). View it here.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has announced on his Facebook account:

Please join me on January 19th - the two year anniversary of our historic 2010 victory - to officially announce my 2012 re-election campaign at Mechanics Hall in Worcester. I hope you attend this special event where I will lay out my vision for a brighter, better, stronger America and Massachusetts. Please click the link below for full event details and to RSVP. My wife Gail and I look forward to seeing you on the 19th!

The Rick Santorum "surge" is real, ladies and gentlemen. The former Pennsylvania senator has raised a million bucks since his photo finish in Iowa earlier this week. And, as Stephen Colbert said Thursday, he has "caught the notice of the most influential voice of the 19th century": George Will.

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Rick Santorum will return to South Carolina on Sunday for two campaign events, according to a campaign release. At 4 p.m. ET Sunday, Santorum will hold a campaign rally with supporters, and at 6:30 p.m. ET he will be the featured guest at the Greenville Republican Party Fundraising Dinner. His wife will also be in attendance at the dinner.

Appearing before a largely youthful crowd in Dublin, NH, Rick Santorum reiterated his staunch opposition to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” When asked by an audience member how he reconciles his small government orthodoxy with anti-gay rights positions, Santorum suggested that the reversal of the policy has opened the door for individuals who will undermine the strength of the United States military:

"I would say that serving in the military is not a right; it's a privilege and it's selective. Not everyone is selected. People are chosen based on who will make us the best fighting force in the world, and I don't think that includes those who are openly homosexual."

It's not the general election yet, but we already know what one key issue will be: Medicare. Republicans in the House voted to basically end Medicare as we know it, a position Mitt Romney fully embraced in December. Progressives think it's never too early to remind voters where Republicans stand on the issue.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America are raising money to air an ad on the issue during the two debates this weekend. The ad, which aired this June, is aimed at New Hampshire rep. Charlie Bass who voted for the Ryan plan -- and who endorsed Mitt Romney.

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