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Afternoon Fix: Gingrich tells Romney, ‘Let’s test this kitchen’

at 05:33 PM ET, 12/21/2011

Gingrich wants to debate Romney in the kitchen, Michele Bachmann says there’s no reason to drop out, California Democrats got the map they wanted and a pro-Perry super PAC is throwing punches.

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WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

* Newt Gingrich has taken his challenge to Mitt Romney a step further — now he wants a one-on-one debate with the former Massachusetts governor. After Romney suggested on MSNBC that his rival “can’t stand the heat” of the campaign kitchen, the former House speaker responded, “If he wants to test the heat, I’ll meet him anywhere in Iowa next week one on one, 90 minutes, no moderator,” Gingrich said. He added, “Let’s test this kitchen. I’m happy. I’ll go in the kitchen. Go back and ask Gov. Romney, would he like to play in the kitchen.”

* Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) confirmed today that prominent Iowa social conservative Bob Vander Plaats called and asked her to drop out of the presidential race. “I've been polling above the Ricks, and so there would be absolutely no reason for me to drop out,” she told Fox News. Vander Plaats (who endorsed former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum yesterday) responded to CNN that he didn’t ask her to drop out, he just suggested some candidates “team up.”

* A super PAC supporting Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is getting into the increasingly nasty ad wars with “Newsreel,” a spot that attacks both Gingrich and Romney. The spot, run by Make Us Great Again, is airing in Iowa and South Carolina. “Decades ago Gingrich goes to Washington. Romney runs pro-choice campaign for Senate,” reads a old-timey newscaster over black-and-white footage. . “Gingrich found guilty of ethics violations. Mitt creates Romneycare.”

* Video of Gingrich’s interaction with a gay voter in Iowa shows that he was not as dismissive of the Democrat as a Des Moines Register report suggested. Gingrich told Scott Arnold to vote for Obama if gay rights is “the most important” issue for him — but argued that they might find common ground on other issues.

* The National Republican Senatorial Committee outraised its Democratic counterpart in November, $2.9 million to $2.54 million. But the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has more cash on hand, $11.2 million to $9.1 million and has raised more this year, $39 million to $37 million.

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:

* Democrats in California gamed the state’s bipartisan redistricting commission, according to a fascinating ProPublica report. Party operatives got supporters into hearings to testify in support of Democrats’ preferred lines without revealing their political ties. One woman reportedly lied about her place of residence, and another group was apparently totally fictional. The result: a Democrat-friendly map.

* The Arizona redistricting war appears to be over. The state’s independent redistricting commission approved new maps late Tuesday night, with minor adjustments designed to appease angry Republicans. The new lines create four Republican-leaning districts, two Democratic-leaning districts and three toss-up districts. Republicans will still face an uphill battle in defending the rural northeastern 1st district or winning the new 9th district. GOP incumbents in those two seats — Reps. Paul Gosar and Ben Quayle — have suggested they might run elsewhere.

* Not surprisingly, Rep. Joe Walsh’s primary opponent has dropped out, clearing the way for the Illinois Republican in what will be a tough reelection fight. DuPage Superintendent of Schools Darlene Ruscitti said in a statement that her “desire to avoid a costly primary outweigh[s] my personal political aspirations.” Walsh recently decided to run in the 8th district rather than challenge Rep. Randy Hultgren (R) in the 14th district primary.

* Santorum has picked up a staffer from Mike Huckabee. Shelley Ahlersmeyer, who was grassroots coordinator for the former Arkansas governor’s PAC, will be Santorum’s national grassroots coordinator.

* Sorry, America: Alec Baldwin is not running for mayor of New York. He said the other candidates’ eagerness turned him off: “They're like a guy on a date that you can tell he just can't wait to get his hand up your blouse before even the lights go out in the theater.” He added that he’s “not quite sure you can” really change things anymore.

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