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On Monday, another Republican presidential campaign bit the dust: Jon Huntsman bowed out of the race, called on his fellow candidates to stop attacking one another and offered Mitt Romney his endorsement.

Stephen Colbert, hours after Huntsman bowed out, took some credit for ending Huntsman's campaign. In a recent South Carolina poll, Colbert actually polled ahead of Huntsman. So the late-night comedian launched an exploratory committee to seek the presidency of the "United States of South Carolina."

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A brand new batch of Ron Paul newsletters raises questions for the libertarian Republican -- as well as a host of embarrassing fresh passages to go along with such classics as "the coming race war" and "the federal-homosexual cover up on AIDS" from earlier reports.

Ron Paul claims "probably ten sentences out of 10,000 pages" were objectionable in his long-published newsletter series, even as he denies having ever written the content in question (or even having seen most of it). But, as TPM has reported and a new collection of Ron Paul newsletters posted by The New Republic confirms, racism, homophobia, and fringe conspiracy theories seem more like the newsletters' raison d'etre than a rare aberration. In fact, even short promotional letters for the publication name-checked many of the most toxic passages.

Once again, contempt for African Americans and warnings of a "race war" are central themes in the most recently released materials. One issue warned "every honest American should be armed" to prepare for the coming violence.

"Today, gangs of young blacks bust into a bank lobby firing rounds at the ceiling," one issue read, continuing: "We don't think a child of 13 should be held as responsible as a man of 23. That's true for most people, but black males age 13 who have been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big, strong, tough, scary and culpable as any adult, and should be treated as such."

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Newt Gingrich received wild applause in Tuesday’s debate for an answer defending the “food stamp president” moniker he uses on President Obama. Now he’s putting the moment into an ad to run in South Carolina, posted by RedState. The tagline is ‘Who Can Beat Barack Obama?’ Take a look.

Newt Gingrich, already in the midst of a headlong drive to the right in advance of the South Carolina primary Saturday, threw a little more red meat to the base Tuesday when asked if he could ever support a Muslim presidential candidate.

“I think it would entirely depend if they give up shari'a,” Gingrich said. “I am totally opposed to shari'a law.”

Public Policy Polling’s first national survey shows President Obama leading likely nominee Mitt Romney 49%-44% — Obama’s best number since last May after killing Osama bin Laden. As PPP notes, it’s not that Obama’s popularity is surging, but rather that Romney’s is headed south:




It's not as if Obama's suddenly become popular. He remains under water with 47% of voters approving of him to 50% who disapprove. But Romney's even less popular, with only 35% rating him favorably while 53% have a negative opinion of him. Over the last month Romney's seen his negatives with independents rise from 46% to 54%, suggesting that the things he has to say and do to win the Republican nomination aren't necessarily helping him for the general. Obama's turned what was a 45-36 deficit with independents a month ago into a 51-41 advantage.



One thing that really stands out in this poll is the extent to which Obama has claimed the middle. He's up 68-27 on Romney with moderates. He also leads by 20 points with voters under 45, a group there's been some concern about slippage with, and he has a 66-30 advantage with Hispanics.

The Palmetto Public Record reports that SC Lieutenant Governor Ken Ard may have committed an ethics violation today when he endorsed Newt Gingrich by using taxpayer-funded resources to announce the endorsement. Ard has a history of ethics scandals — like, ironically, the man he endorsed. From the Palmetto Public Record:




Ard sent out his endorsement on Tuesday through his taxpayer-funded spokesperson using official letterhead. According to Section 8-13-1346 of the Ethics Reform Act, “A person may not use or authorize the use of public funds, property, or time to influence the outcome of an election.”



If Ard or his spokesperson, Julia Foster, violated the act by using taxpayer resources to endorse Gingrich, it would be the latest in a series of potential ethics violations by the lieutenant governor related to political campaigns. About a year ago he was accused of spending campaign funds on personal items such as gifts and football tickets, telling the Free Times’ Corey Hutchins he was simply trying to recoup as much of the money he put into his campaign as possible.



Additionally, a state grand jury is investigating more serious allegations that Ard may have used the names of friends and family to pad his campaign donations list. So far there’s no word on when the results of that investigation will be made public.



Neither Ard’s office nor the State Ethics Commission have responded to requests for comment on Ard’s endorsement. If and when they do, Palmetto Public Record will bring you updates as soon as they become available.

Wisconsin Democrats announced Tuesday that they have collected over a million signatures to recall Gov. Scott Walker — nearly twice the 540,208 signatures, or 25 percent of the total votes in the previous election for governor, needed to trigger a new election.

The signatures will now go through a lengthy review process by state election officials, before an election will go forward later in the year.

A man accused of shooting at the White House and attempting to kill President Obama was formally charged Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez faces 17 counts, including attempting to assassinate the president and doing more than $1,000 of damage to the White House.

A new PPP survey of likely Republican primary voters in Texas shows Rick Perry with the support of just 18 percent of respondents. That places the Texas governor third behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, who tally 24 and 23 percent respectively. That’s a huge drop in home state support for Perry, who led with 49 percent when PPP polled Texas in September.

From PPP:



Romney even leads Perry in a head-to-head matchup among Republican Texas Primary voters, 46-45 – a striking reversal from our last poll when Perry led 72-18. Romney also leads Gingrich head-to-head (43-42) and Paul (a whopping 64-25). The only candidate who beats Romney head-to-head in Texas is Rick Santorum (45-42), but it’s unclear if he’ll ever get the chance to do battle with Romney with the Republican field sufficiently narrowed.

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