“With Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s departure from the presidential field comes a chance for another Republican contender to take up his unusual cause — the war in Afghanistan,” the Washington Post writes, noting that Barbour had questioned the war publicly several times. “I'd say one of the big ‘surprises’ coming up in the GOP primary will be the lack of Republican voter support for the war in Afghanistan,’ said Republican strategist Mike Murphy. ‘I think we have hit a tipping point politically and this will emerge as a very big story in the Republican primaries later this year.’”
DANIELS: In an interview with WTHR Indianapolis, President Obama called Gov. Mitch Daniels “a serious person” with whom he has “some significant philosophical differences,” The State Column writes.
Daniels faces a big decision in whether or not to veto a bill that would make Indiana the first state to cut off all government funding for Planned Parenthood, the AP writes. “If he signs it, Indiana risks losing $4 million in federal grants for family planning services. If he vetoes it, Daniels could antagonize ardent social conservatives already wary of his public statements about the importance of focusing on economic issues. But signing it also could provide Daniels with the political cover he needs from those who question his commitment to social conservative causes.”
GINGRICH: Having been at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast all morning, Newt Gingrich acted like he hadn’t yet heard the new about President Obama’s birth certificate when Talking Points Memo asked him about it. But he did comment, “All I would say is, why did it take so long? The whole thing is strange.”
HUCKABEE: “Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's camp is refuting a South Carolina blogger who suggested Wednesday that Huckabee told consultants in the state he wouldn't run for president next year,” The Hill writes.
PAWLETY: Speaking about the birther issue, Tim Pawlenty chided those who have kept the issue alive: “There was never any evidence to suggest he wasn't born here,” Pawlenty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after speaking at a luncheon in the city. “Before someone makes an allegation, they should have evidence.''
TRUMP: The Boston Globe’s Viser on Trump’s visit to New Hampshire: “The business mogul and television star may be the antithesis of New Hampshire and its frugal Yankees who prize their role in selecting presidential candidates. He traveled in a black stretch limousine, sandwiched between two SUVs. Beefy guards with earpieces and sunglasses trailed him as he approached diners in Portsmouth, toured a defense contracting company in nearby Newington, and went to a lobster house in Dover. But in a campaign season that is starting late and lacks a clear Republican front-runner, Trump easily seized attention, at least for this day.”
The Globe’s Johnson reflects on Trump’s trip and says if what Trump was doing “wasn't innuendo or rumor-mongering, it had the trappings of McCarthyism or racism.” More: “[T]he common thread between questioning the legitimacy of Obama's birth certificate and his college transcripts seems to be a suggestion the nation's first black president doesn't legitimately hold the job, and that the education he received before attaining it also was achieved through deception — or affirmative action. Yet later, during an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, Trump bristled at the suggestion he was playing the race card. ‘This has nothing to do with race. Absolutely nothing,’ he told reporter John DiStaso, who has chronicled the New Hampshire primary since before the Tsongas days. ‘There is nobody who's less of a racist than me.’”
Yet: “Trump suggested Obama himself played the race card during the 2008 campaign against Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, when the former president campaigned on behalf of the former first lady as she challenged Obama for the Democratic nomination.”
Here’s DiStaso’s story: “Crediting himself with forcing President Barack Obama to make public his Hawaiian birth certificate, billionaire businessman Donald Trump today accused the President, his supporters and the national media of playing the ‘race card’ against him.”
Trump said of Obama and race: "And he did it with (former President Bill) Clinton. Clinton was made into a racist by Obama, and he's never forgotten it. And there's nobody that's less of a racist than Bill Clinton… He did it with Bill Clinton, and with Hillary. He made them into racists. That's why I was amazed that Hillary went to work for him." He added that “the President is ‘probably’ trying to do the same to him, ‘and there's nobody who's less of a racist than me.’” More from Trump: "Here's two people, Hillary and Bill Clinton, who really devoted a lot to African-Americans. They did probably as much as anybody, and he made them into racists."
Trump also said that if he were to run, he’d get into the trenches and do retail politics around New Hampshire: “I'm giving up a great life if I decide to do this. But yeah, I'll do it,” he said.
The New York Daily News’ DeFrank: “Donald Trump's presidential fantasies evaporated Wednesday in the White House briefing room - or more precisely, in a delivery room at Kapiolani Hospital 49 years ago.”