“President Obama’s potential challengers are busy cultivating donors, recruiting staff and testing campaign messages — conducting proxy campaigns that illuminate the approach they would take as White House hopefuls,” the Los Angeles Times writes. “By waiting to register with the Federal Election Commission as presidential candidates, they can raise money in large-dollar amounts and also keep lucrative television gigs that they would have to relinquish as candidates.”
“Republicans' confusion about their presidential nomination contest runs deep: They are confused about who may actually run and about who might be their strongest candidate against an incumbent president who looks more formidable today than he did just three months ago,” the Washington Post’s Dan Balz observes.
BACHMANN: “U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) warned guests of an event organized by Iowans for Tax Relief Friday night that America is ‘under attack’ by a ‘thundercloud of debt weighing upon [the U.S.],’” the Iowa Independent reports.
GINGRICH: “Former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich has touched base with several prominent Republicans in his former home state, telling them that he intends to make a run for president in 2012 using Georgia as his base,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. “The visits and conversations – some face-to-face, others on the phone — appear to be an attempt by Gingrich to revive his old campaign network and lock down as much support as possible in a state won by Republican Mike Huckabee in the 2008 presidential primary.”
HUCKABEE: Speaking at King’s College in New York City, Huckabee explained why he would not announce his presidential intentions until later in the year, in response to a question about “why Republicans and conservatives spend a year and half discussing the presidential election if Republicanism is supposed to be about small, local governments,” the Christian Post writes.
"’That's one of the reason I've told people that if I do choose to run, it's not going to be until much, much later in the process,’ responded Huckabee, a Republican presidential candidate in the 2008 election. ‘[It will be] probably sometime in the latter part of the summer of this year, if at all.’”
PALIN: Sarah Palin writes an op-ed in tribute to Ronald Reagan, whom she calls “America’s lifeguard,” in USA Today.
PAWLENTY: The Hill: “Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) touted his recording of ‘taming’ government spending in Minnesota, suggesting it could become a model for the nation as he explores a presidential bid. ‘I think what Minnesota experienced over the last eight years is what the country is going to experience in the upcoming eight-year period,’ Pawlenty said on Fox News.”
PENCE: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette tracks Mike Pence’s journey from failed Congressional candidate to rumored gubernatorial and presidential contender.
ROMNEY: “Mark DeMoss, a well-connected figure in the evangelical community and Mitt Romney supporter, sent a memo last week to Christian conservatives urging them to consider ‘a new litmus test’ beyond traditional cultural issues,” Politico’s Ben Smith writes. “DeMoss, a public relations executive who also backed Romney in 2008, offered an impassioned case for the former Massachusetts governor but also took some barely-veiled swipes at Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.”
IOWA: “Iowa's tea party organizers are laying the groundwork that could allow their movement to exert extraordinary influence in nominating a president,” the Des Moines Register writes. “They're developing plans for a series of workshops around the state and a fundraiser with Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a presidential prospect and a favorite of the tea party audience.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE: “Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) took the top spot in a presidential straw poll of the 493 members of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee [Saturday] while tea-party-backed businessman Jack Kimball bested an establishment candidate to become the state party's new chair,” the Washington Post writes. “Kimball's victory is a boon for New Hampshire's tea-party activists, who have become a rising force within the state party, while Romney's win is a sign that on the presidential level, key party insiders are backing a more establishment candidate a year out from the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary.”