Quick Hits

Some other items making the rounds today.

The Iowa Republican polled 399 likely Iowa Republican voters on their preference come 2012. Former Arkansas Governor and current Fox News talk show host Mike Huckabee finished on top garnering 22 percent while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney finished second with 18 percent. Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House from Georgia, finished "surprisingly well" in their view with 14 percent in third place. Sarah Palin finished fourth with 11 percent. Texas Congressman Ron Paul garnered 5 percent, while Pawlenty, and South Dakota Senator John Thune each received 1 percent. Former US Senator Rick Santorum garnered support in the poll but it did not surpass the one percent threshold. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and Texas Governor Rick Perry did not register any support in the poll. Twenty three percent of those surveyed remain undecided.

Not mentioned above is Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico Governor, much to the chagrin of Andrew Sullivan who today has a post on the libertarian-minded Johnson entitled A Man Who Deserves to be Viable in 2012.

Down in the Palmetto State, Alvin Green said he is not quitting the race even after his indictment on a felony charge of obscenity. The Chair of the Democratic Party in South Carolina, Carol Fowler, issued a statement calling for Greene to resign from the race.

A panel of three judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has granted a stay preventing the resumption of gay marriages in California until at least the end of the year. The Ninth Circuit panel - Judges Edward Leavy, Michael Hawkins and Sidney Thomas - also expedited the case's appeal. During the week of Dec. 6, a separate, randomly selected panel of the Ninth Circuit will take up the request by Prop. 8 proponents to throw out Walker's ruling. More from the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Obama Administration is planning to expand opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba, the latest step aimed at encouraging more contact between people in both countries, while leaving intact the decades-old embargo against the island’s Communist government, according to Congressional and administration officials. The New York Times has more on the story. This move is not likely to please many. On the right, any reapprochement with Cuba is too much. On the left as long as the embargo remains in place, it is just window dressing. Moreover, the US has no leverage to speak of. It is now Spain and Brazil that have been able to extract concessions from Cuba. In July, the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos secured the release of 52 political dissendents held in Cuban prisons.

Jeb Bows Out, Thune Prepping While Santorum Heads to Iowa

Dubbed the "the candidate hiding in plain sight" and deemed by many especially among mainline conservatives and neo-conservatives as perhaps the best hope for the GOP to win back the White House, former two term Florida Governor Jeb Bush today quashed speculation that had been building in recent weeks that he was considering a presidential run in 2012.

The argument for Jeb Bush ran something like this: each of the other presumed front runners have obvious perhaps fatal flaws and thus only Jeb Bush can pull together the disparate threads of the GOP. Moreover, he has strong conservative credentials, is the only Republican ever to win two terms of the Sunshine state, has a political pedigree second to none even if tarnished by his older brother, can appeal to the all-important Hispanic population with his Mexican-born wife in tow, is perceived as less divisive on social issues who would thus appeal to independents, would do well in his home state that electoral vote rich battleground state that has often decided presidential elections and unlike older brother can speak in complete sentences.

Despite the growing speculation that he was at least considering a run in 2012, today when asked Louisville’s ABC affiliate WHAS following an event for Rand Paul if he was eying the White House, Jeb Bush was adamant. “I am not running for president,” he said.

Politico has more on Jeb Bush's denial of interest.

There's more...

Under Pressure, NY Governor Paterson to Bow Out

New York Governor David Paterson will drop his bid for election to a full term. Governor Paterson had come under increasing pressure after the New York Times revealed that the Governor had interfered with a domestic-violence case involving David Johnson, one of his of top aides.

The story in the New York Times:

Gov. David A. Paterson is set to announce that he will not seek election in the wake of reports that he and the State Police intervened in a domestic-assault case against a senior aide, according to a person told about the plans.

He is expected to make the announcement this afternoon.

It would follow a tumultuous Thursday in which, following revelations about the governor’s involvement in the abuse case, many of his political allies suggested he stand down form his bid to be elected. In a brief press availability late in the day, the governor said he would stay in the race, but that he would also seek counsel from other Democrats about how to proceed with his political future.

The state awoke on Friday to calls for the governor’s resignation from newspaper editorial writers, which only added to the increasing belief that it would be impossible for him to run the state and a campaign while the abuse case, and its handling by both he and the state police, is under investigation. He has asked the state’s attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, an assumed political rival for the governorship, to investigate the case.

The end of Mr. Paterson’s campaign came less than a week after he formally began it, with a defiant speech at Hofstra University in Hempstead in which he cast himself as an underdog who would fight for ordinary New Yorkers against Albany special interests.

The New York Daily News in its editorial today called for Paterson to step down immediately.

Mitch Daniels of Indiana Mulls 2012 Run

I've noted this before but I believe that Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana will run and that he will make a formidable candidate. The Washington Post has the skinny on the latest Daniels watch:

Two months ago, in an interview in his state capitol office, Daniels said explicitly he was not interested in running for president and dismissed speculation that he might be a candidate. That has now changed. During an interview at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association here over the weekend, Daniels said he has now been persuaded to keep open the door to a possible candidacy.

Daniels said he has had a number of conversations in recent months -- "none initiated by me" -- where the question of a 2012 campaign came up. "Just to get them off my back, I agreed to a number of people that I will now stay open to the idea," he said.

Among the people he has talked with is former president George W. Bush, though Daniels said it was not that conversation per se that tipped him to reopen a door he had seemingly closed.

Daniels served as Bush's director of the Office of Management and Budget before returning to Indiana to run for office and was White House political director under former president Ronald Reagan. He won a landslide reelection victory in 2008 at the same time that President Obama was carrying Indiana in the presidential race.

Early in his tenure as governor, Daniels angered conservatives when he proposed raising taxes to help balance the state budget. Since then, however, he has become a favorite of fiscal hawks for the way he has run his state. Though conservative on social issues, Daniels has not made them a focal point of his political agenda.

In the aftermath of the party's defeats in 2006 and 2008, Daniels was critical of the Republican Party for having abandoned its principles. He warned that Republicans would have to "spend time in the penalty box" and earn back the public's trust before they would be returned to power. He also warned against complacency in the battle for ideas.

Of the names being bantered about as possible GOP nominees, this one and Jon Huntsman of Utah are the ones that I perceive as the ones that could give the President the toughest races. With Huntsman ensconced in Beijing, he is not likely a candidate in 2012. There are those who think Senator John Thune of South Dakota might make a strong candidate but I suspect that being a Washington player will work against him. Thus really the stronger contenders for the GOP nomination are likely to come from the Governor's mansions: Mitt Romney of Massachusetts (though he is now living in La Jolla, California), Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Gary Johnson of New Mexico, and Mitch Daniels of Indiana. Of these four, I'd argue that Daniels is likely to have the greatest appeal to independents. More from the Post:

Daniels acknowledged that the solutions to the problems of debt and deficits could involve sacrifices that would make the messenger unpopular. He admitted that making those problems the focal point of a Republican campaign could impede a potential comeback by the party. But he said he has become convinced that the issues will have to be raised in any case.

Despite the on-going war in Afghanistan, the 2012 election is likely to pivot on domestic issues primarily jobs and the deficit. The fact that Daniels is willing to assume the risk of being "an unpopular messenger" I think differentiates him from the rest of the GOP pack and will win him a wider base of support among moderate Republicans and independents. Gary Johnson is another who is willing to tackle an "unpopular" topics offering a differentiated view but I'm not convinced that a libertarian candidate is capable of winning outside the West.

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