Republicans Are Pursuing a Wider Field for 2012 Race

by
May 1, 2011

By JEFF ZELENY and JIM RUTENBERG, The New York Times

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Republican leaders, activists and donors, anxious that the party’s initial presidential field could squander a chance to capture grass-roots energy and build a strong case against President Obama at the outset of the 2012 race, are stepping up appeals for additional candidates to jump in, starting with Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana.

“I’m getting letters from all over the damn country, and some of them are pretty moving,” Mr. Daniels said in an interview last week at the Capitol in Indianapolis, where his friends believe he is inching closer to exploring a candidacy. He added, “It can’t help but affect you.”

The first contests of the primary are about eight months away, and most of the candidates have yet to fully open their campaigns. But some party leaders worry that Republicans are making a bad first impression by appearing tentative about their prospects against Mr. Obama and allowing Donald J. Trump to grab headlines in the news vacuum of the race’s early stages.

“The race needs more responsible adults who can actually do the job,” said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party.

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who leads many polls despite taking few steps to organize a campaign, is quietly asking supporters to be patient. And Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a former governor of Utah and a relative moderate in a party that has moved to the right, has just returned from his post as ambassador to China to decide whether to join a campaign-in-waiting built by Republicans who see an opening for him.

The wish list among Republicans is wide and varied. Sarah Palin, a former governor of Alaska, retains a devoted following. But activists also express a longing for others to step off the sidelines, including Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Budget Committee.

To read more, visit:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/us/politics/01republicans.html?_r=2&hp

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