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Potential 2012 Republican Presidential Candidates Already Visit Iowa

This story was written by Shawn Gude, The Daily Iowan

Despite being just a week removed from the presidential election, talk of the 2012 presidential race is already ratcheting up - at least for the GOP.

Underscoring that, two prospective 2012 Republican candidates, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, will visit Iowa next week, the former for a book tour in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines and the latter as a keynote speaker for the Iowa Family Policy Center's banquet in West Des Moines.

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Stewart Iverson contended such a forward-looking mentality isn't anything new.

"Both parties do this," said Iverson, who confirmed last week he wouldn't seek re-election once his term is up. "You sit there and take a look at what you did right and what you did wrong. You start the planning stages relatively soon after the previous election."

Another Republican offered a more candid answer.

"It's better than looking at the past, especially when you get whipped," University of Iowa political-science Associate Professor Tim Hagle said.

Hagle added the same was true for each party.

UI College Republicans Secretary Derek Bohlke agreed, noting the quick turnaround is simply a sign of the times.

"As long as this primary season was, I think the next one will be even longer," Bohlke said. "That's just the way the things are starting to go."

Both Jindal and Huckabee have strong support from many Republicans.

"Both are superb governors, and they bring a lot to the table," said Steve Scheffler, president of the conservative Iowa Christian Alliance.

For those seeking to run in 2012, Iowa is a good place to start. Just look at President-elect Barack Obama, who has credited his win in January's Iowa caucuses as the launching pad for his successful candidacy.

The candidates aren't "visiting because of the weather in Iowa in November," quipped Iowa State University political-science Professor Steffen Schmidt.

Several potential Republican candidates - including Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, among others - will join Jindal today at a Republican Governors Association meeting in Miami, a list that's being touted as a who's who of possible contenders.

After losses last week, dejected Republicans have already begun post-election soul-searching, with many asserting the GOP must return to their Ronald Reagan roots. Others argue the Republicans must welcome more moderates and bring independents into the fold.

Whichever Republican candidate wins the party's nomination in 2012, one thing is for sure: There's going to be no shortage of advice in the next four years.

Iverson's advice: The party needs to "get back to being Republicans." In addition, he argued the GOP needs to be "a little more open-minded."

"We can agree 80 to 90 percent of the time rather than having to agree 100 percent of the time," Iverson said.

Scheffler said Republicans need to use technology more effectively for fundraising and grassroots organization.

Additionally, "enunciating differences between the two parties" is essential, Scheffler said.

Hagle stressed a lot can change in four years, highlighting early 1992, when President George H.W. Bush seemed impossible to defeat. But when the economy went south, former President Bill Clinton took advantage and unseated him.

Similar events could prove influential in the next four years, he said.

"A lot depends on how events unfold," Hagle said.

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