The Hill – 2012 GOP contenders staying away from coast, except Jindal, Barbour a Huck

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) haven’t toured areas affected by the spill off the coast of Louisiana, their respective spokesmen told The Hill.

Two other would-be GOP contenders – former Alaska Gov. and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney – also appear to have stayed away, though their political action committees did not return multiple requests for comment.

Romney has said Obama, who has visited the region four times since the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, is “totally out of his depth,” and Palin told him he needed to “get involved, sir.”

“Gov. Huckabee doesn’t have to make a trip there — he lives there and is a resident of Walton County,” Huckabee spokesman Hogan Gidley said. “In addition to already seeing for himself, he has talked to his neighbors, friends and people in the area who are in tourism, real estate, shrimping and retail.”

Huckabee’s presence in the region might earn him some of the political cachet that two other potential candidates, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), have gained as their states have been deeply affected by the spill.

Both Jindal and Barbour have received heavy media exposure for their response to the spill. Jindal has been vocal in pushing the Obama administration on its response, having tangled with the administration over a plan to build barrier islands to protect the Louisiana coast from oil coming onshore. Jindal has also pushed the president to end his six-month moratorium on deepwater offshore drilling, as has Barbour, the subject of a prominent profile last weekend in the New York Times.

The Hill