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Paul on a roll; Gingrich putting out fires; Huntsman hopeful

Ron Paul arrived in New Hampshire on Friday riding the momentum of a top-three finish in Iowa, a fundraising haul of $13 million in the last quarter and bragging rights of having more donors who list military affiliations than his Republican rivals combined.

Not among those contributors: Cpl. Jesse Thorsen, who gushed that it was “like meeting a rock star” when he joined Paul on stage wearing his camouflage fatigues in Iowa this week. That ran afoul of Defense Department rules involving partisan political events, though the military doesn’t prohibit soldiers from giving money to candidates.

Paul is the only Republican who says he’ll bring home nearly all U.S. forces if elected, and that could be helping him draw in dollars.

• Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich is on the defensive in the state, under fire for a remark on race and facing fresh questions about his work for mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

That’s pulling Gingrich off message just as he scrambles to build momentum after a disappointing fourth-place finish in Iowa’s caucuses.

As he appeared at a gun manufacturer in Newport, N.H., reporters battered him with questions far off his script.

Gingrich drew a harsh rebuke from the NAACP and the National Urban League for a comment on Thursday at a senior citizen center in Plymouth, N.H., linking food stamps and African-Americans.

Jon Huntsman, who is third in some polls here, targets Mitt Romney as a flip-flopper. He skipped the Iowa caucuses, a risky strategy used in 2008 without success by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson.

Huntsman, a former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China, said he hoped voters would pick him over Romney because he was more consistently conservative. But he acknowledged that he would need a “market mover” event to change the dynamic of the race.

“It’s going to come down to trust. When you’ve been on three sides on all the major issues of the day, that then creates a trust problem,” he said of Romney. “I’ve got a core that doesn’t change. I’m consistent.”

Wire reports


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Senate panel advances bill protecting special counsel

UPDATED: 10:03 a.m.

updated  The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s job, putting the matter in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said he won’t let the bill reach Senate floor.