Nightly News | April 16, 2011
>>> on to politics now and the race for the white house . there's no clear republican front -runner to challenge president obama , but the gop race is at last heating up. nbc's mike viqueira joins us from the white house .
>> reporter: lester, you're right. this time around it's taken longer than usual to stop, but with top-tier candidates finally getting in, including the president himself, the race to sit here in the west wing coming 2012 is finally on. with tax day looming on monday, this weekend tea party -backed anti-tax rallies were held across the country, with some drawing possible gop white house hopefuls from sarah palin in rainy wisconsin --
>> these are the front lines in the battle for the future of our country!
>> reporter: -- to donald trump in sunny south florida .
>> if i run and win, our country will be respected again.
>> reporter: with his built-in celebrity and controversial views on president obama 's birth, trump has surprised many by showing early strength in polls. former minnesota governor tim pawlenty is also now raising money for a run.
>> have you had enough of $4 a gallon gas?
>> have you had enough of a federal government that is out of control?
>> reporter: and mitt romney , a veteran of the 2008 race, went to the web monday to take his first formal steps towards a run.
>> i'd like you to ask to join with us, volunteer, donate, or just pass this message along to a frenld.
>> reporter: still others are all but running visiting early battlegrounds like iowa and new hampshire. the sudden activity comes after a slow start to the campaign. when then- senator barack obama jumped in four years ago in february, there were already 16 candidates in the race. now, with the democratic field so far to himself, president obama kicked off his run this week in chicago. putting the first millions into what many expect will be a billion-dollar war chest .
>> we came here tonight because we know that for all the progress we've made we've still got business to do. we are not finished.
>> reporter: even as the race takes shape, republicans are pushing deep cuts to democratic priorities and the first battle lines of the contest are already forming.
>> it's about priorities, spending, deficit, debt, and possibly tax policy . that appears to be where we are as a country as everybody is focused on the economy.
>> reporter: and, lester, this coming week the president plans no fewer than three trips to different states around the country for town halls to tout his debt and deficit reduction plan and continue to slam the republican plan at that passed yesterday. also in california next week, there will be some fund raising for the 2012