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By TOM RAUM
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s not a happy time for Republicans seeking the White House.

Ahead of Super Tuesday contests, they’re being thrown on the defensive over birth control and comments by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and tripped up by subjects bearing little relation to Americans’ everyday concerns. All the while, President Obama’s ratings are climbing.

There’s still a long way ahead, for sure, but this isn’t how GOP leaders had pictured things.

Contenders for the GOP nomination are trying to win the White House with a gloomy economic message, while Obama seeks to project reassuring optimism amid fresh signs of a growing, if still fragile, economy. Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment of not criticizing fellow Republican, meanwhile, is in shreds.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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