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2012: Romney and Bachmann lead in IA

“Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann sit atop the standings in the first Des Moines Register Iowa poll on the Republican field, the Register reports. Romney has 23% of support from likely Republican caucus-goers, and Bachmann trails him by only one point with 22 percent. “The other candidates tested register in single digits: former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, 7 percent each; former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, 6 percent; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 4 percent; and former Utah Gov. and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, 2 percent.” (Here’s the full poll.)

Even if fundraising reports don’t always predict the winner of a primary, the second-quarter campaign finance reports candidates will fill at the end of the month will be informative, National Journal writes: “Electability is on Republican voters' minds already; now, we get a hint at just who can make the credible argument that they can go toe to toe with perhaps the best finance operation in American political history.”

BACHMANN: The Des Moines Register takes a closer look at Bachmann’s numbers in the Iowa poll: “Bachmann, 55, rates the strongest with very conservative caucusgoers, along with those who are well-educated and ages 45 to 64. More respondents pick her as their second choice, 18 percent, than name Romney, 10 percent.”

AP on the countdown to the Bachmann kickoff announcement: “Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman with deep tea party appeal, was ready Monday to officially plow into the Republican presidential primary with a conservative and often freewheeling message honed to the party's base.”

In an interview on “TODAY,” Bachmann told NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell: "I'm a businesswoman. As a former federal tax lawyer, I've seen the devastation of high taxes on businesses, farmers and individuals. I've seen it, I've lived it, I've practiced that in the courtroom."

On the eve of her big speech, Bachmann took a stroll down memory lane in Waterloo, reminiscing about her house “near the Dairy Queen,” the old family church and eating Wonder Bread sandwiches, the Register writes.

Bachmann went up on the radio in Iowa on Friday, in which she calls Waterloo is her hometown and invited Iowans to a “welcome home” event last night, Politico reports. 

And we're not sure that Herman Cain or Gary Johnson have gotten this question, which might ignite another round of sexism charges: "On 'Fox News Sunday,' host Chris Wallace quizzed Bachmann on a series of apparent inconsistencies in her legislative record and personal background — from Medicare to government subsidies and earmarks to her opposition to same-sex marriage," the Washington Post says.

"Then, as he wrapped up the interview, Wallace asked her: 'Are you a flake?' 'I think that would be insulting to say something like that because I’m a serious person,' Bachmann retorted. In the face of sharp questioning from Wallace, Bachmann appeared steely and calm, noting that she has 'a titanium spine.'"

GINGRICH: Speaking at a Tea Party bus tour event in Indianola, IA, Gingrich said the passage of gay marriage in New York showed the nation is “drifting toward a terrible muddle,” Reuters reports. “Saying he thinks marriage is between a man and a woman, he told reporters that he ‘would like to find ways to defend that view as legitimately and effectively as possible.’”

HUNTSMAN: “Huntsman’s chances of winning South Carolina’s first-in-the-South GOP 2012 presidential primary took a hit Sunday when U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint said he will not support his candidacy,” the Greenville News writes. “Huntsman, formerly governor of Utah, has declined to sign a pledge to support a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and that’s a deal-breaker for fellow Republican DeMint.”

PAUL: Bloomberg news notes that Ron Paul, and particularly his anti-Federal Reserve message, has become more mainstream – unlike his bid four years ago.

PAWLENTY: Although Pawlenty has spent 26 days in Iowa this election cycle, has a strong stable of Iowa operatives and was the first in the state to go up with a TV ad, he registered only 6 percent in the first Des Moines Register Iowa poll, the Register reports. (But the poll was conducted just before Pawlenty went up with his ads in Iowa.) “If I were the Pawlenty camp, I would be enormously concerned about this poll,” the Cook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy told the Register.

Pawlenty spokesman Eric Woolson compared Pawlenty’s standings to those of Mike Huckabee, the underdog who eventually won Iowa. “Sunday’s poll and others like it are a flashback to four years ago, when Mike Huckabee was at a similar position – well liked but not yet widely known,” Woolson said, according to the Register. (The silver lining in the poll is that he has high favorability ratings.)

Adding to his cable ad buy in the state, Pawlenty is running radio ads in the Des Moines Media market from June 24th to July 4th, Politico reports.

The radio ad’s message is similar to what’s being broadcast on TV:

Pawlenty: When I ran for governor I said, look, we have to tell the truth, and the truth is, the liberal approach has failed our state.
Announcer: For decades, Minnesota spending had grown at twenty percent.  Tim Pawlenty shrank that down to one percent, and cut spending in real terms for the first time in history.
But that's not all.
Pawlenty did heath care reform the right way.  No mandates. No takeovers.
And on nominating judges?
Pro-life Pawlenty turned a liberal supreme court into a conservative one.
Pawlenty: If I can do it in Minnesota, we can do it in Washington.

ROMNEY: Though Romney led the Iowa Poll, he only got 23% of the vote. Historically, only once since 1980 has anyone gotten less than 30% of the vote and won Iowa – Bob Dole in 1996 won with 26% over Pat Buchanan who grabbed 23%. Romney was only the second choice of 10% in the poll, tied with Herman Cain. Bachmann topped the second choice column with 18%. Paul and Pawlenty finished higher than Romney, each getting 12%.

SANTORUM: The Rick Santorum campaign announced on Friday that former Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-SC) will chair Santorum’s efforts in South Carolina, the AP reports. Barrett ran for governor in 2010 and was defeated in a runoff by now-Gov. Nikki Haley, who won with 65% of the vote.