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2012: Gingrich's no-fly flop

AP

FILE - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at a news conference earlier this month.

The GOP presidential field is wide open, and those considering running are holding fundraisers everywhere, including less politically influential states, which is proving to be a boon for those states’ party coffers, Politico writes.

While most of the Republican potential presidential candidates have mostly, with a few notable exceptions, said they support sending U.S. forces to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya, they have tended to criticize the specifics of the Obama policy, the L.A. Times’ McManus writes. “Like [former President George W.] Bush, they favor using U.S. military power to topple Middle Eastern dictators. Like Bush, they don't see much need for blessings from the United Nations Security Council or any other international body. And like Bush, they think foreign policy decisions should be quick and clear, not drawn out and complicated -- or, to use their newest term of derogation, ‘nuanced.’”

BACHMANN: Michele Bachmann is locking up a core of up-and-coming conservatives in Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports, and she’s also said she’ll participate in the Aug. 13 Ames straw poll, a test of financial and organizing prowess in the first caucus state.

BARBOUR: Although he denied playing a key role in his lobbying firm’s work for the Mexican government on immigration reform, records show that Haley Barbour was in fact a leader of the team assigned to the account, the L.A. Times reports. Barbour also said the account advocated for a law that would have allowed legal immigrants to renew their visas without leaving the country, but the bill in fact would have allowed illegal immigrants to obtain legal residency by paying a fine. http://is.gd/VFt32T

The Mississippi governor is getting pushback from some state legislators for traveling out of state so much, WAPT reports.

GINGRICH: Conservative blog Hot Air is among the outlets to note Newt Gingrich’s apparent inconsistent opinion, first noted by liberal blog Think Progress, toward a no-fly zone in Libya.  The Gingrich camp said that Gingrich’s first statement was in response to the President’s seeming contention that Khaddafy had to relinquish control of the country. When the bombing actually happened, the Gingrich team explains, the president’s policy “no longer included replacing Qaddafi but was narrowed to a “humanitarian” mission and that became the rationale for intervention causing great confusion given the president’s previously stated goal.

Hot Air’s question: “In other words, when Greta asked him, “What would you do?” Newt supposedly thought she meant, “How would you advise the president now that he’s committed to regime change?” But … Greta didn’t ask him that. And if she had, he could have given her the same answer he gave Matt Lauer this morning -- that military intervention is a bad idea, that there are diplomatic and economic ways to pressure Qaddafi, etc, but now that Obama’s put U.S. prestige on the line, we have no choice but to put some birds in the air. He didn’t say that. How come?”

Rob Johnson, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s re-election campaign manager, has signed on to be a senior political adviser for Newt Gingrich, the Austin American Statesman reports.

HUCKABEE: Despite not having had contact with the Iowa GOP in some time, Mike Huckabee will be back in the state today, speaking at the Iowa Renewal Project, a private conference for Christian pastors, Fox reports.

Huckabee has lent his voice to a robocall against the health care law, playing in Wyoming this week, that has led many Republicans and Democrats to complain about getting as many as three automated calls an hour, the Billings Gazette writes. Some say that under Wyoming law, the calls might be illegal, but while the law bars against calls for promoting a political campaign, the group who recorded the message said they’re only advocating an issue.

MOORE: Former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore, who was removed from office over the Ten Commandments monument he erected outside the state courthouse, is preparing to launch a presidential exploratory committee in Iowa, the Wall Street Journal reports.

PALIN: Sarah Palin told a private crowd in Naples, Florida that whether she’s a candidate or not, she’ll be involved in the 2012 presidential election, Naples Daily News writes.

PAUL, RAND: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, the son of 2008 presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (TX), might do better in a presidential primary than some think, Salon’s Steve Kornacki writes. In fact, Kornacki says, with his brash style, ideological purity, and ease on camera, Paul might get more votes than his father did in ’08.

Along with Tim Pawlenty, Rand Paul will speak at an Iowa Federation of College Republicans’ event in April, The State Column reports.

PAUL, RON: Speaking at the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators in Des Moines, Paul said his decision over whether to run for president again would be driven by the state of the economy. “I have said in the past, that if there’s a major economic crisis worse than what we have now … I’d feel almost obligated since I’ve spent my lifetime warning about a dollar crisis,” he said.

He also told the crowd that the Department of Education is trying to “indoctrinate” children, Politico reports.

PAWLENTY: A new Gallup poll finds that Tim Pawlenty starts his presidential exploratory bid with 41% name recognition, compared to Sarah Palin’s 97% recognition and Mike Huckabee’s 89%.

Pawlenty is buying in, literally, to New Hampshire, the Union-Leader’s DiStaso writes. Pawlenty, along with Haley Barbour, bought a $2,500 sponsorship for a fundraiser for the GOP state senate PAC, the Republican Senate Majority Committee. He, along with Michele Bachmann were also the only potential presidential contenders to have bought a $5,000-per-table sponsorship of next week’s state GOP “First in the Nation” fundraiser, while Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum each bought a $1,000 sponsorship.

ROMNEY: Mitt Romney tops the field in a new Pew poll, garnering 21% over Mike Huckabee with 20%, Sarah Palin with 13% and Newt Gingrich with 11%, My San Antonio writes.

Based on the Pew poll, the Washington Post’s Cillizza has this anti-CW headline: “Mitt Romney, tea party favorite.” “Mitt Romney is the choice of nearly one in four of those who agree with the tenets of the tea party, according to a new Pew poll, a surprising result that suggests the former Massachusetts governor’s support heading into 2012 may be broader than previously assumed.”

Greg Sargent: “Romney’s solution to this problem … is to argue that the mandate on the Federal level is unacceptable, whereas on the state level it’s acceptable, as long as states are free to ‘experiment’ as they see fit. Thus his vow to immediately grant each state a waiver from “Obamacare.” The problem for Romney, however, is that he has explicitly suggested that Romneycare should serve as a model for efforts to reform our health system on the Federal level.” In an unaired interview from CNN, Romney said, “I think there are a number of features in the Massachusetts plan that could inform Washington on ways to improve health care for all Americans. The fact that we were able to get people insured without a government option is a model I think they can learn from.”

The Washington Post’s Blake points out that White House adviser David Axelrod Tweet exchange with Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom yesterday: “I still admire what he did in MA on health care, though. In many ways, a model for the nation!” Blake calls it “the latest example of the Obama Administration damning potential 2012 GOP candidates with faint praise.”

Romney is staging a 15-city fundraising push with big-money “bundlers,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Romney, who is meeting with 100 donors in New York City tomorrow, is asking for collections of between $25,000 and $50,000 per bundler within 90 days. “He said he expected to win in Nevada, as he did in 2008, and that he saw Florida's primary as pivotal, with only two candidates likely to emerge from that state able to compete in the later primaries. Less clear was his thinking on the nation's first nominating contest -- the Iowa caucuses -- where socially conservative voters dominate and where Mr. Romney placed a distant second in 2008.”

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu said Mitt Romney is “at the head of a pack of four” of likely candidates to win the first-in-the-nation primary in 2012, The Hill reports of Sununu’s appearance on ABC’s “Top Line” webcast yesterday.

SANTORUM: By next week, Rick Santorum will hit a combined 25 visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, Politico writes. Next on the agenda are stops at a Des Moines conference led by Rep. Steve King, then a New Hampshire Reagan Day dinner. Santorum also announced a stop on Tuesday at WEZS radio in Laconia, NH, followed by a tour of downtown Wolfeboro, NH. In the evening he’ll attend the “First in the Nation Celebration,” which RNC chairman Reince Priebus will also be attending.

TRUMP: “If Donald Trump decides to run for the White House, he would just barely crack double digits in the crowded field of potential GOP candidates, but his entry into the race could hurt former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin,” CNN reports of its new poll.