By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
It's still not too late for Republican presidential hopefuls to get into the 2012 primary race. Just ask friends of tough-talking New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He's in his rookie year, but his belt-tightening demands in Trenton have caught the eyes of Republicans eager to install a budget cutter in the White House. If there is a theme for what the GOP is looking to take on President Obama with, it's frugality. But the big presidential buzz remains with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a two-term budget slasher who was former President George W. Bush's first budget boss. He seems to pick up support daily. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions says he likes the Hoosier because "he can explain how we got into this mess and how we'll get out." Many key Republicans feel that 2012 hopefuls will have to be angling for the primary by no later than early fall if they want enough time to raise money, increase name ID, and recruit staff.