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Morning Briefing: February 22, 2012

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"Morning Briefing: February 22, 2012"

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As the GOP primaries drag on, Republicans are losing interest in the presidential race. Just 40 percent say they have a great deal of interest in the contest, down from 48 percent in December, according to an AP-GfK poll.

Fueled by a small cadre of very big “super donors,” super PACs last month out-raised the candidates they’re supporting. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul raised a combined $21.1 million for the month, the Center for Public Integrity reports, while their main allied super PACs raised a total of $22.1 million.

Two Western journalists were killed in Syria this morning during an all-out bombing attack on the city of Homs by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Marie Colvin, an American working for a British newspaper, and Remi Ochlik, a French photographer working with Colvin, were killed while three other reporters were injured.

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will launch an inquiry into banks’ overdraft practices today. The CFPB will look into whether banks are manipulating transactions to maximize overdraft fees, and examine how the fees impact low-income and young customers.

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 13,000 for the first time since before the financial crisis. The index last hit 13,000 points in May 2008. A $172 billion rescue deal for Greece buoyed the markets.

Rick Santorum told supporters Tuesday that he will “defend everything I’m saying” after coming under fire for recently resurfaced comments about Satan and for calling President Obama’s faith into question on Monday. He assured the crowd he would “tell you the truth about what’s going on in this country.”

If no Republican presidential candidate can win enough delegates by the convention and a new candidate is considered, GOP voters’ first choice is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), with 32 percent picking him, followed by former governors Sarah Palin and Jeb Bush at 20 percent each and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), with 15 percent.

The commander of U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan apologized after two days of protests there sparked by reports that American troops at Bagram Air Base had accidentally burned hundreds of copies of the Quran. “I offer my sincere apologies,” Marine Gen. John R. Allen said in a statement, “to the noble people of Afghanistan.”

And finally: When Mick Jagger hands you a microphone, you have to sing into it, even if you’re the President of the United States. President Obama was coaxed into singing “Sweet Home Chicago” last night at the White House, which hosted an all-star group of musicians, including the Rolling Stones front man, to honor the blues.

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