For GOP, no frontrunner and no worries

NEW ORLEANS – Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, the two Republicans taking the most obvious steps toward presidential bids, both skipped the Southern Republican Leadership Conference here this weekend.

And the thousands of Republicans in attendance didn’t seem to miss them.

With GOP leaders and activists viewing the 2010 midterms as a unique, defining chance to stop the hated Obama agenda, the invisible primary appears to be largely on hold, and the presidential field remains wide open.

Only two men are really running so far: Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, thanks to his previous White House run and fundraising capacity, starts off the 2012 race as the nearest thing his party has to a frontrunner, while Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, is working feverishly to boost his profile.

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April 11