Elizabeth Warren ties Scott Brown, Rick Perry mocks himself, Virginia tea party activists aren’t happy, and Newt Gingrich still wants to put kids to work.

Make sure to sign up to get “Afternoon Fix” in your e-mail inbox every day by 5 (ish) p.m.


Why Newt’s “play nice” strategy won’t work (or last)

Jon Huntsman’s strange viral video strategy

Ethics decision looms for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. as racial politics highlight primary challenge

2012 campaign ad spending tops $23 million

Mitt Romney raises the Iowa stakes

Herman Cain prepares an escape hatch


* Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is feeling bullish. “I'm going to be the nominee," he told ABC News today. “It's very hard not to look at the recent polls and think that the odds are very high I'm going to be the nominee.” Asked about his “play nice” strategy, he said, “I don’t have to go around and point out the inconsistencies of people who are not going to be the nominee.”

* In an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain says he gave Ginger White money to help with “month-to-month bills and expenses” but that they did not have an affair, as she alleged. He also told the paper that his wife “did not know we were friends” until White came forward. “That was the revelation. ... My wife understands that I'm a soft-hearted giving person.”

* A new University of Massachusetts poll finds Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren (D) in a dead heat with Sen. Scott Brown (R) in the Massachusetts Senate race. She leads by four points, just within the 4.4 margin of error in a poll of 500 adults. Brown has an 18 point lead with independents, but that’s not enough to overcome Democrats’ registration advantage.

* Some Virginia tea party activists are upset to see their names on a list of tea party endorsements touted by Senate candidate George Allen (R), saying they never endorsed the former senator in his race against former governor Tim Kaine. Meanwhile, a group of Lynchberg tea party activists are getting together this Saturday to strategize on how to defeat Allen. Still, no conservative challenger has gotten any traction against Allen.

* In August Cain endorsed Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the GOP Senate primary against Sen. Dick Lugar. Are they still touting that endorsement? Kind of. “Herman Cain is one of many like-minded conservatives who support our campaign,” said Christopher Conner, Mourdock campaign spokesman when asked about the affair allegations against the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO. “Treasurer Mourdock has not taken a position in the Republican presidential race and has no interest in commenting on the personal lives of the candidate.”


* The pro-Cain Super PAC “Americans for Herman Cain” is out with a new ad in Iowa defending the candidate, relying on a report about a private investigator who, using voice lie detection software, determined that Cain was telling the truth in press conference about sexual harassment allegations. That software has been discredited.

* Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson (R) has officially launched his Senate campaign with a video in which he promises a clean campaign. “You can count on the mudslinging from Washington, the lies from special interest groups,” says Thompson, who has already sustained fire from the anti-tax Club for Growth. That's not the Wisconsin way. And it's certainly not my way.” Thompson faces a likely tough primary fight with former Rep. Mark Neumann and State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.

* Gingrich today defended his proposal that low-income children work as part-time janitors. “Really poor children ... have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works,” he said. “They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’ unless it’s illegal.”

* Ellen Moran, a former White House communications director and chief of staff at the Commerce Department, has joined the Dewey Square Group, a powerhouse consulting and lobbying firm. So is John Giesser, currently CEO of the grassroots technology firm Spoken Hub and formerly of the Democratic National Committee.


If more kids work as janitors, maybe they’ll learn dance magic:

With Rachel Weiner and Aaron Blake