Analyst: T-Paw, Bachmann rise in latest presidential rankings

WASHINGTON — Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann are rising in the rankings of presidential aspirants, according to the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.

Pawlenty clocks in at number two on Cillizza’s GOP top 10 (up from fifth last time), while Bachmann debuts on the list at number nine. Writes the man known as “The Fix“:

9. Michele Bachmann: The Minnesota Republican House member is doing everything she can to give off the impression she is seriously considering a run for president. The latest sign? She will headline a fundraiser later this month to benefit the New Hampshire Republican Party. For tea-party aligned voters, Bachmann is a rock star; she was mobbed everywhere she went during last month’s CPAC gathering andher speech brought wild applause from the audience. But, Bachmann has little real political operation and virtually zero demonstrated ability — or willingness — to court voters outside of her conservative base. Still, if former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin doesn’t run, Bachmann would be the candidate most likely to emerge as the tea party pick. (Previous ranking: N/A)

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2. Tim Pawlenty: The former Minnesota governor is starting to win people — including the Fix — over. He is diligently working at building organizations in Iowa and New Hampshire and there are some signs that those efforts are paying off as he placed a solid third in a January straw poll in the Granite State. The biggest knock on Pawlenty is that he’s too nice and/or not charismatic enough to win the nomination. But, Pawlenty is improving — his 2011 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference was far better than the 2010 edition — and, given the flaws in the field, being too nice isn’t all that bad. As a result, Pawlenty is the name you hear on more and more lips when asking neutral Republicans who they think their nominee might be. And that’s a great place to be right now. (Previous ranking: 5)

Also notable, says Cillizza, was the decision by Fox News to suspend paid contributors (and presidential hopefuls) Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich unless they get in the race or get out. Their deadline: May 1. They didn’t suspend Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin, who have both been flirting with a bid but not nearly as seriously, though one imagines if their interest increases that Fox News would take a similar stance.

Possibly not coincidentally, Fox News is hosting a South Carolina debate on May 5. And, sayeth Cillizza, by then we might know the full scope of the GOP’s presidential field.

The whole thing can be read here.

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