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Hotline Sort: Heller Taking Some Hits

4) More encouraging news about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's, D-Ariz., recovery: she released an audio message to constituents on Tuesday saying, "I'm getting stronger. I'm getting better." Her husband, Mark Kelly, told NPR that "I think it's very possible that she could run [for reelection] in 2012. We don't know yet. She'll have to make that decision sometime after the holidays, I think." 3) There is good news for Democrats in a new Quinnipiac University poll in New Jersey released early Wednesday: President Obama's lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney increased from six points last month to nine this month. And Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez now leads a generic Republican by 12 points, up significantly from last month, when he led by four points. Republican Gov. Chris Christie remains popular, however; his 56 percent approval rating is statistically equal to the 58 percent rating he earned a month ago. 2) Texas Gov. Rick Perry is proposing something pretty provocative: The New York Times reports that on Tuesday, he announced a plan to make Congress operate part time with half pay, and end lifetime tenure for federal judges. 1) As Mitt Romney continues to give mixed signals about his intentions in Iowa, he's ticked off at least one prominent conservative activist in the state. "Mitt Romney has dissed this base in Iowa and this diss will not stay in Iowa. This has national tentacles. ... This might prove that he is not smart enough to be president, " said Bob Vander Plaats, whose group is hosting a presidential forum that Romney will be absent from this weekend. Steven Shepard contributed

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