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2012: Palin's popularity declines in Iowa

The governors of swing states are being hit up for a lot of support by potential 2012 candidates, Politico writes. “With a wide-open GOP nomination fight, the nation's 29 Republican governors are some of the most sought-after endorsements of all. But most are staying mum about who they might back, and with good reason — an unusually high number of their contemporaries are considering a run.” 

“Former Utah Sen. Bob Bennett urged Republicans to nominate a presidential candidate with a ‘national view,’ and not focus on the ideological purity found in the early caucuses and primaries,” Politico writes. “’If you're going to nominate a national candidate, don't make the mistake of assuming that those who attend the early caucuses and early primaries speak for the nation as a whole,’ he said, speaking to Greta Van Susteren on Fox News on Friday.”

BARBOUR: Appearing on Meet the Press, Gov. Haley Barbour said he would make his decision on whether to run for president in April, regardless of which candidates jump into the race in the meantime. “Barbour, the former Republican Governors Association (RGA) chairman who's considering running, wouldn't outline his criteria for deciding whether or not to run, only to say that it was mostly a family decision,” The Hill writes. 

CHRISTIE: Some, including Sarah Palin, have hit Michelle Obama for her anti-obesity campaign. Christie, however, lined up with Mike Huckabee in siding with the first lady, per the New York Daily News. "I think it's a really good goal to encourage kids to eat better," he said. "I've struggled with my weight for 30 years and it's a struggle. If a kid can avoid that in his adult years or her adult years, more power to them." Christie added that "I don't want the government deciding what you can eat and what you can't eat," but said " I think Mrs. Obama being out there encouraging people in a positive way to eat well and to exercise and to be healthy - I don't have a problem with that."

GINGRICH: “Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, intends to take a formal step toward entering the 2012 presidential race within the next two weeks, after months spent traveling to important primary and caucus states, Republican officials said yesterday,” AP reports.

“Newt Gingrich today vigorously disputed the initial version of Newsmax.com article that inaccurately suggested Gingrich advocated President Obama be impeached over his decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court,” Greta Van Susteren reported on Friday. “’Congress has every responsibility to demand President Obama live up to his constitutional obligations, but impeachment is clearly not an appropriate action,’ said Gingrich.” 

HUCKABEE: “Mike Huckabee says he's not at war with Republicans who are attacking Michelle Obama's anti-obesity initiatives.” Politico writes. "’I didn't say they're all wrong - let's be clear, because then it sounds like I'm in a war with Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Rush Limbaugh, which I'm not,’ Huckabee told Chris Wallace on ‘Fox News Sunday. ‘But what Michelle Obama is proposing is not that the government should tell you that you can't eat dessert.’” 

“The Republican presidential prospect leading in early Iowa polls began a tour across the state today with few signs he is actively investigating a 2012 campaign,” the Des Moines Register writes. “Huckabee’s two-day tour through Iowa’s largest media markets is aimed at promoting his new book. And the first of six stops shed little light on whether Huckabee is cultivating the relationships he will need if he runs again.” 

“Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee defended his methodical approach to deciding whether to launch a 2012 presidential bid as he set out on a two-day book-signing tour of Iowa on Sunday,” the Quad City Times writes. “‘My experience is Iowans take their time. They don’t just rush out and compulsively buy in on a candidate the first week he comes to town,’ Huckabee said.” 

PALIN: “Sarah Palin's popularity has declined among the very voters the former Alaska governor would need to impress first were she to seek the 2012 Republican nomination for president, The Des Moines Register's new Iowa Poll shows… Palin's favorability has slipped among Iowa Republicans who say they will vote in 2012 to 65 percent in the poll taken this month from 71 percent in November 2009.”

Chris Christie has some advice… "I think if she wants to prove she's ready for this, you've got to have some unscripted moments," he said on CBS.

PAWLENTY: “Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty accused President Obama and Democrats of ‘coddling’ unions and applauded the Tea Party movement as ‘modern-day Paul Reveres,’” The Hill writes. “Speaking to a convention of Tea Party activists in Phoenix on Saturday, the Republican White House hopeful sounded a populist tone while blasting unions and Democrats. ‘Thank you for standing up to the ruling class ... and big bailed-out businesses,’ he told attendees.” 

“The tea parties ‘are going to have a lot to say about who the nominee is in 2012,’ former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told Roll Call.

ROMNEY: Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, an Obama friend, said on ABC’s This Week, per the Boston Globe: "I think one of the best things he [Romney] did was to be the co-author of our health care reform, which is model for national health care reform.”

“Sen. Orrin Hatch says he would support former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney over former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. for president in 2012, citing Romney's efforts on behalf of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City,” the AP says. 

IOWA: “Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said Saturday Iowa’s Republican presidential caucuses will remain the leadoff 2012 nominating contest, whether Florida lawmakers agree to move that state’s primary to meet national GOP rules or not,” the Des Moines Register writes. If Florida remains out of compliance, ‘We will move up,’ Branstad, a Republican, told CNN Saturday while attending the National Governors Association winter meeting in Washington, D.C. ‘We did it last time. We will do it again. We will be first and New Hampshire will be after us.’”

SOUTH CAROLINA: Gov. Nikki Haley told ABC that she isn’t endorsing anyone for president yet. “’I want all of the candidates to come to South Carolina. I want the people of South Carolina to get to see them the way I know them. I want them to campaign hard. When the right time comes, I will endorse, but there is no one that I feel like I owe at this time,’” Haley said, according to WSOC TV