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Up till now President Obama has been shadow boxing against a phantom menace: a candidate known only as "Generic Republican." Polls have fluctuated in favor of and against the President in this fight, but now that his opponent has taken on a more defined, physical form, his chances of re-election are becoming clearer. Benjy Sarlin gets in to the details.

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MAULDIN, SC -- Over barbecue and sweet tea with 12 veterans here Friday, Mitt Romney appeared to brainstorm a fundamental change to the way the nation pays back the people who put their lives on the line in the military.

Talking with the veterans about the challenge of navigating the Veterans Affairs bureaucracy to get their health care benefits after they leave active duty, Romney suggested a way to improve the system would be to privatize it.

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The development of ultra-fast, ultra-cheap manufacturing technologies has become a national priority, so much so that DARPA, the Defense Department's premier advanced research agency, has put out the call for innovators to come up a whole new approach to getting stuff off the drawing board and into action as quickly as possible. Scientists at North Carolina State University have devised a light-based 3D assembly process seemingly based on Shrinky Dinks, the popular children's craft toy.

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In a statement to the press, President Obama on Friday warned Congress that he would not accept any action by lawmakers that would attempt to delay or weaken the scheduled cuts to defense and entitlements if the Super Committee doesn’t reach a deal by the end of this year.

The President also made clear that he will not accept any measure that attempts to turn off part of the sequester. The sequester was agreed to by both parties to ensure there was a meaningful enforcement mechanism to force a result from the Committee. Congress must not shirk its responsibilities. The American people deserve to have their leaders come together and make the tough choices necessary to live within our means, just as American families do every day in these tough economic times. The President urged the leaders to get this done.

It's come to this.

In the wake of Herman Cain's multiple sexual harassment accusations, the media narrative of Romney-the-Inevitable has continued to grow. But it seems the anti-Mitt crowd is continuing to grasp for other choices. The latest alternative?

Newt Gingrich.

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