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If Mitt Romney decides to jump into the 2012 presidential race, a recent Strategic National poll shows that he's well positioned to cruise in the critical New Hampshire primary. It's the latest in a string of surveys to place Romney well ahead of the other GOP contenders in the Granite State.

In the poll, 33.5% of New Hampshire Republicans said Romney was their first choice for the presidential nomination. Mike Huckabee came in a distant second at 13.8%, followed by Sarah Palin (12.8%), Newt Gingrich (8.6%), and Tim Pawlenty (5.2%). Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, and Rick Santorum all polled around 1%.

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A very interesting name is emerging as a potential candidate for the Republican nomination in the Texas Senate race, where incumbent GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is retiring: Rep. Ron Paul, who built up a strong online donor base from his anti-war, minimal government presidential campaign in 2008.

As the Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday night:

"I'm just waiting and seeing what comes about, who files and what they do," said Paul, R-Lake Jackson, a 75-year-old obstetrician who has run for president twice and made a Senate bid in 1984.

...

"It's crossed my mind, but ... I haven't taken any active steps," Paul said.


Paul son, freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), was asked about the report last night during an interview with John King on CNN. And he had a pretty funny response.

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In an appearance last night on Anderson Cooper 360, Rep. Paul Broun stood by the live-tweets that he made from his office during the State of the Union address -- most notably the one that declared, "Mr. President, you don't believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism." But not only that, he said there was nothing uncivil about it.

Substitute host Soledad O'Brien grilled Broun about the accuracy of the tweets. She also pointed out that poll data shows Americans have unfavorable views of both parties, and she speculated that people could be fed up with a lack of civility on Capitol Hill. "What's your strategy for turning that around?" O'Brien asked. "Because with the tweets -- not so civil -- doesn't sound like aiming for more civility is what your strategy's gonna be."

"Well, I think my tweets were civil," said Broun. "I was just stating the truth, that this president has a socialistic type of philosophy and agenda. I believe that very firmly. And -- and, so, it's not uncivil. I was just stating the truth.

"And I think we can do -- I think we can work together. And we should work together. I have worked with Democrats on many issues. And I will continue to do so.

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The Heritage Foundation has shifted its explanation for backing out of this year's CPAC conference, with James Weidman, a foundation spokesman, telling the New York Times: "GOProud was one element in the decision."

A number of conservative groups and politicians aren't participating in the annual conservative conference -- some citing GOProud's involvement as the reason.

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It turns out that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who has gone over the heads of the GOP leadership in a whole host of ways -- notably her recent State of the Union rebuttal address -- has also touched a serious third rail with her own budget proposal: Freezes and cuts to veterans' benefits.

The Army Times reports:

Tea party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has unveiled a plan for cutting $400 billion in federal spending that includes freezing Veterans Affairs Department health care spending and cutting veterans' disability benefits.

Her proposed VA budget cuts would account for $4.5 billion of the savings included in the plan, posted on her official House of Representatives website.

...

In a statement, Bachmann said her plan is intended for discussion purposes as an example of ways to cut federal spending to make it unnecessary to increase the current $14.3 trillion limit on the amount the U.S. government can borrow.

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The plan to build a mosque in the southern California community of Temecula will go forward after months of protest from area residents afraid that a home for Muslim worship in their town will bring traffic, flooding and terrorists. Following an eight-hour meeting of the Temecula City Council, where the bitter fight between mosque opponents and supporters of religious freedom in the city were laid bare, council members voted 4-0 at around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to allow the mosque project to go forward. That's left opponents -- who once suggested taunting Temecula Muslims with dogs -- scrambling over what to do next.

Reports from the meeting tell the tale of a contentious gathering that was a microcosm of the Islamophobia that has gripped the right in the past couple years, culminating with the epic struggle over the Park51 cultural center, better known by its critics as the "Ground Zero Mosque."

As the North County Times reported, many of the arguments against the Manhattan mosque project made their way to the Temecula meeting.

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Have you ever read a misleading headline or an outrageous rumor and mistaken it to be true?  Even the most cynical people have a psychological tendency to believe everything they read at first, says Jeremy Dean of PsyBlog.


Why? Because to understand something is to believe it. At least initially.

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Last Thursday in Washington D.C., a prominent group of former government officials gathered for a panel on Iran. Among them were a former National Security Adviser, a former CENTCOM Commander, a former Democratic Senator, a former Democratic Presidential candidate, a former Republican Attorney General, a former Republican Homeland Security Secretary, a former CIA Director and a former FBI Director. Almost to a man -- and they were all men -- they expressed support for a group considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

The panel, organized by a consulting firm called Executive Action, LLC, was called "Iran's Nuclear, Terrorist Threats and Rights Abuses: After Engagement and Sanctions, What?" and the group in question is the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, also known as the MEK.

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