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2012: The Titanium Lady?

NBC’s Ali Weinberg reports that Monday’s Palmetto Freedom Forum in South Carolina -- hosted by South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint -- will be the site of Mitt Romney and Rick Perry’s first meeting since Perry declared his presidential bid (and since the Texan surged ahead of Romney in several national polls).

But neither they nor any of the other four presidential hopefuls in attendance (Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, and Paul) will be sparring head-to-head. Instead, each individual candidate will hold the spotlight for 21 minutes, making introductory remarks for three minutes and then answering questions from DeMint, Republican Rep. Steve King (IA) and Princeton professor Robert George, the founder of the conservative group American Principles Project.

“It’s not going to be a cattle call with all of them up there, and so it’s not them against the other candidates at this point, unless they want to make it against them,” DeMint said when asked about the event earlier this week.

Perry leads in another poll. FOX has him up 29%-22% over Romney.

BACHMANN: If Margaret Thatcher was the Iron Lady is Bachmann the Titanium Lady? In a speech before the American Legion, “she harkened back to hard-willed efforts by former president Ronald Reagan to confront the Soviet Union and communism and pointed to the strong campaign Thatcher headed to regain control of the Falkland Islands,” the Boston Globe writes. “‘It took two very strong leaders on the world stage, one a woman and one a man, to reverse the course of their respective countries,’ Bachmann said. ‘We should heed the lessons that they hold for those who seek to wreak havoc on peace and on democracy across the world today.’”

“Bachmann said her references to Thatcher were meant to spotlight a transformational figure of her era. ‘We’re in a similar time period and we need to have strong, viable leadership to see that return again today, both with the military and with the economy,’ she said.” Although, as the Globe points out, “Much has changed since the days of Thatcher and Reagan. US troops are at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and terror threats pose a different kind of challenge for leaders here and abroad.”

PALIN: Real Clear Politics reports on Sarah Palin’s upcoming speech Saturday, that she will hit “crony capitalism” and a “permanent political class.” “Though she will not call [Rick] Perry out by name, Palin’s carefully couched rhetoric will leave the impression that she may soon draw more overt attention to one of the Texan’s potential vulnerabilities as a candidate: his history of doling out plum positions and other benefits to generous campaign donors during his nearly 11-year tenure as the nation’s longest serving governor.” (Via GOP 12)

But let’s not forget this New York Times story from Sept. 13, 2008: “Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal. So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency. Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.”

GOP 12 finds this from the latest FOX poll about Palin: “Even among her natural base, tea partiers, just 28% want her to run for president, while 66% say she shouldn't.”

PERRY: The LA Times gets some more details on the Hill Country retreat with evangelicals that Perry attended last weekend. "Inside an air-conditioned tent, the Texas governor and Republican presidential contender was grilled about his beliefs and his record in extraordinarily frank sessions. He responded by describing his relationship with Jesus and pledging to pursue the antiabortion and anti-gay-marriage agenda championed by the evangelical right, according to multiple participants."

The AP looks at Perry's advantages and challenges as he dashes to raise money.

Perry's socially conservative positions have sometimes rubbed Texas business interests the wrong way, writes the Austin American Statesman.

The Texas Tribune: "As Gov. Rick Perry touts his tough-on-crime policies on the national political stage, the case of Cameron Todd Willingham will continue to be scrutinized. Scientists have raised questions about whether Willingham set the blaze that killed his three daughters and led to his 2004 execution.But Willingham’s execution is not the only controversial one the governor has presided over."

Ann Coulter took a shot at Rick Perry on Hannity last night, saying he has “some problems of his own,” especially on immigration. “When your entire electorate is a conservative, Republican base, you don't have room to make a single mistake,” she said, “and Perry has made mistakes. He has made big mistakes on illegal immigration." She also seemed to defend Romney: “I think it's very important for people to remember that there's a difference running and being elected in Texas versus Massachusetts or New Jersey.”

ROMNEY: He announced the endorsement of New Hampshire House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt.

“The endorsement, coming from one of the state’s top conservative leaders, is a coup for Romney, who has made an effort in recent days to reach out to conservatives, including the Tea Party movement,” the Boston Globe writes. “Bettencourt, a 27-year-old law student and Republican from Salem, has led the nearly 300-strong Republican coalition in the 400-person New Hampshire House. The youngest House majority leader in New Hampshire history, he rose to a position of leadership with support from the newly conservative majority elected to the Legislature in 2010 and has been the public face for the Republican agenda in the House.”