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Newt Gingrich is not generally known as the warm and fuzzy type, but he got choked up in Iowa on Friday as he discussed his mother's battle with mental illness.

"She had bipolar disease and depression and she gradually acquired some physical ailments and that introduced me to the whole issue of long term quality care," he recalled at a forum with GOP pollster Frank Luntz.

He continued, explaining that "my whole emphasis on brain science comes in directly from dealing with --" before pausing, teary-eyed. "See how you got me emotional?" he said.

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In Iowa Friday, Ron Paul pushed back on comments from running mates like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum that his foreign policy would be dangerous for America, reports the Des Moines Register. At a campaign event, Paul joked to the crowd: ““I will be talking a lot about personal liberty and our Constitution, but I will warn you, it’s been described as a ‘very dangerous’ philosophy.”

More seriously, Paul said: “There is nobody that even comes close to thinking about touching us…We have the weaponry. We have the troops. We can defend our country.”

The Hollywood Reporter:

Kelly Clarkson's endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul appears to be helping her record sales. By a lot.

After voicing her support for Paul, and taking heat on Twitter in the process, Clarkson's latest album, Stronger, is going gangbusters on Amazon, spiking 200 percent in sales on the e-tailer within a 72-hour period, according to the website.

To whit: on Tuesday, the album ranked 41st on Amazon's list of "Movers & Shakers in Music"; three days later, it is #13 (and possibly climbing).

Ron Paul may be be polling well in Iowa, but he's had a tough few weeks denying responsibility for racist and homophobic material once published under his name. Now, we can add women's rights to the list. And this time, it will be hard for Paul to place the blame on another author.

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To round up 2011, TPM put together our 100 seconds of the biggest stories of the year. Protests spread across the world from Madison to the Middle East; politicians kept on gaffing, debates about financial equality raged and Mother Nature let loose her wrath all over the world.

So, settle down with a soothing hot drink and let's all look back at what we've been through over the last 12 months...

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There's off message and then there's Mitt Romney's son, Matt Romney, who suggested on Thursday that President Obama should release his birth certificate and grades before his father releases his tax returns.

"He's certainly not afraid of anything, he's not hiding anything," he said of his father in a video recorded by a Patch reporter in New Hampshire. "But I heard someone suggest the other day that as soon as President Obama releases his grades and birth certificate and sort of a long list of things, that maybe he'd do that."

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The Santorum campaign announced Friday afternoon that the candidate had won the endorsement of Kitty Rehberg, a well-known staple of Iowa Republican politics. Rehberg made the following statement, according the campaign:

I am excited to endorse Rick Santorum for President. Rick has stood tall for the conservative, heartland values I have fought so long to defend. He stands out as the one candidate best prepared and ready to lead our nation on day-one. I am eager to work with his surging campaign in the coming days to help him on to victory in the Iowa caucuses.

Looks like Rehberg will be campaigning for Santorum over the weekend.

Rick Santorum hit Rick Perry Friday for his ignorance of Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court case which struck down Texas’s anti-sodomy statute, reports The Hill. “Rulings like Lawrence v. Texas would be a good thing to know if you are running for president,” Santorum said, according to NBC News' Andrew Rafferty.

As TPM reported yesterday, Perry said he was unfamiliar with the case, which took place while he was governor, at an event in Iowa Thursday. Last year, Perry mentioned the case in his book, “Fed Up!”

Correction, Oct. 19, 2012: The New York Times subsequently reported that the "Jeanane Wilson" interviewed in this story was not an undecided Iowa voter but in fact the lead character in a mockumentary about the presidential campaign that was being shot in Iowa at the time. "Jeanane Wilson" was portrayed by a 48-year-old actress named Jane Edith Wilson who lives in Los Angeles, according to the Times. The incident Wilson describes with Mitt Romney did occur and was captured on video, but Wilson did not divulge her true identity and remained in character during the interview with TPM. In short, we were duped. In the interest of transparency, here is the original version of the story:

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA -- All Jeanane Wilson wanted was a chance to talk to Mitt Romney about jobs. She didn't get that here on Friday, but she did get to meet the man who wants her vote -- a man who after months of playing coy about his chances in Iowa is suddenly playing to win the state, and in so doing hoping to put the nomination beyond the reach of his rivals right from the start.

"He didn't respond to my question," she told me after the event outside an enormous Hy-Vee grocery store. "But he hugged me. That was a little strange."

This is not to say that Wilson, a Des Moines resident, wasn't moved by Romney's speech to the crowd of more than 300 standing in a cold drizzle. Romney had New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in tow -- Christie's touring the state with him today. Wilson said she was impressed, but she still hasn't made up her mind who to vote for.

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On Friday in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney’s son, Matt Romney, suggested that his father would release his tax returns when President Obama released his birth certificate and college grades. Romney has since backed off his remarks, but the Obama campaign is swooping in to rile up donors with his birther lapse.

“This is how the Romney campaign thinks it’s going to win the Republican primary: by pandering to the dead-ender fringe of extremists who still question where the President was born,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina wrote in an e-mail appeal to supporters. “We can’t make them rewrite their talking points. But we can drive up the cost of this kind of politics. There can be no looking the other way — when they do this, you’ve got to do something about it.”