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For ’12 Hopefuls, Bass, Guinta Among Most Popular New Members

It’s no secret that Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have taken a keen interest in New Hampshire politics in recent months.

In addition to donating thousands of dollars to candidates up and down the Granite State ballot earlier in the month, the likely 2012 presidential hopefuls were among the first to phone New Hampshire’s two new Republican Congressmen.

But they were far from alone.

Rep.-elect Frank Guinta told Roll Call that he also received congratulatory phone calls from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former New York Gov. George Pataki and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“I don’t know if Gov. Pataki and Mayor Giuliani are thinking about running, but they certainly called,” Guinta said, noting that the looming presidential contest has already drawn the interest of curious freshmen during last week’s orientation.

“I’ve been asked about it down here from colleagues — about who’s coming to New Hampshire,” Guinta said. “I tell them probably after Thanksgiving I’ll have a pretty clear indication of what the calendar is going to be.”

Santorum will be among the first post-Turkey Day visitors. His political action committee, America’s Foundation, announced a series of public appearances for next week, including a Monday afternoon stop at the Manchester Rotary luncheon and a Tuesday morning keynote address at the Goffstown Rotary Club breakfast.

Rep.-elect Charlie Bass reports having been contacted by the same group of potential contenders. (Both note that they’ve yet to hear from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who endorsed Sen.-elect Kelly Ayotte in the GOP primary.) But neither Bass nor Guinta is picking a favorite two years before Election Day 2012.

“I’m excited for New Hampshire,” Guinta said. “It’s an awesome responsibility.”

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