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Obama launches first attack at Gingrich

Updated: January 13, 2012 8:22AM

WASHINGTON — The Obama team launched its first hit at surging GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich. Early Sunday morning, the Democratic National Committee rolled out an attack video against Gingrich, playing off the Saturday night ABC News/Yahoo/Des Moines Register Republican presidential debate in Des Moines.

The DNC calls Gingrich “the Tea Party front-runner” in the video. This comes after Obama’s top strategist, David Axelrod, last Monday dubbed Gingrich the “Godfather of Gridlock.”

Until this week, the Obama 2012 campaign and the DNC were focused only on Mitt Romney. The new attention on Gingrich — the opening of a second front — signals the Obama team believes that Gingrich could go the distance.

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It’s a good bet that this week you’ll be hearing more about Romney and the $10,000 wager he tried to make with Rick Perry at the debate. The political problem for Romney is that the bet was just too darn high and gave his GOP rivals and the Obama team an easy way to portray him as way out of touch with Americans in these tough economic times. Romney’s goof comes as the January Iowa and New Hampshire votes loom.

Romney put the bet on the table to try to force Perry to stop falsely asserting — as he did again Saturday — that Romney wanted to make the Massachusetts health care plan he created while governor a national model and that he wanted to impose individual mandates in all states.

“You know what, you’ve raised that before, Rick. And you’re simply wrong.” Romney tried to corner Perry. “10,000 bucks? $10,000 bet?” Perry didn’t bite.

Perry on Fox News Sunday told host Chris Wallace he was “taken a little aback” at Romney’s bet — which showed him to be “a little out of touch with normal Iowa citizens.”

The Democratic National Committee gleefully pounced immediately, and within a few hours compiled a three-minute video with clips of Romney getting beaten up by commentators titled, “Romney’s Out Of Touch: Romney’s Ten Thousand Dollar Bet is Playing Badly Everywhere.”

“Only a millionaire two hundred times over makes an impromptu bet for $10,000,” said Ray Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

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Top Obama fund-raisers — the National Finance Committee — huddle here Monday and Tuesday for a quarterly meeting where they will get briefings from top Obama 2012 honchos, including campaign manager Jim Messina. A Tuesday fund-raiser with present and former NBA players dubbed the “Obama Classic” was canceled because the NBA lockout was settled, making the players unavailable. It was to have raised, I’ve learned, $1 million.

That money will be made up next year when the who’s who of hoops reschedule the game. Major fund-raising with Obama, first lady Michelle and Vice President Joe Biden is winding down for the year. Mrs. Obama’s chief of staff Tina Tchen hit Chicago last week for two funders.

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President Obama’s signature issue when he started his presidential quest in 2007 was his opposition to the authorization of the Iraq war. This week, Obama
highlights the withdrawal of most of the U.S. troops by Dec. 31.

He meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House on Monday; on Tuesday sits for interviews with local TV anchors about the Iraq war. And on Wednesday, Obama and the first lady travel to Ft. Bragg in North Carolina — a key swing state — to deliver an end-of-Iraq war speech to troops.

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