Presidential Derby

Phoenix big tea party gathering point for candidates this weekend
By: Kevin Derby | Posted: February 26, 2011 3:55 AM

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Three potential Republican presidential candidates will be appearing in Phoenix this weekend looking to test the waters -- and find support from a prominent tea party group. The Tea Party Patriots kicked off a three-day summit on Friday and they will hear from former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and businessman Herman Cain … In Florida on Thursday, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich promised to make a decision on whether or not he will seek the Republican nomination in the next two weeks. Gingrich, who held a congressional seat from Georgia, talked about four potential Florida Republicans for the vice presidential spot: former Gov. Jeb Bush, current Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Allen West … Gingrich is not the only potential Republican presidential candidate hitting the Sunshine State. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who has left the door open for a presidential bid, will be speaking at an event in Jupiter on March 4 …

The potential Republican candidates are starting to take the gloves off. In his new book, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee jabbed former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts for the health-care reforms passed under his watch. This led a Romney spokesman to say that his boss was proud of having backed it -- which in turn led an aide to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin noting, “Romney spokesman: He's darned proud of Romneycare” … In the meantime, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum continues to take aim at Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana. Speaking on television in Iowa, Santorum said “fighters” do not make “truces,” a clear shot at Daniels who has said that there needs to be a “truce” on social issues in order to focus on economic ones … Santorum is increasingly looking like one of the potential candidates who is almost certain to run. He announced that his America’s Foundation PAC made four new hires in New Hampshire which will host the nation’s first presidential primary. Coming on board are former Alderman Richard Girard of Manchester to deal with policy, Brock Weber of the College Republican chapter at St. Anselm College to round up young voters, and prominent Manchester business people Charlie Morgan and his wife Laura Morgan to focus on small business …

No surprise here, but aides to President Barack Obama are saying that they will be filing for re-election in the coming weeks to seek a second term. Very few presidents have passed the opportunity to run for another term -- James K. Polk, Rutherford B. Hayes and Calvin Coolidge did not seek full second terms … While Iowa may be more pivotal in the presidential nomination contests than the general election, Republicans continue to hope they can carry it. Obama carried the Hawkeye State by 9 percent in 2008 but a new poll gives the GOP a glimmer of hope. The poll from the Des Moines Register finds that Obama’s numbers in Iowa are creeping up and now stand at 48 percent approval and 47 percent disapproval. Looks like Iowa could be on the Republicans’ radar screen come November 2012 -- but it’s been there before. With the exception of George W. Bush in 2004, Iowa has backed Democrats in every presidential election since 1984 … Conservative radio and talk-show host Sean Hannity will be backing a “counterprotest” at the White House against Imam Anjem Choudary and the Muslim Brotherhood on March 3, and Democratic presidential candidate Randall Terry, best known for founding the pro-life group Operation Rescue, will be backing the effort. Terry agrees with Hannity’s notion that Choudary and his backers want to bring sharia law to the United States …

Idaho has not held an important presidential primary contest in years, and that does not appear likely to change in 2012. The state moved up its primary from the fourth week of May to the third week of that month … The first ad from a presidential candidate is up. It’s from Andy Martin who is running, yet again, as a Republican. In the ad, Martin accuses Obama of not being born in the United States, a charge he first made during the 2008 election cycle. Martin who, when he took on George W. Bush for the Republican nod in 2000, accused Bush of using cocaine, has been running with a distinct lack of success for numerous offices for more than three decades … Keep an eye on former U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode. First elected to Congress in 1996 as a Democrat, Goode backed the impeachment of Bill Clinton and won re-election as an independent in 2000 before joining the Republicans. Goode lost his seat by the skin of his teeth in 2008 and in 2010 joined the Constitution Party. He’ll be speaking at the Constitution Party’s convention in Harrisburg, Pa., come April and there is buzz that he could be their presidential nominee for 2012.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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