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The most recent polls from Iowa all show Newt Gingrich on the rise. The latest, conducted by Insider Advantage for the conservative site Newsmax.com has the former House Speaker with a sudden towering lead, commanding 28.1 percent of the vote. In that poll he's followed by Ron Paul with 13.3 percent and Mitt Romney with 11.5 percent. But even with these numbers, Iowa's often-critical evangelicals still don't seem convinced that Newt Gingrich is their guy.

The Des Moines Register reports that evangelicals are split on the new frontrunner and many religious leaders flat out reject him. "He is admirable in many ways, but I won't back him. I don't trust him," Iowa minister Cary Gordon told the Register.

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Standard & Poor’s on Tuesday downgraded a number of large financial institutions, including Bank of America and Citigroup, after the agency changed its rating criteria.

As the Dow Jones Newswire reports, the agency’s new methodology reflects weaker confidence in governments' willingness and ability to bail out troubled banks.

While Republicans conceded that they would in fact support a one year extension to the payroll tax cut (several party leaders had earlier signaled they would not be on board), the party is still vehemently opposed to Democratic plans to pay for the measure via a surtax on millionaires and billionaires.

So while both parties in the Senate agree on extending the tax cut, marked progress in its own right, Democrats and Republicans will still clash over the issue before the holiday recess. Reuters has more here.

You gotta admire Herman Cain for his ability to stay on message. Asked by an NBC reporter to expand on the report that he’s “reassessing” staying in the race after an Atlanta woman said she had an affair with him for the last 13 years.

“999, 999, we’re doing fine,” Cain told Andrew Rafferty when asked “if he had plans to leave race.”

Newspapers really are a bummer, aren't they? Always informing readers of news from far-away places, of local legislatures and even governors, like Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who it turns out couldn't care less.

"I don't read newspapers in the state of Ohio," Kasich said Monday at a college in Columbus. "Very rarely do I read a newspaper. Because ... reading newspapers does not give you an uplifting experience. ... I have found my life is a lot better if I don't get aggravated by what I read in the newspaper."

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Reuters reports:



Massachusetts officials are reviewing a state court ruling to determine whether they should ban public access to paper records generated by Mitt Romney when he was the state’s governor.

So if Herman Cain were to drop out of the race, which candidate would benefit from the remainder of his support base? The answer at this point appears to be none other than the surging Newt Gingrich -- or at the very least, the general category of Anybody-But-Romney, and whoever its champion of the moment might be.

As we have often seen throughout the race, the Republican contest has gone through a cycle of one candidate or another gaining a sudden, massive amount of support against Romney, only to collapse when their various flaws have been exposed to the light of day. Previous examples of this boom-and-bust cycle have been Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and then Herman Cain. And all the while, Romney himself has been unable to catch fire.

Newt Gingrich is the latest candidate to surge. But as Charles Franklin has observed, his boom in the polls has been different, in that it does not owe to voters suddenly discovering him -- he had high name recognition to begin with, warts and all. As such, it is possible that maybe, just maybe, he might not encounter the bust part of the cycle. (But then again, maybe he could crash after all.)

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In what is perhaps an ominous sign, two New Hampshire state representatives have left the Herman Cain campaign for that of Newt Gingrich, the new Republican presidential frontrunner, WMUR reports.

After a picture perfect blast-off on Saturday, NASA's Mars Curiosity rover is now well on its way to the Red Planet for an expected landing in August 2012.



When it reaches the surface, the rover will begin the most comprehensive survey of the Martian geology to date, including searching for evidence that Mars supported, or can support, life.

But to do that, the rover will be relying on a buffet of scientific instruments, including "ChemCam," the Chemistry and Camera instrument, a combination spectrometer/laser developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory that fires an ultra-precise, extremely high-powered invisible laser beam designed to vaporize Martian rocks and soil samples a millimeter at a time for further analysis of their composition. The resulting plasma cloud left in the wake of the vaporized matter is then recorded by the spectrometer's telescope.

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Mitt Romney may think providing a path to permanent residency for illegal immigrants is "amnesty" and a "magnet" for more border crossings, but the policy's primary supporters in the GOP seem to be flocking towards his campaign anyway.

On Tuesday, Romney named three prominent Cuban-American Florida pols: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, and former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart as foreign policy advisers on his Latin American Working Group. All three are original co-sponsors of the DREAM Act, which would allow illegal immigrants who complete a college degree or serve in the military to achieve legal status, and have pushed for comprehensive immigration reform.

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