The Big Questions: 2012 And GOP Guvs


Mark Halperin’s answers this week in TIME.

Now that John Thune is out, which Republicans will actually run for President in 2012?
The South Dakota Senator just joined Indiana Representative Mike Pence in skipping the chance to challenge Barack Obama. But Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels and Haley Barbour may also pass. That could leave a stunningly wee group of first-tier combatants: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty.

What does Obama have in common with the new breed of hard-charging Republican governors?
Like Scott Walker (Wisconsin), Rick Scott (Florida), John Kasich (Ohio) and Rick Snyder (Michigan), Obama isn’t afraid to press labor unions for sacrifices, like pension and teacher work-rule changes, that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. They are also well aware that all the spending cuts in the world won’t eliminate deficits without stronger economic growth.

Republicans seem to be backing Obama on the Middle East — what gives?
It’s too risky to criticize the White House in such a volatile period, when U.S. interests are at stake. Obama’s political foes must also balance support for democracy, entrenched loyalties to allies and the acute concerns of Israel. Regular Capitol Hill briefings have helped quiet potential critics like Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

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