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In a restoration of diplomatic ties, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday said the U.S. is ready to start the process of exchanging ambassadors with Myanmar, Reuters reports. Myanmar on Friday released hundreds of political prisoners, marking what Clinton called a “momentous day.”

President Obama, speaking at the White House on the level of redundancy among government agencies, said, “We’ve done a lot. But we need to do more. We need to think bigger.”

The South Carolina primary is a week away. Here are the 10 things you need to know.

  • New South Carolina poll out midday: A new poll of South Carolina from Public Polling Policy (D) will be out early afternoon on Friday. Early results tweeted by PPP pollster Tom Jensen suggest that the race will really boil down to a contest between Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as the former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has lost momentum.
  • Newt employs the French attack on Romney: Speaking of Gingrich, his campaign is out with a new web ad attacking Romney for being a "Massachusetts Moderate," a major theme. But the new video goes after Romney in a new way -- by emphasizing all things French. Complete with accordion music and featuring a clip of Romney speaking the language. The web video is a small preview of campaign tactics to come in South Carolina.
  • Read More →

President Obama will speak any moment, announcing plans to ask Congress for permission to merge several federal government agencies. This will shrink the size of the federal government. Multiple reports suggest Obama will eliminate the Commerce Department and create a new agency. Watch Obama’s remarks below:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Mitt Romney announced today that Bob Wickers will be joining the campaign as a senior adviser, focusing primarily on the areas of message development and strategic communication.

Wickers has previously served as an adviser to Mike Huckabee, who penned an email to supporters yesterday in which he defended Romney’s record at Bain Capital.

Newt Gingrich’s campaign released a statement announcing the endorsement of Pastor Tim LaHaye, one of the influential co-authors of the “Left Behind” series of apocalyptic novels that helped promote evangelical enthusiasm for “the rapture.”

The statement noted that LaHaye had sent a letter to other South Carolina pastors, urging them to follow his lead:

“It seems apparent the Republican candidates have come down to two possible winners,” LaHaye said. “As my friend, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell told me personally, ‘Speaker Newt Gingrich is the most qualified man in America to run as president of the United States”… We agree!’”

The Obama campaign attacked Mitt Romney in an email to supporters today. Calling the former Governor a “corporate raider,” Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter had harsh words about Romney’s time at Bain Capital.

Cutter’s memo channels parties ranging from former Bain Capital colleagues to business juggernaut Warren Buffet in framing Romney’s time at the private-equity firm.

Between now and November the American people will decide whether to respond to this crisis by electing a corporate raider who profited from – and promises to restore – the conditions that caused it, or re-electing a President fighting to level the playing field for American businesses, restore fairness for consumers and help the middle class reclaim a sense of economic security that will benefit the entire economy. That’s what’s on trial, not “free enterprise.”

Three people are dead and two are injured after a shooting at a lumber company just north of Star, North Carolina, WXII 12 reports:

Sheriff Dempsey Owens told WXII 12 that 4 people were shot inside the company Friday morning, 3 people died, 1 worker was airlifted to the hospital, and the gunman was transported to the hospital after shooting himself at his home.