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Tuesday morning, Rev. Donald E. Wildmon, founder and chairman of American Family Association and American Family Radio, announced his support for Newt Gingrich. According to the campaign, AFA is “one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country" with 190 radio stations, including six in Iowa. Wildmon will also stump for Gingrich in Iowa ahead of the caucuses.

After a much-longer-than-anticipated caucus meeting Monday night, House Republican leaders announced a plan to vote Tuesday to nix a broadly bipartisan Senate stopgap bill to extend the current payroll tax cut for two months. But they won't be doing this with a standard up or down vote.

The development comes after House conservatives launched a full scale rebellion against a Senate bill negotiated by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that passed with an overwhelming 89 votes.

However House Republicans are aware of the political peril that will come with killing a bipartisan plan to extend the payroll tax cut, and they know they'll likely be held responsible if the tax holiday expires. So they're structuring the votes in a manner that's designed to give their members cover from that charge and, perhaps, preserves their right to reconsider the Senate bill in the coming days.

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Well, that didn't last long.

Earlier Monday, TPM reported that some of Newt Gingrich's supporters were lamenting the candidate's recent turn-the-other-cheek approach to the barrage of negative ads that have battered him since he rocketed up the polls.

They didn't have to wait too long for him to change his tune. Later Monday he promised a 44-stop bus tour to push his message, and also lash back at the criticisms.

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Today Mitt Romney says he is for the full repeal of "Obamacare." And he's created a tightly woven explanation of just how his reform in Massachusetts differs from President Obama's national plan. As Romney now tells it, his approach was always different in kind from President Obama's, especially because the president's plan imposed a mandate nationwide. There was never a point, even going back to his days as Governor, when he would have supported Obama's approach.

But a year and a half ago, that was far from clear. Then Romney was one of those Republicans who called for keeping the 'good' parts of the president's plan while ditching the bad. And now a video has surfaced in which Romney makes clear that one of those 'good' similarities was the mandate which is now the centerpiece of conservative opposition to the plan.

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One argument House Republican leaders -- including Speaker John Boehner -- are making about their refusal to adopt the Senate's payroll tax cut compromise is a throwback to old times. They note that "regular order" in Congress is for the House and Senate each to pass legislation and to then convene a conference committee where members from each chamber meet to iron out the differences between the bills.

That's "regular order" in a traditional sense, but it's not even close to how this Congress has operated in practice. Case in point: both the House and Senate have passed legislation to reauthorize federal aviation programs on a semi-permanent basis. One key area of disagreement between the parties is a provision in the House bill that would make it much more difficult for rail and airline workers to unionize -- just the sort of provision that could be the focal point of negotiations in a conference committee.

But House Republicans won't let that happen, and have pushed a series of temporary reauthorizations instead.

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Critics from both parties are identifying Mitt Romney's history at Bain Capital as potentially his biggest general election weakness. Now a steady drip of stories threatens to move the issue to the forefront sooner rather than later.

Romney was a founding partner and at one point CEO of the investment firm, where he oversaw the purchase of a number of businesses, many of whom laid off workers under Bain's oversight.

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A civil war between House Republicans and their Senate counterparts had gone public over the possibility that the GOP will be held to blame if the current payroll tax cut expires on January 1. The Senators feel abandoned after having voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to pass a two month extension of the holiday -- only to have conservatives in the House GOP conference reject it publicly, and insult the legislation itself.

GOP Leaders on both sides of the Capitol are trying to contain the fallout, but with vulnerable Senate Republicans exposed, and the payroll tax cut set to lapse in less than two weeks, that's a tall order.

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Updated 5:52 pm ET, Monday, December 19

AT&T is dropping its bid to merge with T-Mobile, AT&T announced late Monday. But the company said it will enter into a "mutually beneficial roaming agreement" with T-Mobile's German parent company, Deutsche Telekom.

Still, AT&T acknowledged in a statement to TPM that it will pay a previously agreed-to $4 billion breakup fee to Deutsche Telekom, which will show up on AT&T's fourth quarter balance sheets.

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Mitt Romney's wealth is estimated at between $190 million to $250 million, but he claims he's not accountable for how he invests it. That's because in 2003 when he became governor of Massachusetts, he put his money into a blind trust. If anyone accuses him of unsavory investments, he responds that he had nothing to do with making that investment.

But ABC is reporting that his trust might not be as blind as the candidate says it is. By law, federal office-holders must either declare all investments and financial holdings or put them into a blind trust so that they are unaware of their investments. The problem with Romney's trust, however, is that it's run by his longtime associate Bradford Malt.

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TPM State Television is saddened to report that the visionary prophet-leader Newt Gingrich's poll numbers have fallen to earth, like tears from his supporters' gushing eyes. Evan McMorris-Santoro files this story so lesser mortals can reflect on the golden rays that have been occluded as the dark clouds swallow up our shining sun.

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