A new Gallup poll finds that “Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have no clear favorite for the party's 2012 presidential nominee at this point, with Mike Huckabee (18%), Mitt Romney (16%), and Sarah Palin (16%) in a statistical tie for the lead.”
The Hill’s take: “Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) would draw 9 percent, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) would get 5 percent, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) would get 4 percent; former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty checks in at 3 percent, as do Govs. Haley Barbour (Miss.) and Mitch Daniels (Ind.). Two percent would back former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.). This was the first time Bachmann was included, as well as former Utah governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R), who received support from 1 percent of Republicans. Fourteen percent of Republicans said ‘none’ or had no opinion.”
BARBOUR: “Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) will be in Washington next week for a Chamber of Commerce breakfast. He's speaking as part of an event called ‘The Impact of State Employment Policies on Job Growth: A 50-State Review,’” the Washington Post says.
CHRISTIE: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Wednesday he does not have a favorite candidate in the field of potential 2012 Republican presidential aspirants,” The Hill writes. “ ‘Listen, I don't think there is a front-runner right now,’ he said on NBC's ‘Today’ show. ‘I think the field's really wide open. I don't even know who the field's going to be entirely.’”
DANIELS: Speaking at the Hamilton, OH, Republican party’s Lincoln-Reagan dinner, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels called public employee unions “privileged elite,” the Cincinnati Enquirer writes.
HUCKABEE: Mike Huckabee said he will used his book tour, launched yesterday, “help him determine how interested party activists are in his possible candidacy and whether there is the financial support to sustain a bid, he told reporters on a conference call,” the Des Moines Register recounts.
FILE - In this Sept. file photo, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks in Washington.
Huckabee will not stop in New Hampshire on his book tour, the Boston Globe writes. “‘You ever been to New Hampshire in February?’ he told reporters this afternoon at a tea hosted by the Christan Science Monitor. “My Southern blood isn’t acclimated.’”
“Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is making more positive noises about making a 2012 run–and touting how he’s the guy to beat President Barack Obama,” the Wall Street Journal writes. “In a Fox News interview that he is trumpeting on his Twitter account and his own website, Mr. Huckabee cites his recent favorable poll numbers and says Mr. Obama is more vulnerable that many people think. ‘Here’s the reality: I think he can be beat,’ he told Fox’s Sean Hannity. He goes on to say that ‘I frankly think that I would be in a very good position to do it.’”
But Roll Call says “don’t hold your breath waiting for Mike Huckabee to announce his plans for 2012.” Does this sound like someone running for president? “If I run, I walk away from a pretty good income. I don’t want to walk away any sooner than I have to because frankly, I don’t have a lot of reserve built up. Most of my life was in public service. Therefore I didn’t come away wealthy,” he said during an afternoon tea organized by the Christian Science Monitor. “In order to run for president last time, I cashed in my life insurance, my annuities, I pretty much went through everything that I ever had as an asset that I thought I might someday live on. One thing I committed to myself, to my wife and God, was that if I do this I’m hopefully going to be in a position that I’m not so completely destitute at the end of it, that I have no idea what to do if I get sick. ...”
Politico: “In his new book, Mike Huckabee trashes ‘RomneyCare’ – saying it’s ‘socialized medicine’ that has exploded costs, worsened care for patients, and proves why President Obama’s unpopular health care reform plan won't work.”
And he expressed doubts on the war in Afghanistan. Here’s Huffington Post’s Sam Stein: “Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) became one of the most high-profile Republicans to express skepticism with the war in Afghanistan, telling reporters on Wednesday that he sees no ‘end game’ in sight, has no confidence in President Hamid Karzai, thinks the country looks ‘like the surface of the moon’ and believes the time has come for an honest, non-political conversation about the next steps.”
PALIN: “Sarah Palin is traveling to India next month to rub elbows with Indian politicians and Bollywood stars,” Politico reports. “The former Alaska governor is scheduled to speak at the India Today Conclave in New Delhi on March 19.”
PAWLENTY: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's PAC is launching a video and petition drive today supporting Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), embroiled in a showdown over unions’ collective-bargaining rights. Here’s the video and petition.
SANTORUM: "Nationally syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage is formally reviving his Internet war with likely presidential candidate Rick Santorum," Roll Call says. "Savage’s disdain for the former Senator from Pennsylvania reached epic levels in 2003 when the writer launched one of the first successful Google bombs in the modern political era. This bomb ensured that one of the top Google search results for the Republican’s last name is a sexual definition that can’t fully be repeated here."
More: "The feud had grown rather stale until last week when Roll Call published an interview with Santorum about his continued 'Google problem.'... 'The website that’s still giving Rick Santorum fits — www.spreadingsantorum.com — hasn’t been updated since 2004. But we will be re-launching the site in the next few weeks,' Savage wrote. 'Stay tuned!'"