TPM News

Tuesday, Rick Perry announced that he had changed his position on abortion. Whereas Perry previously believed in exceptions for cases of rape and incest, Perry now says that meeting a woman conceived during a rape has changed his mind. Perry signed Personhood USA’s pledge to this effect.

The pledge does seem to allow an exception when the life of the mother is at stake.

So what effect, if any, does Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-NE) retirement, and the opening up of his seat in this Republican-heavy state, have on the overall battle for Senate control in 2012?

This is not a cut-and-dried case of an incumbent's retirement tipping his seat into the balance for their party -- because Nelson's seat was already in the balance. Recent polls had shown a tight race for Nelson, and it was already clear that if he had run, it would be a close, highly contested race.

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In Iowa, Tuesday, Rick Santorum laid out the terms on which he would leave the race: “If I finish dead last behind the pack I’m going to pack up and go home,” ABC reports. Speaking to Iowa talk show host Jan Mickelson on WHO radio, Santorum continued, “I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think we’re gonna be very much in the mix, and I feel very good that we’re gonna surprise a lot of people on how we finish.”

The Paul campaign is up with a new ad in Iowa today, stressing that Ron Paul is the only candidate who can take on the Washington machine by cutting the deficit and balancing the budget. An announcer describes the candidate as “consistent, incorruptible, guided by faith and principle.”

Watch:



Newt Gingrich, we hardly knew ye. The latest poll out of Iowa shows Gingrich running a distant third to Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, who are vying for the top spot with just days to go until the Jan. 3 caucuses.

From PPP:



Ron Paul continues to lead Mitt Romney by a modest margin, 24-20. Newt Gingrich is in 3rd at 13% followed by Michele Bachmann at 11%, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum at 10%, Jon Huntsman at 4%, and Buddy Roemer at 2%.



PPP’s Tom Jensen breaks down the latest numbers. “If Paul can really change the electorate by turning out all these young people and independents who don’t usually vote in Republican caucuses, he’ll win,” Jensen writes. “If turnout ends up looking a little bit more traditional, Romney will probably prevail.”

Read the rest here.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who along with Newt Gingrich didn't submit the required number of signatures to petition to make it onto the Virginia Republican presidential primary ballot, is taking the fight for ballot access to federal court.

In a release sent late Tuesday, Perry's campaign announced it has filed suit against the Republican Party of Virginia and the state board of elections in the Eastern District of Virginia over what the campaign claims is a ballot access statute that "limits the rights of voters to vote for the candidate of their choice."

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Newt Gingrich on Tuesday lit into Ron Paul over extremist newsletters he once published, saying that he would not vote for him if he were the Republican nominee.

Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer about tough attack ads Paul has been running against him, Gingrich slammed his rival, who he said "disowns ten years of his own letter, says he doesn't really realize what was in it, had no idea that he was making money on, that it was racist, anti-Semitic."

"He's attacking me for serial hypocrisy and he spent ten years out of earning money off a newsletter that had his name that he didn't notice," he said. "He's got to come up with some very straight answers to get somebody to take him seriously. Would I be willing to listen to him? Sure. I think the choice of Ron Paul or Barack Obama would be a very bad choice for America."

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Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has officially announced his retirement, which was reported earlier Tuesday, with a video message.

"I encourage those who will follow in my footsteps to look for common ground and to work together in bipartisan ways to do what's best for the country, not just one political party," Nelson said. "Public office is a place for public service, not personal profit. It's about promoting the common good, not the agenda of the radical right or the radical left. It's about fairness for all, not privileges for the few. And, it's about protecting the rights of individuals, even if it angers the majority. I hope and believe I have fulfilled these principles to the best of my ability."

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