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."