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Afternoon Fix: Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney staff up in Iowa

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Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney staffed up in Iowa, Sarah Palin would not raise the debt ceiling, Buddy Roemer is in the race, and there’s a cattle call in New Hampshire tonight.

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WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

* Tim Pawlenty has announced the members of his Iowa campaign team, led by state Rep. Erik Helland of Johnston. Annie Kelly, former director of operations for Pawlenty’s Freedom First Political Action Committee, will be state deputy director for the former Minnesota governor’s 2012 bid. Tracie Gibler, who managed Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ unsuccessful 2010 campaign against Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) will serve as Pawlenty’s state political director. Gibler also worked for Rudy Giuliani in Iowa in 2008. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has also announced his Iowa campaign director: Sara Craig, previously his central Iowa field director.

* The Omaha World-Herald is editorializing against Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) for his comments on former Berkshire Hathaway executive David Sokol, who is under scrutiny for investing in a company before recommending it to his bosses at Berkshire. Bruning, who is challenging Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) next fall, has been defending Sokol — a longtime friend of Bruning’s and his campaign finance chair. “Mr. Bruning needs to remember that he is not a full-time candidate for the United States Senate,” wrote the World-Herald. “He was recently re-elected to serve as our attorney general, and Nebraskans are right to expect him to fulfill that obligation ahead of whatever political aspirations he may have.”

* The Fact-checker (aka Post reporter Glenn Kessler) has fact-checked Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) argument that his Medicare plan would give regular Americans the same coverage as members of Congress. The conclusion: while there are similarities, the congressional plan has the government picking up 75 percent of the tab. Under the Ryan plan, by 2030, the government would pay just 32 percent of beneficiaries’ health care costs. The rest would either be shifted to the beneficiaries themselves or be eliminated through lower overall health-care costs.

* Would former Alaska governor Sarah Palin raise the debt ceiling? “Hells no,” she told Fox News in an interview this afternoon. “I would not vote to increase that debt ceiling,” she said. “Otherwise it just shows the American public that we aren't serious, yet we are still going to incur more debt.”

* Buddy Roemer is no longer in the exploratory phase — he has officially launched his presidential campaign. He’s paid $25,000 to get on the ballot in South Carolina and qualify for the state’s May 5 debate. "We recognize that this is a campaign of David vs. Goliath," said Roemer, the former governor of Louisiana and a longshot contender.

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:

* Conservative group Americans for Prosperity is holding a town hall in New Hampshire tonight, with many potential presidential contenders speaking. Pawlenty, Romney, former Senator Rick Santorum, former Godfathers’ Pizza CEO Herman Cain and Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann are all speaking. If you’re not in New Hampshire and really want to spend your Friday night watching a candidate forum, you can watch it live on C-SPAN from 8 to 9:30 P.M.

* Not that there was much doubt, but former Senate candidate Sharron Angle intends to run in the special election for the seat being vacated by Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). Angle told supporters in a statement Friday she needs to raise $150,000 immediately to win the seat, and that “left wing” Republicans are conspiring to keep her out of the race.

* Freedomworks’ Dick Armey thinks Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) would be the “perfect pick” for 2012. “He's exactly the man with the proven record that we're looking for," said Armey in a Newsmax video, whose group is a major part of tea party movement activism and organization.

* Two staff changes in the White House press shop today. Jamie Smith, currently director of public affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is joining the White House communications team as a deputy press secretary. Josh Earnest is being promoted from deputy press secretary to principal deputy press secretary, where he will occasionally stand in for Press Secretary Jay Carney at briefings and on presidential trips.

* Don’t forget: The Fix is interviewing David Axelrod tomorrow morning at 10:30 A.M. Eastern Time at Post headquarters. You can watch the event live online, and we’ll be liveblogging on The Fix.

THE FIX MIX:

No more royal weddings:

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With Aaron Blake

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