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from Tales from the Trail:

2012 Republican sweepstakes: Thune out, waiting for Huntsman

The Republican field for the 2012 presidential race has not yet crystallized, but it will start taking shape over the next few months with every announcement from a (real or rumored) potential presidential hopeful.

One to cross off the list -- Republican Senator John Thune said he won't be running.  He posted the announcement on his Facebook page, saying he plans to continue representing South Dakota in the Senate.

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANS"There is a battle to be waged over what kind of country we are going to leave our children and grandchildren and that battle is happening now in Washington, not two years from now," Thune said. "So at this time, I feel that I am best positioned to fight for America’s future here in the trenches of the United States Senate."

Thune became the second conservative Republican in Congress to decide against seeking the party's nomination, following Representative Mike Pence of Indiana.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – New guy

The crowds, the anticipation, the time checks...

Jay Carney's first appearance behind the podium in the White House press room as President Barack Obama's new press secretary had all the markings of a mini-movie premiere... Beltway style. USA/

As the hands on the clock passed 12:30 p.m. the tweeting began -- he's late! On the first day!

from Tales from the Trail:

New White House press secretary Carney sounds a few familiar notes

President Barack Obama's new press secretary, Jay Carney, took a few phrases out of his predecessor's playbook during his first stint at the White House podium.

It turns out that he, like Robert Gibbs, is not an economist. And he doesn't want to speculate. And he refers you to the (insert relevant department here) for further details on questions that were not entirely on his radar. USA/

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington grow up? Don’t hold your breath

President Barack Obama said he wants a mature discussion between politicians of all stripes as the White House and members of Congress try to make tough decisions on spending and taxes necessary to run the government and deal with a ballooning budget deficit.obama1

"My hope is that what's different this time is, is we have an adult conversation where everybody says here’s what's important and here’s how we’re going to pay for it," Obama told a news conference Tuesday.

from Tales from the Trail:

Why are these politicians smiling?

IMMIGRATION-USA/SECURITYSocial Security reform is coming. You can tell by the smiling nice guy personas being adopted around Washington in uncommon bipartisan fashion.

There's Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, the senior Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. "If we're smart, we can adjust those programs in ways that minimize the impact," he reassures the viewers of MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

from Tales from the Trail:

CPAC victory in hand, Ron Paul takes on Tea Party

USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANSLibertarian Ron Paul, a godfather of the Tea Party movement, isn't altogether happy with his political progeny these days.

Fresh from victory in last week's CPAC presidential straw poll, the Republican congressman from Texas laments to MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that some Tea Partiers aren't measuring up when it comes to the tough defense and entitlement program cuts he believes are needed to save the United States from economic cataclysm.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Early valentine

Even on television from thousands of miles away, the Egyptian revolution was breathtaking. A moment to mark in history.

President Hosni Mubarak gave the protesters an early valentine by stepping down. What had been expected yesterday was surprising today.

from Tales from the Trail:

Valentine’s Day with the GOP

What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than by sending your special someone a pink e-card, covered in hearts, with a message from the president: "Hope you like this Valentine's card, your grandchildren are paying for it."

In the GOP version of My Funny Valentine and a way to raise some sweet cash, the Republican National Committee is poking some fun at the White House and its Democratic cohorts with GOPvalentine.com, and more than 30,000 of the snarky messages had been sent as of Friday morning.

from Tales from the Trail:

Trump accepts high marks for CPAC

USA-POLITICS/Donald Trump went to CPAC this week and aced his performance as a prospective White House Wannabe. Any doubts? Just ask him.

"I tell the truth. I tell it like it is, and people understand what I'm saying, and the place did go crazy," The Donald tells MSNBC's Morning Joe today.  "That's what I said in the speech. And that's why I got 10 standing ovations."

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Food for thought

The U.S. government strongly supports democratic reforms in the Middle East. Just look at its comments on Egypt. But the American public doesn't appear to be so gung-ho.

OBAMAA Reuters/Ipsos poll out today found that a solid majority, 58 percent, believe the United States should be cautious about backing democracy in the Middle East because elections could lead to anti-American Islamist governments.

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