TPM News

Yesterday, the 2012 presidential race got its first semi-official Republican candidate. Is a second on the way?

Mitt Romney resigned from the board of directors of hotel giant Marriott International yesterday, a move that indicates he may be preparing for another presidential bid.

Romney previously served on Marriott's board for 10 years before stepping down in 2002 to run for governor of Massachusetts. He rejoined the board in 2009.

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At least one potential Republican presidential candidate is not joining the right-wing boycott of CPAC over its inclusion of a gay conservative group: Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who will be headed there to speak.

Several prominent social conservative groups are boycotting CPAC, due to the participation of GOProud, with others having pulled out because of financial disputes with the conference's parent group, the American Conservative Union.

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Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), who has long argued that his indictment on money laundering charges was politically motivated, said on the "Today Show" this morning that his conviction was political, too.

"I was tried in the most liberal county in the state of Texas and, indeed, in the United States," he said, referring to Travis County, the home of Austin. DeLay and his lawyers had tried to get his trial moved to a different, more conservative county, to no avail.

"The foreman of the jury was a Greenpeace activist," DeLay went on. "So, I'm not criticizing the jury. The point is this is a political campaign."

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During a debate about the size and scope of government, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said on the Daily Show last night that there is a "continuum between liberty and tyranny," adding that the march toward the latter happens incrementally.

Pawlenty -- a potential 2012 presidential candidate -- and Stewart spent the better part of 20 minutes discussing the long-bubbling unrest on the right over President Barack Obama's initiatives over the past two years. Not surprisingly, Stewart defended the left's civility, while Pawlenty claimed conservatives' rhetoric is no worse than liberals'.

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Wisconsin GOP chairman Reince Priebus has picked up a big endorsement in the Republican National Committee chairmanship race, CNN reports, winning the endorsement of New Hampshire GOP chairman John Sununu.

Sununu, who is stepping down as state party chair, is definitely a big name in GOP politics. He was governor of the state from 1983-1989, and was then White House Chief of Staff for nearly three years under President George H.W. Bush. His son John E. Sununu was a Congressman and Senator for New Hampshire, losing re-election in the Democratic wave of 2008.

This brings Priebus's vote count to 41, against incumbent RNC chairman Michael Steele's 17, former Missouri GOP chair Ann Wagner's 15, former Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis' 14, and former RNC deputy chair Maria Cino's 12. The election is tomorrow, and it could potentially take multiple ballots to reach the winning 85 votes out of 168 in total.

Under the username "2PLOY," Jared Lee Loughner -- the alleged gunman behind Saturday's massacre in Arizona -- posted a YouTube video in September titled "Pima Community College School-Genocide/Scam-Free Education-Broken United States Constitution." That was the final straw that brought about the college's suspension of Loughner, according to police reports released late Wednesday.

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The Republican National Committee is set to meet Friday to elect its chairman -- and from the looks of things, incumbent RNC Chair Michael Steele's history of gaffes, combined with the party's recent financial problems, will doom him at the vote. But can Wisconsin GOP Chair Reince Priebus, the frontrunner headed into the vote, seal things up?

In the latest count from National Journal, Priebus has 40 committed votes, Steele 17 -- a truly awful place for an incumbent to be -- former Missouri GOP chair Ann Wagner 15, former Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis 14, and former Deputy RNC chair Maria Cino 12.

This is not to say that Priebus has it locked up -- far from it, when one takes into account that the single largest group are the 70 committee members who have not publicly declared a choice. As a percentage, then, Priebus is at 24%, Steele at only 10%, Wagner 9%, Anuzis 8%, and Cino 7%, with "uncommitted" in the lead at 42%.

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