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2012: Wide open in Iowa

Politico’s Martin: “Six months before votes are cast here, Iowa Republicans say that none of the current or potential hopefuls has cornered the market. Anyone can win here—the contest remains in such a state of flux that candidates as divergent as Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann could finish on top… If anything, the Iowa Republican contest of 2012 bears an uncanny resemblance to the 2004 Democratic contest here, with multiple candidates competing for different slices of the party vote and uncertainty likely to hang over the race well after the first frost has emerged on the corn stalks.”

BACHMANN: Over the weekend, Bachmann’s campaign fired back at Pawlenty’s charge that she lacks experience, Politico writes. Per a statement, "Governor Pawlenty said in 2006, 'The era of small government is over... the government has to be more proactive and more aggressive.' That's the same philosophy that, under President Obama... When I was fighting against the unconstitutional individual mandate in healthcare, Governor Pawlenty was praising it. I have fought against irresponsible spending while Governor Pawlenty was leaving a multi-billion-dollar budget mess in Minnesota. I fought cap-and-trade. Governor Pawlenty backed cap-and-trade when he was Governor of Minnesota and put Minnesota into the multi-state Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord.”

Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant responds: "Congresswoman Bachmann has her facts wrong. The truth is that there is very little difference between Gov. Pawlenty and Congresswoman Bachmann on their issue positions.  The difference is that when Governor Pawlenty was scoring conservative victories to cut spending, pass market-based health care reform, and transform a supreme court from liberal to conservative, and was elected twice in a very blue state, Congresswoman Bachmann was giving speeches and offering failed amendments, all while struggling mightily to hold onto the most Republican house seat in the state.” 

More from Conant: “In order to beat Barack Obama, Republicans need someone who can unite conservatives with a proven track record of winning conservative results and tough elections -- that's Governor Pawlenty. The governor looks forward to discussing these issues eye-to-eye with voters in town halls across Iowa next week."

PERRY: Texas Monthly's Burka offers "Yankee" political reporters eight things they ought to know about Texas Gov. Rick Perry, if he runs for president.

The New York Times: "Rick Perry is not yet in the race for president, but don’t tell the the people collecting e-mail addresses alongside tables for other, declared candidates at a gun-rights rally [in Searsboro, IA] on Saturday."

ROMNEY: The Washington Post looks at Romney’s stealth campaign in Iowa. “At this time four years ago, Mitt Romney was everywhere in Iowa. He popped up at ice cream stands. His glossy likeness landed in mailboxes. His sons drove a Winnebago they bought on eBay (the "Mitt Mobile") to all 99 counties. And at Romney headquarters in Urbandale, two dozen paid staffers and an army of volunteers toiled in a space as sprawling as a supermarket. This time, it's Tim Pawlenty with the RV and campaign ads and shock troops. That big Urbandale headquarters? The former Minnesota governor has the lease now.”  

“If it doesn't seem like Romney's playing to win there, that's by design. The former Massachusetts governor, widely considered the national front-runner for the GOP's 2012 presidential nomination, is waging a stealth campaign in the nation's first caucus state.”