Haslam Conducting ‘Top-to-Bottom Review’ of Presidential Field?

While Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is actively promoting Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Gov. Bill Haslam says he hasn’t really tuned in to presidential politics and is “not even close” to picking a favorite.
Haslam told reporters Friday he did not watch last week’s debate among GOP presidential hopefuls — he was meeting with business representatives when it aired — and does not see Iowa “straw poll” as a big deal.
“I’m not sure the straw vote is the final word on where Iowa goes, or others go or where the country goes,” he said.
Haslam backed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2008, but has said he wants to watch the field develop for a while before making a choice this year — if he does make a choice.
His father, James A. “Jim” Haslam II, and his wife have each donated $2,500 to Romney’s current campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics database. Jim Haslam has also given Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty $2,500.
The only donation showing for the governor himself this year is $2,500 to Sen. Bob Corker’s reelection campaign.
The governor said he doesn’t try to influence the political thinking of his relatives in the current campaign for president.
“They’re grown-ups who get to make their own decision,” Haslam said. “Really, on this one, I haven’t said, ‘Please don’t get involved.’
Haslam said he suspects other family members are “probably at the listen-and-learn stage as well.”
Blll Hagerty, who Haslam appointed as state finance commissioner, is an active Romney backer. Haslam repeated his past comment that political involvement by cabinet members is fine with him so long as it doesn’t interfere with their state duties.
Ramsey message: Ramsey, in his latest message of support for Perry, says that the Republican party in the past “often nominates the candidate whose turn it is.” Romney, after his unsuccessful 2008 bid, is now often regarded by political pundits as holding that status.
“This year I believe it’s the people’s turn,” said Ramsey in a statement distributed to his supporters and media. “It is the grass roots’ turn. We need a candidate who can not only win but whose victory will have meaning. A Rick Perry victory will mean the grass roots have put the GOP back onto the path of conservatism.”

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