Southern Republican Leadership Conference kicks off 2012 race

1. The eyes of the Republican political world will turn to New Orleans today as a cavalcade of GOP leaders, wanna-be leaders and national reporters will be in the Big Easy for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

The event is widely being cast as the first “cattle call” of the 2012 Republican presidential primary fight although the absence of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee makes it slightly less star-packed.

Still, during the three-day event, which begins this evening, a number of the brightest lights in the party from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin to Texas Gov. Rick Perry to Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour — among many, many others — will address the crowd.

The Fix