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2012: Who's serious and who isn't?

BACHMANN: Michele Bachmann’s adviser Ed Rollins took on Sarah Palin yesterday while appearing on a radio show, saying she has “not been serious over the last couple of years,” The Hill writes. “Bachmann has publicly been gracious toward Palin in public, but Rollins's comments indicate that there could be more sniping between the two Tea Party favorites if both decide to enter the presidential race.”

But Mother Jones finds instances when new Bachmann adviser Ed Rollins criticized his new boss as not a serious candidate. Rollins’ explanation? "That was before she hired me!” he said, in part.

CAIN: Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said on CNN last night that his biggest problem with President Obama is his "lack of leadership," NBC’s Matt Loffman notes. "Lack of leadership on those critical issues, particularly the economy, is my number one problem with what the president is doing," Cain said.

GINGRICH: Today Newt Gingrich will sign the Strong America Now deficit reduction pledge, a group promoting cutting the deficit by promoting business practices known as the Lean Six Sigma strategy, the New Hampshire Union-Leader reports. “Gingrich will sign the pledge at C&M Machine Products, Inc. in Hudson, which describes itself on its web site as ‘a world class supplier of precision components to Fortune 500 companies, as well as middle and lower tier manufacturers.’”

HUNTSMAN: Huntsman will make his third trip to New Hampshire this Friday, Real Clear Politics reports, for “a total of about eight public events in two days. Add that to the 11 from this past weekend and the 13 he attended three weeks before, and Huntsman will have held an eye-popping 32 Granite State events in less than a month, far outpacing the visits of his competition.”

PALIN: “A Democratic congressman from Oregon is questioning whether it was appropriate for the National Park Service to give special treatment to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin during her recent ‘One Nation’ bus tour to historic sites on the East Coast,” the Washington Post writes. “Representative Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the House Ways and Means and Budget committees, sent a letter yesterday to Park Service director John Jarvis asking for an accounting of whether taxpayer resources were spent to accommodate the Palins.”

PAWLENTY: The New York Times on Pawlenty’s speech in Chicago yesterday: “Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty called on Tuesday for more than $2 trillion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses over the next decade and two to three times as much in federal spending reductions and loophole closings, saying that such policies would drive rapid economic growth."

The AP: “The former Minnesota governor's plan aims for a bullish 5 percent annual growth that would balance the federal budget while forgoing trillions of dollars in tax revenue… His own team acknowledged the assumptions were aggressive. One critic called it ‘patently ridiculous,’” as sustained 5 percent growth for a decade would be unprecedented in modern times.

According to Politico, Conservative group Club for Growth’s president Chris Chocola praised Pawlenty’s speech, writing that Pawlenty was “exactly right in calling for cleaning up the tax code by instituting flatter tax rates and eliminating tax loopholes and giveaways. His support for cutting the corporate tax rate, eliminating the capital gains tax and dividend tax is outstanding.”

ROMNEY: Per NBC’s Loffman, Romney said in a CNN interview that he would not let his religious beliefs influence decisions he would make as president including abortion rights and gay rights -- though he believes that marriage should be between one man and one woman. He refused to be labeled as a "spokesman" for the Mormon Church. "I'm not here in a religious context; I'm here as a candidate for president," he said.  "And as a candidate for president, or as a president, I would have to represent the interests of all the people."

According to a new Quinnipiac Poll, “More than a third of U.S. voters have some qualms about a Mormon president, even as Republicans prefer former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney over other presidential candidates,” Bloomberg writes. While 36% of voters say they were “somewhat” or “entirely uncomfortable” with a Mormon presidential candidate, Mitt Romney led the Republican field with 25 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

The Boston Globe’s Viser looks at Romney’s more laid-back style this time around: “As he reintroduces himself to Republican voters, Mitt Romney is increasingly trying to highlight a more casual side of himself” that appears designed to make Romney appear more, well, average. But some suggest the updated style runs the risk of making him seem calculating, and willing to change his image if that’s what it takes to become president.”