Slouching Towards Tampa (Where Are They Now edition)

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Tomorrow’s Florida primary probably won’t result in Rick Santorum or Ron Paul heading for the exit sign, but it will move both of them a step closer to it.

That pleasant thought got me wondering what the other Republican dropouts were up to these days. Turns out they’re all keeping busy, though probably not without some regrets here and there about what they’re busy with.

Michele Bachmann has set her sights on another term representing the Minnesota 6th. Well, maybe:

Speaking on Fox News, Bachmann seemed caught off guard when asked directly if she’d be running for a fourth term.

“I, very — yes,” she said.

However, Bachmann quickly qualified her response to indicate that it was an option she would be considering.

“I believe I’ll be looking at that, very seriously looking at coming back for a fourth term.”

Her hesitance seems to be contagious:

The contentious nature of the primary season, coupled with some high-profile missteps, sent her back to Minnesota with a low favorability rating in her home state.

According to a statewide Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday, only 34 percent of those polled have a positive view of her, while 57 percent have an unfavorable view.

Only 37 percent said she should run for reelection.

She can look forward to some traveling, at least:

Former Republican presidential candidate and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has been named as a witness in a messy, multimillion-dollar federal lawsuit in Nashville.

Led by prominent Republican fundraiser and millionaire Bill Hemrick of Brentwood, a group of Middle Tennessee conservatives sued California businessman Anthony Loiacono for $19 million in November over a failed venture to create a television network devoted to the tea party movement. The plaintiffs claim Loiacono used their investments as his “personal bank account.”

Loiacono first responded by challenging Hemrick to a “lie detector challenge.” He has since formally responded to the lawsuit and claims Hemrick and co-plaintiff Mel Martin are primarily responsible for Tea Party HD’s demise. He has countersued the plaintiffs for $1 million alleging defamation and abuse of process.

He also filed a lengthy list of 50 anticipated witnesses in the case, including Bachmann and other prominent conservatives such as commentators Ann Coulter and Phil Valentine; Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips; and state lawmakers Rep. Glen Casada and Sen. Jack Johnson of Williamson County.

Great stuff. The report goes on to note that Tea Party HD produced Bachmann’s response to the 2011 SOTU. That was the response where she looked earnestly at a spot somewhere off-camera, as if she were speaking not to you, the viewer, but to your neighbors. Tea Party HD will be missed.

You’ll be delighted to know that the former candidate still finds time for fun, and one thing she’s always found fun is denying non-heterosexuals their rights:

Eagan, Minn. — Minnesota pastors and lawmakers who support a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman aim to develop varied strategies to win voter support.

At a strategy session [Friday]… the Faith and Freedom coalition discussed ways to sell the marriage amendment to people who may not hold their fervent views.

… the room came to its feet for a last-minute appearance by Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who first proposed a marriage amendment when she was a state senator…

“I think if you want to talk to people who are not interested in talking about the morality you can also come at it as “should people be allowed to vote,” Bachmann said.

A minister in the back of the room offered up a prayer for Bachmann. A pastor from Minneapolis asked for advice on how to talk about the amendment with parishioners who are parents of gay children.

Bachmann said she wasn’t an expert, and switched back to her main line of argument, that people should get to decide the laws they live under.

Coincidentally, Bachmann had appeared on The O’Reilly Factor the night before to share her lack of expertise about running for the presidency. Some snippets:

I loved the debates. I wish I could have been a part of every single debate. I wanted to answer every question. It’s a wonderful process because it helps to explain positions to people across the United States and explain why Barack Obama can’t have a second term. It’s a wonderful process…

… if you go all the way back to August — whoever goes to the top, they don’t stay there very long and they go straight down. And people have a very short shelf life. And it’s almost like the voters have whiplash. They go from one candidate to another and they — they completely go with one candidate and then they’ll hear some information and they’ll move away. And so people are looking for perfection…

The fact on the ground is that you have to have money to be able to keep the mother ship going.

Bachmann’s not the only ex-candidate to return home with a tarnished reputation:

Governor Rick Perry has gotten a rocky welcome home to Texas, facing low poll numbers and criticism over state expenses related to his failed campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Travel for Perry’s security team cost the state nearly $800,000 between September and November, according to a new report from the state Department of Public Safety.

Money well spent, I’d say, since it indirectly helped the nation remain safe from a Perry presidency by keeping him on the stump week after uproarious week. Texas Democrats are demanding that he reimburse the state, but Perry’s probably more concerned over a different sort of fallout from his face-plant on the national stage:

A poll of Texas adults released this week by the state’s major daily newspapers showed Perry’s job approval rating at 40 percent, the lowest level in 10 years. Forty percent said they disapproved of how Perry was doing as governor.

He won’t face another gubernatorial election until 2014, so there’s ample time for him to improve those numbers, but neutralizing the ridicule might be a tougher task:

Last fall, as Perry entered the race and shot up in the polls, Texas Monthly magazine’s veteran political editor advised out-of-state reporters to take Perry seriously, given his wily and successful political history as the longest-serving governor in Texas history…

Today, Texans standing in grocery-store checkout lanes are confronted with the latest cover of Texas Monthly magazine, which names the governor the recipient of the annual Bum Steer award, given to those the magazine believes have been “responsible for the biggest screw-up, gaffe, fumble, stumble, train wreck, or humiliation of the past twelve months.”

Speaking of train wrecks, Herman Cain took to the stage at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference on January 19 and endorsed, uh, everybody:

“Here is my unconventional endorsement. Not a candidate seeking the nomination. Not someone that’s not running. My unconventional endorsement is the people! We the people of this nation are still in charge.”

This past Thursday he was interviewed by CNN’s Kyra Phillips, and despite being pressed, still refused to endorse one of the remaining candidates. Two days later at an appearance in West Palm Beach, he endorsed Newt Gingrich:

“Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas and I also know that Speaker Gingrich is running for president and going through this sausage grinder. I know what this sausage grinder is all about. I know that he is going through this sausage grinder because he cares about the future of the United States of America.”

Personally, I suspect Gingrich jumped into the sausage grinder in pursuit of some sausage, but that’s just a hunch. Cain also made headlines recently by appearing at a rally with Stephen Colbert, making a campaign appearance for Martha Zoller in the Florida 9th District, and, on behalf of the Tea Party Express, delivering a formal rebuttal to last week’s SOTU, a rebuttal no TV network was interested in carrying.

Oh, and he also got sued:

A new lawsuit claims a former Republican presidential candidate used a photo without permission for the cover of his biography, This is Herman Cain!

In a complaint filed Thursday in Atlanta, Adventure Advertising says Cain and his team agreed to pay $1,050 to use three photographs in campaign materials.

The agency claims that the Cain campaign later asked permission to use a high-resolution image of one photo for the cover of the book. The agency says it never gave the necessary permission but that the book was published [anyway].

Adventure Advertising is asking for profits from the sale of the book and an order allowing it to seize remaining copies from publisher Simon & Schuster… which is also listed as a defendant.

Is it too much to hope that a judge will throw the book at him?

Finally, Jon Huntsman proved once again why he never belonged in the race to begin with: he’s far too rational, and he might just be a decent human being:

According to a press release from the Huntsman Cancer Foundation (HCF), the former governor has been appointed to the position of Chairman of the foundation. Huntsman will replace his father, Jon M. Huntsman, who founded the institute and will now serve as Chairman Emeritus.

The foundation conducts fundraising for the Huntsman Cancer Institute, part of the University of Utah Health Care system.