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Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson, far left, is a University of New Mexico grad. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
News roundup: Mormon question could surface in tonight's debate

Will Mormonism come up in tonight's debate? Huntsman: I won't light my hair on fire. Romney leads in IA, NH.

Happy Tuesday. Tonight marks the ninth Republican presidential debate, this one in Hanover, N.H. and sponsored by Bloomberg and The Washington Post. Preview at 7 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Mountain. Big show starts at 8p.m./6p.m. The big question is: with the flare up over Mormonism at the Values Voter Summit in Washington this past weekend, how much will that play a part of the debate tonight that is supposed to focus on fiscal issues?

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Also, watch for a new NBC News/Marist poll this morning that shows Mitt Romney in the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire, though Herman Cain is a close second in the Hawkeye State.

Topping the news: An interesting take by Slate's David Weigel on why Romney should be thanking Pastor Robert Jeffress for making his "Mormonism-is-a-cult" argument. [Slate] Also, Jon Huntsman calls Jeffress a "moron." [Trib]

-> Huntsman lays out his foreign policy plan and zings President Barack Obama on weakening America's standing and his rivals for more of the Cold War mentality. [Trib] [LATimes] [TheHill]

-> An interesting look at how the U.S. Justice Department decides which redistricting decisions to challenge. [RollCall]

-> A conservative political strategist charges that Hinckley Institute Director Kirk Jowers mishandled a donation to the U. [Trib] [DNews]

Tweet of the day: From @steve_pierce: "Rick Perry's pastor is getting absolutely drilled right now on MSNBC. Literally hounding the guy. Chris Matthews, modern Mormon hero?"

Happy birthday: To state Rep. Ben Ferry and to Jason Roth, vice president of communications and public relations at Roseman University in Nevada.

In other news: Candidates lining up to run for Congress don't know yet in which district they'll be running. [DNews]

-> Sen. Mike Lee makes another endorsement, this time in the Maryland Senate race. [WaPo]

-> An audit of Utah's alcohol regulation agency is expected out next week and not expected to be pretty. [ABC4]

-> WVC Mayor Mike Winder raises $130,000 and is eyeing the SL County mayor's job. [Trib]

-> Rep. Rob Bishop is going after the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supporters say has protected crucial swaths of America. [WaPost]

-> The White House gives a boost to a proposed roadway connecting the city's airport to Interstate 15. [Trib]

2012 watch: The Obama administration turned to Romney advisers when it started to draft its health care reform law, documents show. [NBCNews]

-> Why is it that people quickly become vocal about racial slurs but dance around denouncing anti-Mormon comments? Good question. [Slate]

-> Pat Bagley offers his take on Pastor Jeffress's remarks, tying in an old joke about Christ calling from SLC. [Trib]

-> Peg McEntee says no member of a faith has the right to denounce another believer's faith. [Trib]

-> The head of the Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center says there's no place for the "cult or Christian" rhetoric in the presidential race. [WaPost]

-> The Trib editorial board wonders: how would America react if someone said a candidate is unfit for the presidency because he or she is Jewish? [Trib]

-> Asked by ABC News' Sarah Kunin how he would gain attention at tonight's debate, Huntsman says he doesn't plan to light his hair on fire. [ABCNews] [CBSNews]

-> Now in the lead, Romney is quickly becoming everyone's favorite target. [DNews]

-> Romney tells off a reporter who tries to get him to answer a question about whether AG Eric Holder should resign. [ABCNews]

Where are they?

  • Sen. Orrin Hatch speaks at the Heritage Foundation on the 18-month anniversary of the Democrats health care law.
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz is returning to Washington for evening votes.
  • Gov. Gary Herbert starts his rural road tour today in Box Elder County with a stop in Grouse Creek, then to Park Valley School, Mollie's Cafe in Snowville, a tour of Malt-O-Meal in Tremonton and dinner at USU's Brigham City Campus.
  • Lt. Gov. Greg Bell chairs the quarterly Rural Partnership Board meeting and stops by the State of Education address by Superintendent Larry Shumway at the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.
  • AG Mark Shurtleff meets with his division chiefs, does an interview with college students and meets with Les Titus.
  • SL Co. Mayor Peter Corroon is recuperating from a hockey injury.
  • SLC Mayor Ralph Becker meets with department directors and then the Future Salt Lake County Committee and then hits the City Council session.
  • WVC Mayor Mike Winder hits the Big Brothers-Big Sisters lunch at the Rocky Mountain Raceway, attends the transportation subcommittee of the Salt Lake County Council of Governments and then heads to his own City Council meeting.
  • President Barack Obama heads to Pittsburgh to visit the IBEW Local No. 5 training center and then is off to Orlando for campaign events before returning to Washington.

Got a tip? A birthday, wedding or anniversary to announce? Email us at cornflakes@sltrib.com.

-- Thomas Burr

Twitter.com/thomaswburr



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