Monday’s campaign round-up

MONDAY’S CAMPAIGN ROUND-UP…. Today’s installment of campaign-related news items that wouldn’t necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:

* In one of the first big 2012 straw polls in South Carolina was over the weekend, with the Greenville County Republican Party convention weighing in. The big winner, oddly enough, was former Sen. Rick Santorum.

* At leave five Republican presidential hopefuls sought the services of GOP operative Nick Ayers. This morning, Ayers, who served as executive director of the Republican Governors Association, signed on as former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s (R) campaign manager.

* Former Rep. Ed Case (D) will run for the open U.S. Senate seat in Hawaii, hoping to replace retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka (D). Case has an awkward electoral track record in recent years, including a failed primary against Akaka six years ago, and a failed U.S. House bid last year.

* Five years ago today, then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) signed his statewide health care reform bill into law. Today, Dems appear eager to honor the anniversary, though Romney isn’t.

* There are occasional rumors about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-Ariz.) future political plans, but it’s worth emphasizing that the congresswoman “still faces a long road toward some approximation of a ‘new normal,’ which may not include a return to Capitol Hill.”

* Throughout Capitol Hill, Republicans aren’t impressed with their party’s field of presidential hopefuls. Imagine that.

* In about three weeks, the first presidential debate of the 2012 cycle will be held in South Carolina. The only confirmed participants for the May 5 event are, so far, Newt Gingrich, Buddy Roemer, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum.

* The Obama administration’s ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, will be making his first two campaign stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina, early primary states, in the first week of May.

* And Donald Trump isn’t just sticking to ridiculous conspiracy theories; he’s expanding them to include new laughable ideas.