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Somos Republicans, a Latino GOP group, endorsed Newt Gingrich on Monday. More than any other candidate, Gingrich has reached out to the Latino community. Last week, in response to Mitt Romney’s promise to veto the Dream Act, Somos Republicans had issued a statement saying they “will veto Romney at the polls.”

A new Sunshine State poll of Florida shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney head and shoulders above the rest of the GOP field in the state, taking 46 percent of the Republican electorate. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is second with 20 percent, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is third with 12, Rep Ron Paul (R-TX) has 9, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry sees 3 percent.

The exit of former Ambassador and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman on Monday seems to benefit Romney the most, as the poll distributed his votes to the second choices of respondents. From Sunshine State News:



When Huntsman was included in the poll, Romney was ahead with 44 percent, Gingrich took second with 20 percent and Santorum remained third with 12 percent. Paul had 8 percent, while Huntsman took 5 percent, followed by Perry with 3 percent. One percent of those surveyed backed other candidates, and 8 percent were undecided.


The current TPM Poll Average shows Romney with a twenty point lead in the Florida race.

Club For Growth, the ultra-conservative small government group, hasn't exactly been Mitt Romney's biggest fan. Their president, Chris Chocola, has called Romney's tax plan "just keeping the status quo." Their official white paper on the candidate concludes that he "should admit that RomneyCare is a failure, and soon." And yet, the group has been rallying to his defense all month as Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry attack Bain Capital for laying off workers.

"We are not Romney defenders by any means," Chocola told TPM in an interview. "If anything, [Bain] may be helping Romney consolidate support. We're still not endorsing or defending Romney, but when someone is falsely attacked we got to step it up."

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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.

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