Paul Ryan to CNN, on the chances of someone (but not him) still jumping into WH 2012:

It is not too late– look it is 2011 still. The election is in 2012. You know Iowa is not until January. So there is time. So I don’t think I’d say this late date. I think you saw the first tier of candidates. Now you see another tier of candidates, and I don’t see this as too late.

I have no idea whether or not Ryan believes what he’s saying, but he’s wrong. It is very, very late to join the battle for the Republican nomination. That contest began in November 2008…well, really, Mitt Romney probably started running in earnest several weeks before that.

Is it true that there was an early tier of candidates later joined by “another tier”? Not really, no. It’s probably true that Michele Bachmann didn’t quite realize she was running for president a couple of years ago, but she certainly was doing everything to maximize her national profile. And as for Rick Perry…of course he’s been running. Now, I don’t know whether his final decision to become a formal, all-the-way-in candidate was made last month or three years ago, but everything he’s been doing has been pointed towards where he is now. Politico’s Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns (via Goddard) bizarrely portray his campaign-style book Fed Up as some sort of pre-campaign embarrassment which, they claim, has “little upside” for Perry. That’s ridiculous; Perry has jumped to the top of the polls precisely because strong conservatives looking for one of their own consider him a plausible option, at least in part because he embraces Tea Party language and positions in that book. It doesn’t hurt, either, that he downplayed the economy and stressed issues such as abortion and immigration in the recent session of the Texas legislature.

The point is that there are a lot of ways of running for a presidential nomination, and not all of them involve an early declaration of candidacy and early camping out in Iowa. But each candidate now in the race has been running in some way since at least November 2010, and most of them – Perry included – have been running for longer. Of course, some candidates really do choose not to continue (perhaps John Thune was one), and others realize they are losing and drop out (Tim Pawlenty for sure, and probably Haley Barbour). For those who haven’t been running for a while, however…yes, it’s almost certainly too late.