(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Get ready for another 2012 “cattle call” in Ohio Saturday as the field of possible candidates comes into focus and they test their messages in front of Hawkeye State voters who are serious about their role in the presidential nominating process.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, former Sen. Rick Santorum, Georgia businessman Herman Cain and even former Ambassador John Bolton, who says a presidential run could still be in the cards, will all be on hand for Iowa Rep. Steve King’s Conservative Principles Conference in Des Moines on Saturday.
Notably, this is Barbour's second visit to the state in just two weeks. And, he heads from Iowa to New Hampshire next week for his first-ever visit as a potential candidate. Not on the podium this weekend: The winner of the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who continues to be coy about his presidential ambitions.
Bob Vander Plaats, a well-known political figure in Iowa who ran unsuccessfully in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary last year and chaired Huckabee’s campaign here during the last presidential cycle, said that Huckabee was still doing his “due diligence” and shouldn’t be counted out yet.
“He sees the depth of support in Iowa, he sees the national polls with him up against Obama and faring very well -- probably the best of all Republicans," Vander Plaats told ABC News in an interview last night. “My gut is he’s going to look at all options on how to get in versus how to get out.”
Another absentee at King’s event will be former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who announced the unveiling of his presidential exploratory committee earlier this week. Still, no one can accuse Pawlenty of not paying attention to the state.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will also be a no-show -- so far, he’s focused more on behind-the-scenes fundraising. Romney told a group of high-dollar donors in New York Thursday that it would take at least $50 million to successfully win the GOP presidential nomination.
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