Bachmann gets tough, Perry goes big, Romney mails in South Carolina, and Klobuchar gets a lucky break.

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* Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is out with a new web ad that ties together flip-flops and diversions on conservative orthodoxy from all her rivals, making explicit the “no policy surprises” argument she has been using on the trail. The campaign began placing it online today.

* Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney amailers have hit South Carolina — a four-page fundraising appeal saying that “in order to run a successful national campaign, I will need to build a strong grassroots campaign team in South Carolina.” It’s his first piece of mail or advertising in the state; Romney came in fourth in the state in 2008.

* In Iowa today, Texas Gov. Rick Perry unveiled a dramatic plan to overhaul the federal government. “ We need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions,” he told potential caucus-goers. He dodged a question on the anti-abortion personhood amendment that was recently defeated in Mississippi.

* Good news for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) — Bill Guidera, an executive at Fox News parent News Corp., has decided not to challenge her in 2012. Three Republicans are vying to challenge Klobuchar, but all are fairly weak fundraisers, and some party leaders were urging Guidera to get in.

* Herman Cain defended his foreign policy acumen in Iowa today, saying ”Obviously I read newspaper publications ... some of the stuff on the Web ... some of the special bulletins that I get from the Republican National Committe.” The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO also pointed to meetings he has had with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.


* Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R), a candidate for Senate, told a group of college students that the National Rifle Association is to the “left of me.” He explains, “I was an NRA guy and now I'm almost libertarian.  I don't want the government to register anything.” Bruning faces a potentially competitive primary to take on Sen. Ben Nelson (D).

* Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich won the endorsement of Iowa state Rep. Josh Byrnes (R-Osage) after showing up at the school of the lawmaker’s 14-year-old daughter.

* Gary Johnson’s presidential campaign is filing an official complaint with the Federal Election Commission over the former New Mexico governor’s exclusion from last Saturday’s CBS foreign policy debate — the first debate to air on broadcast television. Johnson has participated in two national debates, and did not really seem to know what to do with the attention when he got it.

* Nevada’s representative to the Republican National Committee, Heidi Smith, last week criticized Sen. Dean Heller (R), saying he had “disappeared from the common man” and ignored northern Nevada since being appointed to the Senate. Smith backed off her comments today. Heller faces a tough race to keep his seat in 2012 against Rep. Shelley Berkley (D).

* Congress is fighting to undo Obama administration regulations for healthier school lunches and keep french fries and pizza on the menu, an obvious play for the elementary school vote (okay, maybe the agricultural industry). A new bill that would block new restrictions on potatoes and sodium and continue to classify tomato paste on pizza as a vegetable.


Talk about carrying a torch.

With Rachel Weiner and Aaron Blake