TPM News

The GOP presidential candidates gathered once again, this time in the glare of the Iowa voters who will be the first to have their say in the race.

All bets were off as the candidates raised the stakes and as everyone clashed the room filled with laughter. Nervous, nervous laughter.....

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Newt Gingrich's positive campaign expired today. It was pronounced dead at 10:12 AM, Monday morning, after reports surfaced that the candidate accused rival Mitt Romney of amassing a fortune off the misery of laid-off workers.

The fatal moment came after Gingrich was asked by reporters whether he should return some of his reported $1.6 million in consulting fees from housing giant Freddie Mac in light of the 2008 subprime mortgage collapse.

"I would just say that if Gov. Romney would like to give back all of the money he's earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain, that I would be glad to listen to him," Gingrich told reporters in New Hampshire after a town hall. "I'll bet you $10, not $10,000, that he won't take the offer," he continued.

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Under fire for a decision to pull advertising from the TLC show All-American Muslim, Lowe's this weekend put out a backhanded apology, saying that "individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic" and "we've managed to make some people very unhappy."

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A federal district court judge ruled on Monday to postpone the impending antitrust trial over the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, granting the unusually-unified requests of both defendant companies and the plaintiff, the U.S. Justice Department, the Associated Press reported.

The trial had originally been scheduled to begin February 13, 2012, but U.S. District of Columbia court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle approved the joint-motion to indefinitely postpone the case, filed by AT&T, T-Mobile and the Justice Department.

Now both sides will meet in court on January 18 for a “status hearing,” to see if the whole thing will be scrapped or go forward in some other fashion.

AT&T wanted the motion granted so it could go back to the drawing board and figure out a deal to combine with T-Mobile that would be approved by federal regulators, without going through a costly trial process. In a twist, the Justice Department also sought to delay the trial, but because it wanted AT&T to re-submit any new plan to combine to the Federal Communications Commission.

AT&T has been forced to radically recalibrate its intentions to buyout T-Mobile for $39 billion after the Federal Communications Commission on November 30 released a scathing report blasting the merger as “anticompetitive” and not in the “public interest,” the same lines of argument towed by the Justice Department when it sued to block the merger in September.

Politico is up with an interview with Mitt Romney in which the candidate is asked whether Newt Gingrich is the GOP frontrunner. “He is right now,” Romney replied.

He also acknowledged that he could be facing an epic primaries struggle that could last all the way up to the California primary on June 5.

Mitt Romney's wife Ann, it seems, disagrees with her husband's campaign staff when it comes to that $10,000 bet Romney made with Rick Perry on a debate stage over the weekend.

Romney's staff told TPM Saturday that the bet -- which has emerged as one of Romney's major gaffes on the campaign trail so far -- was "a good moment for Mitt."

Reeling from incoming attacks coming from all sides, Romney told Fox News this morning his wife's take was a bit different.

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Former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren is further locking up the Democratic nomination for Senate in Massachusetts. Yet another one of her opponents, state Rep. Tom Conroy, announced that he is dropping out of the race.

The Boston Globe reports:

Conroy, a three-term representative from Wayland, said in an interview that the Warren factor became more apparent after "the other strong candidates dropped out of this race, specifically [Newton mayor] Setti Warren, Bob Massie, and Alan Khazei."

...

Asked if he planned to endorse Warren, a Harvard law professor named by President Obama to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Conroy said he plans to meet with her in the next few days to discuss the matter.

On the stump in Iowa Saturday evening, Rick Perry made made yet another spectacular gaffe. According to CNN, the Texas governor tried to accuse President Obama of 'picking winners and losers,' but ended up saying something a little different:

"I want to say it was over $500 million that went to the country Solynda."

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