George Will skewers Huckabee and Gingrich, saying there are "at most five plausible" GOP candidates. "But the nominee may emerge much diminished by involvement in a process cluttered with careless, delusional, egomaniacal, spotlight-chasing candidates to whom the sensible American majority would never entrust a lemonade stand, much less nuclear weapons," he writes.
“As the 2012 presidential campaign begins to heat up after a sluggish winter, the stakes are high for the five prospective Republican candidates who will address a large crowd of GOP activists at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition forum on Monday night,” Real Clear Politics writes. “Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer will have just 10 minutes each to make an impression on the crowd of several hundred expected to gather for the event in Waukee, just west of Des Moines.”
BACHMANN: “Tea Party leader and Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s schedule for March 12: After a brunch fundraiser for the NHGOP at Courtyard by Marriott in Nashua, she’ll step outside to greet passers-by. Bachmann will appear at a separate fundraiser for the state GOP at the Seacoast home of Ellen Christo March 11,” the Manchester Union-Leader reports.
On Meet the Press, Bachmann said, “I haven't made a decision either way about plans for 2012. What my concern is, is that our country move forward, and that we regain a sound financial footing. I don't believe that Barack Obama has done a good job as President of the United States.”
CHRISTIE: Former Senator John E. Sununu, the son of former governor and retired state party chair John H. Sununu, writes an op-ed in the Boston Globe praising Chris Christie: “The current standoff in Wisconsin has put tough-talking Governor Scott Walker in the headlines, but for sheer candor, no one holds a candle to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.”
DANIELS: Gov. Mitch Daniels won the straw poll at the annual Dorchester Conference in Seaside, Oregon with 30% of the vote, the Daily Astorian writes. Mitt Romney came in second with 23% and Palin in third with 18%.
“In an interview Friday night with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, [Newt] Gingrich said, ‘my expectation is that by the end of this exploratory process that we’ll have an announcement and we’ll be in the race,’” the Daily Caller reports.
Fox adds: “Gingrich expects his final decision to come in six or seven weeks. ‘If you're serious about trying to not just run, but to both win the nomination and win the presidency, you really need to take some time to lay the groundwork, think it through, explore the possibility before you make the final decision,’” he said on Hannity.
HUCKABEE: Before he signs books in South Carolina today and tomorrow, Mike Huckabee told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal that he will announce his decision regarding running for president “some time in the summer. I feel like it’s really important to let things simmer out. One of the criteria I’m looking for is the response to the book. If people read it and decide they don’t think these ideas are good then that’s probably an important answer for me to know.”
HUNTSMAN: “Members of the presidential campaign-in-waiting for U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman are set to meet on March 18th in New Orleans for a strategy session,” Real Clear Politics’ McPike reports. And a trip to New Hampshire is planned, as that state will be Hunstman’s strategy. There will be an event there organized by a New Hampshire activist called, "Let's invest in America; let's import jobs to America."
PALIN: Sarah Palin slammed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the State Column writes, “questioning whether the New Jersey Republican’s budget cutting represents ‘true courage.’ ‘He has no choice but to cut budgets because he’s broke, his state is broke,’ Ms. Palin said [on Fox News]. ‘What courage really is is, in the face of having a surplus, when you have an opportunity to spend spend spend other people’s money, that you still choose to rein in government.”
PAWLENTY: MPR News notes degree to which Tim Pawlenty is being viewed as a serious candidate by Washington pundits lately.
ROMNEY: The Boston Globe’s Johnson says health care is one thing, but it’s authenticity that is Romney’s real problem: “You could argue that how well he answers that core concern, not just addresses a single issue, will determine whether he wins the GOP's presidential nomination next year and has a shot at being elected president in 2012.” By the way, it turns out Romney didn’t get much of a hair cut when he stopped by a famed Atlanta barber shop (and he Tweeted the photo). There was Romney’s stop at a NASCAR event wearing a Bass Pro Shops shirt. “It recalled the moment during the 2008 campaign when he proclaimed himself ‘pretty much a lifelong hunter,’” Johnson writes, adding, “Individually, such incidents will hardly bring down a presidential campaign. But cumulatively, they can erode its foundation.”
SANTORUM: “Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is the first likely presidential candidate to confirm an appearance at a ‘Taxpayer Tea Party Rally’ April 15 at the State House,” the Manchester Union-Leader writes.
TRUMP: Lamar Alexander says Donald Trump has “absolutely no chance of winning.”