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Stephen Hayes has a great profile of South Dakota’s John Thune in the new Weekly Standard, “Dakota Dreaming.”

This piece fairly kicks off the race for the GOP nomination in 2012, and I hope Hayes will be traveling the trail to provide similar profiles of the other Republicans-who-might-be-president.

If the country is lucky, the GOP candidates –at this point at least Thune, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence– will make a practice of appearing together at forums across the country. If Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin join them, that is even better. These eight accomplished individuals will bring a contrast to the incompetence and ideological blindness of Team Obama and can begin what will be a crucial part of Campaign 2012 –preparing the country for serious, wide-ranging reform in 2013, a reform that has to be accomplished with key regard for the nation’s defense and the private sector’s centrality to the next generation’s recovery.

This could be the most exciting 18 months in the history of the modern GOP as extremely likeable and smart candidates square off for what will certainly be a long series of contests through the winter and spring of 2012, contests which will be shaped by the policy debates of 2011.

The Hayes piece is the first of many that will define the race, so don’t miss it.


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