A voter in Belmont, New Hampshire asked Rick Santorum about how his climate change policies. This is, of course, an interesting question since Santorum has made it quite clear he thinks global warming is "junk science" and a " a beautifully concocted scheme" created by the left.

The Republican presidential contender had a long, rambling answer to the question:

The question is on how do I get my policies with climate change science. I get asked this question a lot, and you look at the data and you can see some change in the climate. But then again, pick a point in history where you haven’t seen a change in the climate. The climate does change. The question is, what is causing the climate to change.
And I think most scientists, in fact, I assume all scientists would agree there are a variety of factors that cause the climate change. I don’t think any scientist in the world would suggest there isn’t a variety of factors, and I think the vast majority of scientists would say there’s probably a hundred factors that cause the climate to change. And so why have we decided that this one particular factor, carbon dioxide, is in fact that tip of the tail that wags the entire dog. Why from a scientific point of view do we make the assertion that this is in fact what is the case when there is a whole lot of other factors out there that could be affecting it?
So, that’s the question. Some people have very strong feelings that it is that. There are a lot of other people who don’t. Here’s the question. Let’s even assume, for purposes of argument, not that I agree with it, but for purposes of argument, that they are right. Then what would be a rational response? Well, if you have a problem and you want to craft something, what should that thing that you’re crafting do? Solve the problem. Do any of the proposed solutions put forward by Al Gore and his friends do anything to solve the problem? Even the scientists who support the theory will admit to you that it doesn’t do anything to solve the problem.
So query, why support the solution, other than you may have some other agenda that may be in place here. Right? And let’s go back to what that agenda is. There’s a common theme that you should be hearing here. They don’t trust you to allocate resources in a way that they believe is best, and so they want to have a system that forces you to do what they think you should do in running your business and your lives.

Wow, that was a lot to work with. To recap: The climate might be changing, something about a dog (why is he so obsessed with dogs?), Democrats really just want to control your life, but they're not very good at it (see: Al Gore). That was concise.

GOP presidential Newt Gingrich at a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa.

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

It is a matter of public record that Newt Gingrich is really, really into space. He proposed a "Northwest Ordinance for Space" in 1984 to establish a path to statehood for colonies in space; he proposed putting a system of giant mirrors in the atmosphere to light city streets at night and reduce crime; and he suggested that with enough government investment and/or private initiative, we might someday have colonies on the moon devoted to mining high-value minerals. For these ideas (and a few more), he earned the nickname "Newt Skywalker" from his colleagues.

And in his 1984 book, Window of Opportunity (and again in his 1994 book, To Renew America), he suggested that private space flight would open up business opportunities for space tourism—specifically for honeymooning couples. As he put it: "Imagine weightlessness and its effects and you will understand some of the attraction." Oh?

If Gingrich thought sex was improved, that wasn't the only thing. He wrote in Window of Opportunity that "In medicine alone, we may find that the effect of weightlessness on certain manufacturing processes carried on in the relatively sterile and pure environment of space will result in a multibillion-dollar industry."

Newt Gingrich

With a fresh set of super-PAC attack ads heading his way, Newt Gingrich rolled into the town of Newport midday on Friday. His destination: the Sturm, Ruger & Co. arms factory here, the largest employer in the county and one of the largest arms manufacturers in America. The factory was everything you'd imagine it to be—rifles and pistols and trade mags, oh my!—and more. (Including the mounted animal heads all over the walls.)

Gingrich, who bills himself as the true conservative's pick for the GOP presidential nomination, looked typically at ease as he strode into the factory. Then came this exchange [emphasis mine]:

Reporter: Speaker Gingrich, given where we are today, do you own any guns personally?

Gingrich: No.

Reporter: When was the last time you went shooting?

Gingrich: It's been a couple years. I can tell you that my grandson just got his .410 for Christmas. Very exciting.


Reporter: Have you ever owned a gun?

Gingrich: No, I actually personally have never owned a gun. I believe in the right to bear arms, and I strongly defend the right to bear arms.

Nearby, a group of the company's higher-ups shifted uneasily and glanced around at each other.

Gingrich received an A or A- rating from the National Rifle Association, the leader of the gun lobby, throughout his Congressional career, his website says. That hasn't prevented him from taking fire, though, from the far right. In Iowa, a robo-call paid for by a hardline gun-rights group, IowaGunOwners.org, bashed Gingrich for allegedly supporting the 1994 Brady handgun law that mandated waiting periods and background checks for people who buy firearms. A Gingrich spokesman said the Iowa group's claims were incorrect.

Congressman Ron Paul's third-place finish in Tuesday's Iowa Republican Caucus was a remarkably strong showing for a candidate who has so little in common with mainstream Republicans. Perhaps the nation's most politically unique congressman, Paul shares policy stances with conservatives, liberals, and libertarians, while differing markedly from all of them.

So where does Paul fit in the Libertarian universe?

Sen. Rick Santorum

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' December jobs report is full of encouraging news, unless you're running for president and your name isn't Barack Obama. Released on Friday morning, the report shows that the private sector added 200,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate fell from 9 percent to 8.5 percent (caveat alert: that's due, in part, to the millions of discouraged workers who've stopped looking for work, and no longer factor into the count). That's on top of recent Labor Department data showing that the number of Americans applying for initial unemployment claims is dropping.  

Also buried amid the cheery news: the country's long-left-for-dead manufacturing sector is making a serious comeback, adding 23,000 jobs in December. As the New York Times' Floyd Norris reports, that's reflective of a larger trend.

This morning, before Jon Huntsman spoke at a conference of college students in Concord, New Hampshire, the former Republican Utah governor took a few questions from a pack of ravenous reporters. (He could use all the free press he can get). And I managed to get in a question, asking the former US ambassador to China whether he believes his fellow contenders for the GOP presidential nomination are a wee bit too conservative for many American voters. Here's the exchange:

Do you think the Republican field overall is just too far to the right for most American voters?

We're in the pre-season. We're in the silly season. And I say we've got a lot of voters out there who hunger not for political theatrics but for real ideas and real solutions—not sound bites, not red meat, but real solutions and ideas. Ultimately, that's where our conversation must go

But is that a yes?

You know the cycles of politics as well as anybody. You hear the pre-season. You hear certain rhetoric. And then you move into the post-season, and there's a different level of rhetoric. I say, I don't follow those rules. I say, you square with the American people from Day One. Let them know who you are. They might not like everything you're talking about. But I'm not going to vary. I'm not going to shift through the course of the campaign. I'm going to lay out what I think is doable and live with the consequences.

Mr. Huntsman was raised a polite boy. The candidate was essentially saying that the others are now pandering to right-wing voters, but he won't. Which pretty much explains why he's been struggling in the polls, and, despite practically moving to New Hampshire, has yet (according to those surveys) to catch fire among the Live-Free-or-Die GOPers here.

During his talk to the students, Huntsman came across as smart, affable, and slightly goofy. Unlike, say, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Ron Paul, he displayed no hatred for anyone: not liberals, not gays, not the government. And he was rather heartfelt when he responded to a despicable ad supposedly posted by a Ron Paul supporter attacking Huntsman as a pro-Chinese Manchurian candidate and citing his adoption of daughters in China and India as evidence of his secret agenda. Huntsman did compare the GOP primary race to a "circus." But he's not an angry fellow. His dominant emotional theme seemed to be disappointment. He's sad the economy isn't growing faster and that people don't trust elected officials. He only minimally assailed Barack Obama.

Huntsman is the odd man out this year. And he keeps prompting the obvious question: what's he doing here?

Business Insider's Michael Brendan Dougherty and I discuss the Iowa Caucus, the GOP's flawed process for determining which candidates are sufficiently conservative, and Rick Santorum's scary foreign policy:

One thing I wish I had said in reference to Islamist parties winning elections in the Middle East post-Arab Spring is that I genuinely do think that religious fundamentalism loses favor over time in a free marketplace of ideas. But the opposite can occur when the state actively sustains religious extremism.

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum (artist's rendering).

Rick Santorum's effort in Iowa received a late boost from Jim Gibbons, the much-revered former wrestling coach at Iowa State University, who endorsed the GOP presidential candidate at a Pizza Ranch in Boone on Monday. In a caucus, where voters can be pressured by their peers right up to the minute they cast their votes, these kinds of endorsements tend to carry a lot of weight. But there's another sub-plot to it all: Rick Santorum has sort of a weird fixation with wrestling.

As Mike Newall reported in his excellent 2005 Philadelphia City Paper profile, prior to getting involved in politics, Santorum worked at a law firm, where he once argued in court—successfully—that pro wrestling should be exempt from steroid regulations because it's staged (and therefore not a sport). Jake Tapper flags a 2010 quote from the Philadelphia Inquirer in which Santorum spins his wrestling work in small-government terms: "Pennsylvania was the most pernicious of states when it came to regulation. They made you pay all this money to the boxing [athletic] commission. They used to just rape these guys. You’d have to pay a certain percentage of the gate receipts to have these officials just stand around and watch the match. It was ridiculous." (Emphasis mine.)

And—because three makes a trend—here's a Rick Santorum campaign ad from 2006, which has been making the rounds today. It stars Rick Santorum (obviously), using the spectacle of mostly-naked men wrestling as a metaphor for what's wrong with Washington. (If nothing else, he seems to have anticipated the Chris Lee/Anthony Weiner scandals):

What would Rick Santorum's wrestling name be? We're going with "The Vest."

Newt: "I'm Not Rich"

Newt and Callista Gingrich

Throw a bunch of desperate and anxious candidates into the crucible of the first primary in the nation, and you will get a stream of whoppers and prevarications. But even though the New Hampshire campaign is not done, we already have a winner in the biggest lie of the week contest. The honors go to Newt Gingrich.

When Gingrich was campaigning in Laconia on Wednesday, a fellow came up to the former House speaker and asked, "Won't you buy a home in the Lakes Region if elected president?" This was a reference to Mitt Romney's house in New Hampshire.

Gingrich replied, "No, I can't afford things like that. I'm not rich."

And his wife Callista quickly added, "We have one home."

Not rich? This past summer, Gingrich had to file the financial-disclosure form required of presidential candidates. It revealed that he has a net worth of at least $6.7 million and that his income was at least $2.6 million in 2010. That's about 65 times the income of the average family of four in the United States. That puts him well into the top 1 percent (about $520,000 a year or more) and close to the top 0.1 percent. He, of course, had that $500,000-plus tab at Tiffany's, and weeks ago was boasting that he pulled in $60,000 a speech. These are the sort of actions that tend to be associated with richness.

If Gingrich does not consider himself wealthy, he's living in a world far different from that of the bottom 99 percent. This is a negative ad that writes itself.

(H/t to Alexandra Moe of NBC News for reporting this much underreported exchange.)

The pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future, run by a trio of former Romney aides, is out with a new attack on flailing GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich.

The super-PAC's "factual comparison" (its own description) attempts to show how Gingrich, the former House speaker, "has so much in common" with President Obama, and that the two men repeatedly "have stood on the wrong sides of issues," in the words of Restore Our Future treasurer Charles Spies. The ad will appear on Monday in the New Hampshire Union Leader and The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina—prominent publications in states hosting the next two presidential primaries.

Restore Our Future spent $4.6 million on advertising in Iowa, most of it attacking Gingrich, who had briefly climbed in the polls. The ads pulled no punches, and almost immediately Gingrich's support crumbled in the Hawkeye State. He ended up finishing a distant fourth in Iowa's GOP caucuses; Romney won by eight votes. Gingrich has lashed out at Romney for the barrage of negative ads lobbed by Restore Our Future. Earlier this week, he called Romney a "liar" for saying he knew nothing about the attack ads, and, on the evening of the primary, Gingrich strongly implied that his campaign was about to go scorched earth on Team Romney. This surely isn't going to help. 

Here's the ad: