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At an event in New Hampshire today, Romney’s adult son Matt Romney responded to a question regarding the potential release of his father’s tax returns with a joke alluding to doubts about Mr. Obama’s place of birth: “I heard someone suggest the other day that as soon as Obama releases his grades and birth certificate and sort of a long list of things, then maybe he’d do it,” he said…

In an email to supporters today about the joke, Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina wrote, “This is how the Romney campaign thinks it’s going to win the Republican primary: by pandering to the dead-ender fringe of extremists who still question where the president was born.”

While asking for a donation, Messina said, “we can drive up the cost of this kind of politics… when they do this, you’ve got to do something about it.”

The email was sent under the subject line, “Donald Trump or Mitt Romney?” in reference to Trump’s persistent questions about Mr. Obama’s origins, which ultimately prompted the president to release his long-form birth certificate from Hawaii.

Romney’s son, reverting to strict-message-discipline mode, has already apologized on Twitter. Six months of this awaits next year, guys. Six months of Team O arguing that Romney’s simultaneously (a) an unpredictable opportunist with no principled core and (b) a wild-eyed ideologue ready to push the same radical right-wing agenda on America that he pushed on Massachusetts when he … signed a health-care mandate into law. If you thought the daily ins-and-outs of the Obama/McCain race were dreary, wait until we start covering Obama/Romney. Second look at turning HA into a gossip site?

I’m not familiar with this pollster but they’ve got Romney opening up a seven-point lead in Iowa over Santorum and a 10-point lead over Paul. Nate Silver’s statistical model now gives him a 63 percent chance of winning the state; Paul comes second at 20 percent. Shhhhhhh. It’ll all be over soon.