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2012: Koch brothers plan to spend $88b

Politico writes, “In an expansion of their political footprint, the billionaire Koch brothers plan to contribute and steer a total of $88 million to conservative causes during the 2012 election cycle, according to sources, funding a new voter micro-targeting initiative, grassroots organizing efforts and television advertising campaigns. In fact, as the annual Conservative Political Action Conference meets this week in Washington and conservatives assess the state of their movement, the Kochs’ network of non-profit groups, once centered around sleepy free-enterprise think tanks, seems to some to be emerging as a more ideological counterweight to the independent Republican political machine conceived by Bush-era GOP operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie before the 2010 midterm elections.”

“Likely Republican presidential candidates Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney are quietly but aggressively wooing Members of Congress for endorsements and political support in campaigns that have yet to officially take flight,” Roll Call writes.

ANGLE: “Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle expects to be added as a featured speaker to the final two days of CPAC,” Hotline On Call writes. "I didn't know I was coming to the conference until Saturday, so that's why they weren't able to agenda-ize me," Angle said. "But when they found out I was here, they said, 'We're going to fit you in,' so I guess it's to be announced."

BARBOUR: “On March 2, the two-term Mississippi governor and prospective presidential candidate expects to raise big bucks for Haley’s PAC with lots of help from former K Street colleagues who have signed up to haul in $10,000 each,” the Center for Public Integrity writes, adding, “The event is yet another sign that Barbour is inching towards a run to secure the GOP nomination, a move that many of his old lobbyist buddies are eager to see him make.” More: “Over the last few months, a small group of Washington insiders and lobbyists have been laboring quietly to lay the groundwork for a potential Barbour campaign. They include: lobbyist Scott Reed, who ran Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign and was executive director of the RNC under Barbour; former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie; Don Fierce and Kirk Blalock of the GOP lobbying shop Fierce Isakowitz and Blalock; Ed Rogers, his former lobbying partner at Barbour Griffith & Rogers (now known as BGR Group); and pollster Ed Goeas.”

BLOOMBERG: There goes the Irish vote: “Speaking at the American Irish Historical Society on Wednesday night, he said he was used to seeing ‘people that are totally inebriated hanging out the window’ at the society. ‘I know, that’s a stereotype of the Irish,’ Bloomberg added, ‘but nevertheless, we Jews from around the corner think this.’ The comments elicited laughter, boos, and moans. John Dunleavy, chairman of the parade, said the words were outrageous,” AP writes.

The cover of the New York Post: “Irish stew.”

The New York Daily News: “Bloomy’s Blarney.”

DANIELS: Although Mitch Daniels called CPAC “a lot of rowdyism and barbs cast at the other side” last year, he spoke last night at the conference’s banquet in honor of Ronald Reagan, the Indianapolis Star reports. “He said he accepted a speaking invitation this year because it's a chance to talk about the state of the nation and how conservative activists can ‘help lead us out of our current trouble.’”

PAWLENTY: Speaking to the Today show yesterday, Tim Pawlenty said that he sees “only good news” for House Republican leaders and their new hard-line Tea Party colleagues, Reuters writes. “’The good news is, and this is I think the story for CPAC and for conservatives more broadly, reducing government spending and dealing with the deficit and the debt is now mainstream,’ he says. ‘And so the fact that the Tea Party and others are pushing for more cuts, deeper cuts, faster reform, that’s a good thing. I don’t discount that, I applaud it.’”

Back to New Hampshire: Tim Pawlenty will return to the Granite State on March 10 to address a party organized by Granite Oath, a conservative political action committee, CNN reports.  The group is headed by former Senate candidate and prominent New Hampshire conservative Ovide Lamontagne.