“That won’t impact whether I get in or not,” Bachmann asserted.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said Thursday that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s decision on whether she’ll seek the GOP nomination in 2012 won’t affect her own thoughts on running for the presidency.

During an interview on CNN’s “John King, USA,” Bachmann said, “My decision will be independent of whichever candidate gets in. I have great respect for Governor Palin, I consider her a friend, and if she gets in, she gets in.”

***

“A lot of what I am, deep down, there are a lot of insecurities. That can drive you … and also have petty sides, flaws, fears.”

Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has taken the witness stand for a second day at his corruption retrial.

Indignant one minute, laughing the next, in tears moments later. Blagojevich clearly was trying to humanize himself to counteract the blunt, profane, seemingly greedy man heard on FBI wiretap recordings that prosecutors played for jurors earlier in the trial.

***

“I’ve had this calling and tugging on my heart that this is the right thing to do.”

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann made it clear Friday that she was leaning toward a presidential run, saying on an Iowa public affairs program the she felt a “calling” to seek the Republican nomination.

Bachman repeated her plan to announce her presidential plans next month in Waterloo, Iowa, where she was born and lived as a child before moving to neighboring Minnesota. But it sounded as though her mind was largely made up.

***

“…there are now fewer establishment Republicans for Mitt to fight for money with. That is good for him.”

All kinds of qualifiers have preceded “front-runner” when it comes to Mitt Romney’s place in the 2012 Republican presidential primary — from weak to putative to nominal to marginal. None of them is accurate anymore.

Although the talk running rampant inside the Beltway is that the path to the nomination is more wide open than ever, a cadre of Republican presidential strategists contacted for this story said that such talk is simply conventional wisdom, with one pointing out that conventional wisdom is usually wrong. If anything, most said that Romney’s late-starting strategy has been masterful and has solidified his spot atop the rest of the field.

***

“I expect this meeting would only amount to a photo opportunity.”

Lech Walesa, Poland’s Solidarity-era leader, ex-president and 1983 Nobel Peace Prize winner said Friday he would not accept an invitation to meet fellow Nobel winner US President Barack Obama.

“I believe one day I will meet with Obama, but not this time,” Walesa said, adding he wished the US president “very well, but sometimes things just don’t work out.”

***

“We are not going to reduce benefits at all.”

Many liberals fear that Dems will cave on this point. But according to Dem Rep. James Clyburn, one of the Dems at the table in the Biden negotiations, Dems will not agree to any cuts that compromise benefits in any way.

Clyburn made the claim in an interview with Bloomberg News that’s set to air this weekend, a transcript of which is now on line. In the interview, Clyburn revealed that negotiators were zeroing in on up to $6 trillion in cuts, but when asked about Medicare, he seemed to take benefits off the table.