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A political tip sheet for the rest of us

By Michele Salcedo

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Jan. 26 2012 5:50 p.m. MST

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at the University of North Florida, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla.

Matt Rourke, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A political tip sheet for the rest of us outside the Washington Beltway, for Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012:

WHAT HAPPENED:

FLORIDA DEBATE, PART 2: The campaign got hot in Florida, with Newt Gingrich accusing top rival Mitt Romney and the super PAC supporting the former Massachusetts governor of dishonest ads against the former speaker, and Romney inviting factory workers who were about to lose their jobs to storm Thursday's debate. Former Sen. Rick Santorum insisted he's in the race to stay, although he'll spend the weekend back in Pennsylvania. He was going to be on stage along with Texas Rep. Ron Paul for the second debate this week, the last before Tuesday's primary.

OPAQUE TRANSPARENCY: Turns out the Cayman Islands were only one place where Mitt Romney has offshore accounts. His wife, Ann, holds a Swiss bank account in her blind trust. The income from that account, under $2,000, wasn't reported on financial disclosure forms filed last year, and other income that should have been reported was missing as well. A Romney spokeswoman said the adjustments would be trivial and not alter the overall picture of the Romneys' finances. The former Massachusetts governor has estimated his wealth at as much as $250 million.

OPAQUE TRANSPARENCY, TOO: Newt Gingrich beat Romney to the punch when he released his tax return first. But the documents shed no light on how the former House speaker earned most of his $3.1 million. Gingrich, who has demanded more transparency from Romney, doesn't identify where the money came from, including amounts he received from his consulting business. The Associated Press requested details about Gingrich's income and the identities of who paid him for his services. The campaign has not decided whether it will release further information about Gingrich's income, spokesman R.C. Hammond said.

ROMNEY RELATIVES: White House hopeful Mitt Romney rarely mentions a key fact as he works to woo Hispanics ahead of Tuesday's Republican presidential nominating contest in Florida — his own Mexican heritage. "But I think that might be disingenuous on my part," Romney said in an interview with Univision. His father, George, was born in Mexico, and his extended relatives still live in the border state of Chihuahua. The younger Romney's second cousins, tall men with light hair who speak American-accented English, share the family's last name and Mormon faith. They support his White House candidacy, but not his tough stance on immigration. The Romney family came to the United States to flee the violence of the Mexican Revolution.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY

$2.4 million in Newt Gingrich's business payments aren't detailed on his tax return, but it break down more than $712,000 of other income:

—$252,500 for his salary from Gingrich Holdings.

—$191,827 for his wife's salary from Gingrich Productions.

—$5,918 from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington that his wife earned as a member of the church's professional choir.

—$76,200 for his congressional pension.

—$72,274 from his share of his daughter's business.

—$38,637 for dividend and interest payments.

—$33,124 in tax refunds.

—$21,625 in speaking fees paid directly to Gingrich and not his businesses.

—$20,000 for him and his wife for serving on boards of directors; the boards are not identified.

WHAT THEY SAID:

"I have not been critical of Newt Gingrich, but it is now time to take a stand before it is too late. If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state and federal offices. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway." — Former GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole, who supports Romney.

"I think all the weight of his negative advertising and all the weight of his dishonesty has hurt us some. I am not going to allow the moneyed interests that are buying those ads to come in here and to come into other states to misinform people and then to think we are too dumb to fight back." — Newt Gingrich, imploring Florida supporters to punish Romney for funding "callously dishonest ads."

"There may be some give and take. That's always fun and entertaining, I know. If you all could get there, we'd love to see you all there cheering." — Mitt Romney, encouraging workers at a Jacksonville factory that's about to close to attend Thursday's debate.

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