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Hotline Sort: Follow The Money

3) The price of being the frontrunner: Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst took criticism from multiple sides at the first Texas Senate debate on Thursday evening, with former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz focusing solely on him, calling him a "timid career politician" and Craig James underscoring his 29-year marriage (Dewhurst has been divorced). A telling tidbit from the Austin American-Statesman:

Although Dewhurst initially set his aim at President Barack Obama, he ended up spending much of the night defending his decade-long tenure presiding over the Texas Senate.

Scan all of the major Texas papers this morning, and what you'll find is some variation of the headlines "Dewhurst on Defense" or "Opponents Attack Dewhurst." It's not difficult to see why he has limited the number of appearances he makes with his opponents. Mark your calendars for March 2, when a televised Dallas debate will take place. 2) Romney's latest South Carolina ad is the first in which he has pushed back against the criticism he has taken from opponents over his connection to Bain Capital. Meanwhile, a pro-Romney super PAC is going after Rick Santorum in Florida. 1) The Republican National Committee brought in $27 million in the fourth quarter, bringing its total haul in 2011 to $87 million. The Wall Street Journal has more:

Nearly $12 million was collected in December alone, the largest monthly sum in a non-election year since the early George W. Bush days. This also marks four out of the past five months that the RNC has beat its Democratic counterpart--despite President Obama's formidable fund-raising powers.

A lot has been written about President Obama's money machine and whether or not he will get to $1 billion dollars this cycle (a number Obama's team is trying to play down now). Politico reports that some Democrats fear the Obama/Democratic haul will be outpaced by the Republicans. With Romney raising big for a challenger, his super PACs in the mix and a soaped up RNC financial machine, there is reason for them to be.

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