Until you see the major players actually jump into the race for the 2012 GOP nomination, there's going to be space left for many minor players to draw a little bit of speculative attention to themselves by making "maybe I'll run for President noises" and doing things like "going to Iowa."
Take, for example, the curious case of Michele Bachmann. She seems to have something of an iron lock on her seat in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District. That's good for her. But, what she's having a devil of a time doing is developing her upside potential. She made a play for a leadership position in the House, and got knocked down. What's Bachmann to do? Well, glom onto the insurgent Tea Party faithful as hard as she can, and also, maybe hint that she wants to run for higher office. She's made sounds about running for the Senate, for instance. Also: she's supposedly on the mull for a shot at the 2012 nomination.
All you have to do is occasionally get this kind of press:
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Representative Michele Bachmann are in Washington D.C. Thursday for a conservative conference that could help to determine who has the most potential for a possible presidential run.
Bachmann is set to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday, which marks the start of the event.
The Minnesota Representative, who has been reported to seriously be considering a run for President, speaks in the morning.
Bang! Suddenly you're sharing the spotlight with Tim Pawlenty! Not bad.
Of course, I'm of the mind that she's simply doing this to keep all eyes on her, so that she can continue to "grow her brand." As for whether she has an authentic shot, well, let's hear what her former chief of staff, Ron Carey, has to say:
"While she passes the conservative test, my opinion from my association with her is she's not going to be an electable candidate for us," said Carey. "And even if she were elected I don't believe she would be ready for the position of the president of the United States."
Not exactly a ringing endorsement. But on the other hand, "Yes, Michele Bachmann, I would be very happy to head up your staff, and help you develop yourself as a legislator," Ron Carey said, probably, at some point in the past.