Again? “When asked which three agencies he would shut down during a radio interview with Bill Edwards on WTKS Savannah, . . . [Texas Gov. Rick Perry] quickly responded. ‘Three right off the bat, you know, commerce, interior and energy . . . .’ Those aren’t the same three agencies Perry has talked about closing in the past. This resurrects Perry’s historic ‘oops’ moment on November 9th, where at a debate he failed to remember which agencies he had proposed cutting before finally naming Commerce, Education, and Energy.” Well, it’s not like he’s competitive any more.

Still off the ballot. “Following a hearing in Richmond . . . U.S. District Judge John Gibney ruled against Rick Perry’s challenge to the Virginia ballot rules. In his opinion, Gibney says Perry, and the other candidates who joined the challenge, waited too long to bring the suit. . . . The decision means Perry, as well as Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman, will not appear on the ballot in the state’s March 6 primary.” Not exactly profiles in competence, are they?

European debt again raises concerns. “Standard & Poor’s Corp. on Friday stripped France of its sterling credit rating, cut Portugal’s credit to junk status and downgraded Italy’s debt by two steps in a wide-ranging action revision of European countries caught in the euro crisis.”

South Carolina’s primary is less than a week away, but candidates still have to keep their eye on Florida. “More than 100,000 absentee voters in Florida have already cast their ballots, according to Republican Party of Florida spokesman Brian Hughes.” Remember that’s a winner-take-all delegate state.

Again, Romney gets a prediction, not an endorsement. First it was Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). Now this: “For months South Carolina congressman Tim Scott has been in the thick of the Republican primary. Starting in August, he has hosted every major presidential candidate but Ron Paul — who has not been able to make it because of logistical issues — in a series of town-hall meetings in the Palmetto State. Now, Scott thinks the primary is likely to give Mitt Romney his third victory. ‘I think it is his to lose,’ Scott says.”

That discredited King of Bain ad is still running. Jon Ward translates super PAC chief Rick Tyler’s spin. “‘We’re checking into that because we want to get it right. We’ve checked and we’ve double-checked and we’ll have a response,’ Tyler said. ‘We want to honor Newt Gingrich’s call that if it’s inaccurate then we’ll make the adjustments. But right now we’re standing by the film.’ In other words, the group will leave the ads up for as long as possible, unless the outcry becomes loud enough that they’re forced to take them down.” Notice how Gingrich-esque! No wonder the former Gingrich aide took the task of heading the superPAC.

Is it possible that again conventional wisdom could be wrong? Ron Brownstein challenges the idea Romney won’t appeal to blue-collar voters. “In particular, a series of recent Quinnipiac University surveys in key swing states shows that as Romney enters the general election, blue-collar whites are inclined to trust him to revive the economy more than President Obama — whom they have resisted since his emergence as a national candidate in 2008. . . . Romney’s cultural connection with blue-collar whites may always be tenuous. And many Democrats believe, probably correctly, that any attacks on Romney as a ‘vulture capitalist’ will resonate more with downscale than upscale whites. But it would be a mistake for Democrats to underestimate the depth of white blue-collar alienation from the president — or the hurdles he will face in holding, much less improving on, the meager 40 percent of the vote he won among them in 2008.”

There is a long way to go in th race. But still. “Mitt Romney appears to be gaining steam in a new national poll, especially among conservatives. Former Governor Romney now leads former Representative Newt Gingrich, 34-18, according to a CNN/ORC International survey completed yesterday of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. Last month before Todd Palin’s endorsement of Gingrich the pair were tied at 28%. In November Romney had only 20% support. . . . According to CNN Polling Director Keating Holland, ‘Romney’s increased support has come entirely from conservative Republicans, and mostly at Gingrich’s expense.’” That will accelerate if Romney wins Carolina.

Andy Ferguson again comes up with a devastating portrait of a presidential candidate. (In ostensibly positive pieces he caused Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels untold grief.) This time Rick Santorum is the victim: “He’s just another Washingtonian of a particular type: the anti-Washington Washingtonian—an AWW, a contented resident of the nation’s capital who has based his career on his loudly declared disdain for the nation’s capital, particularly the federal Leviathan residing there. The AWW campaigns against Washington, catalogues its harmful effects, extols alternatives, and contrasts it with the ‘real America,’ which he vows to liberate forever from its depredations—while never admitting that Washington is the very thing that makes his life worth living.” Yowser.