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      Super PACs now a force in the presidential race

      Rick Perry / FILE

      NEW YORK (AP) -- Super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited campaign money, have jumped into the presidential contest with an unmistakable message: Game on.

      A freewheeling independent group backing Republican Mitt Romney is set to run a brutal attack ad against Newt Gingrich. Another group has been running ads for weeks for Rick Perry. Spending by yet another super PAC in New Hampshire may be the only thing keeping Jon Huntsman's struggling campaign afloat.

      Nearly two years after the Supreme Court eased restrictions on corporate money in political campaigns, super PACs have become a major force in the presidential contest. They can attack or support individual candidates as long as they don't coordinate directly with the campaigns themselves.

      The 2012 campaign is the first to test the groups' influence on presidential politics.

      (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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