BACHMANN: “The husband of Republican presidential contender Michele Bachmann has come forward to defend his family-owned Christian counseling business against growing questions and criticism that it benefited from federal payments and tries to turn homosexuals straight,” the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
“Rep. Michele Bachmann sent out a fundraising letter Thursday bashing Whoopi Goldberg, who criticized the Republican presidential hopeful on her television show this week for signing a pledge penned by a socially conservative group in Iowa,” the Washington Post reports.
CAIN: Herman Cain traveled to Murfreesboro, TN, and talked about his opposition to a planned mosque there, per the AP: "It is an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion. And I don't agree with what's happening, because this isn't an innocent mosque. "It is another example of why I believe in American laws and American courts," Cain said. "This is just another way to try to gradually sneak Shariah law into our laws, and I absolutely object to that."
GINGRICH: “Gingrich said on Wednesday that as president he would draw down U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as quickly as possible,” Reuters reports. “As rapidly as the generals think is safe,” he said. "And I would go to a much different style of using covert operations and using diplomatic and economic pressures. And I'd have a very clear goal, which is replace the Iranian dictatorship. But I think this is a very hard problem."
Gingrich had a slightly awkward moment at a Tea Party town hall in South Carolina, when a woman, who happened to be the county coroner said, "I'm the coroner, but I'm not here because you're looking ill or anything.” Byron York: “Taken aback, Gingrich smiled, laughed and expressed mock relief.”
GIULIANI: During a stop in New Hampshire, Giuliani gave support for raising the debt ceiling, per Reuters: "We have to recognize as Republicans that we don't control the entire government. We control the House of Representatives. They (Democrats) control the Senate and the Presidency. We should not put the country into default.” On timing, he “said he would decide by mid-September whether to make another bid for the Republican nomination.”
HUNTSMAN: “Jon Huntsman's campaign for president has rolled out a Conservatives for Huntsman drive,” FOX writes. Their goal is 5,000 conservative leaders 100% committed to supporting Huntsman, who then can recruit others. “Huntsman is traveling to Utah where he served two terms as governor. The schedule has not been released yet, but Miller says he's expected to talk with local business leaders during the Friday-Saturday visit. A motorcycle ride has already been publicized.”
The New York Times notes that Huntsman Corp. is so widespread it makes “chemicals that are used in everything from food packaging to fertilizer to car dashboards -- and even your Nike running shoes.” But, the Times writes, Jon Huntsman Jr.’s role is unclear. “A closer look, however, reveals few specifics about Huntsman's role in a company that by most accounts has been run by his father and brother Peter, the company's CEO since 2000. It also has green groups raising some long-term environmental and public health questions about the company's products -- including Huntsman Corp.'s original cash cow: Styrofoam and polystyrene food packaging like egg crates and the original McDonald's Big Mac "clamshell," which it no longer produces.”
PALIN: Fiscal responsibility? “Sarah Palin’s political action committee spent tens of thousands of dollars covering the costs of the former Alaska governor’s ‘One Nation’ East Coast bus tour this spring — a trip that Palin (R) has repeatedly characterized as a ‘family vacation,’” the Washington Post reports. “According to a list of itemized expenditures filed by SarahPAC to the Federal Elections Committee and published Thursday, Palin’s committee spent nearly $14,000 on the ‘bus wrap’ that festooned the family’s tour bus with images of the Liberty Bell, Constitution and American flag. The committee spent $10,000 on ‘logistical trip consulting,’ $3,600 to the bus driver and at least $7,000 on lodging.”
More: “The trip is expected to resume in the Midwest this summer, but it has been delayed in part because Palin was called for jury duty in Alaska and must report to the local courthouse each morning for the rest of July or until she is placed on a jury.”
Bristol Palin was on with Jay Leno last night and said that her mom quitting as governor of Alaska was putting “her state first.”
PAUL: “Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul is using his first campaign television ad to promote his long-time opposition to raising the federal debt limit,” AP writes. Of Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner on spending, an announcer in the ad says, “Will they choose compromise or conviction?” (Here’s the ad.) According to the New York Times, “The 65-second spot promoting his candidacy for president will start running Friday in Iowa and New Hampshire, according to the campaign’s chairman.”
PAWLENTY: “Tim Pawlenty ended June with $1.4 million to spend on his bid for the Republican presidential nomination as his campaign dumps money into Iowa ahead of a crucial August straw poll,” the Wall Street Journal says. “The former Minnesota governor raised $4.5 million during his first three months as a presidential candidate, according to a Pawlenty aide. He closed the quarter with $2 million in cash and negligible debt, but $600,000 of the remaining total was raised for the general election and can only be spent if he wins the nomination.”
Former Iowa talk-show host Steve Deace writes in the Washington Times of a focus group of undecided voters he hosted in the Hawkeye State and found problems for Pawlenty: “A cringe-inducing moment came when we asked group members to give their instant reactions to each of the GOP candidates. When former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s name came up, some of things this group of conservatives said included: ‘Soft.’ ‘Vanilla.’ ‘Insufficiently aggressive.’ ‘Spineless.’ ‘Indistinguishable.’ ‘Yawn.’”
Pawlenty said on CNN, per GOP 12: “Now the preseason's over, and we've got to start showing progress, and I'm confident that we will when my message... when my record of results gets out in Minnesota, we're going to do better. You'll see that in the poll numbers.”
ROMNEY: The Boston Herald has this harsh cover today: “Get a clue, Mitt!” The subhead: “Awkwardness on campaign trail could sink Romney, pundits say.” Here’s the story: “From pretending a waitress pinched his behind in New Hampshire, to cracking jokes about being ‘unemployed,’ to pulling out a $100 bill in a Colorado restaurant, Romney has raised eyebrows with a series of stumbles as he stumps in the harsh glare of the national spotlight… In New Hampshire yesterday, Romney declined to acknowledge any recent missteps, smiling and shutting his car door, saying ‘Thanks guys!’ when a reporter asked about his campaign trail foibles.”
AP (via GOP 12) notes Romney’s smaller campaign team this time around: “His New Hampshire operation is significantly smaller than four years ago, with seven staffers and one consultant on the payroll compared with 14 at this point during the 2008 campaign… Romney has just three paid staff in Iowa, two in South Carolina and one in Florida, according to Williams.
SANTORUM: The Des Moines Register notes endorsements for Santorum in Iowa.