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Mitt Romney's campaign is publicly arguing that the methodology of a WaPo/ABC poll tainted its finding that his national numbers are tanking. However, polling experts who talked to TPM say that the survey is in line with a broad set of evidence that Romney's general election appeal is declining -- even if the poll's approach is less than ideal.

The poll in question couldn't have looked much worse for Romney's presidential hopes. While it indicated he was still strong in the primary, his national numbers showed a rapid fall with Obama leading him 51-45 among registered voters. Romney pollster Neil Newhouse says these top line numbers should be disregarded because the question came after a series of queries referencing various recent stories surrounding Romney, including whether voters think his wealth is a positive or negative, whether they think he did more to create or cut jobs at Bain Capital, whether they feel his 14% tax rate is fair, and whether his Mormon religion affects their views of his candidacy.

"The poll introduced specific negative information about Governor Romney immediately prior to asking the ballot match-up against President Obama," Newhouse wrote. "While I certainly understand the difficulty of designing a questionnaire to learn as much information as possible about a campaign, and the compromises that sometimes have to be made, the questionnaire design used by the Post/ABC Poll in this case is seriously flawed."

Jon Cohen, director of polling for the Washington Post, told TPM in an e-mail that he felt the results held up.

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The Obama administration's requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control has provoked a full-blown Republican firestorm over religious liberty. But the policy itself carves out an exemption for churches and doesn't require any individual or employer to violate a religious belief -- it simply ensures that their employees with different beliefs have the same access to birth control as all other women.

The background: The Affordable Care Act provides that insurance companies cover certain preventive health services without copays. Last August, the Department of Health and Human Services drew upon recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and decided that birth control be part of that package. It said employer-based health care plans must cover contraceptive services without copays. The move received limited attention at the time.

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Turns out 3D printers are good for way more than just wowing your friends. An 83-year-old woman with a bone-wasting infection became the recipient of the world's first successful 3D-printed jawbone implant last year, the BBC reported on Monday.

The surgery took place in June, but the news of the medical breakthrough was first reported over the weekend, now that the patient has had time to successfully heal with no reported adverse effects.

As the BBC quoted the lead scientist involved in the operation:

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Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) failed to disclose income on his disclosure forms and didn't report 17 positions he held at various companies and organizations from 2007 through 2010, according to an Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) report released Monday.

The report was issued to the House Ethics Committee on Nov. 8 but disclosed publicly on Monday. The House Ethics Committee said in a statement that it had decided to "gather additional information necessary to complete its review."

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In light of Congressional Republicans' abandonment of a key part of the debt limit agreement, two senior administration officials briefing reporters at the White House Monday said automatic, across the board cuts to defense programs will happen as scheduled unless Republicans relent on their refusal to raise revenues.

The officials conducted the briefing under the condition that they not be quoted directly, but their position was unambiguous -- the White House will not support any effort to swap out scheduled cuts to defense programs (and other automatic cuts) unless Congress passes a balanced package of deficit reducing legislation of equal or greater measure. That means new tax revenue from wealthy Americans and corporate interests, which Republicans have routinely refused to consider.

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Former Rep. Pete Hoesktra (R-MI) appeared Monday afternoon on Fox News, to defend his controversial TV ad by his Senate campaign, which played in Michigan during the Super Bowl -- and featured an Asian-American actress speaking in broken English, to thank incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow for spending and borrowing money from China.

"Your economy get very weak," the woman said in the ad. "Ours get very good. We take your jobs."

Megyn Kelly asked Hoekstra about objections from Asian-American groups, who say the Hoekstra campaign is stirring up anti-Asian sentiments and stereotypes. But Hoekstra stood firm.

"The only group of people that this ad is 'anti-' -- its anti-Debbie Stabenow, it's anti-Barack Obama, the spending policies of the liberal left. You'll notice that the ad points to the opportunities that America's dumb economic policies -- deficit spending, trillion dollars of deficits, trillions and trillions of debt -- it creates the opportunities for countries like China and others to take advantage of our weakness. it weakens the U.S. economy, and it strengthens our competitors.

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Asked about the divisions within his House GOP caucus, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) quipped Monday that the institution is dysfunctional by design.  

"I'm presiding over an institution that was designed not to work," Boehner said on PBS NewsHour. "You know, the founding fathers gave us 435 members from all across the country. One big committee to solve America's issues. It's a demanding job. But I'm glad I've got it."

The Speaker said the frequency of elections makes it difficult to get important work done.

Boehner insisted he has a good personal relationship with President Obama even though they disagree on policy. He blamed the current divisions over the payroll tax cut package on Democrats' resistance to cut spending. (House Dems have said they want to fund it with a millionaire surtax and war savings.)

The Democratic video tracker who has followed Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) around the campaign trail, hoping to spot a gaffe by the incumbent, may have just committed a minor fumble of his own.

Staffer Matt Cadwallader posted this message on his Twitter account Jan. 25: “Just saw a Ford Probe with gull-wing doors installed. Welcome to Springfield, MA.”

The Boston Globe reports:

Cadwallader isn’t the most high profile member of the state Democratic Party, so it took a while for his comment to attract notice.

But Brown’s campaign accused him today of looking down his nose at the state’s third largest city, and called on Democrat Elizabeth Warren to apologize.

“This is a blatantly elitist statement,” Brown campaign spokesman Colin Reed said. “It’s unfortunate that Professor Warren’s campaign team have a low opinion of Western Massachusetts. For too long, the people of Springfield have been ignored and looked down upon by folks in Boston.”

After devoting themselves (with great success) to tearing down Newt Gingrich for the last two weeks, the Romney campaign is abruptly pivoting to attacking Rick Santorum. Polls suggest the former Pennsylvania Senator may have momentum heading into Tuesday's caucuses.

Romney's national campaign chair Tim Pawlenty held a conference call on Monday to criticize Santorum's use of earmarks while a Congressman and Senator, which he has defended in debates. He also highlighted a 2003 quote from Santorum defending the Bush administration's spending increases, saying "I came to the House as a real deficit hawk, but I am no longer a deficit hawk."

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