Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Is the 2012 Republican field set?

Politico says that GOP insiders think the 2012 presidential for the party is pretty well set now that Mitch Daniels has chosen not to run.

“The waiting is over,” said Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman and counselor to President George W. Bush. “Things are going to accelerate pretty quickly now.”

“You’re seeing everything you’re going to get,” said a Republican who has talked privately with the leading candidates.

I don’t think so. I think Bachmann still makes it official and runs. Someone has to run for the serious wingnut vote, something that Huntsman, Romney and Pawlenty will have a difficult time doing. Palin isn’t going to run, that much is clear, and that leaves Bachmann as the only prominent candidate to court the hardcore religious right vote (no, Herman Cain doesn’t count; no one knows him and no one cares).

But the GOP establishment is now convinced that Mitt Romney is the front-runner, and that Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman have a narrow window to determine who will become the stronger alternative – the anti-Mitt in the GOP field…

Romney supporters predicted he will scoop up money people, operatives and elected officials who had been waiting for Daniels. But Romney’s inner circle is full, so Pawlenty and Huntsman will be in a race to reach out to Daniels’ prospective bundlers.

“They can say, ‘I understand you were with Mitch. Can we have a conversation? Mitt’s not going to win,'” said one leading fundraiser. “People will take that meeting.”

I don’t think any of those three can win (nor can Bachmann, but she’d be a lot more fun). It’s looking more and more like Obama gets a second term. Or Bush gets a fourth, if we’re talking about constitutional issues.