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2012: A busy weekend

BACHMANN: “Saying she wants to debate President Barack Obama, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann edged closer Saturday to a White House bid during a stop in Bluffton, South Carolina,” the Savannah Morning News writes. She told a gathering of more than 300 Tea Party supporters that she’s “setting up a committee in South Carolina next month.”

BARBOUR: Haley Barbour won the Charleston, South Carolina Republican Party straw poll on Friday, CNN writes. He won 22 percent of the 148 votes cast, while Mitt Romney finished second with 12 percent.

In an interview with the New Hampshire Union-Leader’s DiStaso, Barbour stopped short of calling for a withdrawal from Afghanistan but did say it is time for a “total re-evaluation” of the U.S. role there. “"I think it is time for the (Obama) administration to take a step back to look at what we're doing there. And if the mission is nation-building, the American people need to be told that in a very straightforward way. If the mission is still to win the war on terrorism, then we need to reconcile why we have 100,000 soldiers there and why we're spending $2 billion a week,” he said.

GINGRICH: Newt Gingrich spoke at the Gwinnett County, Georgia Republican convention, one of three stops in his home state, where he “blasted Democratic President Barack Obama for his approach to economic, environmental and foreign policy,” the Gwinnett Daily Post reports. “I want to bring a message of hope and opportunity,” he said. “At the beginning of 2013, we’re going to have an opportunity to put America back on track.”

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) gave Gingrich his formal endorsement – before his official entry in the race, the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes.

PALIN: Sarah Palin spoke at a tea party rally in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, where she “defended Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's stance against public employee unions and then took aim at both the national Republican Party and President Obama,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune recounts. “Challenging national Republicans to stand by principles such as cutting federal spending, Palin invoked the national champion University of Wisconsin women's hockey team. ‘Maybe I should ask them,’ she said of the hockey team members, ‘if we should be suggesting to GOP leaders they need to learn how to fight like a girl,’” she said.

PAWLENTY: Tim Pawlenty headlined Friday’s annual New Hampshire tea party rally in Concord, where he led a crowd in a call-and-response of what he called President Obama’s broken promises on deficit reduction health care and other topics. “Did President Obama break his promise? Yes, he did!” Pawlenty said, Reuters writes.

Pawlenty also spoke at a tea party rally in Des Moines on Saturday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes.

ROMNEY: During a stop in Florida on Friday, Mitt Romney said that Iowa and New Hampshire should keep their traditional roles as the first primary contests of the year, but indicated that he would stay out of the controversy over the actual date that Florida holds its primary, the AP reports.

The Boston Globe on Romney’s trip: “Romney met with supporters [Friday] for breakfast, and last night he planned to attend a fund-raiser at the Palm Beach home of billionaire Bill Koch, whose brothers helped fund the Tea Party movement. His trip here is part of a fund-raising tour that is expected to culminate with a phone-a-thon in Las Vegas on May 16, similar to a daylong fund-raising event Romney held in Boston during his last campaign, which drew 600 to 800 people and raised more than $1 million. Romney told donors on a recent conference call that he was expecting 1,000 supporters to make calls in Las Vegas — an astonishing number that even some of his top donors have trouble believing.”

The Boston Globe editorial page defends Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan, writing that conservatives “might be more favorably disposed if they understood the part Romney played in warding off various schemes feared by business. After an Urban Institute study recommended an individual mandate, Romney made that the core of his plan. That was a way of sidestepping the approach many Democrats favored: a payroll tax of 5 to 7 percent on businesses that did not offer health coverage.”

SANTORUM: Former Sen. Rick Santorum spoke to New Hampshire Tea Partiers at a Republican fundraiser on Saturday, telling the Granite State Liberty Political Action Committee that conservatives need to come together to be heard, the New Hampshire Union-Leader reports.