Ballot Box

Citizens United running Iowa ads featuring Gingrich

Citizens United, a conservative outside group, is running $250,000 of advertising in Iowa promoting a Ronald Reagan documentary featuring former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, The Hill has confirmed.

The ad will run Thursday and Friday and then be back up after Christmas for a week, according to a group spokesman.

Gingrich has worked with the group on multiple projects and is close to its head, David Bossie. But group spokesman Jeff Marschner denied that they were running the ad to help Gingrich's presidential campaign, and insisted the move was just business. "It's for movie sales — Iowans are tuned in right now," he said, and pointed out the group ran a similar ad in August with Michele Bachmann around the time of the Iowa straw poll.

Gingrich has been bombarded with negative ads in Iowa and has not responded in kind, causing his poll numbers to nosedive in the state. Any positive spots featuring him are likely to help, and the ad reinforces a connection Gingrich has stressed between himself and Reagan.

Politico first reported the ad buy. Watch it here:

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Huntsman nabs Concord Monitor endorsement

GOP hopeful Jon Huntsman picked up the support of one of New Hampshire's largest newspapers Thursday, a welcome boost to his campaign in the state that has long offered Huntsman his brightest glimmer of hope.

The endorsement by the Concord Monitor, the third or fourth largest paper in the state, depending on the count, won't carry as much weight as that of the New Hampshire Union Leader, the state's most influential paper, which has thrown its support behind Newt Gingrich.

But it will give Huntsman another reason to argue that once conservatives take a serious, thoughtful look at his record, they will get on board with his campaign.

"Huntsman, a consistent but never doctrinaire conservative, would present the greatest challenge to Obama. If elected, he would provide mature, informed and steady leadership," the paper's editors wrote in endorsing Huntsman.

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New NJ map could pit Democrat, Republican against each other

Democrats in New Jersey have submitted their proposal for the state's new congressional map, drawing Democratic Rep. Steve Rothman and Republican Rep. Scott Garrett into the same district.

The tie-breaking member of the state's redistricting commission could choose as early as today between the Democratic map and a Republican map that has not been made public, the Star-Ledger reported.

Democrats, under their map, would have six safe seats in New Jersey, while five would go for Republicans and one would be competitive for both parties. If the Democratic map stands, Rothman and Garrett could face each other in a general-election square-off to save their spot in the House.

New Jersey lost one seat in the once-per-decade map-redrawing process due to population growth that was slower than in other parts of the country. Democrats wanted two Republican districts to be merged and Republicans wanted the opposite, but the commission system made it more likely that both parties would take a hit.

The redistricting fight in New Jersey, which didn't get started in earnest until December, has been remarkably muted and tame in comparison to the all-out slugfests that have characterized the processes in other states this year.

John Farmer Jr., the tie-breaking swing vote on the commission, has set a goal of resolving the new map by Christmas.

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Senate GOP raise more November cash than Dems

The National Republican Senatorial Committee brought in $2.9 million for its efforts to take back the Senate in November, besting their Democratic counterpart by almost one-half million dollars.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $2.5 million in November, but had $11 million in the bank heading into the last month before election year, while Republicans had just $9.1 million. Democrats also hold a $2 million advantage over Republicans in funds raised overall in 2011.

The NRSC has also kept its numbers solidly in the black, reporting no debt in November. The DSCC has not released its debt number, but owed about $750,000 at the end of October.

November also showed an odd pattern of the underdog outraising the party in power. House Democrats had a better November than did House Republicans, even though the GOP controls the lower chamber. And despite the looming reelection campaign of President Obama, the Republican National Committee edged out the Democratic National Committee for the second month in a row in November.

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Gov. McDonnell won't endorse Gingrich at Thursday event

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) will not endorse Newt Gingrich at Thursday's joint appearance, a spokesman told The Hill on Wednesday.

McDonnell, who has openly expressed interest in being vice president, will join Gingrich at a Richmond, Va., event for the Republican Party of Virginia on Thursday. But McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said that he while he likes and respects Gingrich, he won't endorse him.

"The governor knows the Speaker very well, and he is actually a Virginia voter," Martin said. "The governor believes the Speaker is running an impressive campaign that is focused on big ideas for the future. That said, he continues to believe a current or former governor would make the best nominee for our party. Governors have to balance budgets, exercise executive leadership and manage the governments of their respective states. They must make tough decisions every day. Those experiences provide, in his opinion, very good and necessary preparation for the Oval Office."

McDonnell has said for months he wanted a governor to be president. He would be a major endorsement coup, as a popular governor of a key swing state who Republican insiders had hoped would run for president himself. McDonnell is close with both Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, and has praised both former governors.

The popular Virginia executive has appeared with Perry, Romney and Jon Huntsman when they've held events in his state.

Martin said that McDonnell had not decided whether he will endorse a candidate.

"Gov. McDonnell is continuing to evaluate the field and determining if he will make an endorsement in this race," he said.

Gingrich's Virginia trip comes as an unusual time. Most of the other presidential candidates have zeroed in on the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. But he was at risk of missing Virginia's ballot. The campaign announced earlier on Wednesday that he did have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, after Gingrich said earlier in the week that they were "scrambling" to get on it.

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Top Iowa conservative denies asking Bachmann to drop out

Michele Bachmann says she got a call from Bob Vander Plaats, the influential Iowa evangelical leader, asking her to drop out of the presidential race. But he says he simply planted the idea among all the social conservatives in the GOP race that perhaps they should take one for the team.

Vander Plaats, who personally endorsed Rick Santorum on Tuesday, denied reports that he had encouraged Bachmann to withdraw from the primary ahead of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.

"I just laid the seed. It isn't saying, 'Michele Bachmann, get out of the race' or anyone else, get out of the race," he said on Fox News.

A source close to Bachmann's campaign told The Hill on Tuesday that Vander Plaats called the Minnesota congresswoman on Saturday to suggest she seek the vice presidential nod instead. The source said Vander Plaats suggested to Bachmann that she join forces with Santorum or Rick Perry.

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