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President Obama offered one of his most detailed critiques yet of the GOP's bedrock philosophy, likening them to a long line of discredited political movements who opposed taxes on the wealthy and regulations on business.

"I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, and when everyone plays by the same rules," Obama told a crowd at a high school in Osawatomie, Kansas. "Those aren't Democratic or Republican values; 1% values or 99% values. They're American values, and we have to reclaim them."

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Scientists have given up on any hope of regaining even minimal control over Russia's wayward spacecraft Phobos-Grunt, which successfully launched for Martian moon Phobos on November 8, only to lose contact with engineers shortly thereafter and fail to boost out of Earth's orbit, where it currently remains trapped.

The craft may now be breaking apart. At least two pieces of debris believed to have separated from the Phobos Grunt were reportedly detected by the U.S. Army's Strategic Command, according to the Moscow Times on Tuesday, citing a report from news and intelligence outlet Interfax.

We've reached out to the U.S. Strategic Command for more information and will update when we receive a response.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011. 2:16pm Eastern Time

The White House has released the text of President Obama's speech in Osawatomie, Kansas. Here are the full remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon. I want to start by thanking a few of the folks who've joined us today. We've got the mayor of Osawatomie, Phil Dudley; your superintendent, Gary French; the principal of Osawatomie High, Doug Chisam. And I've brought your former governor, who's now doing an outstanding job as our Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.



It is great to be back in the state of Kansas. As many of you know, I've got roots here. I'm sure you're all familiar with the Obamas of Osawatomie. Actually, I like to say that I got my name from my father, but I got my accent - and my values - from my mother. She was born in Wichita. Her mother grew up in Augusta. And her father was from El Dorado. So my Kansas roots run deep.

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Jon Huntsman used to believe climate change is real. Now he's not so sure.

In a move that's sure to endear him to the conservatives who are starting to warm up to the former Utah governor, Huntsman said Tuesday under questioning from TPM that he now believes there's "more debate yet to play out" before we can be sure climate change is really happening.

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Update at 13:43 Eastern: Yahoo has changed its explanation of how it came to be on the call. In an earlier version, the reporter said access was gained "via a clerical error." That's now been shifted to " Yahoo News was invited to attend because of a mistake by someone on the staff of the Republican National Committee." It's possible, then, that this should be taken with a pinch of salt, and that perhaps these words *were* indeed intended to be overheard.

With election season upon us, Republican strategists are urging party surrogates not to attack President Obama personally. Although that approach may be tempting given his low approval ratings they warn it could backfire because voters "feel sorry for him."

On a conference call Tuesday run by Nicholas Thompson, Vice President of Tarrance Group -- which Yahoo News "accessed via a clerical error" -- Thompson warned that though Obama's overall approval is low, his personal approval ratings are quite high. Voters "don't think he's an evil man who's out to change the United States," explained Thompson, and Republicans should "exercise some caution" when going after him personally.

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Rick Santorum is calling out GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich’s latest stance on immigration, saying the former House Speaker has “false compassion.”

CNN reports:



“I understand Congressman Gingrich saying, ‘Well, you know, people have been here and they’ve been good citizens and paying taxes.’ Yeah, under somebody else’s Social Security number because you stole it,” Santorum said Tuesday to a group of supporters in Spencer, Iowa.



But, Santorum said, Gingrich misses the point: it doesn’t matter how long a person has lived in the U.S. if he or she is doing so illegally.

Freshman Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA) has come up with an interesting solution to the political debate over the pending expiration of the payroll tax cut: Have workers voluntarily choose whether to continue the cut for themselves -- with the tradeoff that for every calendar year they claim the tax cut, they would also cut their own Social Security, delaying the start of benefits by one month.

The Hill reports that Landry is pitching the bill as an addition to the debate over payroll tax cut's expiration, which has hinged on the fact that the payroll tax is used to finance Social Security. (Republicans have refused Democratic efforts to pay for the tax cut by raising other taxes on the wealthy.)

Many workers would likely see their taxes go up -- but that would be because they declined to cut their future Social Security benefits.

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Priorities USA, a Democratic Super PAC dedicated to re-election President Obama, is out with a new strategy memo detailing what they think is Mitt Romney's biggest vulnerability: voters just don't like him.

The memo notes that Romney's personal favorability has gone down across the board in state polls despite a campaign that's been considered relatively smooth by observers.

"He's faced no new scandals, no recent damaging gaffes, no problems raising money, no problems with his campaign operation, no difficult political environment, and no unsafe policy proposals," the memo reads. "Looks like the cause of Mitt Romney's drop in popularity is... Mitt Romney himself."

Priorities USA identifies Romney's "flip flop" problem as the key to his woes, noting that even in New Hampshire, where he's held leads against the GOP field all year, some 43% of Republican voters say he "will do or say anything to win."

The implication is clear for Democrats: keep hitting him on the issue and don't let up.

The full memo below:

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FAA chief Randy Babbitt has resigned, NBC News reports. Babbitt was placed on administrative leave after a drunk driving arrest over the weekend.

Babbitt released the following statement:



“Today I submitted my resignation to Secretary Ray LaHood and it has been accepted. Serving as FAA Administrator has been an absolute honor and the highlight of my professional career. But I am unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by my colleagues at the FAA. They run the finest and safest aviation system in the world and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work alongside them. I am confident in their ability to successfully carry out all of the critical safety initiatives underway and the improvements that the FAA has planned. I also want to thank Secretary LaHood for his leadership and dedication to the safety of the traveling public.”

The rising and falling fortunes of the Republican presidential candidates has -- at least until recently -- produced a field where everyone is seemingly in contention and yet no one can be decided upon. It's a practical problem for Republicans, as the Iowa caucuses are now less than a month away, so the time for a choice is nigh. But according to new data from the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post, the fluidity of the race is not just a frustrating affair for the party faithful -- independent and Democratic voters are also turned off by the whole thing.

A plurality of independents -- 29 percent -- say that their impression of the Republican Party is souring having watched the primary process play out the way it has, along with 53 Democrats, who likely didn't think much of Republicans in the first place. Ten percent of indies say the primary race has made their view of the GOP rosier, and 55 percent say its made no difference at all.

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