Most of the Republican candidates are either not well-known or not well-liked by many GOP members of Congress, unlike Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, two former Washington insiders popular with the Beltway crowd who passed on 2012 runs.

But officials with several presidential campaigns said they’re being very strategic in deciding which lawmakers to court early, reaching out to some who may be able to provide key support in an early primary state and others who may help bolster their policy credentials — all the while trying to avoid being cast as the pick from Washington…

One major difference in the 2012 cycle is that there are no sitting senators running for president, which is partly why virtually every Senate Republican is keeping his or her distance from the race. And the race includes just two current House members, Bachmann and Paul, neither of whom would win a popularity contest in the halls of Congress.