Courting begins in 2012 early states

December 30, 2010


The friendly phone calls are incoming, presidential wannabes are showering them with praise, and their campaign accounts have been flooded with fat checks from people with names like Palin, Romney and Gingrich.

Members of Congress from South Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire are once again getting wooed by the presidential set — and the potential candidates are reaching deep into those state’s political rosters in search of that critical endorsement.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) is a case in point. A virtual unknown until last year, Wilson became a hero of the right when he yelled, “You lie!” at President Barack Obama. On election night this year, he got congratulatory calls from Massachusetts former Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Wilson said he has received “encouragement and financial support” from Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to the tune of $2,000 — as well as $1,000 from former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

Wilson realizes the power of being a prominent conservative lawmaker from South Carolina. “It’s too early to ask for commitment, but it is very appropriate to make phone calls and to make contributions,” he said of the prospective 2012 candidates.

In Iowa, Sen. Chuck Grassley is long used to the early game of presidential wooing.

Santorum came to Capitol Hill to meet with the veteran Republican senator earlier this month during the lame-duck session of Congress. Not to be outdone, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the Republican who is considering a 2012 run, threw two fundraisers for Grassley — one in Washington and another in South Dakota — during this past election cycle.

Even though Grassley had a smooth ride to reelection in the fall, he got another $10,000 from Thune — while  Alaska former Gov. Sarah Palin chipped in $7,500, Pawlenty and Romney each gave $5,000 to Grassley, and a $2,500 check was written by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s political action committee to Grassley’s campaign.

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