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No Republican candidate is running away with the contest in Iowa two days before the caucuses start: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum are all within two points of each other in a new poll from Public Policy Polling (D). Paul leads with 20, Romney is at 19 and Santorum finishes with 18.

Santorum has doubled his support over the last two weeks as the candidates barrel to the finish line. “The momentum in the race is completely on Santorum’s side. He’s moved up 8 points since a PPP poll earlier in the week, while no one else has seen more than a one point gain in their support,” PPP wrote in its analysis. “Among voters who say they decided who to vote for in the last seven days he leads Romney 29-17 with Paul and Gingrich both at 13.”

The previous frontrunner, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has fallen all the way to 14 percent, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry gets 10 percent to round out the candidates in double digits.

More from PPP:



Santorum's net favorability of 60/30 makes him easily the most popular candidate in the field. No one else's favorability exceeds 52%. He may also have more room to grow in the final 48 hours of the campaign than the other front runners: 14% of voters say he's their second choice to 11% for Romney and only 8% for Paul. Santorum's taken the lead with two key groups of Republican voters: with Tea Partiers he's at 23% to 18% for Gingrich, 16% for Paul, 15% for Bachmann, and only 12% for Romney. And with Evangelicals he's at 24% to 16% for Gingrich, and 15% for Paul and Romney.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has completely righted the ship in New Hampshire after a scare during the surge of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Romney is at 41 percent in a new poll of likely Republican primary voters in the Granite State, followed by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) at 15, Gingrich at 11 and former Ambassador and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 9 percent.

From Suffolk:



"Paul has reemerged as the number two choice during the Gingrich decline, while Huntsman has not benefited from a recent Super PAC television ad blitz attacking Romney. In fact, with both Romney and Huntsman sharing similar demographics, the ads appear to be benefiting Romney. “There is only one candidate who can win both Iowa and New Hampshire,” said David Paleologos, director of Suffolk University’s Political Research Center. “That candidate is Mitt Romney. Although the 16 percent undecided is high right now, it is unlikely that Romney will lose New Hampshire, despite what Iowa voters may do.”

ATLANTIC, IOWA -- Rick Santorum really has arrived, it seems. After meeting with voters in a diner here Sunday, Mitt Romney hosted a rare press conference where he was more than happy to take Santorum on in the way he has other surging candidates in the past.

It's a sign that Santorum's surging poll numbers have caught the attention of Romney, who's pushing hard to win here in Iowa, a state he wasn't able to win during his 2008 White House run. Anecdotal evidence suggests some voters are choosing between the two men -- three undecided Iowans I talked to before Romney arrived said Santorum and Romney were on their short lists.

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Former Ambassador and Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-UT) had previously said he wouldn’t self-finance his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination, but he’s had a loose interpretation of what that means. Sunday his campaign put out a fundraising email saying that he’ll match dollar-for-dollar donations to his campaign during the next three days as he eyes the January 10th New Hampshire Primary, forgoing Iowa this week.

From the email:

“Two days ago we launched a fundraising contest to help air this television ad, which highlights my vision for rebuilding our economy and restoring trust in our government.

I am so humbled at the tremendous response we’ve received that today I am adding a special wrinkle: from now until midnight Wednesday, Mary Kaye and I will personally match – dollar for dollar – every new donation our campaign receives.

In just a few minutes, I will be holding a town hall in Deerfield, New Hampshire – our third event of the day, and 143rd event in the state. With only nine days to go until New Hampshire’s primary, it is critical that we have the resources – both on the ground and on TV – to compete with Mitt Romney."

Ron Paul's closing message ahead of the Iowa caucuses goes a little something like this: I've always been here, you guys just started noticing.

"It's not because I've changed my message," he told FOX News's Chris Wallace, in one of several interviews on the Sunday political talk show circuit. "This is what I've worked my whole career to warn people about," he said, dismissing criticism that he's a candidate of the lunatic fringe.

Paul remains in good position to win on Tuesday -- he's polling just a few points behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in trial heats tracking likely GOP caucus-goers, but the real key is his campaign organization. Known for being the most fervent and best organized in the state, Paul is betting his core support will be more committed to getting out and caucusing than Romney's.

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Jon Huntsman is trying to knock Ron Paul out of second place in New Hampshire. First, he put up a video hitting Paul on his racist newsletters. Now, the Huntsman campaign has a new video up hitting Paul on his foreign policy positions. The ad portrays Paul as a conspiracy theorist with crazy ideas, and shows clips of some of Paul’s more far-out statements set to Twilight Zone-themed music (via Politico).

Watch:



Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum repeated his pledge to order airstrikes on Iran should that nation come close to creating a nuclear weapon. “Iran will not get a nuclear weapon on my watch,” he said, saying that President Obama had been soft on the issue. When Gregory said that all Presidents say they won’t allow Iran to gain nuclear capabilities, Santorum argued that unless they are willing to back it up with military action, it makes the country look like a “paper tiger.”

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum continued a pitch based on electability in an interview with David Gregory on Meet The Press, taking aim at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a liberal. But when Gregory asked whether he himself made deals as a blue state Republican Senator, he embraced the idea that pols need to work together to achieve accomplishments.

“Of course my background has compromise in it,” he said. “That’s what you have to do to get things done.”

The Quad City Times, a newspaper in Eastern Iowa, has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for President in an editorial titled “Romney Stands Alone.”



Romney stands not as a last resort, but as a solid, first preference. Like Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Sen. John McCain, Romney makes his second presidential bid as a much stronger candidate. We wished we'd have seen him more often this go-round. But his choice of a national -- not just Iowa -- strategy affirms our belief that his sights are set on the presidency, not just a nomination.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry continued his pitch to Iowa’s social conservatives with a full bore attempt to highlight his anti-abortion efforts. Perry said he’d signed a bill requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortions, that as Governor he was the first to defund Planned Parenthood, and now “Twelve abortion clinics are closed” because of his actions.

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