Calendar Countdown: Florida is threatening to move up its primary to January 31, 2012. That screws up the current calendar for the 2012 nominating process. Most importantly for Iowans, it would, at least temporarily, put Florida before the Iowa caucuses, currently scheduled for February 6th. CNN talked with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is in D.C. for the National Governors' Association meetings. Branstad told CNN he will make sure Iowa comes first in the process. No real surprise there. But it does offer another reason for the out-of-towners coming for the caucuses to make sure their hotel rooms have refundable deposits, so they can move their stays a little earlier next year. Can they please still let us reporters enjoy our Christmas holiday break though with our families and not move everything up too much?!
Newt's Next Move: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is sounding more and more like he's not just flirting with a run for president in 2012 (and trying to sell a bunch of books). The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Gingrich will announce in 10 days he is forming a presidential exploratory committee. That allows him to start doing things like raising money for a possible run, etc. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Rick Santorum and Gingrich seem to be among the most serious in Iowa so far. Former candidates Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee have run here before, so you can't forget about them. And Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour also just took his first trip here that was solely focused on exploring a run.