Did the 2012 race finally get real this week? Maybe just a smidge, actually! A week ago, Haley Barbour was staking out a position outside the coverage, but he jumped back into the fray in a big way this week. After a momentary hiccup that cost one Barbour staffer their job after sending out an email with bad jokes about the Japan tsunami, Barbour stepped forward and started engaging the debate. He aimed some barbs at the White House, but he also staked out unique territory among his fellow GOP colleagues by expressing skepticism about the War in Afghanistan, questioning whether or not there isn't substantial bloat in the Defense Department, and calling for caution on intervening in Libya.
And suddenly, we're interested.
The rest of the GOP field chose to be less bold this week, most simply participating in what The Plum Line's Greg Sargent sees as the voguish pastime among GOP presidential aspirants: sticking it to Mitt Romney. Elsewhere, the conservative smart-set began their "Stop Palin" campaign. Donald Trump, perplexingly, leapt on board the Birther crazy-train. And after a week-and-a-half of bleating out all sorts of crazy nonsense, Mike Huckabee took a week off from attention-getting. This was a smart move, obviously, because it's precisely what we advised him to do last week. That's right: heed the Speculatron. We see all, know all. (Actually, we're pretty much making it up as we go along, like everyone else.)
This week, we've elevated Herman Cain's status. And while we've decided to stand pat otherwise, it should be noted that Mitch Daniels and Jon Huntsman are starting to look like they won't be running in 2012. For more of this week's campaign trivia, please feel free to enter the Speculatron for the week of March 18, 2011.