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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Presidential Field Hockey

The 2012 presidential cycle doesn’t officially begin until November 3, but the Republican field will start being seriously shaped this week down in New Orleans, at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. Confirmed speakers include no fewer than nine people who have been “mentioned” as possible presidential candidates: Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Mike Pence, Rick Santorum, Haley Barbour and Bobby Jindal. Tim Pawlenty will address the event by videotape. Mitt Romney, who may be playing the traditional front-runner’s game of avoiding appearances with his lilliputian rivals, will be missing; he’s off hawking copies of his book in–two guesses where!–New Hampshire.
Other than the usual straw poll of attendees (with the main question being whether Ron Paul’s young supporters will flood the event like they did at the CPAC conference in February), and the usual informal assessments of the speeches, here are some other sources of intrigue: (1) Will any or all of Mitt’s rivals blast him for prevarication on similaries between RomneyCare and ObamaCare? (2) How many of the presidentials will claim close kinship with the Tea Party Movement? (3) Will any of them formally disclaim candidacy? (4) How bloody will the rhetorical red meat get? (5) Who if any of them will try to get media plaudits for a calm, substantive approach? and (6) Will any new “true conservative” limus tests be laid down?
The New Orleans event could represent quite a presidential field hockey match. And in case you think it’s crazy to be talking about the 2012 presidential race, remember this: it’s just twenty-one months til the Iowa Caucuses!

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