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Asked about his alleged support of cap-and-trade in Dubuque, Iowa, Newt Gingrich responded that sitting on a couch with Nancy Pelosi was one of the dumbest things he’s done. He then went on to deny he supported cap-and-trade.

In an interview last Friday with the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Gov. Scott Walker (R) gave perhaps his most blunt show of contrition yet for the mega-gaffe that could haunt him in the coming recall: His 20-minute phone call in February, at the height of the protests against his anti-public employee union legislation, with a blogger posing as conservative financier David Koch.

The interviewer said that a friend of Walker's has said that the "Koch" call was the only time he saw Walker rattled, to have done something so "stupid."

"Yeah, that's a good way to put it, an accurate summary," Walker responded. "It was stupid. It was stupid -- you know, the call in and of itself, the whole fact that something like that would happen -- it diverted attention from, you know, a debate that needed to be focused on the facts, and instead got off into this hysteria and everything."

Walker also said the controversy served as a wake-up call to him, to stay focused on the issues at hand and not let the story become focused around himself.

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At a town hall in Mason City, Iowa, Rick Santorum told the audience that President Obama is against both free markets and the founders' idea of individual liberty. He cited his recent speech in Kansas as evidence that he doesn’t trust individuals or markets to be free.

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) is expected to announce today that he will be retiring after two terms, Politico reports.

A Democratic source has confirmed to TPM that he is indeed planning to announce his retirement.

President Obama will seek an increase to the debt limit by the end of the week, which is expected to come within $100 billion of the current cap by December 30, Reuters reports.

The debt limit currently stands at $15.194 trillion but would increase to $16.394 trillion with the President’s request.

The Gingrich campaign has revised downward the number of stops the candidate will make on his “Iowa Jobs and Prosperity Bus Tour” before the January 3 caucuses. Instead of 44 stops, Newt will now be making 22, reports the Des Moines Register.

Newt’s first stop Tuesday is in Dubuque at 1pm.

Speaking on Fox News this morning, Mitt Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul defended the candidate’s credentials from Gingrich campaign broadsides, pointing to the governor’s record several times when questioned about a 2002 quote in which Romney claimed he was a moderate Republican.

“This is a desperate attempt by Speaker Gingrich to prop up his sinking campaign,” Saul said. “Speaker Gingrich is an unreliable conservative. That he would sit on the couch with Nancy Pelosi at the behest of Al Gore to talk about global warming and support for cap and trade.”

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