Afternoon Fix: Perry launching Iowa bus tour

Rick Perry is going on tour, President Obama wants you to ask Osama, Rick Santorum is making a major announcement and Ron Paul is going after Newt Gingrich in New Hampshire.

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WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

* Facing bleak poll numbers, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is launching a two-week, 42-city bus tour of Iowa starting Dec. 14 and ending on New Year’s Eve. Retail politics has taken a backseat in this campaign, but Perry strategists are hoping that by playing to his strengths the former frontrunner can turn things around. He’s also blanketing the state with ads.

* In a conference call this morning, supporters of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney emphasized their candidate’s commitment to the Medicare plan laid out by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). But Romney himself was slow to embrace the dramatic Medicare overhaul.

* Perry’s controversial “Strong” ad, in which he says “there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school,” also divided the candidate’s staff. The Huffington Post reports Perry’s top pollster, Tony Fabrizio, called it “nuts.” Both Fabrizio and Perry consultant Liz Mair have worked for gay causes within the GOP.

* New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, never one to shy away from a confrontation, heckled a group of Occupy protesters at an event with Romney in Iowa today. While the demonstraters chanted, Christie shot back from he stage: “You are so angry, aren’t ya? “It’s so terrible... Oh, work it out. Work it all out for yourselves.”

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:

* Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is making a “major announcement” tomorrow at 6 P.M. CST from Johnston, Iowa. It’s an endorsement, even though the timing suggested bad news rather than good. Reportedly, it’s Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz.

* President Obama, who has largely ignored Republican candidates’ arguments about foreign policy, today dismissed GOP critiques. Asked about Republican claims that Obama favors appeasement, the president replied, “Ask Osama bin Laden, and the 22 out of 30 top al Qaeda leaders who have been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement — or whoever is left out there, ask them about that.”

* Obama also defended his administration’s decision to keep the emergency contraceptive Plan B behind pharmacy counters, although he says he had no part in it. He said “most parents” would agree with him that the drug should not be sold “alongside bubble gum or batteries.”

* Romney’s wife will appear at a “Women for Mitt” event tomorrow in West Des Moines, Iowa. Presumably the effort will have a longer shelf life than “Women for Cain.”

* Ron Paul is planning to take his harsh anti-Newt Gingrich ad, already airing in Iowa, into New Hampshire. Paul has pretty consistently held third place in New Hampshire polls. He hasn’t shown the same kind of momentum there that he has in in Iowa, but he certainly has a chance to cause Gingrich trouble.

THE FIX MIX:

Things that would not happen today.

With Rachel Weiner and Aaron Blake

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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