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2012: Barbour's in Iowa

BACHMANN: Rep. Michele Bachmann “spoke Saturday to the South Carolina Federation of Republican Women, sounding like she was on the campaign trail. She called the state a “GOP paradise.”

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour talks with a reporter in the lobby of the Hyatt after speaking to a group of coal operators in Lexington, Ky. last week.

BARBOUR: “Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour plans to visit Des Moines as a Republican presidential prospect Monday, aides said,” the Des Moines Register reports. “Barbour plans to meet privately with Iowa GOP officials, headline a luncheon with state party officials and visit with lawmakers at the Iowa Capitol.”

DANIELS: “Some influential Iowa Republicans say Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' call for a singular focus on reducing the federal debt would have an attentive audience in the leadoff caucuses, should he decide to run for president,” the Des Moines Register writes. “Questions persist about whether a strict economic conservative can compete in Iowa, where evangelical conservative Mike Huckabee won in 2008. But in a crowded field, Daniels could exploit a niche as a fiscal hawk, the type of candidate polls have shown Iowa GOP caucusgoers prefer, some prominent Iowa fiscal conservatives say.”

GINGRICH: Speaking at the Hawaii Republican party’s annual Lincoln Day dinner, Newt Gingrich acknowledged that he would have trouble winning the state if he ran for president. "He should be popular here," Gingrich said of Obama. "He is, in many ways, a favorite son, and people here have to be very proud of him. And I would say that this would be one of the last states to decide not to vote for his re-election. So I'm very conscious of that reality."

GIULIANI: “Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be back in New Hampshire next month. Giuliani will be at the Manchester Republican Committee's Lincoln Reagan Dinner on March 18,” according to the AP.

HUCKABEE: “The sponsor of the dinner at which former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a likely presidential contender, spoke Monday night in Knoxville says the group is ‘real pleased with the result’ but declined to say how much was raised for pro-life programs on college campuses,” the Knoxville News Sentinel writes. http://bit.ly/eBF1en

“Anyone who thinks presidential ambition is an incurable condition hasn't spent much time lately with Mike Huckabee,” the Washington Post says. “The man who came in second in the 2008 GOP primary isn't exactly ruling out another run in 2012. But he doesn't sound all that eager to jump right back into the fray, either.”

“Mike Huckabee may be especially tempted to run in 2012 by a lingering feud between him and Mitt Romney, a severe hangover from the 2008 campaign that has created a lasting and bitter rift between the two, Republicans who know both men say. ‘[Huckabee] hates Mitt, and his goal in Iowa last time was to stop him,’ said one prominent Republican, who’s known both men for years. ‘If he sees an opportunity to cut Mitt off [during the nominating process], he will take it.’”

PAWLENTY: Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s recent trip to Arkansas to visit with GOP operatives there underscores two key points, Politics Daily writes: “First, politicians pondering a presidential run aren't scared to trek into the turf of native son Huckabee, who leads in some 2012 polls. Secondly, the state is also home to a lot of potential GOP cash.”

Tonight, “a small group of Republicans will gather in a private Las Vegas home to chat with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty about his new book,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal writes. “The evening was organized by Mike Slanker, a GOP operative who helped raise money for [Gov. Brian] Sandoval.”

ROMNEY: As Politico smartly notes, the New York Post seems to be targeting Mitt Romney.Likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been out on the pre-campaign trail this month saying he is the man to get Americans back to work, despite a spotty jobs record while on Wall Street.

However, the former private equity firm chief's fortune -- which has funded his political ambitions from the Massachusetts statehouse to his unsuccessful run for the White House in 2008 -- was made on the backs of companies that ultimately collapsed, putting thousands of ordinary Americans out on the street. That truth if it becomes widely known could become costly to Romney, who, while making the media rounds recently, told CNN's Piers Morgan that "People in America want to know who can get 15 million people back to work," implying he was that person.

“Mitt Romney is the early frontrunner for the 2012 Republican nomination for president among New Hampshire Republicans. However, the great majority of voters are undecided about who they will eventually support,” Fosters Daily Democrat writes. In a new WMUR Granite State poll, Romney gets 40% of the vote, followed by former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani with 10%.

During his visit to Las Vegas last week, Romney “found time to have lunch with a fellow Mormon, Brandon Flowers, the frontman for The Killers band. The two dined at The Palms steakhouse at the Forum Shops at Caesars. Flowers has been involved in politics before, backing another prominent Mormon, [Sen. Harry] Reid, for re-election in 2010.”

SANTORUM: “Former United States Senator Rick Santorum admitted he is traveling to early primary states, such as Florida, to gauge if he and his message are a “credible alternative to Barack Obama,” Naples Daily News writes, following Santorum’s visit to the Ave Maria School of Law in Naples on Friday. “‘My objective is to make sure we have a conservative president elected in 2012, and I want to be as helpful to that process as possible,’ Santorum said. ‘At this point, I’m just trying to determine whether that means as a candidate or as someone who is just a voice.’”

IOWA: The Iowa caucuses are anyone’s game, NPR writes. “Ask just about any politico or pollster who they think may emerge a GOP winner in next February's Hawkeye State contest — or even who will ultimately run — and the response will be similar to Steve Scheffler's. ‘I have no idea,’ says Scheffler, president of Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. ‘This is probably the most wide-open field we've had in decades.’”

SOUTH CAROLINA: “The state Republican Party is putting together a first-in-the-South presidential debate in Greenville in early May — and still no announced candidates,” the Spartanburg Herald-Journal writes.