2012 strategy: Sit on the sidelines

Presidential contenders often use the year before an election to raise enough money to show they’re serious and maybe scare off a few rivals. Barack Obama did it in the early months of 2007. Mitt Romney did, too. But not this year.

The money calendar is contributing to a slow-motion start to the GOP nomination fight as candidates put off their decisions until spring so they can avoid appearing weak by reporting a paltry first-quarter fundraising take.

These decisions could have repercussions by giving an advantage to those who can raise money fast from an established fundraising base, such as Romney or former vice presidential contender Sarah Palin.

“It just seems like nobody is in a hurry to be the first to stick their head up,” said Henry Barbour, a political adviser to his uncle, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.