Tim Pawlenty has announced the members of his Iowa campaign team, led by state Rep. Erik Helland of Johnston. Annie Kelly, former director of operations for Pawlenty’s Freedom First Political Action Committee, will be state deputy director for the former Minnesota governor’s 2012 bid. Tracie Gibler, who managed Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ unsuccessful 2010 campaign against Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) will serve as Pawlenty’s state political director. Gibler also worked for Rudy Giulianiin Iowa in 2008. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has also announced his Iowa campaign director: Sara Craig, previously his central Iowa field director.
* The Omaha World-Herald is editorializing against Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) for his comments on former Berkshire Hathaway executive David Sokol, who is under scrutiny for investing in a company before recommending it to his bosses at Berkshire. Bruning, who is challenging Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) next fall, has been defending Sokol — a longtime friend of Bruning’s and his campaign finance chair. “Mr. Bruning needs to remember that he is not a full-time candidate for the United States Senate,” wrote the World-Herald. “He was recently re-elected to serve as our attorney general, and Nebraskans are right to expect him to fulfill that obligation ahead of whatever political aspirations he may have.”
* Would former Alaska governor Sarah Palin raise the debt ceiling? “Hells no,” she told Fox News in an interview this afternoon. “I would not vote to increase that debt ceiling,” she said. “Otherwise it just shows the American public that we aren’t serious, yet we are still going to incur more debt.”
* Buddy Roemer is no longer in the exploratory phase — he has officially launched his presidential campaign. He’s paid $25,000 to get on the ballot in South Carolina and qualify for the state’s May 5 debate. “We recognize that this is a campaign of David vs. Goliath,” said Roemer, the former governor of Louisiana and a longshot contender.
WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:
* Conservative group Americans for Prosperity is holding a town hall in New Hampshire tonight, with many potential presidential contenders speaking. Pawlenty, Romney, former Senator Rick Santorum, former Godfathers’ Pizza CEO Herman Cain and Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann are all speaking. If you’re not in New Hampshire and really want to spend your Friday night watching a candidate forum, you can watch it live on C-SPAN from 8 to 9:30 P.M.
* Not that there was much doubt, but former Senate candidate Sharron Angle intends to run in the special election for the seat being vacated by Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). Angle told supporters in a statement Friday she needs to raise $150,000 immediately to win the seat, and that “left wing” Republicans are conspiring to keep her out of the race.
* Freedomworks’ Dick Armey thinks Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) would be the “perfect pick” for 2012. “He’s exactly the man with the proven record that we’re looking for,” said Armey in a Newsmax video, whose group is a major part of tea party movement activism and organization.
* Two staff changes in the White House press shop today. Jamie Smith, currently director of public affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is joining the White House communications team as a deputy press secretary. Josh Earnest is being promoted from deputy press secretary to principal deputy press secretary, where he will occasionally stand in for Press Secretary Jay Carney at briefings and on presidential trips.
- Rasmussen Poll: Trump 19%, Romney 17%, Huckabee 15% (smacktalkradio.wordpress.com)
- N.H. Dems file complaint against Romney fundraising (smacktalkradio.wordpress.com)
- Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney telling jokes: The video anthology (salon.com)
- Pawlenty: I did more than offer ‘failed amendment in Congress’ (thehill.com)
- Huckabee up in Iowa, Romney otherwise (publicpolicypolling.blogspot.com)
- Tim Pawlenty’s Presidential Campaign Team Includes Major Defectors From Romney, Et Al (businessinsider.com)
- Send to a friendTim Pawlenty scores tea party win, but New Hampshire activists … – Politico (news.google.com)
- Romney, Pawlenty battle for the love of the National Review (salon.com)
- Huckabee Way Ahead in Iowa (politicalwire.com)
- Mitt Romney’s biggest fear: The 2012 Republican primary electorate (dailykos.com)