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Not too late for a new GOP entry in presidential race, Palin says

Sarah Palin said Monday that it's not too late for someone to jump into the Republican presidential race.

Asked by Fox Business Network's "Follow the Money" about the likelihood that she would become a candidate, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee said it's not too late for "folks" to jump in. Said Palin: "Who knows what will happen in the future?"

Palin told the Fox News Channel over the weekend that she felt no enthusiasm for anyone in the current GOP field and that she needed to feel something before she would offer an endorsement.

In Iowa, meanwhile, more than $1 million in negative advertising -- much of it bankrolled by allies of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- has eroded former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's standing in the state and made the campaign for the Jan. 3 caucuses wide-open.

Gingrich's Iowa slide mirrors his newfound troubles nationally, and it has boosted Romney's confidence while fueling talk that libertarian-leaning Texas Rep. Ron Paul could pull off a victory when the electoral season's first ballots are cast.

"It's very disappointing to see so many of my friends who are running put out such negative junk," Gingrich said Monday as he arrived in Davenport, poking at his opponents even as he insisted that he was running an upbeat campaign. "I really wish they would have the courage to be positive."

Despite his chiding, attacks against him are all but certain to continue. For one, the Restore Our Future political action committee, made up of former Romney staffers from his failed 2008 bid, plans to spend $1.4 million more over the next two weeks, including on a new ad beginning today that's expected to be aimed at Gingrich. That would bring to roughly $3 million the amount spent by the group against Gingrich.

A national Gallup poll released Monday found Gingrich's support plummeting: He had the backing of 26 percent of Republican voters nationally, down from 37 percent Dec. 8. Romney's support was largely unchanged at 24 percent.

Gingrich's weakened position follows a barrage of advertising that cast him as a longtime Washington, D.C., power broker. The ads, primarily financed by so-called super PACs, underscore the power of independent groups following a Supreme Court decision last year that allowed people, unions and corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to outfits advocating the election or defeat of candidates.

As Gingrich tried to answer criticism, Romney expressed optimism as he revels in a series of endorsements.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum was among several conservatives canvassing Iowa in hopes of taking advantage of Gingrich's slide and mounting a late-game surge.

Another, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, was in the midst of a New Hampshire bus tour when he slapped at two strong-running candidates Monday over their past support of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout while visiting a pizza buffet in Manchester.

"This Wall Street bailout is the single biggest act of theft in American history," he said. "And, you know, Newt and Mitt, they both were for it."

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