Tales from the Trail

4 Republican hopefuls in New Hampshire find tepid Tea Party turnout

Four potential Republican presidential hopefuls showed up, but the turnout for the New Hampshire Tea Party tax day rally was rather tepid.

USA-CAMPAIGN/TEAPARTYOn a brilliant spring day in Concord, perfect for a rally, only about 300 came to protest taxes and the Obama Administration, a far cry from the robust rallies held ahead of the 2010 elections.

Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum — who have declared they are exploring a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 — and Herman Cain and Buddy Roemer — who are considered potential hopefuls — joined state politicians in an attempt to get the crowd fired up.

Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, gave a thumbs up to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s proposed multi-trillion dollar spending cuts, but said the cuts did not go deep enough.

Local attendees noted that the gathering was about one-tenth the size of a recent rally in support of public sector unions that packed the green in front of the State House.

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.

Republican Pawlenty hoping he got his money man for 2012

Tim Pawlenty, who is exploring a run for president in 2012 and is sometimes lampooned as somebody nobody knows, has created a buzz in political circles by hiring Nick Ayers as campaign manager for his exploratory committee. USA-POLITICS/REPUBLICANS

The former Minnesota governor, known to supporters as “T-Paw”, announced the hiring of Ayers, the former executive director of the Republican Governors Association, on his website and on Twitter, where he asked followers to follow his new guy @nick_ayers .

Pawlenty praised Ayers’ fundraising prowess. “In 2010 alone, the RGA shattered all previous fundraising records, and Ayers managed a $112 million budget, deploying $102 million directly into independent expenditures and campaigns.”

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.

Then came social issues and ‘morality’…

RTR2CNMS_Comp-150x150The Tea Party’s November victories and the ensuing Republican drive for spending cuts are in large part the result of a political strategy that focuses tightly on fiscal and economic matters, while minimizing rhetoric on moral questions and social topics. But for how much longer can Republicans keep a lid on the culture war?

The 2012 presidential race, though lacking in declared GOP candidates, may be about to pry open a Pandora’s box bearing the name of social issues that have long divided Republican and independent ranks. And such an occurrence could work against the interests of fiscal conservatives, just as the GOP girds itself for a showdown with Democrats over spending cuts and the debt ceiling later this spring.RTXXP42_Comp-150x150

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, one of those Republicans who are running for president without actually running for president, tells NBC’s Today show that social conservatism is what built America and made it strong.

Pawlenty calls Tea Party push for more cuts “good news”

USA/House Republican leaders may be concerned about turmoil among newly elected Tea Party colleagues who want bigger spending cuts. But potential Republican White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty sees only good news.

As the Conservative Political Action Conference prepares to hear from 2012 White House Wannabes, the former Minnesota governor tells NBC’s Today show that conservatives of every stripe should be proud.

“The good news is, and this is I think the story for CPAC and for conservatives more broadly, reducing government spending and dealing with the deficit and the debt is now mainstream,” he says.

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.”

Campaign’s over, so start campaigning

OBAMA/Finally get some shut-eye after Tuesday’s election? Well, rise and shine. 2012 is just around the corner and the presidential campaign is already getting under way.

Folks at the White House may be asking themselves if the humbled, chastened President Barack Obama will face a primary challenge from the Left.

That bit of speculation got churning after newly unemployed Senate Democrat Russ Feingold conceded defeat with the decidedly unchastened message: “It’s on to the next fight. It’s on to the next battle. It’s on to 2012. And it is on to our next adventure — forward!” FEINGOLD

Ron Paul: The Once and Future Conservative Favorite

USA-POLITICS/PAULRep. Ron Paul today seems to be little more than a voice crying in the wilderness of Republican politics. But the Texas libertarian and 2008 presidential candidate may have a lease on the future of the Republican Party’s conservative wing, at the age of 74.

Paul, the big winner in the presidential straw poll at the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference, ascribes his victory to young people who don’t like the way the Republican establishment is handling things.

“Right now, I think there is a disconnect with the people, especially with the next generation,” he told MSNBC.  ”They feel like the burden is being dumped on their shoulders and I think that’s what the vote represented, a lot of young people saying they don’t like what’s happening.”