Few people outside of Washington, DC are paying attention to the GOP primary yet, which made it that much easier for Gov. Tim Pawlenty to steal Mitt Romney’s thunder on the day the former governor of Massachusetts announced he is forming a presidential exploratory committee.
Team Romney chose an odd day to make the announcement to begin with. Five years ago today Romney signed the Massachusetts health care law that President Obama claims as a model for Obamacare. Choosing yesterday for his launch assured that virtually every article covering his announcement would mention the health care law that is deeply unpopular with GOP primary voters.
Perhaps Romney merely wanted to drown out a bad story with a good one, but as far as insiders are concerned his official entrance into the race was quickly overshadowed by news that Pawlenty had landed former Republican Governor’s Association executive director Nick Ayers as his campaign manager. At only 28 years old, Ayers already has an impressive electoral track record, helping the GOP gain a net seven governorships during his RGA tenure.
The Ayers hire is also a sign that MS Gov. Haley Barbour will not end up running. Ayers worked closely with Barbour at the RGA and many were watching Ayers for a signal about Barbour’s true intentions. If Barbour does run he’ll still be able to attract plenty of talent, but losing Ayers proves he may not always get his top choice. Also worth remembering, Team Pawlenty already sports Ayers’ predecessor at the RGA, the man who worked with Romney when he headed the association like Ayers did with Barbour, Phil Musser.
Potentially complicating both Romney’s and Pawlenty’s plans, Donald Trump told The Wall Street Journal yesterday that if he did not win the GOP nomination he would “probably” run as an independent.
In other news:
Democrat in Missouri to Oppose Health Care Law, The New York Times: Attorney General Chris Koster, a onetime Republican state legislator who switched to the Democratic Party in 2007, succumbed to pressure from state Republicans and took Missouri on record in court against Obamacare. While Koster did not choose to join the other 26 states as plaintiffs, he did file an amicus brief opposing Obamacare in the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. With Oklahoma and Virginia pursuing their own suits in court, there are now 29 states that have taken legal action opposing Obamacare’s individual mandate.
Scott Walker heads to Hill, Politico: Fresh off his proxy victory in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, Gov. Scott Walker is slated to testify Thursday before Chairman Darrell Issa’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The hearing is titled “State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead” and allows conservatives to lay the blame for state and local budget crises across the nation at the feet of government unions. The American Enterprise Institute’s Andrew Biggs and Mark Mix of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation will also testify.
Obama regrets vote against raising debt ceiling, Associate Press: At yesterday’s White House press briefing, spokesman Jay Carney was asked to defend then-Senator Barack Obama’s 2006 vote against raising the debt ceiling in light of President Obama’s current position that not raising the debt ceiling would cause “Armageddon.” Carney declined. Instead, Carney characterized Senator Obama’s vote as a “mistake” that President Obama now regrets. This 2006 mistake will give conservatives a lot of leverage in the upcoming debt limit debate unless the White House comes up with a much better explanation than this.
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