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Mitch Perry Report for 1.12.15 – GOP presidential aspirants go at it early

It’s only the second Monday of the new year, but the jockeying for position amongst potential GOP presidential candidates for 2016 is in full flower.

The big news in this saga was Mitt Romney’s meeting on Friday in Manhattan with around 30 former supporters, where Mittens made sure to let them know that he is considering a presidential run himself, so “go tell your friends,” as Politico reports. Mitt advisors now say that the former Massachusetts governor will likely take the next two months or so to decide if he’s actually going to run, “much faster than the mid-2015 time-frame many Republicans familiar with his thinking had anticipated.”

That’s because Jeb Bush’s serious early entry into the race has already transformed the time tables for so many of the 15 or so rumored candidates about when they will officially enter the contest. Certainly that seemed to be why Mike Huckabee announced last week he was leaving his Fox News show as he considers a run. Huck hasn’t even said for sure he’s going to do it, but he realizes if he is, he has to do so soon.

Huckabee, of course. would be appealing to the Christian conservative bloc of the GOP electorate, a bloc that Rick Santorum was able to attract as he became the last Republican standing against Romney back in the 2012 contests (thanks in large part to the generous financial support from multi-millionaire financial investor Foster Friess). And Santo looks like he’s marking his territory for a similar run in 15-16, blasting Huckabee and other Republicans such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz in an interview with the New York Times published today.

“Do we really want someone with this little experience?” Mr. Santorum asked, referring to Mr. Paul, Mr. Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who is also in his first term. “And the only experience they have basically — not Rubio, but Cruz and Paul because I don’t think Rubio is going to go — is bomb throwing? Do we really want somebody who’s a bomb thrower, with no track record of any accomplishments?”

Santorum also trashed Huckabee for his stances on such red-meat issues as Common Core, climate change, taxes and immigration.

Let’s face it – this is pretty darned early in the process. But not that early. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had announced by the end of February of 2007 for the 2008 nomination, so we’re only talking a month earlier.  And that’s why Mitt Romney was always wrong if he thought he could wait until the middle of 2015 to make his declarations known. But then again, he told interviewers repeatedly in 2014 that he wasn’t interested in running, so what gives with him? Jealously? Ego? Fears that Bush won’t be that great of a candidate next year? It’s early, but it’s meaningful.

In other news…

Maybe it’s the Vinik effect, but there’s a lot of (inflated?) hope in the air when it comes to economic development in Hillsborough County these days. The latest manifestation of that was Friday’s event heralding the beginning of the Tampa Innovation Alliance, which aims to revitalize the USF area in North Tampa.

And for those of you who don’t give a darn about tonight’s national championship college football game, you can hear writer Steve Almond talk about why he’s gone cold turkey on watching football. The author of the book, Against Football speaks tonight at the University of Tampa.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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