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2012: GOP candidates weigh in

Here’s a First Read wrap of the statements from Republicans and 2012 candidates.

Said Romney: "This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere. Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president. My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden's many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist."

Said Palwenty: "This is terrific news for freedom and justice. In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised that America would bring Osama bin Laden to justice — and we did. I want to congratulate America's armed forces and President Obama for a job well done."

Said Bachmann: "Tonight’s news does not bring back the lives of the thousands of innocent people who were killed that day by Osama bin Laden’s horrific plan, and it does not end the threat posed by terrorists, but it is my hope that this is the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism.”

The L.A. Times also compiles potential candidates’ reactions to the death of Osama bin Laden, including Huckabee’s blunt statement, “Welcome to hell.”

This weekend’s NRA convention drew likely candidates Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain, while Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann sent recorded video messages to the gathering, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also spoke, headlining Saturday night’s "Celebration of American Values Freedom Experience.”

“Knocked off-course by Donald Trump and talk of President Obama’s birth certificate, the 2012 Republican contenders are trying to refocus the campaign on voter worries that are dragging down the president's popularity: rising gas prices and a slow economic recovery,” the L.A. Times writes.

“With the first debate of the 2012 election just four days away, Republicans have entered what could be thought of as Stage 1 in the cycle of presidential primaries: dissatisfaction,” the Sunday New York Times wrote yesterday. “Republicans, though, can take solace in the fact that, like the famous cycle of grief, the nomination process almost always starts this way, with kvetching.”

BACHMANN: Michele Bachmann announced on Fox News Sunday that she would NOT be participating in Thursday’s presidential debate in South Carolina, National Journal notes.

DANIELS: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told Reuters on Saturday that he’s still undecided over whether to run for president.

Roll Call profiles Daniels. “Legend has it that when a famously frugal Mitch Daniels worked as an aide on Capitol Hill 30 years ago, he once fished quarters out of the Tune Inn toilet to save money for his beer. Even though Daniels has lived most of the past two decades in Indiana, the Republican governor spent many of his formative political years in the 1970s and ’80s in Congressional politics on Capitol Hill.”

GINGRICH: Per NBC’s Lauren Selsky, Newt Gingrich said this about Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner: "I think it's great that the Donald is here. This is a wonderful country where everybody gets to take a shot. He has every right to see what he can do. We'll see whether it becomes a serious candidacy. But you have to admit he added a certain excitement to the evening, and I think it's good for the White House Correspondents and it's good for the American people."

On Newt’s 2012 decision/timing: "I think within a week or two we'll have a very positive message."

HUNTSMAN: “As of yesterday, former governor of Utah and now former ambassador of China, Jon Huntsman is officially done with his duties and is expected to run for president. Although Huntsman is temporarily not a household name, he is potentially Gov. Mitt Romney’s worst nightmare in the GOP presidential primary,” the Boston Herald writes.

PAWLENTY: Speaking at the Americans for Prosperity summit on Friday, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said “that the overwhelming message he hears from employers is ‘get the government off my back.’ He said they mainly object to burdensome taxes and regulations,” the AP reports.

Pawlenty will be back in Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Des Moines Register notes.

ROMNEY: Mitt Romney hired Sara Craig, his 2008 central Iowa field director, to lead his state campaign, Politico reports.

RUBIO: On Meet the Press, Sen. Marco Rubio said he wouldn’t be on the 2012 ticket under any circumstances, Politico notes. “‘I don’t want to be the vice president of the United States,’ Rubio said. ‘I want to be a senator, and I want to be a senator from Florida. I think in the United States Senate I can have an impact on these major issues that we’re facing.’”

TRUMP: In an interview, Donald Trump told the Las Vegas Review-Journal what he wanted voters to think of when they thought about him: “Success and victory, for the country, not for me, for the country. I'm going to put all of my abilities, if I decide to run, into the country, not into myself anymore. And I'll do a great job,” he said.