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  • By John Dickerson
    Slate

    It was hard to peg the precise amplitude of Mitt Romney's smile at the third GOP presidential debate. While his opponents bickered with each other, he stood amused. Was it the grin the father of the bride keeps when the groom's mother gives a toast that goes on too long? Or was it the gentle phased-out look of a parent at a kindergarten play?

    The debate had the makings of a serious discussion about leadership, what form it should take, whether the candidates have demonstrated it, and how it should be applied in Washington. However, this discussion took place in a roller derby where that underlying theme was obscured by people trying to bruise and batter each other. Criticisms and veiled critiques broke out into the open among candidates desperate to avoid being eliminated from consideration. In the end, there was a lot of arm flailing. Everyone went round and round, and the lot of them wound up where they had stood before the debate began.

    When nothing changes,

    Read More »from Romney stays out of fray in fiery Iowa debate
  • By Beth Reinhard
    National Journal

    DES MOINES, Iowa -- The air-conditioned tent sponsored by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., will feature country music star Randy Travis and a petting zoo. Tim Pawlenty is offering Dairy Queen Blizzards and Famous Dave's BBQ. Courtesy of Rick Santorum: A performance by the Big Bopper Jr. and jars of homemade peach preserves.

    Behind the festivities orchestrated by the Republican presidential candidates for the nearby Ames Straw Poll lie do-or-die stakes. Most of the GOP contenders have been furiously circling the state in the lead-up to perhaps the most important week of the campaign so far.

    The excitement begins with a debate at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, nationally televised on Fox News. On Saturday, the unusually volatile 2012 field will finally coalesce -- barring a forthcoming announcement by Sarah Palin (CNN reported on Wednesday that Palin's "One Nation" bus tour will be hitting the Iowa State Fair this week before the straw

    Read More »from Festivities in Iowa could make, break 2012 GOP hopefuls
  • By Jim Tankersley
    National Journal

    Nearly halfway into his speech from the State Dining Room on Monday, President Obama finally launched into what amounts to his core job-creation message these days. He ticked off a familiar trio of policy initiatives — extend unemployment benefits and the temporary payroll tax cut, spend more on infrastructure — and then blamed congressional Republicans for not enacting them.

    "These are all ideas that traditionally Republicans have agreed to, have agreed to countless times in the past," Obama said. "There's no reason we shouldn't act on them now. None."

    Markets were unmoved. Stocks fell before the midday speech, and they kept right on falling afterward.

    No one should have been surprised. Obama needs a sharper, weightier economic message — and perhaps, many of his ideological allies suggest, a revamped policy plan as well.

    PICTURES: The Young Rick Perry

    Here's why the president is struggling to get through: There appear to be two key

    Read More »from Obama’s Jobs-Message Problem

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  • Iran's protest over Iraqi player rejected
    Iran's protest over Iraqi player rejected

    Iran's protest that Iraq fielded an ineligible player in their stormy Asian Cup quarter-final was shot down following lengthy deliberation by tournament organisers on Sunday. Iran lodged a formal complaint, claiming that midfielder Alaa Abdulzehra failed a drugs test while playing for an Iranian club last year, but it was rejected by the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) disciplinary committee. "Iraq tomorrow can play ... tomorrow morning we fly (home)," he added. An AFC statement released later said that the protest was "unfounded", without giving further details.

  • Kate Hudson reveals derriere at Versace, Portman hits Dior
    Kate Hudson reveals derriere at Versace, Portman hits Dior

    PARIS (AP) — At Paris' high-octane couture week, what happens on the catwalk is only half the story.

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