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Hammering on his theme that Romney represents the optimistic alternative to a “pessimistic” Obama, Romney’s latest ad, “American Optimism,” paints the current economy as Obama’s failure and promises to restore America:



We still believe in an America that brings out the best in all of us; that challenges each of us to be better and bigger than ourselves.

“It’s time for this pessimistic president to step aside and let American optimism that built this greatest nation on Earth build a greater future for our children. If you believe the disappointments of the past few years are a detour, not a destiny, then I am asking for your vote.


Watch:



Yet another poll of Iowa shows former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum moving up in Iowa — a new We Ask America snap poll from last night shows Santorum taking second among likely attendees of Tuesday’s Republican caucuses with 17 percent. It’s the first poll to show the former senator within striking distance of the lead, as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is first with 24 percent. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is third with 14, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is fourth with 13. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who has slid drastically in most public polling of the state, is fifth with 12, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry gets ten.

From We Ask America’s analysis:



While many in the media seem to be focusing on the move up the food chain by former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum and the falling numbers for the last flavor-of-the-day Ron Paul, Romney seems finally to be breaking through as Iowa Republicans get closer to Caucus Day. Perhaps more important is the fact that 39 percent of all poll participants believe that Romney will ultimately be the flag carrier for the GOP in the fall.

Dozens of New Hampshire scientists have signed a letter, urging candidates for office to accept the phenomenon of global warming and to do something about it. The letter details how climate change has affected New Hampshire. They’re unlikely to have any luck with the Republican primary candidates.

The DNC is still hammering away at Mitt Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns at this stage in the campaign. Romney has said he will follow the law, but at this point doesn’t intend to release them. The DNC video shows all the nominees before him who have released their tax returns — including his father, George Romney in 1968 — and asks, “What is Mitt Romney hiding?”

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The Iowa GOP caucuses, the home field of the social conservative -- where former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee turned out the evangelical vote on his way to a victory, and where noted religious activists can be just the endorsement a campaign needs to win the first state in the primary process. In 2008.

The evangelical vote in Iowa this year has been hard to pin down. Or rather, it's been moving from candidate to candidate during the various surges in the state, mirroring the more general faction of GOP voters that would like to nominate anyone but Mitt Romney. But as the January third caucuses approach, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has moved to the top of the heap...presenting pundits with a problem. The conventional wisdom is that Paul can't or won't make a play for those voters -- that they are strictly the territory of Christian firebrand candidates Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R).

Except, the numbers show evangelical voters haven't coalesced around any of those candidates. And Paul, who has never actually suffered with this voting bloc, is picking up more and more as he rises to the top in Iowa.

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In an unusual move, GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul is expected to step away from the campaign for this coming New Year’s Day weekend just days away from the Iowa Caucuses, CNN’s Lisa Desjardins reports.

Paul is reportedly stepping away to spend the weekend with his family in Texas.

A new super PAC called Leaders for Families has popped up in Iowa to support Rick Santorum, reports The Daily. The PAC has made ad buys in Des Moines and Sioux City. So far, the group has spent $110,000 on ads for Santorum. The group has ties to The Family Leader, the evangelical group run by Bob Vander Plaats, who is featured in the groups ads, saying: “Like Mike Huckabee four years ago, you don’t have to worry about Rick Santorum flip-flopping or changing his values.”

With only four days to go before the Iowa GOP caucuses, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney continues to move into a small lead as new public polls surface. An NBC/Marist poll out Friday shows Romney in the lead with 23 percent, locked in a battle with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) who sees 21 percent support. Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has moved up in the race over the last week, gets 15 percent and is locked in a battle for third with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who sees 14 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 13.

From NBC’s First Read:



Although just 7 percent of likely Iowa caucus-goers believe that Romney is the true conservative in the GOP field, he has two variables working in his favor, according to the poll. One, only 21 percent of likely caucus-goers say he’s unacceptable as the Republican nominee (compared with 35 percent for Gingrich and 41 percent for Paul). And two, the conservative vote appears to be splintering between the various candidates, and are no longer coalescing around a single Romney challenger.

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