CAIN: Herman Cain’s officially in.
DANIELS: “Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has opted not to run for president, citing the concerns of his family as the reason he's passing on a chance to claim the Oval Office,” The Hill writes.
The Washington Post: “GOP strategists say that the removal of Daniels as a factor has made it even more obvious that the contest is becoming one between presumed front-runner Mitt Romney and a pack of underdogs hoping to emerge as the alternative to the former Massachusetts governor.”
“Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' decision to stay out of the presidential race could give a significant boost to the candidacies of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, several Iowa Republicans said Sunday,” the Des Moines Register adds.
GINGRICH: Roll Call describes Gingrich as “on the defensive” to “explain his stance” on Paul Ryan’s plan. “I made the mistake of accepting [host David Gregory’s] premise. I wasn’t referring to Ryan,” he said. “I was referring to a general principle. We the people should not have Washington impose large-scale change on us.” But “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer challenged Gingrich, playing a clip from last week’s interview that showed Gingrich referring to Ryan… Schieffer asked Sunday whether the Ryan plan was ‘too big a jump,’ as the former Speaker had said. ‘I think it is a big plan that needs to be worked through with the American people,’ Gingrich said.”
A quarter-million- to half-a-million-dollar line of credit at a jewelry store is “frugal”? “The beleaguered former House speaker bobbed and weaved Sunday when ‘Face the Nation’ host Bob Schieffer tried to pin down why a self-proclaimed thrifty financial conservative spent so much on bling at the high-end Manhattan store,” The New York Daily News writes. Gingrich’s answer on Tiffany’s, in part: "Well, go talk to Tiffany's. All I'm telling you is we are very frugal. We, in fact, live within our budget. We owe nothing… "It's a - go talk to Tiffany's. It's a standard, no-interest account.”
Meanwhile, Paul Ryan responded on Meet the Press to Gingrich’s claim last week that his plan was “right-wing social engineering.” Ryan said, per GOP 12: "His quote was deeply inaccurate. It was a gross mischaracterization of the House Republican budget plan. Newt's acknowledged that; he's retrated it, and let's be clear, what we're proposing here: this is as sensible and gradual as it gets." (Here’s the video.)
HUNTSMAN: “Unapologetic for being ‘respectful’ and ‘gracious’ to the Democratic President who appointed him, potential Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman came to New Hampshire this weekend not to criticize Barack Obama, but rather to call for a new ‘industrial revolution’ fueled by domestically produced energy and tax and regulatory reform,” the New Hampshire Union Leader reports. (By the way, check out Huntsman’s jean jacket.)
Real Clear Politics’ McPike writes of the “media frenzy” following Jon Huntsman through New Hampshire.
PAWLENTY: Roll Call writes that “Pawlenty’s (R) plan to go all in in the Hawkeye State” could be “a bigger gamble than in previous cycles.”
In an announcement video he released last night, Pawlenty says, “I could give a speech and tell you I was running for president. I could have a podium with a campaign logo on it… Or I could try something different. I could just tell you the truth. The truth is our country is in big trouble. We have far too much debt too much government spending and too few jobs. We need a president who understands that our problems are deep and who has the courage to face them. President Obama doesn't, I do.”
The DNC is questioning why Pawlenty’s running at all. Spokesman Hari Sevugan: “Despite spending the last two and half years putting aside his duties as Governor to set up his campaign, Tim Pawlenty doesn’t have a compelling rationale for his candidacy. He can’t run on his record as Governor, where he cut services, raised taxes and left his state with a $6 billion deficit and plummeting approval ratings.”
ROMNEY: The Boston Globe goes to South Carolina with Romney: “Mitt Romney this afternoon assailed President Obama for not articulating a clear position on how he would reform Medicare – but then the former Massachusetts governor declined to articulate such a position himself.”
The Hill: “If there is anyone else who can fill the void — and that’s by no means certain — he or she needs to step into plain view soon. The hurdles to mounting a viable national campaign could soon become too high to clear. The GOP’s foremost problem is easy to identify but difficult to fix. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the putative front-runner, but leaves a lot of conservatives cold.”
RYAN: So you’re sayin’ there’s a chance? Paul Ryan all but ruled out a run for president on Meet the Press. “My heads not that big, and my kids are too small,” he said, adding that he won’t get into “hypotheticals” about a run in the future.