Presidential races

Presidential races

Huckabee: Sarah Palin may 'run away' with GOP nomination in 2012

Speaking to a group of social conservatives in Iowa over the weekend, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) warned that Sarah Palin might just "run away with" the party's presidential primary two years from now should she decide to run. 

"No question, she will be a very, very strong presence and force, if she gets in," Huckabee said of the former Alaska governor, according to the Des Moines Register. "You know, she may run away with it. And that’s one of those things everyone needs to be prepared for." 

Huckabee, who was the last man standing against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 Republican primary, has been coy on his plans for 2012.

Huckabee said Sunday that he is "considering" another run, but declined to provide a timeframe for when he might make a final decision. 

Huckabee's 2008 win in the Iowa caucuses vaulted him to GOP stardom, and polls show he could be the early favorite in Iowa again if he decides to run in 2012. Huckabee boasts a solid base of support with evangelical voters in the state— a key voting bloc in the caucuses.

On Sunday, Huckabee praised the campaign led by former Iowa gubernatorial hopeful Bob Vander Plaats to oust three state Supreme Court justices over their decision to overturn a ban on gay marriage in the state and said it could prove to be a model for similar campaigns across the nation. 

While most potential 2012 hopefuls, including Palin and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, endorsed Gov. Terry Branstad earlier this year, Huckabee stood by Vander Plaats, who chaired his 2008 presidential campaign in the state.  

Palin, meanwhile, is headed back to Iowa at the end of this week for one of the first stops on the tour for her new book, America by Heart. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was in the state promoting his book last week.  


Haley Barbour advises Michael Bloomberg not to run for president

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) hasn't said if he'll make a 2012 presidential bid but he does have one person he doesn't want to run: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"I hope Mayor Bloomberg won't even consider that," Barbour told CNN. "But if there were a strong third-party candidate, there's no question in my mind that candidate would draw votes away from the Republican."

Bloomberg originally ran for NYC mayor as a Republican but changed his voter registration in 2007 and ran for reelection as an independent.

But Bloomberg said Tuesday he doubts an independent candidate could win the White House.

"Party affiliation is so strong that ... you could get every independent vote, (and) it would still not be a majority," he told a group of chief executives and policy-makers in Washington, according to Reuters.

Barbour told CNN a third-party bid by Bloomberg would be "the best thing that can happen to President Obama" because of the GOP votes Bloomberg could win.

Barbour wouldn't talk about any presidential ambitions on his part. He said: "It's not like I've got to decide by Christmas or I've got to decide by Valentines or I've got to decide by any day, but I am going to seriously think about it and come to a decision in the next few weeks or months."


Gov. Jindal: 'I'm not running for president'

Gov. Bobby Jindal is not running for president in 2012 — "no ifs, ands or buts."

The Louisiana Republican made his intentions clear during an interview with The Associated Press.

"I'm not being coy at all. I'm not running for president in 2012. Period. No ifs, ands or buts, no caveats," Jindal said. "We have made great progress in Louisiana, but we've got a lot more work to do."

Jindal was considered a potential contender because of his experience in the Louisiana governor's mansion and as a congressman. He's currently making media appearances promoting his new book.

Jindal has announced he's running for a second term as governor.


Murkowski hits Palin's lack of 'intellectual curiosity'

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Monday that she couldn't support former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for president should she run in 2012, citing Palin's lack of "intellectual curiosity." 

In an interview on the "CBS Evening News" with host Katie Couric Monday, Murkowski said she doesn't think Palin enjoyed governing when she was the state's chief executive and questioned Palin's knowledge of policy. 

"I just do not think she has those leadership qualities, that intellectual curiosity that allows for building good and great policies," Murkowski said on CBS Monday. 

Murkowski has long had an antagonistic relationship with Palin, who backed Tea Party favorite Joe Miller earlier this year in the state's GOP Senate primary. In 2006, Palin defeated Murkowski's father in a primary--former Gov. Frank Murkowski. 

"She was my governor for two years, for just about two years there, and I don't think that she enjoyed governing," said Murkowski. "I don't think she liked to get down into the policy. I want somebody who goes to bed at night and wakes up in the morning thinking about how we're going to deal with our national security issues, how we're going to deal with our economy, how we're going to deal with providing better education." 

Murkowski said currently her relationship with Palin is just about nonexistent, telling Couric, "We just don't really have much in common. I mean, we don't talk to one another." 

Ballots are still being counted in Murkowski's write-in battle against Miller, but the senator's camp appears confident she will come out on top. Elections officials continued the write-in ballot count Monday and Murkowski is still winning close to 90 percent of those votes unchallenged. 

Murkowski received a warm welcome from fellow Senators on the Senate floor Monday and congratulations from National Republican Senate Campaign Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas). 

Murkowski said she hopes to have some final news on the ballot count by Wednesday.


Romney starts online petition to support earmark ban

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has started an online petition to support a proposed ban on earmarks.

Romney tweeted Monday: "Support Senator @JimDeMint in his effort to curb federal spending. Sign the 'no earmark' petition today:"

The petition is through his Free and Strong America PAC. Romney, a possible 2012 presidential candidate, praised Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who is leading the charge to ban spending earmarks.

Romney writes: "Senator DeMint is courageously standing on conviction with his much-needed proposal to ban earmarks, which will curb wasteful spending and restore accountability to the way Congress spends taxpayer dollars. We all need to recognize that Washington can’t responsibly begin to address out-of-control debt and deficits until the practice of cramming earmarks into spending bills is stopped.

"While earmarks are not the only cause of our budget proplems [sic], they have come to symbolize what’s wrong with Washington. What was once accepted as the normal way of doing business has to be re-examined in light of our $13 trillion national debt. I encourage all Republicans to embrace Senator DeMint’s earmark ban and send a powerful message that we will no longer tolerate business as usual on Capitol Hill," he writes on the PAC's website.

People are then encouraged to sign the petition.

Voters listed unhappiness with spending in Washington as one of their top concerns this election cycle. Several Republicans ran successful campaigns based on the issue.

The Republican Conference is scheduled to vote on the ban at their weekly meeting Tuesday.

DeMint said Monday the vote on whether or not to ban earmarks will be the first test as to whether members fully grasp the lessons of the midterm elections.  

The senator, who easily won reelection, was a major force in the 2010 election cycle.

Through his Senate Conservatives Fund, DeMint helped raise several million dollars for Tea Party backed candidates and played a leading role in several high-profile GOP primary fights.

On the House side, presumed Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and likely Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced they will hold a vote among House Republicans to ban earmarks.

—Shane D'Aprile contributed to this post.


Jindal mum on 2012 White House bid; criticizes Obama on response to oil spill

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) declined to answer a question about his 2012 presidential intentions during an interview on NBC's "Today Show" Monday morning.

Jindal, who is up for reelection in 2011, said his gubernatorial campaign is his priority.

"I'm running for reelection next year. You'll have a lot of Republicans in Iowa. I'm sure I'll be in Louisiana," he said.

Taking the opportunity to tout his work as governor, he said: "I do think there are things we've done in Louisiana. We have cut taxes. We were talking before, our economy is outperforming the national economy. said we had the second best economic performance during the recession. There are a whole list of numbers. Our unemployment rate's been below the southern and national averages."

Asked if he was trying to raise his national profile, Jindal said: "I want folks across the country to see what we've done in Louisiana. I think they can learn from those experiences. I think if the federal government would do what we did — cut spending, cut taxes — we'd have more, better paying jobs in the private sector for our children and grandchildren."

Jindal told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, however, that he's not running.

"I know there's been speculation since almost the first day I took this office about my plans," he said. "There was speculation even in the last presidential cycle. I've made it very clear: I've got the job I want. I'm running for re-election next year. I'm not running for president."

The governor was on the "Today Show" to promote his book "Leadership and Crisis," which goes on sale today.


Sen. Hatch calls Romney 'his preference' in 2012

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said over the weekend that he expects former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will run for president in 2012 and that he "would be my preference" for the GOP nomination. 

It's one of the first statements of 2012 support from a congressional Republican.   

Romney has not yet announced his intentions for 2012, but he is widely expected to make a second run at the White House. In 2008, Hatch backed Romney's bid and publicly encouraged the candidate to address his Mormon faith, which Hatch shares. 

The Utah Republican, meanwhile, could be locked in a Republican primary himself in 2012. A recent Mason Dixon survey showed 48 percent of likely voters in the state would prefer an alternative to Hatch in two years. 

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is one rumored opponent — the two have already locked horns over 2012. Hatch recently claimed that Chaffetz privately pledged to not challenge him, which Chaffetz denies. 


Palin book tour includes stops in Iowa and South Carolina

Sarah Palin begins her book tour in two weeks, and she'll stop in two states that play an important role in the GOP primary process.

She's scheduled to make stops in Iowa and South Carolina — two early voting states in the race for the Republican nomination. Notably missing from the list is New Hampshire, home to the nation's first presidential primary.

The nine-day, 16-stop tour focuses on areas of the country in which the former Alaska governor is most popular: the Midwest and the South. As with her first book tour, she'll avoid most major cities on the coasts.

Her family will join her during the tour.

Palin tweeted Wednesday: "Family gearing up 4 Thanksgiving break book tour; anxious 4 kids 2 have "what I did on my vacation" experiences in great US towns along way."

They'll be on the road from Nov. 23 to Dec. 3, with a break for Thanksgiving. The book, America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag, comes out Nov. 23.

Palin will kick off her tour in Phoenix, home of her 2008 running mate John McCain.

She also tweeted Wednesday: "America by Heart" available Nov 23! We'll kick off tour then;wrap up in Alaska...add stops like we did w Going Rogue tour,depending on time."

The full tour schedule is after the jump.


Gov. Pawlenty signs friend-of-court brief in healthcare lawsuit

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a lawsuit challenging the new healthcare law.

Pawlenty, a possible 2012 presidential candidate, has been a longtime critic of healthcare reform. In August, he restricted his state's participation in the new law, signing an executive order that directed state agencies to decline all discretionary participation. 

And he's said that repealing healthcare reform would be his campaign platform if he ran for president.

“I think ObamaCare is one of the worst pieces of legislation passed in the modern history of the country,” Pawlenty said on CNN’s "State of the Union" this weekend.

Voters signaled their unhappiness with the law during the 2010 midterm election, which returned control of the House to Republicans.

Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) joined Pawlenty in the brief, which states that the two governors are trying to safeguard their citizens from "federal abuse of the spending power." They argue that the law places liabilities on states through a Medicaid expansion program, according to The Associated Press.

A total of 20 states have signed on to the lawsuit, which originated in Florida. In October, a federal judge ruled the lawsuit could proceed.


First 2012 GOP presidential debate announced

The Reagan presidential library plans to hold the first GOP debate of the 2012 presidential cycle, setting the date for the spring of 2011.

All the leading contenders for the GOP presidential nomination will be invited, former first lady Nancy Reagan announced Thursday.

The library, located in Simi Valley, Calif., will host a second GOP debate on the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries.

“Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his Presidential Library,” Reagan said in a statement.

The library hosted two debates in the 2008 election cycle, including the first of the election cycle.

NBC News will be the television partner and Politico will be the online partner for the first debate, according to the announcement. The media partners for the second, pre-Super Tuesday debate will be announced next year.