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Mitt Romney laughed off the suggestion on Thursday that if elected he would be the country's first Mexican-American President. The Univision host Jorge Ramos cheekily asked about Romney's Mexican heritage, referencing the fact that Romney's father was born in a Mormon encampment in Mexico.

"I would love to be able to convince people of that," Romney joked in response. "Particularly in a Florida primary." But, he added, "I don't think people would think I was being honest with them if I said I was Mexican-American."

The Florida primary on January 31 is the first time in this cycle that the candidates have had to appeal to Latino voters. Whereas in Iowa and New Hampshire, Romney was courting white audiences as the far-right candidate on immigration, Romney is now moderating his stance for a Florida audience, where 11% of registered Republicans are Latino. Gingrich has struck a more moderate tone on immigration and Romney needs to win over at least some of this community.

Since Romney began running on an extreme anti-immigration agenda, he must have known he would eventually have to temper his position in Florida and ultimately in the general election. And Democrats don't want him to get away with it.

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Mitt Romney, who gathered his Florida team months ago and is flush with cash, has a big head start when it comes to organization in the Sunshine State. But Newt Gingrich's campaign is conceding nothing, arguing that their own well-staffed operation can more than hold its own.

On paper, Gingrich's operation is certainly robust. He actually has more paid staff than Romney in the state, 14 versus 5, and expects to have 7 campaign offices open by Tuesday's final vote, versus 5 for Romney. The campaign claims to have at least 5,000 volunteers and is generating some excitement among Tea Party groups, including a number of local organizers who previously worked on Herman Cain's campaign.

In interviews, Gingrich volunteers described a late explosion of grassroots activity after the South Carolina debate, in which Gingrich excoriated the press over questions surrounding his marriage, and Newt's subsequent double-digit victory over Romney.

"It's a late bloomer," Dr. J. Patrick Fuller, a precinct captain for Gingrich in Brevard County, said of the local operation. "It was building before South Carolina, but that was the jewel on the cake -- Newt ought to buy [debate moderator] John King a steak dinner."

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In snap polls conducted directly after former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s big win in the South Carolina primary, Florida GOP voters were momentarily convinced that Gingrich would be the man in their state — InsiderAdvantage and Rasmussen released surveys conducted the Sunday after the SC vote that showed him up by eight points. Now former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has righted the ship in Florida, and takes new eight points leads in new snap polls from those same firms.

“As GOP voters search for the candidate best equipped to defeat President Obama, perceptions of Romney’s electability have risen since earlier in the week,” Rasmussen wrote in its analysis. “Four days ago, 42% of Florida primary voters said Gingrich would be the strongest candidate against Obama, while 39% felt that way about the former Massachusetts governor. Now 49% think Romney would be the strongest challenger versus 34% who believe that of Gingrich.”

Added into our TPM Poll Average, Romney has now taken an 8.2 percent lead.

The Egyptian government is barring several American citizens, including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s son Sam LaHood from leaving Egypt, reports Politico:

These Americans now find themselves caught in a power struggle between the United States and Egyptian governments over the country’s future direction. Direct intervention by President Barack Obama and other top administration officials has failed to resolve the NGO dispute, although U.S. officials are hopeful it can be defused soon.

A new national poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows President Obama’s approval rating on handling the economy ticking up as things may be turning around. In the new poll, conducted Sunday through Tuesday, 45 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s work on the economy while 50 disapprove. For months his approval rating on the metric has been mostly in the low to mid thirties while it was common for his disapproval rating hit the high fifties.

Right now, all 50 of Florida’s delegates will be awarded to Tuesday night’s primary winner — rather than the proportional system of other early primary states. If the election becomes crucial in adding up delegates, the winner-take-all status could be reevaluated — and could lead to a nasty fight this summer.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Jeb Bush reminded Republicans — and by extension Romney and Gingrich — that “In the 15 states that are likely to decide who controls the White House and the Senate in 2013, Hispanic voters will represent the margin of victory.”

At 3:30 PM Thursday, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will hold a press conference in Jacksonville, Florida on chief-rival Mitt Romney’s “obstacles” in Florida as well as his recent tax returns. More specifically, the conference will focus on jobs lost in Florida when Bain Capital shut down Florida-based Dade Behring.

Two days after the State of the Union, an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll out Thursday shows that more Americans are optimistic that the economy is improving: “More people said they believe the economy will get better (37 percent) in the next year rather than worse (17 percent). That’s the highest level in more than a year and a seven-point jump over last month.” The more the think this, the better it is for Obama.

Newt Gingrich, courting voters in Florida's NASA-heavy "Space Coast," pledged to build an American lunar colony within eight years if elected president.

"By the end of my second term we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American," he said. According to Gingrich, the base would be used for "science, tourism, and manufacturing" and create a "robust industry" that would grow "precisely on the model of the airlines in the 1930s."

The speech was a direct challenge to Mitt Romney, who has accused Gingrich of favoring big government with his past proposals for lunar exploration and colonization.

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