Egypt an ally, not an ally, then ally again. Herbert, Cooke debate. 53 days to the election.
Happy Friday. In a new poll by Esquire magazine and Yahoo News, Americans say they believe that President Barack Obama would whoop Mitt Romney in a fist-fight. Some 58 percent of respondents gave Obama the upper hand as compared to 22 percent for Romney. Now we know this presidential race has turned nasty at times, and it's anything but civil, but let's just hope this poll is theoretical and never put to the test. [HuffPost]
-> After Romney's VP pick, Rep. Paul Ryan, returned to the Capitol for votes, Rep. Jason Chaffets says he jokingly told Ryan to "go back to Ohio" to campaign. [USAToday]
-> Gov. Gary Herbert will debate challenger Peter Cooke for the first time in a live broadcast this morning at 9 a.m. Utah time on KSL NewsRadio. Prior to that, Salt Lake County mayoral candidates Ben McAdams and Mark Crockett will face off with Doug Wright moderating [DNews]
Tweet of the day: from @ktumulty: "Beyonce is trying to become my email pen pal. Mitt wants me to fly with him. Missing the day when pols just asked for money."
Happy birthday: On Saturday to state Rep. Gage Froerer.
In other news: Sen. Mike Lee is getting some praise from several Twitter accounts that seem to be a little off. [Trib]
-> The nominee to be the U.S. ambassador to Iraq is a Mormon. [Trib]
-> Tesoro, Utah's largest oil refinery, gets the go-ahead from the Utah Division of Air Quality to modify and expand its Salt Lake City plant. [Trib]
-> University of Utah president David Pershing and Utah State University president Stan Albrecht join a host of university presidents across the country in support of providing green cards to foreign-born graduate students. [DNews]
-> The Senate committee advances a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch that grants child-care organizations access to a national background check system. [Fox13]
-> Bob Bernick and Bryan Schott talk about the coming ad war in the 4th Congressional District and Herbert's handling of the Radiation Control Board pick. [UtahPolicy]
-> Bernick also questions why Utah Republicans blame Obama for any problems in the administration but yet give Herbert a break for concerns raised in state agencies. [UtahPolicy]
-> Supporters of Jon Huntsman have dissolved a Utah-based PAC that was started to help launch his presidential hopes. [Trib]
-> Taylorsville residents are upset over a proposed tax increase for fire services. [Trib]
-> Lee says the United States should reconsider having embassies in troubled nations. [Newsmax]
2012 watch: Following Obama's remark that Egypt is neither ally or enemy, a State Department spokeswoman clarified that the country is considered a major non-NATO ally. [DailyCaller] [ABCNews] [FoxNews]
-> White House press secretary Jay Carney said that it is impossible and unconstitutional to prevent Americans from using offensive speech, a remark made following the recent controversy over a controversial anti-Islamic film. [Politico]
-> Romney campaign officials express frustration with the mainstream media they feel is too left-leaning. [BuzzFeed]
-> Recent polls show Obama pulling ahead in Ohio, Florida and Virginia. [WaPost]
-> While campaigning in Virginia, Romney stressed the importance of a strong American presence in the world and was interrupted by a protester during an attempted moment of silence for the Americans killed in Libya. [USAToday]
-> Beyonce and Jay-Z sponsor an Obama fundraiser at swanky Manhattan club, charging a measly $40,000 a head. [WaPost]
-> The Onion offers a comical pause from the campaign: Paul Ryan knocked over by a bunch of rambunctious Romney boys. [TheOnion]
Where are they?
-- Thomas Burr and Betsy Blanchard
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