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Huntsman: Third party candidate needed. Rubio was a Mormon. Bishop (hearts) message bills.

Happy Friday. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman may have endorsed Mitt Romney when Huntsman dropped out of the presidential race but he told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough yesterday that he's "not a surrogate for anybody," and hinted that there might be a need for a third-party candidate this election cycle. Huntsman made clear that he's not going to be that candidate. [Politico] [MSNBC] [ABCNews]

-> Talking Points Memo's headline on the comments: "Worst Surrogate Ever." [TPM]

Topping the news: Sen. Marco Rubio, who is often touted as a possible vice presidential nominee, spent a few years of his youth as a Mormon when he lived in Nevada before his family returned to Catholicism. [Trib]

-> Sen. Mike Lee may not have balanced the budget in his first year in office but he made it known what his goals are. [Trib]

-> The federal lands debate heats up as Gov. Herbert supports a proposal demanding Congress to relinquish control of the lands or face a lawsuit. [Trib] [Fox13]

-> Rep. Rob Bishop urged the Utah Legislature to keep the "message bills" coming to send Washington a clear statement, saying as long as "one arrow gets over the wall" and hit its targets, it will be a success. [Trib] [DNews]

Tweet of the day: From @joshromney: "Best line I've heard on the trail: 'For a lady who raised 5 boys, battled MS & breast cancer your mom sure is smoking hot.'"

Happy birthday: To Dana Dickson on Saturday, and on Sunday to Lee Lonsberry.

Helping the kids: Gov. Gary Herbert has declared Saturday the "Natalie and Alice Fish Day" in honor of two little girls who suffer from Severe Combined Immune Deficiency. The Fish family is trying to raise funds to help pay for treatment to save the girls' lives. See the proclamation in PDF form here: [Proclamation]. And the family's website here: [FishesWishes].

In other news: Undocumented immigrant activist David Morales — who was arrested more than one year ago on his way to Bible college — gets a free pass to stay in America. [Trib] [ABC4]

-> The two founders of Utah's Ron Paul-supporting Super PAC sat down to talk with ABC4. [ABC4]

-> A miscommunication left the widow of Ogden agent Jared Francom off the invite list for ceremonies at the Legislature that honored several officers —including her late husband — involved in a drug raid. [Trib]. Watch the emotional tribute here: [ABC4].

-> Paul Rolly talks about Draper Sen. Howard Stephenson who believes the Democrats in the Utah Legislature are out to sabotage the GOP to regain power. [Trib]

-> Sen. Orrin Hatch joined other lawmakers in blasting President Barack Obama's tax plan, calling it "profoundly disappointing" for lacking details and failing to push the rate down to 25 percent. [FT]

-> Congress may have been back at home this week, but there was still plenty of news out of Washington. Take a listen to our weekly conversation with KCPW's Jeff Robinson. [KCPW]

-> Meanwhile, Utah Policy's LaVarr Webb and Bob Bernick discuss this week in politics. [UtahPolicy]

2012 Watch: Mitt Romney seizes his opportunity to dig into Rick Santorum. [NYTimes]

-> Pat Bagley offers his take on Santorum's warning of spiritual warfare against America. [Trib]

-> The New York Times takes time to look at Romney's late mother, Lenore, and her Senate bid. [NYTimes]

-> With the Arizona and Michigan primaries just days away and super Tuesday looming on the horizon, all four candidates sweep the country in last-ditch efforts to secure voters. [CNN]

-> All the speculation recently about Michigan has been about what happens if Romney loses his home state. Well, what if he wins it? [WaPost]

-> Romney botched a Seinfeld quote during the debate this week, prompting Jason Alexander to tweet that he's glad Romney liked his character: "I enjoyed the character he used 2 b 2." [EW]

-> Newt Gingrich's campaign reimbursed the candidate for more than $300,000 in travel expenses on the trail. [WaPost]

-> Santorum already has a sizable lead in his home state of Pennsylvania, with double the support for all three rivals. [CNN]

-> A group of Ron Paul supporters, "The Ron Paul Truth Rally" gathered in Orem in support of the Texas congressman, praising him for his voting record and avid support of the Constitution. [Herald]

-> Despite wanting to err on the positive side for a while, Gingrich resumes his attack mode on the trail. [Politico]

Heard on the Hill: "Billboards with sex education together? OK. I thought you meant have a billboard with sex education on it." - Gov. Gary Herbert, misunderstanding a reporter's question about school boards and sex ed.

The Session: Herbert says he's not a big fan of proposed legislation that would allow the state to overturn city ordinances, siding with local control arguments. [KCPW]

-> Utah may often be honored as a well-managed state but with a slew of borrowing lately, the state now finds itself hitting 91 percent of its constitutional debt limit. [UtahPolicy]

-> With the BLM proposing to reduce available acreage for oil and gas leasing, the bureau will be answering questions and addressing comments in two Utah cities next month. [Trib]

-> Business leaders ask lawmakers to continue funding extended kindergarten, an optional, after-school program. [Trib]

-> A House committee awarded unanimous approval to a bill that would upgrade background checks for Utah care facility workers by cataloging them into a national database, preventing the need for multiple screenings. [Trib]

-> Bishop says that Hill Air Force Base could be facing tough times ahead with proposed military cuts. [StandEx]

-> A Senate panel pushed a bill that would add oil and gas development to the state's allowed uses for the condemnation of lands. [Trib]

-> One senator's bill passed out of a Senate committee that would opt out of federal health reform in favor of an interstate compact, taking command of Medicaid and Medicare with a block grant to the states. [Trib] [DNews]

-> Lawmakers put the breaks on a bill that would have let bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles run red lights in some circumstances, with concerns that the measure would create confusion and make roads less safe. [Trib]

-> The House gave final clearance to a bill that would let police impound the vehicles of drivers with suspended licenses. [Trib] Bernick notes that this may be a turning point at the Legislature when cops don't just always get their way. [UtahPolicy]

-> After getting watered-down, a parental rights bill passed a House committee that would give parents the option of seeking a jury trial in juvenile court when faced with losing their children. [DNews]

-> The state's housing division could soon be melded into the Department of Workforce Services under a bill cleared by the House. [Trib]

-> A child welfare bill is on its way to the Senate floor that would require a report from child welfare caseworkers before moving kids in with non-relatives. [Trib]

-> Utah military personnel hailing from other states would be allowed to pay in-state tuition at colleges under a bill cleared through the House. [Trib]

-> The House passes a bill that would ban police checkpoints —such as those for DUIs — except for fugitive searches, Amber Alerts or checks for wildlife and invasive species. [DNews] [Fox13]

-> Legislatures narrowly pass a proposition that would amend the state's constitution to restrict spending based on Utah's economic health, with opponents arguing that a written mandate won't change anything. [Trib]

Where are they?

Rep. Jason Chaffetz spends time at his Salt Lake County office.

Gov. Gary Herbert travels to Washington, D.C. for the National Governors Association's winter meeting.

Lt. Gov. Greg Bell meets with Rep. LaVar Christensen, speaks to BYU political science students at the Capitol then joins Gov. Herbert at the Davis County Republican Party Lincoln Day dinner.

SL Co. Mayor Peter Corroon meets with the National Association of Counties finance committee then speaks to Salt Lake Chamber Leadership Utah.

SLC Mayor Ralph Becker meets with congressional members and federal agencies in Washington.

WVC Mayor Mike Winder reads to students at Robert Frost Elementary, meets with Rep. Jim Matheson and goes to a cottage meeting in South Jordan.

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark, discussing preparations for the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago.

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— Thomas Burr and Laura