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GOP watch: Pawlenty and 2012

"Clearing the way for what could be an attempt at higher office, Gov. Tim Pawlenty abruptly announced Tuesday that he would not seek a third term -- a move widely seen in political circles as the first step in a possible presidential run," the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. "Later he acknowledged plans to travel to Washington, D.C., on Friday to address a gathering of College Republicans and has been in contact with national Republicans 'a lot.'" 

The New York Times: "Mr. Pawlenty's decision reflected his conclusion that it would be difficult to try to run for the White House while serving as governor. His re-election would hardly be assured in a state where President Obama ran strongly, and he most likely would have faced tough and distracting battles with the Democrats who control the Legislature." 

So Dick Cheney was in some of those intelligence briefings with members of Congress? Interesting that the ex-VP himself hasn't mentioned this. Per the Washington Post, "Former vice president Richard B. Cheney personally oversaw at least four briefings with senior members of Congress about the controversial interrogation program, part of a secretive and forceful defense he mounted throughout 2005 in an effort to maintain support for the harsh techniques used on detainees. The Cheney-led briefings came at some of the most critical moments for the program, as congressional oversight committees were threatening to investigate or even terminate the techniques, according to lawmakers, congressional officials, and current and former intelligence officials."

Politico's Mahtesian calls Obama's appointment of Republican Rep. John McHugh "a Sherman's March in reverse -- an audacious attempt by Obama to burn down any lines of escape for Republicans from their one refuge of popularity, the deep South."