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Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum may have lost by eight votes to Mitt Romney last night, but was the clear winner of Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucus.

For Santorum, who has been toiling in the second or even third tier for months and months, to come to life and finish second, barely, is frankly astonishing.

It also means name recognition for the relative unknown, much of it positive (although some funny things come up if you Google Rick Santorum), and money.

How - and whether - he keeps it up will be a key to his success or failure going forward, and the honeymoon ends quickly with New Hampshire looming Tuesday.

In his quasi-victory speech last night, though, he was nothing if not optimistic, summing up his attitude in two words as the GOP campaign continues: Game on.

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Humbled by a resounding defeat in last night's Iowa caucus, where he came in a distant fourth, Newt Gingrich offered praise for second-place finisher Rick Santorum.

Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, not so much.

Already in New Hampshire campaigning in advance of the January 10 primary, Gingrich came out swinging against Mitt Romney and the first-place finisher's allies.

Promising to fight against “a Massachusetts moderate” whom carries out a “relentlessly negative campaign of falsehoods,” Newt showed no signs of backing down.

In contrast, Michele Bachmann quit the presidential race already and Rick Perry is at least considering doing the same after their disappointing finishes Tuesday night.

Here's Newt's speech after the Iowa caucuses:

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Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann formally ended her campaign for the White House this morning, just one day after Mitt Romney's Iowa caucus victory.

"Last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice. And I have decided to stand aside," the GOP Congresswoman from Minnesota told reporters today.

They spoke, indeed, dealing her a disappointing sixth-place finish.

Michelle Bachmann Newsweek Cover

The Queen of Rage could not become The Queen of Votes.

Despite Bachmann's extensive tour to visit all 99 of Iowa's counties, her August straw poll win, and the state being her place of birth, she garnered just five percent.

Her communications director Alice Stewart told reporters following the news conference that conversations began last night about whether to continue the campaign.

The congresswoman asked for time to "sleep on it" and "pray about it." Stewart said she was awoken early Wednesday morning with the news that Michele was out.

Bachmann has not yet discussed whether she will seek reelection to her U.S. House seat in Minnesota, Stewart said, or whether she will endorse another candidate.

Also unclear if last night's second-place finisher will reach out to her supporters with the following tagline: Rick Santorum: Conservative Like Bachmann, But Less Crazy!

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Kim Kardashian is threatening to take over the 2012 political campaign season.

First, Mitt Romney referenced the reality star's failed marriage in a recent diss of President Obama. Now, an organization of California citizens who are pushing for an initiative in their home state that would raise taxes on millionaire by three to five percent are using Kardashian in an ad.

“Not everyone was born a Kardashian, but we all need to pay our fair share,” the spot says, noting that Kim banked $12 million in 2010... but paid just one percent more in taxes than a worker who made $47,000.

The Courage Campaign and the California Federation of Teachers are teaming up to raise around $6 billion for public schools and local services through this income tax hike. They hope to get it on the November ballot.

“Don’t you think she could pay a little more?” the ad asks of Kim, as images of children, firefighters and an elderly woman flash on screen. “Especially to fund education and critical services?”

Do you think Kim Kardashian should pay more taxes?

 

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Politicians (or at least interns with access to official campaign accounts) need to fall in line with the rest of celebrity culture and talk trash on Twitter more often.

On a night in which he finished a strong third after the hotly-contested Iowa caucus results were tabulated, Ron Paul took a hilarious shot at Jon Huntsman online.

Paul personally did not write this, but someone with access to his Twitter did, and the campaign even owned up to it, rather than use the "hacking" defense. Look:

Hilarious Paul Tweet

Huntsman, the former Utah governor who skipped Iowa to focus on next week's primary in New Hampshire, has been hitting Paul in the latter state in recent days.

Paul's campaign hasn't engaged him directly, but they clearly noticed.

The Tweet was nixed shortly after it posted, but Paul spokesman Gary Howard said it was mistakenly deleted and was later re-posted. He told Politico the following:

"I think someone mistakenly deleted it. I think our IT guy didn't know it was being tweeted when he saw it, thought someone hacked it. But it wasn't hacked."

"It was our tweet. We said what we wanted to say."

Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller said in response:

"We find it odd that Congressman Paul would attack Gov. Huntsman in such a childish fashion. Just the latest in a long line of odd statements from him."

Game on in New Hampshire, gentlemen!

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The closest Iowa caucus results in history produced a near draw, with Mitt Romney winning by just eight votes over Rick Santorum and Ron Paul a close third.

Romney, considered the favorite in the Republican presidential race quest, did not notch a commanding win that could have ended the primary process early.

However, a win's a win, and after a year in which one candidate after another sought to be the conservative alternative to him, a pretty impressive one at that.

Mitt Romney Photo

Even more remarkable was the finish of Rick Santorum, whose candidacy was so moribund just weeks ago that many wondered why he was still in the race.

The former Pennsylvania Senator was neck-and-neck with Romney, the one-time Governor of Massachusetts, for all of Tuesday night and into this morning.

Romney being declared the winner by a mere eight ballots early Wednesday. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was a close third with 21 percent of the caucus votes.

“We will go on,” he said in an upbeat speech. “There is nothing to be ashamed of.”

The race was so close, Romney couldn't even claim victory in his speech. With 99 percent of the vote counted, he and Santorum each had 24.6 percent.

Continue Reading...

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GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has received a celebrity endorsement on the day of the Iowa caucuses. Or 19 of them, to be precise: The Duggar Family!

The TLC reality family joined the ultraconservative candidate in Iowa on the campaign trail, where he's battling Ron Paul and Mitt Romney with mere hours to go.

Confession time, though: Santorum is not their first choice.

Duggar and Santorum

"You may not agree with everything [Santorum] has done," Jim Bob Duggar said. "But you're not going to find the perfect candidate unless it's Jesus Christ running."

Santorum, to the family patriarch, is the next best thing.

"He's somebody that doesn't take a poll to know where he stands. I'm asking families, Christians all over America, to get behind Rick Santorum for president."

Duggar made his comments in Iowa, where he arrived after packing up a dozen of his kids in a big tour bus, freshly repainted to include Santorum's name.

Continue Reading...

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With just one day remaining before the Iowa caucuses kick off the GOP primary process, Ron Paul dinged surging rival Rick Santorum for being a fiscal liberal.

Paul said the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and staunch social conservative, who has gained traction of late, voted for too much spending while in Congress.

"I mean, have you looked at his record? Go look at his record," Paul told CNN.

Accompanied by son Rand Paul, Ron continued: "He spends too much money. He wasn't leading the charge to slash the budgets and vote against big government."

Rand Paul, who was elected to the U.S. Senator from Kentucky in 2010, added that Santorum's voteing history proved he wasn't a true conservative.

"He voted to double the size of the Department of Education," Rand Paul said. "He voted to expand Medicare and add free drugs for seniors and he has voted for foreign aid."

"Those are not conservative principles ... 77 percent of the American people are opposed to foreign aid and Rick Santorum has voted for it every time it's come down."

Ron Paul, who is running neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney and Santorum in Iowa, again addressed a potential third-party bid should he fail to win the GOP nomination.

"I have no plans in doing that," Paul said. "Tomorrow is a big day. We'll see what happens but I have no intention of doing that, no plans and no desire."

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Someone locked lips with Lady Gaga on New Year's Eve.

If you guessed that person was her boyfriend Taylor Kinney, you would be ... incorrect! But you're still up on your Gaga gossip and we commend you for that.

No, this would've been a bit harder to see coming. After Lady Gaga's New Year's Eve performance rocked Times Square, she puckered up at midnight with ...

The Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg! Look:

Lady Gaga, Michael Bloomberg Kiss

If ever there were a picture worth a thousand words ...

Embracing as the ball dropped, the Grammy winner wore a sequined mask and hizzoner donned a sweater embroidered with the American flag. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Bloomberg officially chose Gaga as his "ball drop partner" a few days prior to the event. For the star, the whole experience of NYC on NYE was very emotional.

"I can't even quite describe what tonight felt like," Gaga, who grew up on the city's Upper West Side, Tweeted. "Sort of poetic madness. A dream come true."

We're guessing she meant the night overall, not just kissing Bloomy. Although you never know, the charming 69-year-old does look handsome in that sweater.

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Chances Mitt Romney knew who Kim Kardashian was before his speechwriters came up with this line? Not good. Chances you'll laugh anyway? Very good.

The Republican presidential candidate, locked in a tight race with Ron Paul and the surging Rick Santorum leading into Iowa's caucuses tomorrow, dropped some wit and pop culture knowledge into his stump speech in Council Bluffs on Sunday.

Romney drew similarities between President Obama's campaign promises of four years ago and the wedding vows of Kim Kardashian. Take a look:

"I've been looking at some video clips on YouTube of President Obama, then-candidate Obama, going through Iowa, making promises," Mitt Romney said.

"I think the gap between his promises and his performance is the largest I've seen since, well, the Kardashian wedding and the promise of until death do us part."

ZING!

Kim and Kris Humphries famously kalled it quits after just 72 days of marriage last year, a union some say was staged for Kourtney and Kim Take NY.

Romney, who will never be accused of having a magnetic personality, has nevertheless loosened up a bit in recent weeks with lines such as this one.

The 64-year-old father of five sons, Mitt later credited his daughters-in-law with keeping him in the loop on celebrity gossip. At least he's honest.

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