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2012: Bachmann spends taxpayer $ on Tea Party event

BACHMANN: Roll Call looks at Michele Bachmann spending $3,400 in taxpayer money to help pay for a Tea Party event in DC. “The money came from the Members' taxpayer-funded office accounts, despite House rules prohibiting the use of these funds for political activities. Bachmann's office insists the expense was a proper use of official funds,” the paper writes. “Bachmann billed the event as a ‘press conference,’ which can be funded from official accounts. But no questions were taken from the press and, unlike most press conferences, it opened with a prayer, the national anthem and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Bachmann appeared at the RightOnline conservative activist forum on Saturday in Minneapolis, CNN reports, giving a speech that was full of humor and anti-President Obama red meat, including a few lines meant for minorities, which she also said a day earlier in New Orleans at the Republican Leadership Conference: “The president promised the African-American community, he promised the Hispanic community, that he would make their lives better… He's failing the Hispanic community. He is failing the African-American community. He's failing all of us,” she said.

CAIN: Mitt Romney has garnered much of the attention for not signing the SBA List legislative pledge on abortion. But Cain also didn’t sign it. He said in a statement it’s because he, as president, can’t “advance” legislation.

GINGRICH: “Prominent Iowa Republicans say they have seen no evidence that Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign has made efforts to hire a new Iowa staff since its entire paid crew abruptly resigned almost two weeks ago,” according to the Des Moines Register.

HUNTSMAN: The New York Times tees up Huntsman’s presidential announcement that’s set for tomorrow. “Mr. Huntsman … is joining the presidential campaign scene as a relative unknown outside Utah. Yet he is among those who are being taken most seriously by Mr. Obama’s aides, who after working with him for more than two years say he could be formidable if — and they consider this a big ‘if’ — he can navigate a nominating contest likely to be decided by voters who may view him as too moderate.

A 57% surge in his family’s company’s revenue in China as Jon Huntsman served as ambassador to the country could serve as a target for rivals, Bloomberg writes, as unemployment is the biggest issue in the 2012 presidential race.

A now-defunct subsidiary of Huntsman Corp. in Iran sold polyurethane that could be used in solid fuel for Iranian missiles, Politico reports, which earned the company complaints by anti-Iran nuclear watchdog group United Against Nuclear Iran in 2010. 

PAUL: Paul won the presidential straw poll at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, the AP writes. Paul, with 612 votes, bested Jon Huntsman who took second place with 382 votes even though he didn’t participate in the conference due to illness.

PERRY: “At this past weekend’s Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Perry’s speech certainly had all the elements of a man getting ready to run,” the Washington Post’s Cillizza and Blake write. “‘Our goal is to displace the entrenched powers in Washington, restore the right balance between state and federal government,’ Perry said, adding: ‘We now live in this strange, inverted version of what our founders intended.’”

The Wall Street Journal: “Aides to Texas Gov. Rick Perry said they are scrambling to determine the logistical challenges he would face in making a late entry to the fight for the Republican presidential nomination, the latest sign he is serious about joining the contest. Among their considerations is whether Mr. Perry has enough time to raise sufficient cash, which generally requires personal contact with donors and fund-raisers. Aides also have made inquiries in Iowa to assess his chances there in the first-in-the-nation caucuses.”

Dave Carney, Rick Perry’s chief consultant, told the AP on Friday he was making inquiries about the Iowa presidential landscape but cautioned the governor has not yet made a decision as to whether or not to seek national office.

ROMNEY: “One of the nation's most outspoken anti-abortion rights groups is putting an unwelcome spotlight on Mitt Romney's anti-abortion credentials,” Roll Call writes. Former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a SBA List project director, said, "The fact of the matter is that thus far he has refused to sign. When you look at the primary voter, they are overwhelmingly pro-life. We believe that it is politically advantageous, not to mention the right thing to do, to sign our pledge."

In an op-ed for National Review Online, Mitt Romney explained his decision not to sign the Susan B. Anthony List pledge, saying it was overly broad: “It is one thing to end federal funding for an organization like Planned Parenthood; it is entirely another to end all federal funding for thousands of hospitals across America. That is precisely what the pledge would demand and require of a president who signed it. 

If you’re looking for a good primer on Romney’s positions on abortion following his refusal to sign the SBA List pledge, the Boston Globe’s Johnson has a good one: “Mitt Romney added another chapter to his complicated history with abortion rights over the weekend.”

“Mitt Romney is getting some good news as he arrives to spend three days fundraising in California this week: He holds a solid lead over his 2012 GOP presidential rivals among the state's Republican voters, a new Field Poll shows,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. “Romney is preferred by 25 percent of registered GOP voters, giving the former Massachusetts governor a double-digit lead over each of his challengers.”