The GOP nominating process has barely begun, but with an unfocused field and a long hill to climb, the barbs are already flying. As the presumptive frontrunner, Mitt Romney has taken most of the heat. But Palin—not even a nominee yet—has dodged her share of insults as well. TNR brings you some amusing excerpts from the expanding array of political playground fights.

Everybody beats up Romney.

The frontrunner’s biggest political liability isn’t his religion: That’s old news. Mitt Romney’s Achilles heel happens to be the biggest success of his gubernatorial career: the passage of a Massachusetts healthcare package that bears a striking resemblance to Obamacare. On the day of Romney’s candidacy announcement in New Hampshire, Sarah Palin called the plan’s individual mandate “not a good thing.” While on Iowa radio in January, the former Senator Rick Santorum cast doubt on the law’s economic viability. “Massachusetts can require you … to buy whatever they believe is in the best interest for the people to do, and it’s bankrupting Massachusetts.” Perennial candidate Ron Paul took a different tack, assailing the founder of Bain Capital for tapping “his bailed-out banker buddies” for campaign donations. Though a successful businessman himself, Herman Cain also took aim at Romney’s well-endowed coffers: “We’ve got to beat Mitt Romney’s money—not Mitt Romney,” implying that Romney himself doesn’t pose a threat—but his checkbook does.

Nobody wants to play nice with Palin.

Santorum is working to overcome his long-shot status with a series of early-edition disses directed at the one-time VP candidate. “She is born in this country and she’s the right age,” he said of her limited qualifications for public office. Newt Gingrichnotalways known for the measured thoughtfulness of his own words—recommended that Palin “think through what she’s saying and how she’s saying it” after her controversial “blood libel” speech. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty also questioned Palin’s reaction to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting last year—specifically, the use of crosshairs to target Giffords and other liberal figures on a map on her website. “It would not have been my style to put the crosshairs on there,” he explained on “Good Morning America.” Some GOP hopefuls, like former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, have said that her folksiness should only get her so far. “We have the obligation to tell her what a terrible idea” it would be for her to run he said in a TNR profile. A prominent member of Michele Bachmann’s team joined in on the Palin-bashing on Tuesday, unleashing a winding criticism of the former governor while on the Fox News radio show “Kilmeade and Friends”: “Sarah has not been serious over the last couple of years,” Ed Rollins stated. “She got the Vice President thing handed to her.”

While Palin and Romney have generated the most ire, the whole GOP crew is not opposed to additional infighting:

Palin v. Huntsman   
In May of last year, Sarah Palin called on Jon Huntsman to condemn a State Department official for comparing Arizona’s immigration bill to China’s human rights abuses. As the former Alaska Governor put it in her chastising (and mangled) Tweet, “AZ's pro-border security law invokes apology to China(w/its human rights violations) by U.S. State Dept;Surely Ambassador Huntsman disagrees?” 

Santorum v. Gingrich 
Many prominent Republicans, including Santorum, lambasted Gingrich’s comments on “Meet the Press” describing Paul Ryan’s budget plan as “right-wing social engineering.” In a statement issued in May, Santorum said that Gingrich’s criticism “was a big departure from Speaker Gingrich’s often sound policy proposals.” Feeling the heat, Gingrich soon came groveling back to Ryan.

Cain v. Paul
Ron Paul supporters are quick to point out to sympathetic Fed-haters that their candidate’s latest book is titled End the Fed and that he has introduced legislation to the same effect. Herman Cain, who’s fighting Paul for the title of Tea Party favorite, was chairman of the Federal Reserve’s Kansas City branch and supported the federal bailouts. On the preemptive defense, Cain has accused Paul of not providing an alternative to the central bank.

Cain v. Romney
Most commentators were confused when Mitt Romney sent a few slices of leftover Chicago pizza to the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago* in a confusing “prank” last month (Romney might have wanted to spice up his perennial straight-man image). Former Chicago pizza man Herman Cain was not amused, and called the prank “trivial.”

Gabriel Debenedetti, Alex Klein, and Matthew Zeitlin are interns at The New Republic.

*This article originally stated that Romney sent the leftover Chicago pizza to the White House. Instead, he saved himself the postage and sent it to the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago.