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Presidential Derby

February 21, 2011 - 6:00pm

A poll backed by Newsweek and the Daily Beast found that 50 percent of those surveyed approved of President Barack Obamas performance in the Oval Office while 44 percent disapproved. The poll also found that Obama can expect a fight in 2012 with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tying the president, 46 percent each, when they go head-to-head. Obama had a slight lead over other potential Republican candidates, beating former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts 49 percent to 47 percent and beating billionaire real-estate developer Donald Trump 43 percent to 41 percent. Obama did have a healthy lead over former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, routing her 51 percent to 40 percent Looking at the Republican field, the poll found that the race is up for grabs. A plurality -- 31 percent of those surveyed -- was not sure who they were backing for the GOP nomination. Romney took 19 percent with Huckabee right behind him at 18 percent. Palin placed third with 10 percent, followed by Trump at 8 percent, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 7 percent, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty with 5 percent and three other candidates -- Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana and former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah -- with 1 percent With his chief rivals -- namely Huckabee, Romney and Palin -- lacking background on international issues, Gingrich is playing up his own foreign policy credentials and slamming Obama for not standing up for American interests abroad

If Barbour runs, he is going to have to shed the tag of being a regional candidate and do well outside the South. Barbour said, if he runs, he would expect to compete heavily in Iowa which holds the first caucus contest. History would seem to be on Barbours side. Winning the Hawkeye State helped propel two dark horse Southern governors, Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Huckabee in 2008, to become serious contenders for their partys nomination. Barbour visited Iowa earlier this week On Monday, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts said he had no interest in seeking the Republican presidential nomination Romney, who placed second in Florida during his bid for the Republican nomination back in 2008, made an appearance at the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Palin appeared at the Great American Race last year

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who appears very likely to launch a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, announced on Tuesday that he was bringing Seth Leibsohn, the founding executive director of Americans for Victory Over Terrorism and a former vice president of Empower America, to his Americas Foundation PAC. Leibsohn will take a leave from a fellowship with the Claremont Institute to handle policy matters and oversee speechwriting for Santorum ... Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said last week that he would be open to running in the vice presidential spot on the 2012 Republican ticket While Nevada, an early caucus state, is seen as a bastion of support for Romney, Pawlenty appeared in the Silver State on Monday, visiting Las Vegas

Paychex founder Tom Golisano, a registered Republican who has made numerous bids to become governor of New York as a minor party candidate, spoke in Washington on Tuesday, calling for abolition of the Electoral College and implantation of a national popular vote system. Golisano, who moved to Florida in 2009 due to the Empire States higher taxes, sold his interest in the Buffalo Sabers hockey franchise earlier in the year Former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska, who ran for both the Democratic and Libertarian presidential nominations in 2008 and has left the door open to taking on Obama in 2012 for the Democratic nod, has continued remaining active, attacking American foreign policy in the Middle East Former Ambassador Alan Keyes, best known for his three bids for the Republican presidential nomination and taking on Obama in the 2004 U.S. Senate race in Illinois, launched a blistering attack on Palin last week, saying that she gave the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) a pass for including gay activist group GOProud at their event, even though she did not attend the conference. Keyes, who ran for the Republican and Constitution Party nominations before forming the Americas Independent Party to continue his presidential bid in 2008, has left the door open for a fourth try at the White House.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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