GOP Presidential Primary

GOP Presidential Primary

Sen. Rubio not tempted by '12 VP nod

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio would turn down the chance of being on the 2012 Republican presidential ticket. 

The newly elected Republican said he has no interest in being his party's vice presidential nominee. 

He explained his reasoning to Panama City radio host Burnie Thompson: "To be the senator from Florida is a big job. In addition to the votes you take in Washington of national importance, our state has a multitude of issues. 

"I mean, it will soon be the third largest state in the country and perhaps the most complex in the country in terms of the set of issues it faces. In order to do that job, and do it well, you've got have to have 100 percent focus on it," Rubio said, according to the St. Petersburg Times. 

"You don't have time to sit around and daydream. ... I want to be a U.S. Senator because I believe I can make a difference from that position. ... It's flattering sometimes, but that's about it."

Rubio is one of the most prominent new Republican members of Congress, having defeated Gov. Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek in a three-way race. His candidacy drew national attention and became a cause celebre for the Tea Party movement. 


Sen. Thune to address Missouri GOP

South Dakota Sen. John Thune (R) will travel Saturday to Missouri to give the keynote speech at the state GOP's annual dinner.

Thune is often mentioned as a possible 2012 presidential candidate, but he's made relatively few maneuvers toward a run as other possible contenders are increasingly jockeying for attention.    

Missouri's primary isn't in the early 2012 window, but the state's Republicans are still influential in the nominating process.

"Over the years, Missouri’s Lincoln Days celebration has attracted some of the biggest names in national politics," David Cole, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, said in a statement. "This year, we are excited that Senator John Thune will share his vision of our party’s future with Missouri’s committed Republican volunteers and activists."

Leigh Anne Garren, head of the Missouri Association of Republicans, said a big crowd will await Thune on Saturday. 

“We expect hundreds of conservative activists and elected officials from all across the state to join us in Springfield and are thrilled that Senator John Thune will be delivering the keynote address," she said.

Thune said he was "honored" to speak at the Lincoln Days dinner.


Tennessee Republican says he won't seek White House

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) has ruled out making a bid for the White House next year. With a potential primary challenge looming, he says his focus will be on returning to the Senate.

Asked by Nashville radio host Steve Gill if a potential campaign for the GOP presidential nomination was in his "thought process for 2012 or beyond," Corker was firm. 

"It absolutely isn't," he said Thursday, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

"Look, I really feel like, you know, I’m making a difference in the Senate. I spend so much time trying to understand the issues. I feel like I've become a thought leader in many ways. I’m going to work hard in our state over the next couple of years to try to be reelected."

Corker is one of 10 Senate Republicans up for reelection in 2012.


Rep. Bachmann's Iowa trip ignites White House speculation

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) knew her upcoming trip to Iowa would create speculation she was edging toward a presidential run.

Bachmann will be the keynote speaker at an Iowans for Tax Relief PAC fundraiser Jan. 21 in Des Moines. News of her trip ignited speculation she was testing the waters for a presidential bid by visiting the first state to hold a nominating contest in 2012. 

Bachmann didn't seem surprised by the reaction.

"I'm headed to Iowa," she told The Ballot Box. "I think that's why" there's the speculation. 

Her staff wouldn't rule out the possibility.

"Nothing is off the table," Bachmann chief of staff Andy Parrish told ABC News. "The congresswoman is excited about her first trip to Iowa this year."

Bachmann, who founded the House Tea Party Caucus, finished the year with close to $2 million in her campaign coffers after raising some $13 million on her way to winning a third term in 2010. That has prompted speculation she might challenge Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

But any bid for statewide office in Democratic-leaning Minnesota would be risky because Bachmann has based her career on courting controversy and staking out staunchly conservative positions. 

Whether or not she mounts a campaign for the GOP presidential nod, Indiana-based Republican strategist Kurt Luidhardt said it's beneficial for Bachmann to raise her national profile.

"People think she can run. Not every member of Congress is having that same kind of attention," Luidhardt said. 

--Updated at 5:50 p.m.


Florida GOP debates moving its '12 presidential primary

Florida Republicans are considering moving their presidential primary to avoid being penalized at the party's national convention.

The nascent proposal would see the 2012 primary moved to April, with a non-binding straw poll and debate held in January instead.

"It's good for the state, good for the party and will give a real boost to the candidates," state Sen. John Thrasher (R) told the St. Petersburg Times.

Part of the concern for Florida Republicans is that under national party rules, any state with a January primary like Florida's would lose half its delegates at the convention. The GOP 2012 convention will be held in Tampa.

Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) told the paper that such penalties won't matter because the vote at the convention will be symbolic.

"What's important is that Florida should have a real voice," he said.

Democrats, meanwhile, aren't particularly engaged on the issue of the 2012 primary date because President Obama isn't expected to face a challenge. 

Both parties have sought to discourage states from moving their primaries into January, when Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina hold their contests.


Retiring Sen. Bond takes shots at Obama, has 'reservations' about Palin

Outgoing Missouri Sen. Kit Bond (R) considers President Obama the worst of five presidents he's served with.

"He came in promising to make it more open and less partisan, and it's been totally partisan and totally non-transparent," said Bond, who claimed his last two years in the Senate had been the most partisan of his four-term career.

"It's because the Republicans were absolutely shut out," he said. "We had better solutions for all the problems the country was facing, but we were not able to offer those."

He continued, "I hope he [Obama] will follow Bill Clinton, who found after his first two years in office there was a major takeover of the House and Senate by Republicans, and he started working with us. The United States is a center-right country, and President Obama has been governing from the hard left."

Bond gave Obama "a bad C" grade for his first two years in office.

As to the other presidents Bond served with, he gave Ronald Reagan an A, George H.W. Bush a B, Bill Clinton a B-plus and George W. Bush an A-minus.

Turning to 2012, Bond said he wasn't enthusiastic about a potential 2012 White House under Sarah Palin.

"I have reservations about anyone who quits as governor halfway through the term," he told the Kansas City Star in an interview.

Bond instead named GOP Govs. Haley Barbour (Miss.) and Mitch Daniels (Ind.), as well as South Dakota Sen. John Thune, as potential nominees. "Those are people I think might be good."

Bond said he plans to join a law firm, which he wouldn't name, when he leaves the Senate in January.


Former Sen. Santorum heading back to Iowa

Rick Santorum will make his eighth trip to Iowa next week as the former Pennsylvania senator continues testing the waters for a presidential bid.

Santorum will be in the Quad Cities Dec. 15-16 for meetings. He'll also address members of the Quad City Tea Party at an event in Bettendorf, Iowa, that's open to the media. 

Santorum recently indicated he was waiting on Sarah Palin before deciding to enter the 2012 GOP presidential primary field. "If she decides to get into the race, she will take a lot of air out of the room, that's for sure," Santorum told The Associated Press.