DANIELS: Before Cheri Daniels took to the podium at the Indiana GOP dinner last night to make her highly anticipated speech, the roughly 1,000 Republican activists present chanted, “Run, Mitch, Run,” the Des Moines Register reports. During the apolitical speech, “She spoke about her love of Indiana’s state fair. She was there ‘17 straight days,’ she said, and showed video of cuddling with newborn calves and posing with baby pigs… She made no mention of Iowa during her remarks, but her state fair comments would make her comfortable if her husband joins the familiar trail of presidential prospects at the Iowa State Fair.”
“Missing from the 29-minute speech were the standard lines about beating the pants off the opposing party in the next round of elections, or the thanks to the many supporters for paying a minimum $200 dollars for dinner that night,” the AP notes.
"As a sign of how important [Daniels'] wife is to the decision, sources tell CBS News that even former First Lady Laura Bush has called Cheri Daniels personally to encourage her to support the effort and offer advice on how to define what her role on the campaign--and potentially in the White House--would be.”
“Cheri Daniels introduced herself to a national audience Thursday with a lighthearted speech recapping her years as Indiana's first lady,” The Hill reports. “Her keynote address to the state GOP's spring dinner in Indianapolis was not overtly political, despite the crowd of activists waiting for some hint about whether her husband, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), is edging toward a presidential bid. But it could be seen as a first step toward becoming a surrogate for the governor, should he decide to run.”
GINGRICH: Some of Newt Gingrich’s statements about the country’s economic success while he was in Congress over the last few weeks are either incorrect or misleading, the AP finds. Citing his statement that Congress “balanced the budget and paid of $405 billion in debt” for four years, the AP writes that “he did not preside over a four-year period of balanced budgets. In the 1996 and 1997 budget years - the first two budget years he influenced as speaker - the government ran deficits. In 1998 and 1999, the government ran surpluses.”
HUCKABEE: “Are debt and disco the greatest evils in American history? Mike Huckabee apparently thinks so,” the New York Daily News reports. “The former Arkansas governor and potential GOP presidential candidate on Wednesday announced the launch of a new education company that sells animated history videos for kids. The ‘Learn our History’ episodes have been produced to correct the "blame America first" attitude prevalent in today's classrooms, the website proclaims. The first episode is aptly titled ‘The Reagan Revolution.’” (Here’s the video.)
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is endorsing Senate president Mike Haridopolos in the Florida Senate race, Politico says. “In a video accompanying a fundraising letter that will be sent to supporters, Huckabee praises Haridopolos for being willing to ‘walk the walk and not just talk the talk’ and chides Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson for marching in ‘lockstep with the liberal establishment in Washington.’”
PAWLENTY: “Even as he draws low single-digit support in early polls, Mr. Pawlenty has amassed a substantial roster of well-connected GOP donors and fund-raisers in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
With political spouses in the news, Time profiles Mary Pawlenty, who “expresses little of the distaste for politics so common among other candidates’ spouses nowadays. To the contrary, she gives her husband regular political advice, and played a key role in helping him write his 2010 memoir, Courage to Stand.” But her most influential impact on their marriage, at least from a political perspective, is the prominence of religion in the Pawlentys’ life; Tim Pawlenty had been Catholic before he began attending an evangelical church with Mary.
ROMNEY: The Boston Globe’s top story: “Romney says he stands by Mass. Law.” The story notes, even though Romney “stoutly defended” his Massachusetts plan, “his plan for the country is radically different from his plan for Massachusetts. It includes no mandate for individual coverage, and changes tax laws to encourage people to buy their own portable insurance rather than relying on their employer’s coverage.” And this from Steve Scheffler, chairman of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition and a member of the Republican National Committee: “I can tell you right now, that’s not going to satisfy the average caucus-goer here in Iowa. A speech defending any kind of mandate is not what caucus-goers want to hear. I don’t know how he can condemn ObamaCare if he’s still defending his plan.”
The Washington Post: “His greatest achievement is also his biggest liability. It is the kind of paradox that would test the most agile of politicians, of whom Mitt Romney is not one. So on Thursday, the former management consultant who is also a putative front-runner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination turned to an old and reliable ally: the PowerPoint presentation. He was attempting to lay to rest criticism of the landmark health-care law he put into place as governor of Massachusetts, and to make a convincing case for how he would do things differently if he were elected president.”
The Boston Globe’s editorial page: “When he delivered his health care speech yesterday, former Governor Mitt Romney was defending himself in a kangaroo court… If Romney were free to use his incisive mind to craft pragmatic solutions to national problems, the country would benefit. He’s a talented public servant. But the tragedy of Romney, which is really the tragedy of the Republican Party, is that there’s no place for such a person in today’s conservatism. So another Romney had to show up when discussing the health bill signed by President Obama. Suddenly, all the pragmatism was gone, replaced by sweeping bombast….”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz will attend a national phone bank in Las Vegas on behalf of Mitt Romney this weekend, but he told the St. Louis Tribune that his presence does not mean he’s endorsing the former Massachusetts governor. Part of Chaffetz’s hesitation comes from having been the first chief of staff to former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who is considering a presidential bid.
SANTORUM: Rick Santorum took a clear intra-party shot at Mitt Romney yesterday, slamming him for his health care plan after Romney made a speech defending it, the Wall Street Journal writes. In a statement issued shortly after Romney spoke, Santorum said, “I greatly respect Governor Romney and admire many of his personal and professional accomplishments, but his work to institute the precursor to national socialized medicine is not one of them.”