TPM News

DES MOINES, IOWA -- Turn on the radio here and you're going to get a taste of how hard Mitt Romney is working to stamp out Newt Gingrich's support with conservatives.

In a new radio ad launched by the Romney campaign in Iowa last week, Romney turns to conservative fire-breather Ann Coulter to make the case that he's the most electable candidate in the Republican race. Having made a living off saying things that no politician would likely wish to be closely associated with, it's an interesting choice -- and a sign that Romney is going all out to cast himself as the more pure conservative choice to Gingrich.

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The U.S. Air Force is funding a research project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that could lead to the development of new materials that share the ultra-light, ultra strong properties of spider silk.

The MIT project uses a new kind of analogy to pinpoint exactly how the structure and function of spider silk is analogous to the sonic structure of a melody.

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DES MOINES -- As Twitter, his opponents and Democrats blew up with mockery of Mitt Romney's $10,000 bet offer to Rick Perry at Saturday's debate, the Romney campaign denied to TPM that their candidate had lost the narrative when he dropped the wager offer on Perry.

"I thought it was a good moment for Mitt," Romney strategist Eric Ferhnstrom told TPM in the spin room after the debate. "I thought that Rick Perry, by backing down, looked weak."

Ferhnstrom said "the reason Gov. Romney made the bet was because he knew Rick Perry wouldn't take it."

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Democrats could barely contain their glee after Mitt Romney proposed a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry over his health care position.

"He's going to own that $10,000 bet line," DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse said on Twitter. "Nothing else he has said in this debate matters."

Before the debate ended, the DNC was out with an e-mail to reporters trying to put the $10,000 number into perspective, noting it was more than the average in-state tuition at a public university, for example.

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Heading into this debate, everyone expected Mitt Romney to take some blows at the man polls suggest is the new frontrunner, Newt Gingrich.

The question was whether Newt would hit back. He'd previously suggested he would focus on running a "positive" campaign that wouldn't stoop to negative attacks.

Well, that lasted all of about five minutes. Within moments he responded to Romney's digs with a vicious blow: the only reason Romney isn't also one of the "career politicians" he so often derides is because he lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994.

Watch below:

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The candidates at the ABC debate were asked about Newt Gingrich's recent comments that the Palestinians are an "invented" people. Gingrich was asked about Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat's response, who is a associated with the Palestinian Fatah movement, saying that Gingrich's comments would be used as rhetorical ammunition by Hamas and al-Qaeda.

"How would he know the difference?" Gingrich said dismissively. "Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes." He then denounced the idea of Israel being urged into peace talks with Palestinian groups that fire rockets at Israel.

He also alleged that "The Palestinians claim to a right of return is based on a historically false story," and also said that "'Palestinian' did not become a common term until after 1977."

The Palestine Liberation Organization was in fact founded in 1964, capping off years of Palestinian cultural development from both before and after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Pundits and strategists on the left and right alike were united in their reaction to Mitt Romney's $10,000 mid-debate bet with Rick Perry: expect to see it many, many, many more times if Romney wins the nomination.

"If Mitt is the nominee, we'll see that ten-thousand dollar bet offer about ten thousand more times," Josh Trevino of the Public Policy Foundation in Texas, which is close to Perry, tweeted.

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DES MOINES -- This should play well to the 99% crowd: without skipping a beat at the Saturday night debate here, Mitt Romney held out his hand and offered to bet Rick Perry $10,000 that he didn't change the health care text in his book..

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Newt’s marriage history came in for a bit of a kicking during Saturday night’s debate, as various candidates opined not so subtly about the difficulty of trusting someone who could not show fidelity. However, Newt tackled this head-on. Watch his response below: