TPM News

A new national poll from CNN shows two conflicting points of data. First, President Barack Obama remains vulnerable in a match-up with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by the numbers, as Romney bests the President by one point in the survey 48 - 47. But Romney's presence at the top of the ticket, which is becoming more and more likely as he continues to win primary states, raise millions, and pick up endorsements, seems to be having another effect on the party -- the CNN poll shows that GOP enthusiasm is going down just as 2012 is starting.

The CNN numbers were not the first to show this confluence of events -- Pew released numbers in the second week of January comparing the level of Republican enthusiasm for their candidates at levels that closely resembled Democrats in 2004, both of which are well below the fire that both parties had for their candidates in 2008. "In the current survey, conservative Republicans and GOP-leaning independents express more positive opinions of the presidential field than do moderates or liberals (56% excellent or good vs. 43%)," Pew wrote. "In January 2008, 70% of conservatives and 64% of moderates and liberals said the GOP candidates as a group were excellent or good."

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With Congress set to return to town this week, staff-level bipartisan discussions are underway over how to pay for extensions of the payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance and the so-called Medicare "doc fix" beyond the end of February, when they're set to expire. The private meetings are a continuation of the December showdown, which ended with two-month extensions of the three provisions and a guarantee that the House and Senate would negotiate a year-long measure.

But many of the factors that made the two month bill so contentious remain in place, and threaten a new brinkmanship at the very beginning of this session of Congress.

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South Carolina’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal endorses Mitt Romney. The last paragraph of the paper’s editorial makes the case that while Romney isn’t perfect, he is the most electable:

Romney is the candidate who can be that choice in the general election. None of the other Republican hopefuls can be. Republican voters cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If they insist on ideological purity from the GOP nominee, they will endure four more years of Obama.

In Monday night’s Fox News debate, Rick Perry responded to a question about Turkey by saying that it’s “a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists.” In Turkey Tuesday morning, the media is not pleased with this comment. From CNN:

"The debate that the Republican candidate Rick Perry attended on American Fox TV turned into a scandal that contained very ugly statements about Turkey," announced TRT state television.

"Rick Perry: what an idiot," tweeted Mustafa Akyol, a columnist with the English-language Hurriyet Daily news.

President Obama will deliver his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination at Bank of America stadium in Charlotte, the Charlotte Observer reports. Obama was previously scheduled to speak at Time Warner Cable Arena:

Convention officials are expected to announce the venue this morning at a news conference at the stadium. Two party sources say the decision to use the stadium was made months ago.

Mitt Romney made two jobs comments Democrats have an issue with. “We have a president in office three years,” Romney said, “and he does not have a jobs plan yet,” apparently forgetting about the American Jobs Act. Second, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz released a statement noting that Romney has upped the number of jobs he claims to have created at Bain Capital from 100,000 to 120,000.

Since being endorsed by a group of Christian conservatives over the weekend, Rick Santorum has received the endorsement of various figures on the religious-right. The endorsement from Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America is a personal endorsement.

The conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity has put $6 million into an ad buy attacking President Obama on Solyndra, accusing the president of using workers as “pawns” in a political game. The ad marks the first major ad buy against Obama in 2012.