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Putting free market principles into practice, the owner of conservative blog RedState put founder Erick Erickson's endorsement up for sale in a recent advertising appeal.

The e-mail from the site's parent company, Human Events Group, promoted Erickson's influential voice with his right-leaning readers as part of a "new RedState Endorsement Program." Buyers could even score "Erick's Video Endorsement (subject to final approval by Erick)."

"Organizations with issues, candidates and viewpoints that are in line with Erick's positions can truly benefit from his endorsement," the email's author, account executive Chris McIntyre, wrote. "The program is specifically designed to provide broad, multi-channel coverage and put your message in front of the people who can truly support your advocacy and fund raising efforts."

Erickson took to his blog to assure readers that he had nothing to do with the promotion after Politico's Ben Smith broke the news of the e-mail.

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A new survey of the South Carolina Republican primary from Public Policy Polling (D) shows Mitt Romney with the opening lead in this key Southern primary state.

It's a good sign for Romney, at least at this early juncture in the race, to be leading in a primary that often favors social conservatives. He must sill go through the ringer of the campaign, of course, and the fact that Gov. Nikki Haley has criticized his Massachusetts health care reform law. But that being said, he is starting out on top in a strong position.

The initial numbers: Romney 27%, Palin 18%, Cain 12%, Gingrich 12%, Bachmann 9%, Ron Paul 7%, Pawlenty 4%, and Huntsman 2%.

Without Palin in the race: Romney 30%, Cain 15%, Gingrich 15%, Bachmann 13%, Paul 10%, Pawlenty 5%, and Huntsman 2%.

PPP's Tom Jensen writes: "Romney's formula for success in South Carolina is the same as in Iowa: dominate with the middle, lead with the center right, and avoid getting completely blown out of the water with the far right."

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Tim Pawlenty delivered a speech Tuesday morning at the University of Chicago, laying out an economic platform that he is dubbing a "Better Deal" -- in a clear word-play on such past progressive economic policies as Teddy Roosevelt's Square Deal, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, and Harry Truman's Fair Deal. Though of course, Pawlenty's proposals are quite a bit different.

Pawlenty's proposals would involve drastic slashing of tax rates: The corporate tax rate would be reduced from 35% to 15%, and the income tax would now take up only two brackets of 10% and 25%.

Pawlenty would in turn drastically cut spending, including some possible cuts or privatizations/eliminations of services that people have taken for granted. "Now there's some obvious targets. We can start by what I call 'The Google Test.' If you can find a service or a good available on Google, or the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn't need to be providing that good or service," said Pawlenty. "The post office, the government printing office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and others, were all built for a time in our country and a different chapter in our economy, when the private sector didn't adequately provide those services. But that's no longer the case."

Thus, Pawlenty is clearing placing himself staunchly on the right, with a program that would drastically change the shape of the federal government as Americans have known it. In an environment where the GOP has run into trouble over Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) proposals to privatize Medicare, will these ideas fly with the general public beyond the GOP primary base?

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Sarah Palin was dead on when she said that Paul Revere did...whatever it is she thought he did. And to prove it, Stephen Colbert reenacted Revere's midnight ride with a bell, a musket and a mechanical horse.

"It's just like we all learned in grade school," Colbert said. "'One if by land, bells if by two, hey, British, you're warned, sailed the ocean blue.'"

"I could not have said a random string of words better," he added, referencing Palin's subsequent garbled defense that she hadn't flubbed her facts.

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Diana Hubbard Carr, the former administrative director at the American Conservative Union, pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling upwards of $120,000 during her time as bookkeeper for the group.

Carr is the ex-wife of David Keene, the former chair of the ACU, which is the group that organizes the Conservative Political Action Conference each year.

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Following Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) admission that he had in fact sent a lewd picture of himself to a college student -- as well as his revelation that he'd engaged in similar activities with several other women -- even Jon Stewart found it hard to laugh.

"And there you have it," Stewart said Monday night, after playing a clip of Weiner's confession. "At 4:25 Eastern Standard Time, this story officially became sad."

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Asked about his own position as the most prominent African American in the Republican party these days, Herman Cain is fond of saying he refuses to "stay on the Democratic plantation like he's supposed to" or that he refused to drink the liberal Kool-Aid.

Asked why more African Americans haven't joined him at tea party rallies and conservative conventions like the Faith And Family Conference in DC this weekend, the millionaire ex-CEO has a different explanation. African Americans, Cain told TPM, are too poor to tea party.

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