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Political Notebook

Christie still absent from GOP early-voting primary states

JULIO CORTEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Governor Chris Christie, seen yesterday at the swearing-in of a New Jersey superior court judge, has made no moves indicating he will join the GOP presidential race.

DES MOINES - Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has been silent in early-voting primary states, and if he decides to join the Republican presidential race, he would face the challenge of launching a campaign from a standing start.

Neither Christie nor his political team has reached out to GOP strategists or top party officials in Iowa or New Hampshire as the first-term governor reevaluates his oft-repeated refusal to seek the Republican nomination for president.

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His lack of spadework would complicate an undertaking that already requires raising millions of dollars and establishing campaign operations in several states simultaneously.

Adding to the challenges, South Carolina and Florida have moved their primaries into January, pushing the start of the 2012 nominating contests to barely three months away.

But Christie’s renewed look at a presidential bid without making a round of calls even to new, influential friends in Iowa and New Hampshire reflects confidence within Christie’s circle that the adoring and hungry Republican elites who have courted him can compensate for his organizational deficit with momentum.

As early as this week, Christie could announce whether he will run and reverse himself after more than a year of ruling out a candidacy.

But campaign operatives, fund-raisers, and veteran presidential campaign advisers in Iowa and New Hampshire say no one with Christie has contacted them in recent weeks. - ASSOCIATED PRESS

Perry’s support shrinks dramatically in new poll

WASHINGTON - After a quick rise in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Governor Rick Perry of Texas has experienced an almost equally dramatic decline, losing about half of his support over the past month, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Perry’s slide, which comes after several uneven performances in candidate debates, has allowed Mitt Romney to resurface atop the GOP field. But the most direct beneficiary of the disenchantment with Perry is businessman Herman Cain, who is now tied for second place.

Perry’s rapidly changing fortunes underscore the fluidity of the Republican race and the lingering dissatisfaction with the candidates.

Although not fully satisfied with their choices, Republicans are optimistic about their chances of winning the election. More than eight in 10 say the eventual GOP nominee is likely to beat President Obama next year. In the new poll, Obama’s approval remained at a low point in his presidency.

Among announced candidates Romney leads with 25 percent, which is identical to his support from a month ago. Perry and Cain are tied for second with 16 percent, numbers representing a 13-point drop for Perry and a 12-point rise for Cain since early September. - WASHINGTON POST

Obama says Americans not better off 4 years later

WASHINGTON - President Obama said yesterday that Americans are not better off than they were four years ago as the struggling economy and high unemployment have taken a toll.

Looking ahead to next year’s election, the incumbent called himself the underdog in the 2012 presidential campaign, though he said he does not mind the label.

The Democrat said it’s a role that he is used to.

In an interview with ABC News, Obama was asked how he planned to persuade people they are better off now than they were four years ago - the formulation Ronald Reagan famously used to defeat President Jimmy Carter in 1980.

“I don’t think that they’re better off than they were four years ago,’’ Obama said. “They’re not better off than they were before Lehman’s collapse, before the financial crisis, before this extraordinary recession that we’re going through. I think that what we’ve seen is that we’ve been able to make steady progress to stabilize the economy but the unemployment rate is still way too high.’’ - ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bachmann senior adviser, pollster leaving campaign

ST. PAUL - Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is losing her senior adviser and pollster in a staff exodus that raises questions about the viability of her White House bid and her campaign finances.

Senior adviser Andy Parrish is returning to the Minnesota congresswoman’s office, where he served as chief of staff, and pollster Ed Goeas plans to leave the campaign after upcoming debates in New Hampshire and Nevada.

The moves signal an effort to preserve money three months ahead of the first Republican nominating contests.

Bachmann began July with about $3.6 million, most of which had been transferred from her congressional campaign account. - ASSOCIATED PRESS

South Carolina pushes up GOP primary to Jan. 21

NEW YORK - South Carolina will hold its Republican presidential primary on Jan. 21, the state party said yesterday, a decision that is likely to shift the first round of balloting to just after New Year’s Day.

“South Carolina Republicans have a 30-year track record of picking the eventual Republican presidential nominee,’’ Chad Connelly, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, said in a statement. “We will continue that historic tradition.’’

South Carolina’s move was prompted by Florida’s decision last week to flout national Republican party rules and hold its primary on Jan. 31.

The new dates are likely to set off a domino effect among the traditional early-voting states.

New Hampshire may hold its contest as early as Jan. 10, said Steve Duprey, a national committeeman of the state Republican Party. - BLOOMBERG NEWS

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