TPM News

A new snap poll of the South Carolina Republican primary race shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with a 13 point lead, a much larger margin than he saw during the last week of polling. Former Newt Gingrich has been a close second to Romney, making the SC primary a real race — but a new We Ask America snap poll of likely voters conducted Sunday shows the former Gov. 31 percent of the vote, Gingrich with 18 and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) with 12. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who is attempting to corral the religious conservative voting bloc, was fourth with 9 percent.

The current TPM Poll Average shows Romney with a comfortable 10.1 percent lead in South Carolina.

After a federal judge denied Rick Perry’s attempt to get on the Virginia’s March 6 primary ballot after failing to meet the 10,000-signature requirement, Perry filed an appeal. On Sunday night, lawyers for the state filed an opinion urging the Circuit Court to uphold the judge’s ruling, which would keep Perry, as well as Gingrich and Santorum off the ballot. The reason, the judge ruled Friday, was that the suit was filed too late.

At an event Sunday, prominent Tea Party state senator Tom Davis endorsed Ron Paul. In a statement, Davis said that throughout Ron Paul’s time in Congress, he has been “a Tea Party of one against a towering wave of red ink.”

Jon Huntsman will announce that he's dropping out of the race for the Republican nomination for President and endorse Mitt Romney, Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times reports.

"It was time for Republicans to rally around a candidate who could beat Barack Obama," Huntsman campaign manager Matt David told Zeleny.

The Huntsman campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TPM.

Evan McMorris-Santoro contributed to this report.

CNN reports:

Newt Gingrich defended himself before a church congregation Sunday, touching on the reason some of his opponents, and some voters, might consider him a flawed presidential candidate.

"I don't come here today as a perfect person. I don't come here today without, I guess the advertisement is, baggage," Gingrich said. "I am a person, I've lived a fairly long life."

He told those gathered for the Sunday service at the Cathedral of Praise that he is “somebody who has the courage to stand up and tell the truth, somebody who is prepared to fight for the America that you and I believe in.”

Rick Santorum’s Iowa coalitions director, Jaime Johnson, is under fire from the Bachmann camp after the Des Moines Register revealed an email sent last summer questioning whether a woman could be president, reports the Huffington Post. Johnson wrote in an email, which he said was meant to be private: “The question then comes, ‘Is it God’s highest desire, that is, his biblically expressed will, … to have a woman rule the institutions of the family, the church, and the state?’”

Bachmann’s campaign has asked Santorum to issue an apology; on MSNBC, Johnson said the email was being blown out of proportion.

Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Scott Brown have decided to send representatives from their campaigns to reach an “enforceable agreement” against unlimited outside spending. Groups on both sides of the aisle have already poured millions into the high profile Senate race, including campaigns funded by Karl Roves Crossroads GPS super PAC tying Warren to both Wall Street greed and Occupy Wall Street. The Hill reports:

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) sent Democrat Elizabeth Warren a letter on Friday challenging her to join him in denouncing outside groups, who have already spent millions on attack ads in the race. Rather than ignore the challenge, Warren called Brown on his cell phone — and sent him a letter proposing a meeting between the two campaigns to reach an "enforceable agreement" to rein in the outside groups.

Now the Brown campaign says it will dispatch its campaign manager to meet with his counterpart in Warren's campaign.

The catch: outside groups do not coordinate with campaigns and are not beholden to them, so it’s unclear how this arrangement could successfully reign in outside spending.

Rick Perry is appealing the decision of U.S. District Judge John Gibney who ruled Friday that Perry would not be placed on the Virginia primary ballot. Perry had challenged that the strict 10,000-signature requirement to appear on the ballot was unconstitutional. Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum had joined Perry’s suit and as of now also will not appear on the ballot.

Judge Gibney had given Perry reason to hope he would rule on his side in comments earlier in the week. In the end, the judge agreed that the state’s signature requirement was unconstitutional, but ruled against Perry on a technicality: that he had waited to long to file the suit.

In the appeal filed today, Perry’s campaign said they couldn’t have filed any sooner (they filed two days after Perry was disqualified) without having pre-emptively filed before the it was clear whether they would collect enough signatures. But Perry is appealing the decision and given the time-sensitive nature of the case, with the March 6 primary less than two months away, the court has ordered lawyers for the state to respond by Monday.

The battle for South Carolina is under way. Here are the 10 things you need to know today.

  • Newt Gingrich on Meet the Press; Stephen Colbert on This Week: Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will be on NBC's "Meet the Press." ABC's This Week will have Stephen Colbert, who announced this week he was exploring a presidential bid, as well as Rick Perry. Gov. Rick Perry will also be on guest on CNN's State of the Union.
  • Gingrich and Santorum on CBS' Face the Nation, Santorum on Fox News Sunday: Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum will discuss the primary as well as Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). The show starts at 10:30 a.m. ET. Santorum will be guest on Fox News Sunday, as well Rick Tyler, the senior adviser of pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future.
  • South Carolina's biggest paper endorses Huntsman: Like the Boston Globe, which endorsed Huntsman as well, the paper narrowed the field to two "sensible" candidates - Romney and Huntsman - but then chose Huntsman as "more principled, has a far more impressive resume and offers a significantly more important message."
  • Read More →