Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - Conservative activists will converge on this capital city Saturday to talk politics, policy and hear from a handful of potential presidential candidates, who are eager to court this group of influential voters.
The day-long "Conservative Principles Conference" is meant to give these grassroots activists – the kind who will brave March snow showers and sacrifice part of their weekend – an opportunity to begin sizing up the Republican presidential primary field. Five candidates eyeing the GOP nomination are scheduled to address the meeting: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Ambassador John Bolton, businessman Herman Cain and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Washington (CNN) - The Republican National Committee raised $5.2 million last month, but still is saddled with a debt of more than $21 million from the 2010 midterm elections.
The RNC was able to pay $1 million toward reducing the debt in February, but received an additional $1 million in invoices from 2010 that left its financial position virtually unchanged, according to a report that will be filed this afternoon with the Federal Election Commission. CNN was provided the data prior to the filing.
Washington (CNN) - The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised slightly more money than its Republican counterpart in February, but carries nearly $8 million more in debt heading into the 2012 elections.
The DCCC collected $5.2 million last month and has $5.9 in the bank, but has a debt of $17.3 million, according to data that will be filed with the Federal Election Commission. Conversely, the National Republican Congressional Committee raised $4.9 million in February, has $4.3 million cash-on-hand with a debt of $9.5 million, according to its monthly filing.
Washington (CNN) – Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has hired a key political operative and is planning to visit New Hampshire later this month, as he inches closer to a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Michael Dennehy, a veteran of New Hampshire politics, has signed on as an adviser to Barbour's political action committee, Haley's PAC. It is a significant addition to Barbour's political operation as Dennehy is widely respected as an influential operator who oversaw Sen. John McCain's Granite State primary campaigns in 2000 and 2008.
Washington (CNN) - Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine told students at the University of Richmond Monday that he is "likely" to run for Senate in Virginia.
"In response to a student's question, Governor Kaine told his law school class today what is already widely known which is that he is increasingly likely to run," said Brad Woodhouse, a DNC spokesman. "However, no final decision will be made or announced until the governor has had a final round of consultations with folks about how he can best serve the President, the people and the causes he cares about; he is assured that the Democratic Party will be in good hands should he choose to make the race and leave the DNC; he has the support that would be necessary to mount a successful campaign and he completes commitments for travel and fundraising he has made to the Party and the President through at least the end of the month."
Washington (CNN) – Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has penned a fundraising email on behalf of the Republican National Committee, the first potential presidential candidate to do so this year.
Pawlenty's fundraising pitch, which includes his picture, was sent Thursday and urged his "Fellow Conservative" to "Help end the Obama era of fiscal irresponsibility and soaring rhetoric masking as leadership."
Washington (CNN) - A major union and an influential conservative interest group have each spent $1 million on television commercials in Wisconsin over the past two months in an effort to try and shape public opinion on the issues of collective bargaining and budget cuts.
The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and the Club for Growth Wisconsin account for $2 million of the more than $2.5 million worth of TV ads that have run statewide in the last 60 days, according to a new analysis conducted by Kantar Media/Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on political and issue advertising.
Washington (CNN) – Newt Gingrich's decision to acknowledge publicly he is exploring a White House bid will be seen as a significant moment, a line drawn in the sand that will mark the official beginning of the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Except, the start of the 2012 campaign dates to 2009 when several candidates began taking strategic steps toward a run for the GOP nomination.
Washington (CNN) - Vermont Auditor Tom Salmon announced late Wednesday that he is seriously considering challenging Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2012, an independent who has represented the state for two decades on Capitol Hill.
Salmon, a former Democrat who switched to the Republican Party in the fall of 2009, told voters at that time his fiscal ideology was more in line with the GOP. He was first elected auditor in 2006, and acknowledged that it will be difficult to defeat Sanders next year.
(CNN) - Tim Pawlenty hailed the tea party movement as "a great addition to the conservative coalition and the coalition for change in this country," in a new video released Tuesday morning by his political action committee.
Pawlenty, who is likely to seek the GOP presidential nomination, is clearly trying to build a strong bond with this grassroots movement, which has become an influential voice in the Republican Party. The former Minnesota governor addressed a major tea party gathering this past weekend in Phoenix, Arizona and he featured clips of this speech in the video that is posted on his YouTube channel.