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The U.S. Department of Justice has released a legal opinion saying that President Obama’s recess appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the NLRB are constitutional. Read the opinion here.

The conclusion reads:

In our judgment, the text of the Constitution and precedent and practice thereunder support the conclusion that the convening of periodic pro forma sessions in which no business is to be conducted does not have the legal effect of interrupting an intrasession recess otherwise long enough to qualify as a “Recess of the Senate” under the Recess Appointments Clause. In this context, the President therefore has discretion to conclude that the Senate is unavailable to perform its advise-and-consent function and to exercise his power to make recess appointments.

Prominent South Carolina financier Barry Wynn has pulled his support from the Perry campaign and endorsed Mitt Romney. The reason, reports the Associated Press, is that the investment fund executive was miffed by Rick Perry’s attacks on Romney and Bain Capital as “vulture capitalists.” The Perry campaign spokesperson said: “It’s unfortunate and disappointing. But at the end of the day we are marching on.”

On Fox and Friends Thursday, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani criticized Newt Gingrich’s recent attacks on Mitt Romney as a “corporate raider” at Bain Capital. Giuliani said, via Human Events:

What the hell are you doing, Newt? I expect this from Saul Alinsky! This is what Saul Alinsky taught Barack Obama, and what you’re saying is part of the reason we’re in so much trouble right now...It’s ignorant and dumb. It’s building something we should be fighting in America, ignorance of the economic system, playing on the dumbest, most ridiculous ideas about how you grow jobs.

A month ago, Giuliani had kinder words for Newt: “My gut tells me right now as I look at it that Gingrich might actually be the stronger candidate,” Giuliani said on CNN in December, “because I think he can make a broader connection than Mitt Romney to those Reagan Democrats.”

Watch the video below:

Mitt Romney, looking to push back against his rivals' Bain layoff attacks and move on from his “I like being able to fire people” sound bite, is taking an empathetic tone in talking about job losses.

“I think any time a job is lost it’s a tragedy,” he told reporters on Thursday, per Politico. “For the family, for the individual that loses a job, it’s devastating. And every time that we invested in the business it was to try and encourage that business to have ongoing life. The idea of making a short-term profit actually doesn’t really exist in business because no one wants to buy something or buy stock in a company that’s going to be a short-term success. You want it to be long term. And when we invested we tried to make businesses more successful for the long time and hopefully, over time, generate a return to the shareholders and see more employment. That’s the whole idea. And I can say this, for the people in South Carolina, I’m very pleased that businesses like The Sports Authority added many, many more jobs in South Carolina and across the country.”

That “short term” argument is worth noting for later — while he appeared to be referring to Bain’s business model, the notion of short term gain in the finance and mortgage business over long term stability was central to the 2008 financial crisis.

A new Rasmussen poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney opening a wide lead in Florida, the fourth primary state in 2012. Romney gets 41 percent in the snap poll conducted on Wednesday, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich the closest competitor with 19 percent and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum at 15. The rest of the field is in single digits.

But despite the huge lead for Romney, the 2012 GOP race has been unpredictable, and pollsters said there was still uncertainty in the numbers.

“With Romney’s opponents banking on a strong showing in the more conservative January 21 South Carolina Primary, things still remain fluid in the Florida race despite the former Massachusetts governor’s comfortable lead,” Rasmussen wrote. “Fifty-one percent (51%) of Likely Florida Primary Voters are already certain of how they will vote, but 41% say they still could change their minds. Eight percent (8%) have no preference yet.”

The current TPM Poll Average of the race also shows Romney with a double digit lead in Florida.

In an interview with Piers Morgan Wednesday night on CNN, Newt Gingrich offered a disquieting glimpse of just how nasty the campaign will get between he and Mitt Romney in the days leading up to next week’s South Carolina Primary:

"This is going to be Armageddon – they are going to come in here with everything they've got, every surrogate, every ad, every negative attack. At the same time we'll be drawing a sharp contrast between a Georgia Reagan conservative and a Massachusetts moderate who's pro-gun control, pro-choice, pro-tax increase, pro-liberal judge, and the voters of South Carolina will have to look and decide."

The Romney campaign is racking up endorsements today. The latest is former Virginia gov. Jim Gilmore. Here’s Romney’s statement:

“I’m extraordinarily honored to earn Jim’s support,” said Mitt Romney. “Jim has been a longtime voice for spreading conservative values to grow the economy such as cutting taxes, lowering spending and making government more efficient. As an Army veteran, he also understands the need for America to project strength in the world. I look forward to working with Jim, in the months to come, to spread my message of ‘Simpler, Smaller, and Smarter’ federal government.”

And here’s Gilmore’s statement:

“Conservatives not only need a candidate who can beat President Obama, but one who can also put our values into action,” said former Governor Jim Gilmore. “That candidate is Mitt Romney. No other candidate in the race has a more detailed plan to get Americans back to work or has a laid out a vision for America’s role in the world....Mitt Romney will bring America back and I’m proud to stand with him.”

In an appearance on “Fox and Friends” on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich defended his sharp criticism of Mitt Romney and contended that his attacks on the former Massachusetts governor’s time at Bain are not the defining issue of his campaign.

“This is not the centerpiece of my campaign, but it’s a legitimate, important question,” Gingrich said. He went on to say he is not engaging in “socialist” attacks on capitalism, as some of Romney’s backers have charged:

That's not an issue about the whole capitalist system. That's a question about a very particular style of activity involving a very particular person. Remember, we're not talking about the system. We're talking about somebody who is running for president of the united states and we're asking a question about his judgment, his values, the choices he made. Seems to me that's very central to what kind of a president he will be.

CNN reports:

As Rick Santorum fights for conservative support in South Carolina, the independent super PAC supporting the former senator from Pennsylvania is weighing in with more than a half million dollars of new ad buys in the state.

The Red, White and Blue Fund is buying $600,000 in new ad time Thursday in the state, a source familiar with the buy confirmed to CNN. The new ads are expected to go up on Saturday and remain up through next week's primary, the source said.

This is in addition to the $190,000 the group previously bought in the state for commercials promoting Santorum that went up last weekend.

Phyllis Young, the owner of the Aloha Bed And Breakfast in Oahu, Hawaii says that being gay is "detestable" and "defiles our land." That's why she denied a lesbian couple a reservation in 2007, and that is why the couple filed a discrimination suit against her in December.

But Young's got a little high-powered help. Her attorney, from the Alliance Defense Fund, argues that the lawsuit threatens Young's religious freedom because "no business owner should be forced to violate his or her religious beliefs because someone is offended by those beliefs."

This argument is a mainstay with the ADF -- which has for years attached itself to similar legal battles across the country -- as well as the broader movement against anti-discrimination suits by members of the right-wing.

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