A new Pew poll finds a religious divide among Republican primary voters, with church-goers and evangelicals going 30% for Mike Huckabee, and 24% of GOP voters who are not regular church-goers picking Mitt Romney. More from Pew: “Within the GOP, one-third of those who are not religious or belong to a smaller faith group want Romney as the Republican nominee. Only 7 percent said they preferred Huckabee.”
BACHMANN: PolitiFact grades Rep. Michele Bachmann’s claim that “secretly, unbeknownst to members of Congress, over $105 billion was hidden in the Obamacare legislation" as Barely True, writing that “[s]he’s right that there’s about $105 billion of already approved spending in the health care bill that may be difficult to rescind. But that does not mean that the process was secret. While the pre-approved spending provisions didn’t attract media attention, they were in the plain language of the bill and did not vary dramatically from past congressional practice.” http://is.gd/Itw4Tn
Bachmann will be in South Carolina on April 15 to attend a reception at a private home, as well as “a number of events in the following days,” the State Column reports.
Bachmann will also attend the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in June, Politico reports.
BARBOUR: Politico points out that Haley Barbour’s declaration that “slavery was the primary, central, cause of secession” might be old news for most Americans, but less so for a Republican governor of Mississippi. It also demonstrates the degree to which Mississippi has changed – no longer the staging ground for Democratic defection to the GOP due to Southerners’ objections to advancements in civil rights.
The Nashua Telegraph reminds us that Barbour was supposed to be in New Hampshire today and yesterday – his first since naming his top New Hampshire operative – but he canceled the trip because of a budget crisis in Mississippi.
CAIN: The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, assailed Hermain Cain for saying at the Conservative Principles Conference that he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet or as a federal judge, CNN reports.
DANIELS: Indiana’s state Treasurer says that while he never expected Gov. Mitch Daniels to endorse him for Senate, Daniels did encourage him to mount a challenge to Sen. Richard Lugar, even as Daniels said he planned to vote for Lugar on Meet the Press earlier this month, National Journal writes.
HUCKABEE: Mike Huckabee insisted over the weekend that he is in fact still considering running for president, telling a talk radio host that he “most certainly” has not made a decision not to run, The Hill writes.
HUNTSMAN: The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that Huntsman’s PAC has hired “two prominent” GOP strategists: “Paul Collins, a nearly 30-year political campaign organizer and former congressional and U.S. Senate chief of staff, and Brad Blais, a key player in U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass' 2010 campaign, are joining the Horizon PAC as consultants to organize its political operations in the first-in-the-nation primary state.”
JOHNSON: Fox News reported on Friday that Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, says he will bypass the exploratory stage and announce his candidacy for president sometime in April after tax day.
PAWLENTY: Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said that President Obama had been “belated and timid” in ordering air strikes to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Libya. He also said that if he were president, he “wouldn’t recognize and legitimize Syria,” calling the country’s president Bashar al Assad a terrorist and a killer, and saying he would recall the ambassador and denounce Assad publicly.
ROMNEY: Mitt Romney gave $25,000 to the New Jersey Republican party yesterday, according to a release from his political action committee, Free and Strong America PAC. Romney today announced that he would be re-hiring the chief domestic policy adviser for his 2008 campaign, Lanhee Chen, to serve as the policy director of Free and Strong America PAC, the Boston Globe reports. Chen also served in the Bush administration and was the deputy campaign manager for Steve Poizner’s failed GOP California gubernatorial bid.
SANTORUM: CNN reports that Rick Santorum did not attend the Conservative Principles Conference on Saturday because his daughter, Isabella Maria, became very ill (her condition has since improved).
*** UPDATE *** This story was first reported by CBN’s David Brody.