TPM News

The Huffington Post reports:

The Huffington Post asked Romney in an interview Thursday what kind of daily routine he conducts to keep himself spiritually grounded, a topic past presidents and presidential candidates have discussed at length. George W. Bush, for example, often spoke about how he would try to read the Bible daily and pray.

Romney said he does something similar with the Mormon scriptures, which include the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and two other "canonized" books that are also referred to as "standard works."

Romney paused for a moment before describing his routine.

"Let's see, how would I describe this? Let's see," he said. "I read scripture regularly, and seek the counsel of my creator on a daily basis."

"I pray every day. I don't read scriptures every day, probably should," he added.

TINA CASEY Despite a warning from the U.S. to back off, Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz and it claims that a U.S. aircraft carrier is lurking in the area, but if Iran is preparing for a fight the real action is more likely to begin with laptops and desktops.

According to a team from the Russian IT security firm Kaspersky Lab, the notorious Duqu and Stuxnet computer viruses, both of which reportedly attacked Iranian nuclear facilities, can be traced to a single platform that is much older, and has been used to create at least three other viruses.

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CNN reports:

Ron Paul will hit the trail in Iowa on Monday with his son, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, to make a final pitch to caucus goers in the Hawkeye State.

The father-son duo will embark on a whistle-stop tour, visiting five counties one day before the nation's first Republican nominating contest on Tuesday.

The Des Moines Register reports:

Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann drew a miniscule crowd to a planned campaign event this afternoon in the northwest Iowa town of Early.

Although one woman said she drove from Des Moines to see the Minnesota congresswoman, most of the dozen or so people in attendance were employees of the Crossroads Restaurant and Lounge or diners who simply dropped by for lunch.

Bachmann’s staff said the event was hastily arranged after a planned pheasant hunt with Iowa Congressman Steve King fell through, preventing them from doing the phone calls and advertising that turns out crowds.

In an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Mitt Romney was pressed on his stated refusal to release his tax returns. Romney said if he becomes president he’ll “consider that.”

Mitchell: But, if you were president, it's not that hard to make a commitment that if you're elected President of the United States, that you would release the tax returns, every president does.

Romney: You know, if I become president, then I'll consider that. It's a little premature for me to be talking about that at this stage.

Mitchell: Is there some secret? People know you're wealthy.

Romney: Yeah, I understand.

Mitchell: There's nothing to hide?

Romney: No, I agree. (Pause) There's nothing to hide.

In a radio interview in Iowa Thursday, Ron Paul dismissed the idea that his newsletters — which contained racist, homophobic, and anti-Israel comments — are a political liability: “It never hurt me politically, and right now I think it is the same case, but people are desperate to find something,” reports the Des Moines Register.

With four days until the Iowa caucues, there's only eight points separating five candidates ahead of the Republican primary race's first votes.

Gov. Mitt Romney, mired in second place for most of the year in Iowa as other GOP flavor of the month candidates came and went, is now in first place according to a new NBC/Marist poll out on Friday, taking the pole position with 23 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who just enjoyed a short time in first place himself, gets 21 percent. A battle for third place is brewing among candidates all making a play for the most conservative voters in the state, with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) getting 15 percent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 14, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 13.

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The Des Moines Register reported Thursday night:

“Since the start of your campaign in the spring there have been several incidents that, publicity wise, turned out very poorly from the cruise to Tiffany’s to last week with the incident at the Capitol to not getting on the ballot in Virginia,” Sibley resident Matt Winter said to Gingrich during a question and answer portion.

Winter, 28, continued: “We all know that Barack Obama is a tremendous campaigner. With your history of campaign missteps, how can we trust that you can run a campaign that will be able to take on Barack Obama?”

Gingrich said the question was fair to ask. He said he can’t control if an Occupy Des Moines person will make a fool of themselves. He then outlined past successful campaigns, including his efforts in 1994 where he helped Republicans won the majority of the U.S. House, the first time in four decades.

Gingrich compared called himself to Ronald Reagan saying he is a threat to the political establishment and that the elite media is not going to give him a break.

TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro sends this picture of Mitt Romney’s welcome wagon on a cold morning in Iowa, prior to a campaign appearance with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Larry Tuel, who ran Herman Cain’s campaign in Iowa before he dropped out of the race, endorsed Newt Gingrich Friday morning, reports the Des Moines Register. In an email to the Register, Tuel wrote, “I believe he is the best candidate for his knowledge and experience.”

“He is intelligent, positive and has the best grasp of policy and the role of government as it relates to tax, spending and regulatory power. I particularly appreciate his national tax policy, welfare reform, and ideas for reducing and refocusing regulatory authority to solve our deep rooted economic problems.