PM Note: Romney Regains Frontrunner Status, Candidates Trade Jabs in Iowa

Dec 28, 2011 5:52pm

ABC News’ Political Stock Market: It was a rough day for most of the candidates. Huntsman posted the biggest loss at 5 points and is hovering around 33 heading into the final hour of trading. Obama also posted a big drop, losing 3 points, but the president still more than doubles Huntsman’s support at 67. Gingrich hovered around 53 while Romney, Perry and Paul each fell about 2 points.

Following a CNN poll that showed Santorum’s support swelling in Iowa, the now third-place candidate’s stock market value got a bump in mid-afternoon trading, but fell in the last hour by 2 points to about 26. Bachmann was the only candidate who was up today, gaining 2 points to round out the afternoon at nearly 33.

Romney Regains Frontrunner Status: Mitt Romney received some good news six days ahead of the Iowa caucus. A new CNN/Time/ORC International Poll found that 25 percent of likely GOP voters in Iowa picked the former Massachusetts governor as the candidate of choice. Ron Paul’s support jumped to 22 percent while Gingrich, who topped the poll earlier this month with 33 percent of approval, plunged to 14 percent, below Rick Santorum.

Nationally, Gingrich’s lead over Romney has eroded quickly and the two are now tied for first place in Gallup’s latest tracking poll. The numbers are a sharp contrast to earlier this month when Gingrich enjoyed a 15 percentage point lead over Romney.

Compassionate Conservatism? Romney may be a fan of public broadcasting, and he’s got nothing against Big Bird, but his love for PBS and the iconic “Sesame Street” character only goes so far. Michael Falcone reports on the frontrunner’s views on public funding for PBS.

Gingrich Goes to Chocolate Factory: A day after Romney compared Gingrich’s campaign to Lucille Ball’s zany efforts in a chocolate factory, Gingrich went to an Iowa chocolate factory today to challenge Romney on what he called his negative attack ads, as ABC’s Elicia Dover reports.

Ron Paul Questions U.S. Military Presence: ABC’s Jason Volack reports that Ron Paul returned to the campaign trail in Iowa on Wednesday, questioning why the United States needed to maintain a military presence in Australia, Germany, Japan and South Korea even as the death of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il raised concerns about the region’s stability.

Rick Perry Modifies Abortion Stance… Again: ABC’s Arlette Saenz reports that the Texas governor modified his newly transformed position on abortion again today, stating that the life of the mother is the only exception in which he’d support abortion.

Michele Bachmann Targets Paul and Perry: She may be struggling in the polls but the fiery congresswoman from Minnesota is not backing down. Russell Goldman reports that Bachmann, who completes a bus tour of all 99 Iowa counties on Thursday, is targeting Paul for his frontrunner status and Perry because he is competing for the same social conservative voters.

Obama’s Record-High Deportations Draw Hispanic Scorn: ABC’s Devin Dwyer reports on a new Pew Hispanic Center study that finds that the record-setting deportation of illegal immigrants under President Obama has drawn scorn from Hispanic Americans, despite recent administration efforts to temper the policy.

Hispanic Voters Loyal Democrats but Tuned out to 2012 Election: The same poll finds that though the nation’s largest and fastest-growing minority voting bloc are loyal Democrats and supporters of President Obama in the 2012 election, but a majority have not yet engaged in the campaign.

Santorum: ‘I’d Vote for Anybody Over Obama’: If Paul were the nominee, despite their completely opposing views on foreign policy — Iran in particular — Rick Santorum would vote for him over President Obama, as ABC’s Shushannah Walshe reports.

Gingrich and Bachmann Make Gallup’s Most Admired List: Newt Gingrich might be lacking in recent presidential nomination poll numbers, but when it comes to admiration by his fellow Americans, he was the only male Republican candidate to make Gallup’s list of most-admired men this year. Elicia Dover reviews the list.

Top Campaign Moments of 2011: ABC News reviews the many “oops” moments on the campaign trail this year. As Herman Cain would say, “I’ve got all this stuff twirling around in my head.”

Candidates Interrupted: Life isn’t always smooth on the campaign trail. In fact, it’s far from it. All the event planning and preparation can quickly fall apart when a vocal demonstrator tries to rattle a candidate with their message, as Dan Kloeffler reports.

ABC News’ Amy Bingham contributed to this report.

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