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GIPPERIZED

When in doubt, say, "Ronald Reagan." The cachet of the former president continues to fixate Republican presidential hopefuls who are convinced they can win one with the Gipper. Reagan's name has been invoked so many times during the presidential debates that University of Minnesota political scientist Eric Ostermeier decided to tally the phenomenon. In the past 10 GOP debates, Reagan has been mentioned 53 times, or more than five times per debate.

All other ex-presidents combined have been mentioned a mere 38 times, Mr. Ostermeier says. Among them: George W. Bush (19 times), Abraham Lincoln (four), Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (three each), plus Thomas Jefferson and Lyndon B. Johnson (twice each). George Washington, James Madison, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and George H.W. Bush each got a single mention.

The Reagan factor likely will emerge during CNN's presidential debate Tuesday night, considering that current GOP darling Newt Gingrich is emphatically Reagan-centric, previously alluding to the Gipper 21 times. Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, plus Jon Huntsman Jr. and Rick Santorum, brought up Reagan six times each, followed by Herman Cain (four times) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (three). Mitt Romney, however, has yet to utter "Reagan," but has referenced George W. Bush seven times. See the report here: www.smartpoliticsblog.org.

DEC. 7, 1941

The 70th anniversary of the Day of Infamy - the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 - is just over two weeks away. On bookshelves Tuesday, "December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World," by historian Craig Shirley, chronicles the events that honed Yankee might and prompted the nation to shine, the author says, "with rare and piercing light."

There is much cultural and social fare in the hefty book reflecting uncommon unity and the cheerful can-do spirit of the home front, along with news coverage of the day, plus evolving politics and grim realities. It's all intended to give readers a sense of what their "parents and grandparents and great grandparents" were up against.

"The central and most important actor in 'December 1941' is the United States of America," Mr. Shirley says.

SUPER DUPED

"The real cause of the failure of the supercommittee was the idea that a supercommittee would act any differently than the Congress at large," observes HotAir.com senior editor Ed Morrissey, who adds, "While that's bad news in the short run, it's probably good news in the long run. Anyone proposing blue-ribbon supercommittees in the future will be laughed out of town - which is what should have happened the first time."

And gleaned from vigorous news coverage that followed the committee's public confession that, alas, it had failed to remedy the federal budget deficit: "super failure" (Associated Press, CNN), "predictable" (CBS News), "designed to fail" (Forbes), "Newt Gingrich to supercommittee: 'told you so.' " (Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

"In the end, there's something fittingly ironic about this panel having nothing to show for its efforts but a little more wasted government money," notes Eric Rosenbaum, a political analyst with The Street.com who tracked the funding of the committee.

INSECURITY

Tuesday night's presidential debate on CNN could reveal again how much or how little the Republican hopefuls know about national security.

"Do they appreciate the implications of China's rise? Do they understand the principles behind America's alliance with Israel? What will their answer be to the challenge from Iran? How will they respond to the collapse of the eurozone? Will they keep troops in Afghanistan? Can they articulate a clear vision for America's role in the world?" ask the security analysts of the American Enterprise Institute, which is co-hosting the debate with the Heritage Foundation.

"Which presidential candidate will protect America?" Heritage asks.

Go ahead, get wonky. The two organizations provide assorted "cheat sheets" and other resources ahead of the debate's 8 p.m. airtime (www.aei.org and www.heritage.org).

READ THEIR LIPS

They are rallying, and their reminder is familiar and adamant. A group of heavy-duty conservatives and tea partyers gather Tuesday morning in the gloom of the supercommittee's failure to warn Republican congressional leaders against "caving on tax increases."

On hand for the big statement: Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, ForAmerica Chairman Brent Bozell, Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin and Citizens United President David Bossie.

"Conservatives are reissuing the warning that raising taxes loses elections, just as they correctly warned George H.W. Bush after he broke his tax pledge in 1991," the group says. "The groups are determined to hold the GOP's feet to the fire, stating true conservatives and the tea party will revolt if their supposed leaders in Congress cave on this key issue."

POLL DU JOUR

• 67 percent of Republican voters say they "might change their mind" about the candidate they support.

• 40 percent say Mitt Romney has the "best chance" of beating President Obama in the 2012 race.

• 21 percent cite Newt Gingrich, 16 percent Herman Cain, 9 percent Rick Perry.

• 36 percent overall say Mr. Gingrich is most qualified to be commander in chief.

• 20 percent cite Mr. Romney, 12 percent Mr. Perry and 10 percent Mr. Cain.

• 29 percent overall say Mr. Gingrich is the "strongest leader," 26 percent cite Mr. Romney, 15 percent Mr. Cain, 13 percent Mr. Perry.

• 29 percent say Mr. Romney is the "most likable," 25 percent cite Mr. Cain, 14 percent Mr. Perry, 9 percent Mr. Gingrich.

• 25 percent overall say Mr. Gingrich likely agrees with them on issues "that matter most."

• 18 percent cite Mr. Cain, 16 percent Mr. Romney and 15 percent Mr. Perry.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,019 U.S. adults that included 402 Republicans, conducted Nov. 18-20.

Fightin' words, soliloquies, heartfelt speeches to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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