Pat Robertson

One of Mitt Romney’s biggest challenges as presidential candidate may be to win public acceptance of a Protestant sect that is poorly understood by a majority of the public. Its practices, historically, have differed dramatically from those of mainline denominations, particularly during the 19th century, when its members engaged in odd sexual behavior and upended the conventional family structure.

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One of Mitt Romney’s biggest challenges as presidential candidate may be to win public acceptance of a Protestant sect that is poorly understood by a majority of the public. Its practices, historically, have differed dramatically from those of mainline denominations, particularly during the 19th century, when its members engaged in odd sexual behavior and upended the conventional family structure.

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In an invisible primary where it seems everyone other than Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum is fated to have his or her brief day in the sun, two new polls from Iowa show the indefatigable Ron Paul now leading the field among likely caucus-goers, with just two weeks left before actual voting occurs. The media, much to the consternation of fanatical Paulists, is already writing him off as another flash-in-the pan, his libertarianism too extreme to gain the support of moderate conservatives and too at odds with social conservatives to win over their vital support.

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In the fall of 2005,  Joel Hunter, the senior pastor of a 12,000-member megachurch in central Florida, signed on to the Evangelical Climate Initiative—a landmark public statement acknowledging that human actions were causing the Earth to warm. The central message—“creation care,” as it became known—was that the biblical commandment to protect God’s creation was relevant to modern-day environmental issues. Soon, Hunter had distributed 20,000 creation care pamphlets to pastors around the country, and his parishioners were sifting through garbage to see how much trash his church produced.

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[with contributions from Matt O'Brien and Darius Tahir] Another busy news day with no shortage of issues to cover: New figures on the economy, an initiative on student loans from the administration, and suggestions that the Affordable Care Act imposes a marriage penalty. The law does that, in a sense, although there are reasons why – and, more important, reasons why it’s not the problem it seems. But you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about that. I’m still preoccupied with reporting a feature. But I do want to say something more about Mitt Romney.

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Is this: We can win in 2012 and we will. Our voice has been growing louder and stronger. And it is made up of Americans from all walks of life like a three-legged stool. It's the peace through strength Republicans, and I'm one of them, it's fiscal conservatives, and I'm one of them, and it's social conservatives, and I'm one of them. It's the Tea Party movement and I'm one of them. In this section, Bachmann is trying to break out of the box of the social conservative movement candidate and define herself as a mainstream Republican. First, she declares she can win.

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Fringe

Ever since Michele Bachmann announced her intention to form a presidential exploratory committee, pundits, including Ed Kilgore at TNR, have been making the case that she has a good chance at winning Iowa—or if not winning, then doing well enough to hurt one or more of the stronger candidates. Republican caucus-goers in the state, they argue, are at least half-nuts, and therefore may well support Bachmann or some other candidate who doesn’t pass conventional standards of seriousness. Certainly, Iowa Republicans are very socially conservative, more so than in some other states.

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As the 2012 Republican presidential field finally takes shape over the next few months, one thing is fairly certain: An intensely ideological female politician closely identified with the Christian Right and with the Tea Party movement, someone liberals love to hate, will define the race. But surprisingly, it’s increasingly likely that person will be Michele Bachmann rather than Sarah Palin.

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From Bradley Burston, Haaretz:  On hearing the words of the Reverend Pat Robertson: A prayer for the people of Haiti, who, on a good day, must take heroic measures just to wake the next, And who must now find a way to live through the end of the world: Lord who speaks in earthquakes Speak now in miracles. I thank you, that first prayer begins. Modeh Ani.

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McLEAN, Va.--Will the bitter, smoldering feelings let loose by Washington's health care fight ricochet across the Potomac River and decide Virginia's race for governor? Will a Republican be able to escape his right-wing record and his incendiary past writings to rebrand himself as a pragmatist? The battle for the Virginia statehouse always gets outsized national attention because of its unusual timing, just a year after a presidential election.

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