Rick Santorum allies go negative for first time

at 05:16 PM ET, 02/02/2012

Rick Santorum’s friends go on the attack, Newt Gingrich wants back on the Florida ballot, Erskine Bowles passes on the North Carolina governor’s race and Michael Bloomberg gives to Planned Parenthood.

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WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

* The Red White and Blue Fund, a pro-Rick Santorum super PAC, is out with its first negative ad — and in Minnesota, the birthplace of nice! The spot argues that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are “not so different” from President Obama.

* Gingrich is petitioning the Republican Party of Florida to allocate its delegates proportionally rather than on a winner-take-all basis. Republican National Committee rules called for a proportional primary. But Florida was already penalized for jumping in line by having its delegate count cut in half, and the rules don’t allow for a second round of punishments. The Florida Republican Party shows no sign of giving in. “It is a shame when the loser of a contest agrees to the rules before, then cries foul after losing,” said chairman Lenny Curry.

* Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has endorsed Romney. The Mormon candidate isn’t expected to have any trouble winning Utah’s June 26th primary, so this endorsement doesn’t change much. Meanwhile, former Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle endorsed Santorum.

* Republican Tim Burns is getting out of the Pennsylvania Senate race, a few days after the state GOP endorsed fellow businessman Steve Welch. That narrows the field to take on Sen. Bob Casey (D) a bit, but former state Rep. Sam Rohrer and former coal company owner Tom Smith are both still in.

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:

* Another blow for North Carolina Democrats: Former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles has passed on running for governor. Bowles, who ran for Senate unsuccessfully twice, was seen a strong replacement for retiring Gov. Bev Perdue (D). Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and state Rep. Bill Faison are now in the race against former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory.

* Former Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) has left the law firm SNR Denton just a year after joining. “I’m not sure what I’ll do,” Davis told Politico. “Practicing law in Washington, D.C., particularly if you are a former member of Congress is something that is very very different and there are many people who might enjoy it, many people who might relish it, but you don’t have the opportunities to get into the courtroom.” He will be a visiting fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics this coming semester.

* A poll done for a PAC led by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) suggests Nebraska state Treasurer Don Stenberg (R) has some momentum in the GOP Senate primary. Stenberg went from a 23 point deficit against Attorney General Jon Bruning to a 5 point one over the past six months. DeMint has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the underdog candidate.

* New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to give a $250,000 matching gift to Planned Parenthood after the Susan G. Komen Foundation cut off grants to the organization for breast cancer screening. Two top Komen officials have resigned amid a backlash over the decision.

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