2012 Republicans virtually united behind earmarks ban

The bulk of the Republican candidates for president have expressed support for the ban on earmarks that's making its way through Congress.

The proposed moratorium on earmarking, the practice of directing spending in legislation to particular projects, hasn't divided the presidential candidates the way it's split GOP lawmakers.

Seven possible contenders for the Republican nomination in 2012 have expressed support for the congressional ban, while only one possible candidate — Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) — has openly embraced the practice.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) threw his support Monday behind a moratorium on earmarks that's been proposed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), another possible candidate for president.

They're not the only possible Republican presidential challengers who support a moratorium, though. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.) are all on the record in favor of a moratorium or outright ban of the practice.

A spokesman for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said Monday that the governor supports the ban.

"Of course Governor Pawlenty supports the Republicans' ban on Congressional earmarks," said Alex Conant. "It's important that the Republicans we send to Washington govern as they campaigned, and fight wasteful spending."

Huckabee and Romney's professed support for the moratorium comes Monday at a watershed moment for earmarking. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) announced this afternoon that he would support the ban after having previously defended the practice. His support all but ensures a GOP ban on earmarks in both the House and Senate in the next Congress.

Two possible GOP presidential candidates have so far not declared any position on the earmarks ban. Sen. John Thune (S.D.) and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour appear to have no official position on the practice. Spokesmen for both Thune and Barbour did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.