DeMint advisors: He might run in 2012 if there's no "suitably conservative" candidate in the race

My Christmas list this year: (3) New iPad with two, count ’em, two cameras; (2) field-level tickets to the Pro Bowl, natch; (1) Palin/DeMint primary showdown.

Winner gets the nomination, loser gets the keynote address at RINOcon. Let’s do this.

But the ground may be shifting in DeMint-world, and several of his closest advisers and political confidantes are now telling CNN that he is at least open to a presidential bid if a suitably conservative candidate fails to emerge from the early and wide-open GOP field…

“He hasn’t completely shut the door on running, and if there is a massive void in the group of candidates, who knows what could happen?,” said the adviser, who was quick to caution that there is only a five percent chance the senator will run.

Aside from Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, who is currently deciding between a presidential run and a gubernatorial bid in his home state, DeMint’s advisers are having a difficult time envisioning a candidate that he could get behind…

Peter Brown, a prominent South Carolina donor and a member of DeMint’s kitchen cabinet, predicted that DeMint could warm to the idea of a White House bid as the rest of the field takes shape. Brown said potential candidates like Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich are failing to generate any kind of broad excitement among conservatives.

So Pence was the only prospective nominee who cleared the “true conservative” bar, eh? Well, problem solved. Interestingly, at least one of DeMint’s other confidants insists that he doesn’t want to run but might feel obliged if he thinks no one else in the field adequately represents his ideological interests. In that case, though, wouldn’t he end up being a stalking horse for Romney and Daniels by siphoning off votes from Palin and Huckabee? Or is his team thinking he really might win the nomination? A key quote from K-Lo at the Corner per today’s Pence bombshell:

Others close to the draft movement admit to be in a “funk” about Pence’s decision. One stating: “Seriously, we have no one for 2012 now.”

No one for 2012 now. Might be hard for JD to resist if that feeling persists, especially since the early primaries favor him. He has home-field advantage in South Carolina, and his social con pedigree would stand him in good stead in Iowa. And of course, he’s done big business with his PAC fundraising for tea-party candidates. It’d be easy to turn that congressional money machine into a presidential one.

Here he is issuing the obligatory formal denial to Wolf Blitzer. Incidentally, today was the first meeting of the new Senate Tea Party Caucus. Total members: Four and counting.