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2012: An end to the silly season? Maybe

Establishment Republicans are hoping that Osama bin Laden’s death represents the end of the silly season among 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls who have up to this point focused on birth certificates and the threat of nationwide Sharia law, Politico writes.

GINGRICH: Gingrich will not participate in the May 5th South Carolina presidential debate, Human Events writes (and NBC confirms)

Gingrich was supposed to give a presentation on Pope John Paul II at the Basilica of St. John in Des Moines, IA, on May 16, but basilica officials canceled the event because Gingrich is now weighing a run for the presidency and his speech could be considered a conflict of interest, the Des Moines Register reports.

MOORE: Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was removed from office in 2003 when he refused to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state’s Supreme Court building, will participate in a Tea Party rally in South Carolina on Thursday before the debate. He is also planning a four-day tour of the Palmetto State on May 23, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal writes.

PALIN: During a veterans’ charity fundraiser at Colorado Christian University, Sarah Palin commended President Obama and former President George W. Bush and the military, although she did not mention Obama (only “the president”) by name in her speech, The Hill reports. "We thank President Bush for having made the right calls to set up this victory," Palin said.

Per NBC’s Catherine Chomiak, Palin said that bin Laden met justice at the hands of America's finest. She said the success of the mission was the result of diligence and a "testament to the military's dedication." She also urged that those who kill in the name of religion must be stopped.

PAWLENTY: Although Pawlenty is sometimes characterized as the establishment’s alternative to Mitt Romney, he’s also been courting the Tea Party diligently, especially in New Hampshire where he is “most actively positioning himself to play well among a libertarian-leaning electorate that tends to care more about what candidates say about finances than they do about faith,” Real Clear Politics writes.

Pawlenty will be in Iowa over the next two days with stops in Ames, Adel and the Des Moines area, the AP writes.

ROMNEY: Romney’s camp announced yesterday he won’t be participating in Thursday’s South Carolina debate. The New York Times: “Mr. Romney had previously indicated that he was not planning to attend the debate, and he seems not to have been persuaded to change his mind by Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, who last week made a plea for more of the potential Republican field to join him on stage in South Carolina.”

Romney returns to New Hampshire today, where he will have a meeting with business leaders in Nashua, the Nashua Telegraph reports. “As a courtesy, Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce President Chris Williams was helping to set up the private sit-down for Romney.”

SANTORUM: While he praised “all those involved” in the killing of Osama Bin Laden, Rick Santorum told Radio Iowa that the news doesn’t mean President Obama will prevail in the 2012 election: “According to Santorum, Obama has made the U.S. less safe by the way he’s handled Egypt, Iran, Libya, and Syria.”

Santorum spoke at Dordt College in Iowa yesterday, his last stop as part of the Presidential Lecture Series sponsored by conservative group the Family Leader, according to the Des Moines Register. He told the crowd that government is only set up “to protect your inalienable rights. It wasn’t to build a stronger economy. It wasn’t to order society. It wasn’t to create roads and bridges. It was to protect your freedom.”