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2012: The GOP's primary problem

“More than a third of the states have early Republican presidential primary elections scheduled next year that would violate national party rules, throwing the campaign calendar into disarray and risking sanctions that would diminish their influence at the nominating convention,” the Boston Globe reports, adding: “Nineteen states are violating party rules with primaries or caucuses scheduled before March 1, 2012, as state GOP leaders seek to boost their state’s influence by being among the first to hold primary votes. The move puts them at odds with national GOP leaders, who seek an orderly and extended primary season.”

(Here’s a good calendar with the current dates of the primaries.)

“Perhaps daunted by taking on incumbent Obama, many Republican up-and-comers either have said they think they can be more effective as governors or, like Thune, as senators,” the Argus Leader writes. “In this way, the Republican field of 2012 is shaping up like the Democrats' field in 1988. Then, big names such as Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., declined to run, and newcomers such as an obscure governor from Arkansas named Bill Clinton decided to wait four more years.” 

(Or, as we’ve written before, the field also might look like the Dem field from 2004…)

“Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are even or just a few points behind Obama, respectively, in the race for the White House, according to a Newsweek/Daily Beast poll,” The Hill reports. (But if Donald Trump trails Obama by just three, can we really take this poll seriously?)

BACHMANN: GOP 12’s Heinze writing at The Hill: “Over the weekend, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) visited the critical primary state of South Carolina, where she incorporated into her appearances two themes that have been central to her message since aides acknowledged that a presidential run might be in the works. Both of these — the president and the process — give a good indication of how she might cast a run over the next year.”

BARBOUR: “In one of his first official trips since becoming head of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus traveled to Mississippi on Tuesday to praise Gov. Haley Barbour and the GOP,” the Clarion-Ledger reports. “‘He's a real hero to Republicans across the country,’ Priebus said of the governor, without formally endorsing him for the job. ‘At the end of the day, we will have a lot of really great candidates.’”

DANIELS: “Members of the Democratic state House caucus in Indiana have found an unlikely ally in their quest to stop the GOP majority from pushing through a bill that critics say would destroy union organizing in the state,” TPMDC reports. “Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) took to the airwaves today to call on members of his party to drop the controversial "right to work" bill that led to Democrats going AWOL.”

Of Daniels’ decision, conservative NRO blogger Jim Geraghty writes, “color me extremely disappointed with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels right now.”

GINGRICH: “Newt Gingrich's speech at the University of Pennsylvania Tuesday night quickly took a turn for the dramatic when the first student to question him brought up his admitted extra-marital affair and accused him of being ‘hypocritical’ for espousing moral values,” Politico reports. “‘I've had a life which, on occasion, has had problems,’ he added. ‘I believe in a forgiving God, and the American people will have to decide whether that their primary concern,’” Gingrich responded.

Appearing on Fox News Tuesday morning, Gingrich “escalated his previous suggestions that Obama has coddled hostile regimes like Libya,” Real Clear Politics writes. “‘There's almost a conspiracy of silence if it's an anti-American government,’ Gingrich said. ‘Libya and Iran - to take those two examples - are clearly active opponents of the United States, and finding a way to replace them would be enormously to our advantage, and the people of both countries are prepared to risk their lives. But they get almost no support from either the United States or any serious interest in the United Nations Security Council.’”

HUCKABEE: “Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee pushed back against the notion Tuesday that he's leaning against a 2012 bid for president,” the Sioux City Journal writes. “‘How could they know that? I haven't made that decision,’ Huckabee said Tuesday in an interview with the Quad-City Times.”

“Mr. Huckabee said time and energy spent on debating Mr. Obama’s birthplace is wasted,” The State Column notes of Huckabee’s appearance on “Good Morning America.” “‘If there was any shred of truth to it, Hillary Clinton and her wonderful investigative opposition (research) machine would have found it and would have used it …I think is a waste of energy and time,’” he said.

PALIN: “It looks like Sarah Palin is a really big fan of…herself,” the New York Daily News writes (as broken by Wonkette). “The ex-Alaska governor appears to have a secret, personal Facebook account that she uses to publicly praise her widely-trafficked and much-analyzed Facebook page.”

PAWLENTY: The former governor posted this message on his Facebook page: "Far too often, when President Obama is confronted by significant foreign policy challenges, he wavers, leaving those fighting on the side of freedom to question America's commitment to their cause. This was the case with the administration's response to recent events in Egypt.  It was only after Hosni Mubarak’s fate was clear that the President got behind the courageous men and women gathered in Tahrir Square.  Now, the Libyan people have taken to the streets to free themselves from the despotic reign of Muammar al-Qaddafi and peaceful protesters have been literally gunned down.  Yet the President remains silent, unwilling or unable to speak with moral clarity about America's interest in supporting the aspirations of all who seek freedom.”

SANTORUM: Speaking at a private Christian school in South Carolina, “Santorum talked to a group of more than 200 students, faculty and community members about how divine law informs man's law,” the Spartanburg Herald Journal recounts. That same day, Santorum had lunch with Republican activists from across the state at the state GOP chairwoman’s home, meeting one-on-one with two of the four announced candidates to succeed her.

“A former lobbyist who pleaded guilty to treating congressional staffers to a World Series jaunt in 2003 is now helping ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum organize events in South Carolina as Santorum tests the water for a possible presidential bid,” the Herald Journal reports. “Jim Hirni, who was convicted of one count of ‘honest services fraud’ in 2008, accompanied Santorum to multiple public and private events in the Upstate this week.”

THUNE: “But the statement Tuesday by the Republican junior senator from South Dakota, indicating that he’s going to spend the next two years focusing on his current job, rather than campaigning for the Big Job, does heighten the suspense over Campaign 2012. As in, when will a big name, or even a reasonably serious one, finally announce for the Republican nomination?” the Christian Science Monitor asks.