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The 2012 Speculatron Weekly Roundup

First Posted: 04/15/11 09:56 PM ET   Updated: 06/15/11 06:12 AM ET

Last week, we took a break from chronicling the lives of your presumed 2012 candidates because all anyone wanted to talk about was the crazy Friday night near-shutdown of the federal government. That's okay, it was as good a time as any to take a week off.

Of course, having been away for a week, we returned to find the whole 2012 situation in grave disrepair. Did you know that Donald Trump is somehow his-last-naming the entire GOP field at this point? It's true! That is the price you pay when you raise the curtain on the 2012 campaign season four months before any of the major players want to throw their hat into the ring.

And so, it comes as no surprise that at the beginning of the week, a large portion of America's population was actively "dreading" the upcoming election.

And so, some people made some cautious moves. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney advanced themselves to the "presidential exploratory committee" stage. Tim Pawlenty made an important hire, and for a brief, mad moment had people convinced that he was making a formal announcement candidacy. Mike Huckabee made a few tentative steps that his backers have been begging him to make, Mitch Daniels allowed some new speculation to form around his intentions, Ron Paul began testing the waters and Fred Karger -- the only person who has actually formally announced his intention to run -- started to gain a little more traction, and started to get a little more aggressive.

Nevertheless, this campaign season continues to move by inches -- mainly downward, dragged ever further into the depths by Donald Trump. For all the things you need to know, and some things you'll wish you could forget, please enter the Speculatron for the week of April 15, 2011.

Michele Bachmann
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Steve Kornacki noted this week the extent to which Michele Bachmann, and her candidacy, is a "useful tool for the Republican establishment."

But that's the beauty of a Bachmann candidacy: Nobody seriously believes she has a chance to win the GOP nomination. The establishment has seen candidacies like hers before, fringe ideologues with devoted followings -- and clear ceilings on their support. The best-case scenario for Bachmann is that she somehow tops a splintered field in Iowa's caucuses (where cultural conservatives hold disproportionate sway). But even then, the rest of the party would quickly rally around her most broadly acceptable (and viable) opponent. The obvious parallel is to 1996, when Pat Buchanan won the New Hampshire primary with 29 percent of the vote -- then watched the other 71 percent of the party flock to Bob Dole in panic. Thus, the GOP establishment has high confidence that it can contain a Bachmann candidacy, if need be.

What Bachmann can do, though, is steal attention, money and votes from Palin -- potentially closing down whatever remaining victory scenario exists for the Alaskan.

And Bachmann doesn't disappoint. This week she was promising to run for just one term, and that God told her to stop same-sex marriage (not war or poverty though!), and that she wasn't sure if gay people were a "public health crisis," and then she was saying that she was okay with running for two terms and that Al Franken stole the election and passed Obamacare illegally, and finally she's ended up in a feud with Lenscrafters, so roll on, clownshow... more
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