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Santorum popular in Iowa but struggling in polls

Rick Santorum continues to struggle in the latest poll of Iowa Republicans, but GOP leaders there say he could be positioned to make a move in the Hawkeye State.

The former Pennsylvania senator, who is best known for his strident social conservatism, slipped to 2 percent support in an American Research Group poll of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa released Thursday, putting him in seventh place in the poll.

But well-connected Iowa Republicans who have not endorsed any candidate said that voters who meet Santorum often warm to him, and that his heavy investment in the state could pay dividends, much like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's time in Iowa helped him win there in 2008. Santorum has spent 58 days in the state in the last year, far more time than any other candidate this cycle.

"Santorum is the one guy that when he gets out there people put him on a higher level — they weren't expecting to support him and after they engage with him they have second thoughts that they might," said Steve Scheffler, a Republican National Committee member who heads the prominent socially conservative Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. "He's been as persistent as anybody here and that earns him credit."

Sam Clovis, a Sioux City-based conservative radio host, said that though Santorum has helped himself with strong debate performances, his real asset is that he "comes across as being genuine" and his face-to-face efforts with Iowa voters are helping him.

"He's personalized this, he's doing Iowa politics, he's out knocking on doors," he said. "I think he's done extremely well out there."

Still, Santorum needs to start translating warm feelings into actual support by proving he can be a viable candidate — and while his retail politics strategy costs much less than a campaign with a larger infrastructure, money still matters.

Bob Vander Plaats, a 2010 gubernatorial candidate who heads the socially conservative umbrella organization Family Leader, said the only thing holding back the Pennsylvanian is fundraising.

"If Santorum gets enough resources he could be the Mike Huckabee of this thing," he said.


Romney, Perry congratulate Obama; Perry gives backhanded praise

Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney both congratulated President Obama on the successful drone strike that killed al Qaeda terrorist Anwar Al-Awlaki.

"The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki is a major victory in our fight against Islamist terrorism and proper justice for the numerous attacks and plots he inspired or planned against America," the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement on Friday.

"I commend the President, the members of the intelligence community, our service members, and our allies for their continued efforts to keep Americans safe. Nevertheless, we must remain vigilant and continue the fight against those who seek to destroy us and our freedoms."

Similarly, Perry congratulated Obama but also said it was Obama's adherence to the counterterrorism policies of the Bush administration that lead to Awlaki's death.

"I want to congratulate the United States military and intelligence communities – and President Obama for sticking with the government's longstanding and aggressive anti-terror policies – for getting another key international terrorist," the Texas governor said in a statement.

On Friday, the Obama administration announced that a drone strike in Yemen had killed the American-born cleric Awlaki. In a speech later on, Obama hailed the mission as "another significant milestone" in defeating al Qaeda. The Obama administration has been praised by both Republicans and Democrats for its successes in taking out top al Qaeda operatives, including Osama bin Laden, who was killed during a carefully planned Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan.


Liberal group endorses Donovan, Kuster, Sheyman

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a PAC that supports liberal Democratic candidates, added three House candidates to its list of endorsements Friday.

Chris Donovan in Connecticut, Ann McLane Kuster in New Hampshire and Ilya Sheyman in Illinois will all get support from PCCC.

In a few short years, the PCCC has become well known as a bold, progressive organization that fights for its values and for its candidates, and Im honored to receive their endorsement,” said Donovan, the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives. He is campaigning for the seat Rep. Chris Murphy (D) will vacate as he tries for retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) seat.

The three candidates join Eric Griego in New Mexico on the list of House candidates the PCCC has endorsed.

PCCC’s major effort thus far in the campaign cycle has been backing Elizabeth Warren’s Senate candidacy in Massachusetts. Even before Warren entered the primary to take on Sen. Scott Brown (R), PCCC was actively campaigning to draft Warren into the race and was raising money on her behalf. The group has already pulled in close to $400,000 for Warren.


Matheson might run in different district

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), a target of Republicans in redistricting, might run for another seat than the one he currently holds, he told ABC's Salt Lake City affiliate Thursday.

Matheson has discussed running for governor or senator if Republicans make his district impossible to win, but this is the first time he's talked about running for another congressional district.

The state is adding a congressional seat, so no matter what map Republican legislators approve next week it will drastically alter the three current districts. The legislators indicated to The Hill earlier in September that they plan to pass a map splitting Democratic Salt Lake City into four districts, making them all as conservative as possible.

Matheson, a conservative Blue Dog Democrat, already represents the most Republican district of any Democrat in the country.


DNC Spanish-language ad hits GOP on Obama jobs act

The Democratic National Committee is up with a Spanish-language ad hitting Republicans for blocking President Obama's jobs plan.

The ad comes as polls show Obama's Hispanic support softening — a bad sign for the president in swing states like Nevada and Colorado, as well as New Mexico, Florida and Virginia.

It will run on television this weekend in Denver and Las Vegas, two swing state media markets with a high number of Latino residents.

The ad, whose title translates to "they always say no," has clips of Hispanic Americans criticizing congressional Republicans in Spanish.

"Republicans say no to Medicare, no to financial aid, no to helping the middle class," the ad says. "They always say no, but no one says why not."

The ad then says that Obama "is fighting on our side," showing a clip of Obama saying his plan would give families a $1,500 tax cut. It then concludes, "why not?"

Watch it here: