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Mitt Romney took a turn for the folksy in Iowa on Friday, telling an audience that, like many people, he didn't fully understand what Medicaid did until late in life.

"You know, I have to admit, I didn't know the differences between all these things until I got into government," Romney said. "Then I got into it and I understood that Medicaid is the health care program for the poor, by and large."

It's a bit of an odd claim considering that Romney, while at Bain Capital, led a $311 million buyout of a huge hospital business that drew its income primarily from health care entitlements. From the January 25, 1989 New York Times:

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Senator Al Franken (D-MN), was the first lawmaker to come out against the controversial mobile intelligence software company Carrier IQ, releasing an open list of questions to the company's founders in early December and demanding answers within two weeks.

The deadline has come and gone, and although Carrier IQ CEO Larry Lenhart and the company's vice president for marketing Andrew Coward did visit Washington on Monday and Tuesday to speak to Franken's staff and staff members of other lawmakers, Franken still isn't entirely satisfied with the answers he's received.

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Speaking in Iowa today, Mitt Romney made a strange statement: he said he didn't quite know what Medicaid was until he got into government.

The comment came after a question about entitlements. When he got to Medicaid, he said:

Medicaid. You wonder what Medicaid is; those who aren't into all this government stuff. You know, I have to admit, I didn't know the differences between all these things until I got into government. Then I got into it and I understood that Medicaid is the health care program for the poor, by and large.

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The new Daily Kos/Public Policy Polling (D) survey of the upcoming OR-01 special election in Oregon, to replace the scandal-plagued Democratic former Rep. David Wu, shows the Dem candidate posting a double-digit lead.

The numbers: Democratic state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici 52%, Republican businessman and 2010 nominee Rob Cornilles 41%. The survey of likely voters was conducted from December 13-14, and has a ±3.1% margin of error. The election will be on January 31.

Recently, news that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was reserving over $1 million in ad time led to some speculation that there could be trouble in this usually solid Democratic seat -- similar to how Dems had also lost the previously safe NY-09 district, when Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned after a sex scandal. But this poll suggests that this is not the case.

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio's critics say they know that despite the Justice Department's scathing report on bias in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Joe Arpaio is not going down without a fight.

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This post was updated at 1:30 p.m.

It's gut check time for Congressional Democrats on the payroll tax cut bill.

Regarding that legislation, Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell emails me with the following statement: "The Leader will not support any bill without the Keystone XL language as part of the agreement."

House Speaker John Boehner is also insisting that he'll amend any Senate-passed payroll tax cut bill to add the Keystone provision to it, if it's not already in there. So Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama now have a choice: stick to their guns and object to the provision -- at the risk of allowing the payroll tax cut (and unemployment insurance and the Medicare "doc fix") to expire? Or give in to the GOP.

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The story of Mitt Romney's inability to light a fire among the GOP base is well told. But it's best summarized by looking at what endorsements for Romney's candidacy actually sound like.

As Benjy Sarlin pointed out last night, Romney himself has trouble answering direct questions about his past positions (and how they've changed. And changed. And changed.) So maybe it's not a surprise that Romney's surrogates also seem to struggle with embracing their guy while staying as far away as they can from some of the things he's stood for in the past.

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