3) Businessman Tom Smith is the first in a crowded Republican field in the Pennsylvania Senate race to hit the airwaves, buying total of about $160,000 on broadcast and cable, PoliticsPA reports. The spot is a 30-second biographical ad that also, unsurprisingly, ties President Obama to Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. 2) Nebraska Republican Gov. Dave Heineman is keeping up his consistent refrain with regard to possibly running for the Senate. "I'll keep listening, but it's unlikely I'm going to change my mind," he said. Of course, it's in the interest of Heineman and national Republicans to keep expectations that he'll run low, even if he begins to move toward a run. On the Democratic side, Sen. Ben Nelson doesn't buy the Heineman hype. 1) It's a crucial time in the GOP presidential contest, as poll after poll shows Newt Gingrich in a strong position in more than one early state. This is going to result in an onslaught of criticism from Democratic and GOP opponents in the coming weeks. Today, we're seeing new criticism from both the White House and from Gingrich's chief rival, Mitt Romney. The New York Times reports the White House and Democratic allies are trying to brand Gingrich as the "godfather of gridlock," while two prominent Romney advisers, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu and former Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo. will hold a press call on Gingrich's record later this morning. Meanwhile, Gingrich's campaign says he raised $4 million in the first half of the fourth quarter.
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