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He has honed a polished veneer and intellectual hauteur, and likely is carefully monitoring Herman Cain’s status. Now presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. is getting, uh-h-h, sassy. The candidate has launched a new campaign called “Scared Mittless” to draw attention to rival Mitt Romney’s reserved ways.

“Mitt Romney’s not running a cautious campaign. He’s running from tough questions. Running from his record of flip-flops and avoiding controversial stands doesn’t amount to presidential leadership,” says Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller.

“Romney’s strategy begs the question: If you’re too afraid to answer David Gregory’s questions on Sunday morning, how can Republican voters trust you to take on Barack Obama in 2012?” Mr. Miller wonders.

CHRISTIEFIED

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has quietly slipped into high gear. The ever-popular, ever glib New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie heads to New Hampshire on Wednesday in support of Mr. Romney, the man he has endorsed for president. Mr. Christie will visit Romney campaign headquarters in Manchester, then head to a house party in Nashua before journeying to Boston to watch the ninth Republican debate in Michigan on Thursday, in the company of rabid Romney fans.

ICONIC HALEY

Obama’s policies aren’t fixing our problems. They’re making them worse. And a second Obama term means making this malaise permanent … . We’re the greatest country on earth, and we can get America right again. To do that we have to win in 2012. So come on now, let’s get this done.”

And so says Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, in a new voter-outreach video from the nonprofit group American Crossroads, seen here: www.1600fund.com

“As one of the most iconic figures of the modern Republican Party, Gov. Barbour paints a vivid case of why America needs to change course in the 2012 elections. He is uniquely qualified to stem the encroaching tide of pessimism flowing across the country due to the failed policies of President Obama,” observes Mike Duncan, chairman of the District-based group.

POLL DU JOUR

• 66 percent of Americans say it’s important for a presidential candidate to have “strong religious beliefs.”

• 14 percent say it’s “not too important”; 19 percent say it’s “not at all important.”

• 65 percent say it would make “no difference” in their vote if a candidate has different religious beliefs than their own.

• 27 percent said they would be “less likely’ to vote for that candidate; 6 percent would be “more likely” to vote for the candidate.

• 69 percent are “comfortable” with an evangelical Christian serving as president.

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