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Posted at 3:02 PM ET, 02/ 3/2011

The GOP field jockeys for position

By Jennifer Rubin

The potential Republican presidential candidates are beginning to throw out hints, make their final decisions to run (or not) and give a sense of their strategies for 2012. Three in particular are drawing attention.

Sarah Palin is not going to speak at CPAC but is going to sponsor a reception at the conservative confab next week. She might be miffed at David Keene, an organizer, who criticized her "whining" about the press. Once again her staff doesn't help matters:

A Palin source bashed CPAC and its leader David Keene in an interview last year with Politico, announcing that the former governor wouldn't be attending - even though CPAC had listed her as an invited guest for the second year in a row. The source called the annual gathering an example "special interests over core beliefs" and "pocketbook over policy."

"That's not what CPAC should be about and people are tiring," the source said. "Palin is taking a stance against this just as she did in Alaska

What special interests is she referring to -- the gay rights group GOProud? (But I thought she tweeted some approval for repeal of "don't ask, don't tell.") She doesn't say, but bringing up her resignation from Alaska isn't helpful if the aim still is (and I think it quite possibly is not) to make her look like a serious contender. Her unwillingness to face off against 2012 contenders, and possibly lose a straw poll, will only fuel critics who say she can't compete in the major leagues.

Meanwhile, "Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Wednesday he would campaign for the Iowa caucuses, should he seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination." I now owe a certain Politico journalist a beer, having bet that Romney would not risk a loss in a state he did not win last time. Perhaps he needs a knockout blow early on in a state in which health care may not be the only issue that matters. It's a high-risk strategy, if he follows through. A lose would be crippling; a win and poor showing by another serious competitor (e.g. Tim Pawlenty, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour) might knock one or more from the race. And while Romney might be happy to have a state in which social issues, more than ObamaCare, are front-and-center, he's not exactly a crowd-pleaser with evangelicals.

And then there is Sen. John Thune (S.D.), who is pondering a run. He will speak at CPAC and he has an opportunity to surprise those who don't know him and to carve that niche identity I've written about.

From all of this, do we know much more than we did a week ago? Well, perhaps Romney is more nervous than ever because of the spotlight shining on ObamaCare, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the plan he fathered in Massachusetts. And, I would suggest, the field isn't going to include all of the names we have seen in polls. Moreover, because there so plainly is no front-runner, those on the sidelines can bide their time to consider that maybe, come summer (when the Republican House budget proposal represents a bold statement of principles), another candidate -- or two -- will step forward. It could well happen.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 3, 2011; 3:02 PM ET
Categories:  2012 campaign  
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Next: Republicans begin to cut spending

Comments

Face it Jen, the GOP has no one to seriously field.

Posted by: jckdoors | February 3, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Palin is not a serious candidate. Polls show that if she were the nominee, Nebraska and South Dakota would be battleground states. Republicans won't be that kind to Obama.

Posted by: eoniii | February 3, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing to me that anyone could support Sara Palin. It should be clear to America that Sara is not ready for world state. She quit her job as governor of Alaska so what would she do as president? For all of her supporters it's clear that Repubs would rather have an uninformed, unintelligent and inferior president versus a highly edcuated black man such as President Obama. To compare the two is not fair; it's apples and rotten fruit!

Posted by: TruCherryHillNJ | February 3, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

The GOP has one chance in 2012,Jeb Bush.

Posted by: rcaruth | February 3, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

What Republicans aren't considering running is more the question. Those that are include Romney, Palin, Pawlenty, Thune, Gingrich, Guiliani, Hunstman, and Bachmann, among others.

Questions for the field: Have you ever voted "present?" What is your background in community organizing? Do you know how to speak Austrian?

I suspect there is a surfeit of qualifed GOP contenders, and like the likes of Clinton Carter and our erstwhile Obama, he or she may stumble onto the stage and might actually win.

Where does Obama poll against a generic Republican? Bueller? Anyone?

Posted by: TimothyNorling | February 3, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

All the big guns with any real chance will wait until 2016.

Posted by: Amminadab | February 3, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

"Once again her staff doesn't help matters:"

Once again? Sigh. The quotation is from last year.

"A Palin source bashed CPAC and its leader David Keene in an interview *last year* with Politico . . . ."

Politico's next paragraph after the two quoted gives the background on what "'special interests over core beliefs' and 'pocketbook over policy'" mean. Hint: It's not GOProud.

By the way, the link given is to the 2010 Politico piece and not the one quoted.
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/48780.html

Posted by: TD01 | February 3, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

All the big guns with any real chance will wait until 2016.

Posted by: Amminadab
------------------------
Hah!

Posted by: eoniii | February 3, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

No Rick Santorum, whose candidacy exists only in the mind of George Will?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 3, 2011 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Jen

I see that you couldn't adhere to the moratorium on Palin. Yet another story that shouldn't be news in which Palin is injected. Why does she have to speak at CPAC? She has never spoken at CPAC. And what is the value of the CPAC straw poll? It was not a predictor of who won the nomination last time and if I am not mistaken, John McCain skipped out on CPAC the year before the primaries and was booed at CPAC the year he was nominated! And why is Huckabee's absence from this event not news? Again when it comes to Palin, your analysis goes downhill.

Posted by: steven2012 | February 3, 2011 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Can't resist a stab at Palin, can you Jennifer? And just when I thought it might be safe to read your blog again. Even when there is no Palin news, you manage to dredge some up, just to take a shot at her. Did it ever occur to you that you're exactly like MSNBC? Sad. It's truly a sickness.

Posted by: jcp370 | February 3, 2011 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Can't resist a stab at Palin, can you Jennifer? And just when I thought it might be safe to read your blog again. Even when there is no Palin news, you manage to dredge some up, just to take a shot at her. Did it ever occur to you that you're exactly like MSNBC? Sad. It's truly a sickness.

Posted by: jcp370 | February 3, 2011 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Okay, here's the definitive bottom line:

There is NO presidential hopeful/candidate EVER that insists on being compared to a First Lady.

Posted by: Khione | February 4, 2011 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Go T-Paw!!!! www.iowansforpawlenty.com

Posted by: iahoops | February 4, 2011 2:26 PM | Report abuse

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