Ballot Box

Paul video focuses squarely on Gingrich

A campaign video released by Ron Paul's campaign on Wednesday makes no mention of the Texas congressman. Instead, it focuses entirely on damaging Newt Gingrich.

The singular focus on Gingrich reveals an awareness that the former House speaker stands firmly between Paul and the Republican presidential nomination. Gingrich has surged past Mitt Romney and is now leading in most national polls of GOP voters. Paul has stayed steady for most of 2011 at around 8 percent, where he is tied for fourth place with Rick Perry.

The theatrics of the video read like a trailer for a thriller film. Ominous music accompanies video footage that has been converted to black-and-white and then augmented with a faint red hue.

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Former Rep. Charlie Wilson will seek rematch in Ohio

Former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-Ohio) will launch a campaign to reclaim the House seat he lost in 2010, he announced Wednesday.

Wilson's announcement sets the stage for a rematch against Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), who ended Wilson's two-term run in the House when he beat him by 5 points.

“This Congress is the worst we’ve ever seen.  While Ohio families are struggling with severe economic challenges, Bill Johnson and the congressional leadership are playing politics and not getting things done for us," Wilson said in announcing his campaign. "That has got to stop.”

Wilson had long been publicly considering a rematch, loaning $150,000 to his campaign committee during the third quarter of 2011 and filing the necessary paperwork for him to run in 2012.

“If elected, I will go to Washington with new energy, a new commitment to work with members of both parties on good ideas that could lead to a better economy, and a solemn oath to serve the Ohio River Valley’s interests first and foremost and not the interests of any political party,” Wilson said Wednesday.

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Romney campaign releases second ad in NH

Mitt Romney's campaign released its second television ad in New Hampshire on Wednesday.

Romney's first television ad, released in New Hampshire just last week, went on the attack against President Obama. This second ad release promotes Romney as the prospective Republican presidential nominee with private business experience, using clips of Romney's debate speeches to discuss economic policy.

"The right answer for America is to stop the growth of the federal government and to start the growth of the private sector," Romney says in the ad.

The ad makes no mention of Romney's competition for the GOP nomination, or of Obama. The final shot of Romney in the ad includes Romney's wife, Ann.

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Fourth Republican enters race for ND's lone House seat

Republican Shane Goettle, a former aide to Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), will run for the open House seat that Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) is leaving to run for the Senate.

Goettle had been hinting at a potential bid, but didn't make it official until Tuesday, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reported.

Goettle becomes the fourth Republican to make a run for the seat. Former North Dakota state Rep. Pam Gulleson (D) is the only candidate in the Democratic primary for the state's only House seat.

Goettle left his role recently as state director for Hoeven, the popular Republican senator and former governor, and has also served as North Dakota's commerce commisioner.

In announcing his candidacy, Goettle touted that North Dakota's economy is booming and unemployment is much lower in the state than it is nationwide, and framed his campaign as an effort to keep it that way.

"North Dakota is not an island. Without a doubt, the biggest threat to our economy is what is coming out of Congress," he said. "That's why I am running for Congress: To bring fiscal responsibility to Washington and unleash the power of the free-enterprise system to create jobs and improve our overall economy."

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Club for Growth would back Rep. Graves in GOP primary

The fiscally conservative Club for Growth would back Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) over former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) should Barr challenge Graves, the group announced Wednesday morning.

Barr, who was the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee in 2008, would seem to be a natural fit for the fiscally conservative group. But the group points out that he backed President Bush's No Child Left Behind law and raising the debt limit.

This would not be Barr's first challenge to a fellow Republican: He lost to Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.) in 2002 after his district was drastically altered in redistricting.

Barr had not yet said whether he will challenge Graves. Some of his more libertarian stances could hurt him with social conservatives in the district.

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Poll: Gingrich opens big lead in Florida

Newt Gingrich holds a 24-point lead in Florida over his closest competitor for the Republican presidential nomination, according to a survey of likely GOP primary voters released Wednesday.

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Bielat might run again for Frank's seat

Republican Sean Bielat, who won a House primary in 2010 but lost to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) by 11 points, is weighing another run for the seat, which will be left open by Frank's retirement.

Bielat's consideration comes amid a torrent of speculation and calculation about both Democrats and Republicans who are eyeing the seat that Frank held for more than three decades and few expected he would vacate.

"Barney Frank retired after realizing that he could not again defend his voting record and liberal ideals," Bielat will say in a forthcoming statement, which has been obtained by The Hill.

Bielat said he is discussing a possible run with family members and advisers, but that the network of fundraisers and volunteers he built up during his 2010 bid would carry through to 2012 and allow him to start the race as the Republican front-runner.

"Frank's retirement presents Republicans with the best chance of picking up this seat that we've had in two generations," Bielat said.

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From former foes to political bros

Former President Clinton had kind words for Newt Gingrich over the weekend, praising the former Speaker’s philosophical approach to politics.

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