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Hotline Sort: Mapping Out Washington

6) The Democratic women's group EMILY's List has released its GOP presidential candidate scorecard. The higher the score, the worse the record is, according to metrics established by the abortion rights group. Newt Gingrich scores highest, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry has the lowest score. 5) Gingrich says he wouldn't vote for Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, if the congressman was the GOP nominee. 4) The Democratic bench in Nebraska is very thin, and following Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson's decision not to run for reelection, the prospects are bleak for the party. The Lincoln Journal-Star floats the following names as potential Democratic candidates, with the caveat that none is viewed as likely to run at this point: Former Sen. Bob Kerrey, Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler, state Sen. Steve Lathrop and former Lt. Gov. Kim Robak. Kerrey, in particular, would be a big get for Democrats, given his statewide name ID. But he lives in New York, a fact Republicans would exploit in a campaign. He also passed up a campaign in 2008, under much more favorable circumstances. 3) I noted on Tuesday morning that former Wisconsin GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson's team sent out a fundraising email that pointed to criticism former GOP Rep. Mark Neumann has leveled against Gov. Scott Walker. Neumann's team hits back today with a fundraising email of its own: "I just don't believe Tommy Thompson would have authorized his campaign to go negative on the second day of Christmas just to raise money," writes former state Treasurer Jack Voight. It's clear Thompson's team sees an opportunity to drive a wedge between supporters of the governor -- who now faces the likely possibility of a recall election next year -- and his 2010 primary opponent, Neumann, who went negative against Walker in the campaign. Keep an eye on how heavily team Thompson presses the matter in the new year. 2) Let the (Iowa) games begin. On Tuesday in Iowa, Gingrich sought to portray Romney as an establishment defender of big government, the Washington Post notes. Romney, meanwhile, saved most of his words for President Obama, but did manage to get in one jab against the former speaker in New Hampshire, likening his difficulty in getting on the ballot in Virginia to an episode of "I Love Lucy." 1) Take a glance at the headlines in major national publications, including Politico and the Washington Post -- they are reflective of the current conventional wisdom -- that Romney is rising in Iowa. Indeed, if Romney wins Iowa, one of the toughest states demographically for him, it's hard to see how he doesn't emerge as the GOP's presidential nominee.

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