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Presidential Derby

January 19, 2011 - 6:00pm

Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to Democrats at the national level, released a poll Thursday that had President Barack Obama leading the major Republican presidential candidates.

Obama led former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee by 5 points each -- 48 percent to 43 percent against Romney and 49 percent to 44 percent against Huckabee. Obama crushed other candidates in the field, leading former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich 51 percent to 39 percent while the president beat former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin 55 percent to 38 percent. Obama also led U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota 51 percent to 33 percent. The poll of 632 voters, taken between Jan.14 and 16, had a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent Huckabee will he releasing a new book in February and his promotional tour will take him to some of the early battlegrounds that will help determine the Republican nominee. Hell be hitting Iowa and South Carolina to promote A Simple Government Speaking of Huckabee, his longtime staffer Chip Saltsman will be taking over as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn. Saltsman, who was Huckabees campaign manager in 2008, said his new position does not rule out returning to the Huckabee camp if the former Arkansas governor launches a second bid for the Republican presidential nomination

While he may have backed John McCain over Obama in 2008, retiring U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., has not ruled out returning to the Democratic fold and backing Obama in 2012. Lieberman added that it was too early to make presidential endorsements and he would wait to see who emerged from the Republican pack Despite backing Romney in 2008, Carla Monier, a longtime Republican activist in New Hampshire who served as an aide to former Gov. Meldrim Thomson and was married to the late Senate President Bob Monier, has come onboard as state chairwoman of Americas Foundation, a PAC closely affiliated with former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. Having made numerous trips to early battlegrounds, Santorum is seen as very likely to take a shot at the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 In the meantime, U.S. Sen. John Thune -- a hero among Republicans for knocking off then-Democratic Senate Leader Tom Daschle back in 2004 --toured his home state of South Dakota and said he was still open to launching a presidential bid

Obama is clearly getting ready to run for a second term. Reports came out this week that he will open a campaign headquarters in Chicago in either March or April. In the meantime, he is assembling a team, choosing White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina as campaign manager and plucking Jennifer O'Malley Dillon from the DNC to serve as deputy campaign manager Joined by Rabbi Yehuda Levin, Operation Rescue founder and pro-life activist Randall Terry held a campaign kickoff on Thursday to launch his bid against Obama in the Democratic primaries. Terry said he was hoping to do well in Iowa. Former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew, the last serious pro-life candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, tried much the same strategy, putting all his eggs in the Iowa basket in 1984, and he pulled in 3 percent There was talk that consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader would run for the seat that former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd vacated in Connecticut back in 2010. Look for the buzz to start that Nader could run for the seat that Lieberman is vacating. Nader blasted Liebermans record on a number of issues after the senator announced he would not seek a fifth term in 2012

While there has been speculation that Texas Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Paul would make a run at the U.S. Senate being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2012, the former presidential candidate said on Thursday that he is more likely to launch another bid at the White House. However, he added that he is still open to the possibility of running for the Senate While Bachmann downplayed launching a presidential bid, she is keeping the door open. Bachmann will hit Des Moines on Friday to speak to Iowans for Tax Relief Of course, history is against Paul, Bachmann and U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., if they launch presidential bids. The only time a sitting member of the U.S. House won the presidency was back in 1880 when James Garfield pulled off one of the great upsets in American political history, defeating Ulysses S. Grant, James G. Blaine, John Sherman and a host of other worthies to win the Republican presidential nomination. Garfield would defeat Democratic candidate and Gettysburg hero Winfield S. Hancock in the general election.

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

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