Tales from the Trail

And then there were two… Republicans exploring presidential bid

Two Republicans have now stepped up to the plate! Well, technically they have stepped up to the plate to consider stepping up to the plate. USA-POLITCS/REPUBLICANS

Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty are the first to declare their intentions to explore a possible run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Opinion polls show they have their work cut out for them.

The two Republicans who topped the list of potential candidates that Republicans would likely support for the party nomination were not Romney or Pawlenty in a new  CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.

Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee tied for first place, 19 percent, in the survey which was conducted before Romney announced formation of an exploratory committee. That compares with 12 percent for Sarah Palin, followed by a third-place tie between Romney and Newt Gingrich at 11 percent each.

While Romney has tended to draw skepticism from conservatives, in a straw poll of conservatives taken at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, he had a strong second-place showing after Libertarian Republican Congressman Ron Paul.

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Potential Republican candidates not quite household names

At least they know his name.

USA

President Barack Obama’s job approval rating fell to 49 percent in March from 51 percent in February, and dropped among independent voters to 37 percent from 47 percent over the same period, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Separate from their view on Obama’s job performance, a majority of Americans — 55 percent — had a favorable opinion of the president personally, according to the poll. That number was unchanged from December, when the question was last asked.

Potential Republican candidates who may seek to challenge Obama in the 2012 presidential race have their work cut out in the name recognition department.

Romney still hasn’t decided on a White House run … right?

USA-POLITICS/ROMNEYMitt Romney hasn’t decided whether to run for president. But of course that doesn’t mean he’s not.

Romney, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 2008, tells ABC’s Good Morning America that a formal decision about a possible White House run is still “down the road.”

“I’m not a candidate. I’m just having fun,” is the former Massachusetts governor’s laughing explanation about why he wasn’t wearing a necktie on national TV.

Obama up, Palin down in 2012 poll

President Barack Obama’s reelection prospects seem to be rosier, while former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s chances of being the Republican nominee were souring for 2012, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. But it’s early yet.

USA-ELECTION/Obama is expected to run again in 2012, and CNN said the poll suggests that his tax-cut deal with Republicans, pushed through at year-end, did not hurt him with Democrats.

Among Democrats, 78 percent said Obama should be renominated as the party’s presidential candidate, while 19 percent said they wanted a different candidate. Those readings were the highest and lowest respectively since March 2010, when the poll first asked the question.

Barbara Bush says Sarah Palin should stay in Alaska

barbaraFormer President George W. Bush has carefully steered around the subject of Sarah Palin during interviews about his memoir. But his mother, Barbara Bush, aka the “Silver Fox,” is showing no restraint.

“I sat next to her once,” Mrs. Bush told CNN’s “Larry King Live” in an interview that also included her husband, former President George H.W. Bush. “Thought she was beautiful. And I think she’s very happy in Alaska — and I hope she’ll stay there.”

Palin is weighing a run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination,telling ABC’s Barbara Walters last week that she thinks she could defeat President Barack Obama. She has a book, “America by Heart,” coming out Tuesday and is starring in a reality TV show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”

Washington Extra – The elections are over, time to start campaigning

The final result of the mid-term elections is not even in yet, but it’s never too early to start the campaign for the White House in 2012. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan invited Republican candidates to take part in the first presidential debate, to be held next spring at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California.debate

There are plenty of potential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Then there’s Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and South Dakota Senator  John Thune. And of course, if no one suitable throws their hat in the ring, Sarah Palin has offered to step up to the plate. Honestly, spring seems such a long time to wait.

Finally, a nod to the latest twist in the post-Cold War spy drama, with the unmasking of a Russian double agent who betrayed a Russian spy ring in the United States in June before defecting. The Russian paper which broke the story quoted a Kremlin official as saying a hit squad was probably already planning to kill him.  ”We know who he is and where he is,” the unidentified official said. “Do not doubt that a Mercader has been sent after him already.”

First Republican presidential debate planned for next spring

Okay here we go again. Now that the 2010 elections are behind us, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2012. And so today we have former first lady Nancy Reagan GERALD FORDannouncing plans to invite Republican candidates to the first presidential debate. It’s to be held next spring at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California.

Setting up the first debate could have the net effect of forcing some would-be candidates who are sitting back and testing the political winds to go ahead and make a decision on whether they will run. We’re talking about you, Sarah Palin.

“Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his presidential library,” Mrs. Reagan said in a statement. “I look forward to welcoming and watching the top candidates debate the issues next spring.”

Bill Clinton emerges as leading U.S. political favorite — poll

OBAMA/

CLINTON/Nearly a decade after his presidency ended in scandal and disgrace, Bill Clinton has emerged as the most popular figure in the U.S. political firmament, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.   Except he’s not running for office.

Fifty-five percent of the 1,000 adults who responded to the survey reported having positive feelings about the Arkansas Democrat, vs. only 23 percent who harbored negative feelings. (When he left office in early 2001, his ratings were 34 percent positive and 52 percent negative.)RACING/

The poll, which has a 3.1 percentage point margin of error, comes at a time when many voters are angry about the country’s economic straits, including high unemployement and an exploding fiscal deficit. Clinton’s two-term presidency was marked not only by impeachment and the Monica Lewinsky scandal but also by buoyant growth and a balanced budget.

Mitt Romney taking his new book to 49 cities

Mitt Romney is a man on the move these days. He’s written a new book and he wants to tell America all about it. USA-POLITICS/DEBATE

It’s called “No Apology-The Case for American Greatness” and he’s taking it to 49 cities. He is currently dodging the question of whether he will run again for the Republican presidential nomination, saying he will make up his mind at the end of the year, after helping Republican candidates in the November congressional elections.

But after listening to him at the National Press Club on Friday, it’s hard to see how the Republican Romney doesn’t run in 2012.

Romney says Obama doesn’t deserve a passing grade

Mitt Romney gives Barack Obama an ‘F’ for his performance as president. But that’s not because the former Republican presidential candidate still wants the job — at least, he’s not ready to say yet whether he wants it or not. USA-POLITICS/

“I’m not going to give him a passing grade for the year,” Romney said of Obama on NBC’s Today show.

Sure, the economy was in free-fall a year ago and is now growing. Sure, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is back above 10,000. Sure, the U.S. no longer seems headed for a new depression.