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2012: Bachmann, Palin compete for the same space?

In his latest National Journal column, NBC’s Charlie Cook breaks down the 2012 GOP field. On Huntsman: "[I]t’s awfully hard to see how this candidacy works." On Romney: "Although he enjoys national name recognition and an impressive network of supporters and donors remaining from his 2008 bid for the GOP nomination, Romney carries burdens that may limit his ability to expand his current levels of support." On Pawlenty: "At this stage, Pawlenty’s strength is more theoretical than real, but when you work through the challenges that each of the other candidates faces, he seems to have fewer problems than the rest."

BACHMANN: Politico’s Jonathan Martin points out that Bachmann announced she was likely to launch a presidential bid, “hours after Sarah Palin announced a bus tour.” And: “The Minnesotan called Palin ‘a friend,’ but quickly added that no two candidates ‘are interchangeable’ and then touted her resume as a tax attorney, education reformer and former state senator. Bachmann declined to say if she would announce in time to participate in a debate on June 13th in New Hampshire, but said she would decide soon.”

Proof the Bachmann people know they’re competing for the same oxygen as Palin… The New Hampshire Union Leader writes of Palin’s trip to New Hampshire and then adds, “Coincidentally, late this afternoon, the point person for Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a potential presidential candidate who, like Palin, is a champion of the Tea Party/liberty movement, released details of Bachmann's aggressive schedule in New Hampshire this weekend and early next week.”

“Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann told reporters tonight that she will travel to her hometown of Waterloo next month to announce whether she will run for president,” the Des Moines Register writes.

The Des Moines Register’s Obradovich: “People don’t come to Iowa to announce they’re not running. If she actually schedules a speech, that’ll be pretty big tip-off that she’s jumping in. She touted her fund-raising, including a 30-hour effort that her staff said raised over $260,000.”

“Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on Thursday night spent five minutes on the House floor in an attempt to justify her vote for the Patriot Act, after admitting to receiving significant feedback from her supporters urging her to reject it,” The Hill reports.

CHRISTIE: The Bergen Record: “Governor Christie said this morning that he will pull New Jersey out of a regional cap-and-trade energy program.” GOP 12’s Heinze writes that the move “will encourage speculation that he might run for president in 2012.”

GINGRICH: The Comeback Kid? In New Hampshire, “[T]he crowds heard Gingrich declare at nearly every stop that his campaign is alive and well, casting himself as a ‘comeback kid’ — a moniker once widely applied to his old nemesis Bill Clinton,” the Washington Post writes. He said, “Look what happened to me over the last 10 days: We had every Washington analyst, except one, explain that my campaign was dead. I just relaxed. They were in a feeding frenzy, they had to get it out of their system, and I knew they would eventually calm down. The trick is, we need to stay focused on talking about what matters for America.”

“Republican presidential hopeful and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich is heading to Columbia,” the AP writes. “Gingrich will speak at a Five Points Rotary Club luncheon Friday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. It will be Gingrich's first visit to the state since he criticized GOP plans for a sweeping overhaul of Medicare, and his first visit since officially launching his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president earlier this month.”

HUNTSMAN: Demon RINO: A Christian conservative blog, Verum Serum, makes this video taking aim at Huntsman’s moderate positions.

While on his California swing, the Orange County Register’s editorial page writes, “It's too early to make any meaningful judgments about Mr. Huntsman as a presidential contender but his credentials, particularly the economic stability of Utah and his unique foreign policy experience, make him an intriguing addition to a Republican field of candidates that needs some pizzazz.”

PALIN: On the news of Sarah Palin’s reemergence, The Chicago Sun-Times’ Steinberg writes, “As if the death of Osama bin Laden weren’t enough good news for one month to offer the once-sagging political fortunes of the Obama administration — the terrorist mastermind was killed May 1, though it already seems like a year ago — when you include the failure of the Republican Medicare overhaul to pass in the Senate, plus indications that Tea Party darling Sarah Palin might actually run for president, the mood at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue must border on unbridled jubilation.”

PAWLENTY: “In his first foray into New Hampshire since becoming an official candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty yesterday denounced the federal stimulus program, even though under his leadership his state benefited from billions of dollars of the aid,” the Boston Globe reports. “Pawlenty met with reporters and the public and toured Cirtronics, an electronics manufacturing company that indirectly received $935,000 in federal stimulus money.”

“Promising honest debates about the nation’s most serious problems, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty paid a visit to Cirtronics Corporation on Thursday afternoon,” the New Hampshire Union Leader writes. (But check out the photo accompanying the story…)

ROMNEY: The Des Moines Register tees up Romney’s trip to Iowa today, his first trip this cycle, and it’s not glowing: “Many of Mitt Romney’s key Iowa backers from four years ago have scattered or have so far declined to commit to support the potential presidential candidate, partly because he has campaigned so lightly here so far… Several Iowans who were gung-ho for Romney last election argue that given the current circumstances, he has few excuses for avoiding Iowa.”

“Republican Mitt Romney is returning to Iowa to begin what his aides promise will be a leaner campaign for the state's leadoff nominating caucuses than the expensive juggernaut he assembled here in his 2008 race,” the AP’s Beaumont reports. The former Massachusetts governor plans to officially announce his second bid for the presidency next week in New Hampshire, the state around which he's built his 2012 strategy.”

The Boston Globe’s headline on Romney’s trip: “For GOP moderates, new hope in Iowa.” From the story: “[S]plit loyalties within its ranks could improve the chances of a more moderate GOP candidate like Mitt Romney, who stumbled here in 2008 and has spent little time in Iowa since. The former Massachusetts governor, who makes his first 2011 visit to Iowa today and will formally announce his candidacy Thursday, is up against the fact that, over the past quarter-century, highly motivated Christian conservatives have played an outsize role in a presidential selection process here.”

RYAN: Dick Cheney, according to the Houston Chronicle (via GOP 12) says he hopes Ryan doesn’t run, because “that would ruin a good man who has a lot of work to do.” He also said (really, he said this): "I worship the ground the Paul Ryan walks on.”