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2012: Palin, reloaded

Stu Rothenberg: Paul Ryan’s “new status as unassailable GOP economic guru elevates the seven-term Congressman to a level that may be dangerous both for him and his party… [E]levating Ryan to a point where it’s somehow sacrilegious to criticize him or question some of his arguments — or even to suggest that he must save his party by jumping into the presidential contest — isn’t healthy for Ryan or his party. Parts of his record, after all, would make some of the people calling for his entry into the race blush.” Rothenberg notes that he voted for TARP, the auto bailout, No Child Left Behind, the 2006 highway bill with its Bridge to Nowhere, and the prescription drug benefit.

More: “[A]t some point, conservatives will realize that Ryan’s proposal is a considerable problem for the party and that a Ryan presidential bid would be an even bigger problem. When they do, those Republicans and conservatives will be relieved that Paul Ryan, no matter how courageous, articulate, thoughtful and intelligent they think he is, isn’t the GOP nominee for president.”

Romney leads in a new Gallup poll with 17%, followed by Palin with 15%, Paul 10%, Gingrich 9%, Cain 8%, Pawlenty 6%, Bachmann 5%, Huntsman, Johnson, and Santorum all get 2%.

The Hill notes, “The poll is the first major, national poll since several would-be candidates — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and real estate mogul Donald Trump — announced that they wouldn't seek the nomination.”

BACHMANN: “After hearing reports of behavior at candidate events that was either a security risk or an embarrassment, Polk County GOP officials have asked a private security firm to provide protection during a Michele Bachmann speech tonight,” the Des Moines Register reports. “Two recent incidents,” including Newt Gingrich getting glittered, “triggered the precautions.”

The Register’s Obradovich: “The political landscape has tilted in Iowa since Michele Bachmann last visited the state. Suddenly, her climb to prominence in the Iowa caucuses doesn’t seem quite so steep.” She points out that Bachmann’s speech tonight comes a day before Romney makes his first appearance in the state, but she faces “one potential landmine” – Sarah Palin. “Bachmann’s not a clone of the former Alaska governor, but she would face continual comparisons that could make it tougher to establish herself with voters,” Obradovich writes.

GINGRICH: “Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich continues to back away from criticism he made this month of Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to overhaul Medicare but he stops short of endorsing the plan,” the Boston Globe says. But he stopped short of an endorsement of the plan, which he still said could be problematic because people should “be very careful not to try to push on to the American people something they don’t yet understand.” And: “[W]hen asked if he supported turning Medicare into a voucher program, as Ryan would, Gingrich made no commitment, saying only that he supports debating options to give individuals more freedom to choose health-savings accounts or other payment models.”

PALIN: AP: “Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has authorized a feature-length film about her rise, added staff and recently said she has ‘that fire in the belly’ for a presidential bid -- all steps that fuel speculation she's inching toward a White House run.” She told FOX: “I do have that fire in the belly.”

GOP ’12’s headline on the Palin movie: “New Palin film suggests presidential run.”

PERRY: Asked on FOX if he’s “tempted” to run for president, the Texas governor said, per GOP 12: “Oh, I can't say I'm not tempted, but the fact is: this is something I don't want to do.”

But Yahoo writes this headline: “Rick Perry is rethinking his pledge not to run for president.” “In a press conference Tuesday, the Texas governor notably declined to ‘rule out’ a White House bid, amid calls from Rush Limbaugh and others that he should enter the 2012 race,” the story says. (Hat tip: NBC’s Janet Shamlian.)

PAWLENTY: “Tim Pawlenty on Wednesday talked up his sweeping plans for fiscal reform before a Washington audience while deflecting questions about Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) controversial budget proposal,” The Hill reports. And adds this: “Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, made his first appearance in the nation’s capital since officially announcing his presidential candidacy Monday, promising to ‘tell the truth’ to voters on controversial topics.”

Pawlenty gets this not-so-friendly headline from the Washington Post’s fact checker: “Tim Pawlenty’s weak indictment of Obama.” He gets Two Pinocchios and this summation: “Pawlenty’s collection of charges against Obama is a pretty weak brew. Many barely hold up to scrutiny. The so-called “promises” were often not promises made by Obama, while the underlying facts are often exaggerated or in dispute.”

ROMNEY: “On Friday, the former Massachusetts governor will make his first trip to Iowa this year, underscoring what aides call a more focused, disciplined approach to his second attempt at the GOP nomination,” the AP writes, adding: “Advisers also argue that unlike in 2008, a candidate running a lean campaign focused on the economy -- like Romney is – could emerge as the winner over a field of Republicans who emphasize cultural issues.”