A Guide to the GOP 2012 Beefs

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Sarah Palin says it's a total coincidence that she's hosting a clambake in New Hampshire on the very same day Mitt Romney is barbecueing it up in the state as he formally announces he's running for president. Even if she's telling the truth, it's likely Palin doesn't feel all that bad about it. Last summer, their aides engaged in what Politico's Andy Barr called "possibly the first inter-staff dust-up of the 2012 presidential race," when Romneyland charged that Palin was not "a serious human being" and who got into trouble if her debate answers were "more than 15 seconds long." Palinites fired back that they were shocked that "Those who try to claim the mantle of Reagan would be good to follow one of his most sacred tenets" (Thou Shalt Not Criticize a Fellow Republican). And at her clambake Thursday, she attacked Romneycare, saying it'd give him trouble with Tea Partiers. Romney hasn't responded directly to Palin, but his announcement speech is meant to present him as a "serious man." Ahem.

But Palin and Romney aren't the only feuding 2012 contenders. The Republican field is rife with enough beefs to fuel a whole reality show season. Here's our breakdown:

Mitt Romney vs. Jon Huntsman

Background: They both have great hair, were governors, and are Mormon. Weirder, they're cousins. But Romney and Huntsman don't like each other very much.

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Escalation: Former Utah Gov. Huntsman opted to endorse John McCain in the 2008 Republican primary, even though Huntsman's dad had given money to Romney. That was "something Romney loyalists saw as a naked play for relevance in a McCain administration that Huntsman would never have if a fellow Mormon were elected," Politico's Molly Ball and Jonathan Martin report. Huntsman's team is psyched that Romney seems like the more religious one.

Bitchy Quote: Huntsman's uncle once dated Romney's sister. And now, Huntsman's mom has no love for Romney, telling the Washington Post's Jason Horowitz. "I know Mitt. We backed Mitt and helped him. But I wouldn't today. And I won't get into that."

Sarah Palin vs. Michele Bachmann

Background: The press desperately wants this catfight. They're both Republicans, bomb throwers, and, most importantly, girls. Is the beef real?

Escalation: Politico's Ben Smith and Maggie Haberman report that Palin's bus tour is "not unconnected" to Bachmann's moves toward a presidential campaign. And Bachmann only said she'd announce whether she's running for president the night Palin announced her bus tour.

Bitchy Quote: Though they say nice things about each other publicly, Politico reports, "each camp views the other with a level of suspicion, with some of Palin's supporters seeing Bachmann as a B-list version of their icon, and some in Bachmann's camp regarding Palin as a short-timer without Bachmann's record or tenure."

Michele Bachmann vs. Tim Pawlenty

Background: They're both from Minnesota--she a congresswoman and he a former governor, and if they want to win the Republican nomination, they both have to win Iowa. That's putting them "on a crash course that could shed revealing light on an already distant and awkward relationship--testing the Minnesota Nice ethos," Politico's James Hohmann reports.

Escalation: The two have known--and been skeptical of--each other for years, since they served together in the Minnesota state legislature. Bachmann endorsed a more conservative candidate for governor when Pawlenty ran in 2002. They battled over cigarette taxes and education policy, and Bachmann floated the idea of running for president the night before Pawlenty set out on his book tour.

Bitchy Quote: Pawlenty "would like to rip her lungs out right now," a Minnesota Republican told Hohmann. "He has planned it out methodically for years. ... To see her, in his mind, recklessly come in, in a slapdash fashion, and ruin, potentially, his plans makes him insane to even think about." A "Pawlenty insider," complained that now they have to take Bachmann seriously: "Three months ago we were hoping Michele was just a flash in the pan so, no doubt, we’ve had to sober up around the possibility that she could get in and beat him…Certainly it’s a blow to the gut."

Chris Christie vs. Sarah Palin

Background: Both are Tea Party favorites known for their aggressive style. Christie says he's not running for president, but he took a meeting with Iowa Republicans this week, and he very high favorable ratings among Republican voters. Palin, on the other hand, has high unfavorables.

Escalation: It all started way back in 2009, when Christie was running for governor of New Jersey and said he didn't want Palin to campaign for him. "This is about New Jersey issues and New Jersey, and I don’t think having Gov. Palin here would do me, or frankly the state, a whole lot of good in the sense that we need to talk and focus on what the New Jersey issues are," he said on a local radio show, The Hill's Christian Heinze reports. In 2010, when Jimmy Fallon asked if Palin could be president, Christie said, "Well, you know, who knows. It’s an amazing world." In response, Palin sniffed, "Hopefully, what he’s saying is [that] this is an amazing country where anybody’s work ethic and character can be judged appropriately," on Laura Ingraham's show.

Bitchy Quote: Earlier this year, Christie said the 2012 Republican field was not inspiring. Palin fired back that Christie wasn't as brave as he was made out to be. "He has no choice but to cut budgets, because he’s broke, his state is broke," she said on Fox Business. Real bravery, she said, was cutting when there's a surplus, "and by the way, that’s what I did."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.