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2012 Republican Presidential Hopefuls

Current Events | By The Top 13 on November 3, 2009

It's Election Day. But this year's Election Day - aside from gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia and a few big city mayoral elections - lacks the excitement of last year's historic day. Nevertheless, because The Top 13 takes its civic duty seriously, we're acknowledging Election Day by taking an early look at the current Top 13 2012 Republican Presidential Hopefuls. As of today, these are the 13 Republicans most likely to win that party's 2012 presidential nomination.

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Mitt Romney


Mitt Romney

Former Governor of Massachusetts

The current front-runner, Romney, who won 11 states' primaries and caucuses before dropping out of the 2008 Republican campaign, has never really stopped campaigning. Romney, 60, has already hired a team of staff members and consultants and his Free and Strong America political action committee recently has raised $2.1 million. The Hill recently noted that "history is on Romney's side" in that four of the past five Republican presidential nominees had previously lost the nomination, and commented that the work Romney has already done "paints a promising portrait of Romney’s prospects for 2012." As the former CEO of Bain & Company, the prestigious management consulting firm, Romney's campaign for the nomination might be unstoppable if the country's economic woes don't abate.

Tim Pawlenty


Tim Pawlenty

Governor of Minnesota

Pawlenty, who was co-chairman of John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, announced earlier this year that he would not seek a third term as Minnesota's governor in 2010. Pawlenty, 48, recently signaled his intentions for 2012 by filing paperwork with federal regulators to form his Freedom First political action committee and bringing on a team of experienced Republican campaign consultants. In an interview with The Washington Times last month, the former Minnesota state representative "sounded most of the right base notes as a Republican who is clearly eyeing the 2012 presidential nomination."

Mike Huckabee


Mike Huckabee

Former Governor of Arkansas

Like Romney, Huckabee, 54, who finished second in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries, has effectively turned his 2008 campaign into one for 2012. The ordained minister's folksy brand of Christian conservatism played well with the Republican base, although it also raised questions about his overall electability. Huckabee easily won an early straw poll of the run by the Family Research Council and conservative political consultant John Feehery, writing for The Hill's Pundit's Blog, recently noted about Huckabee: "If I were to put money down on the favorite to win the Republican primary, I would put it on Mike Huckabee right now." While Huckabee might be the favorite now, The Top 13 would take that bet.

Haley Barbour


Haley Barbour

Governor of Mississippi

In his second term as Mississippi's Governor, Barbour, 62, is barred by term limits from running again. As Chairman of the Republican National Committee between 1993 and 1997, the former lawyer and lobbyist oversaw the Republicans capturing both the Senate and House of Representatives for the first time since 1954. Earlier this year, he began testing the waters for 2012 with several fundraising trips and speeches at GOP functions. Conservative political consultant John Feehery, writing for The Hill's Pundit's Blog, recently called Barbour "probably the best natural politician that Republicans have on their team now" and noted that he "is very, very popular with the Republican base." If the GOP doesn't go with a reformer, Barbour will be a 2012 front-runner.

Bobby Jindal


Bobby Jindal

Governor of Louisiana

In the midst of his first term as Louisiana's governor, Jindal, only 38, is considered a GOP rising star. Jindal, who advised Fortune 500 companies at the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. before entering public service in his mid-20s, served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before a successful bid for governor in 2007. Jindal's reputation took a massive hit when he delivered the official Republican response to President Obama's first speech to a joint session of Congress earlier this year. The New York Times noted that conservative commentators were "among the harshest critics, calling Mr. Jindal's delivery animatronic, his prose 'cheesy' and his message . . . uninspired." Still, Jindal has time to rehabilitate himself as a candidate, particularly among the GOP's more conservative voters, who approve of his social positions and value the youth and diversity Jindal could bring to a 2012 campaign against Obama.

Newt Gingrich


Newt Gingrich

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives

Gingrich, who served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999, is best known as an author of the controversial Contract with America and the leader of the Republican Revolution in the House, which ended forty years of Republican minority. Since leaving the House in 1999, Gingrich, 66, has served as a fellow at several conservative think tanks. Here's what The Atlantic has said about the possibility of Gingrich in 2012: "He wants it, clearly, and is already planting some seeds in Iowa and New Hampshire. Though he is deeply polarizing within the country and within his party, he'll be instantly credible as a candidate because of his stature and his financial backing, and you can't say the guy lacks ideas."

Sarah Palin


Sarah Palin

Former Governor of Alaska

Palin, who recently resigned as Alaskan governor, burst onto the national scene as 2008 Republican nominee John McCain's running mate. The "Draft Palin" for 2012 movement began even before President Obama moved into the White House, and despite numerous hits to her public perception (don't forget, she can see Russia from Alaska), Palin, 45, is still considered a viable candidate by some in the conservative corners of the GOP. McCain recently agreed, telling CNN: "When we selected or asked Sarah Palin to be my running mate, it energized our party. We were ahead in the polls, until the stock market crashed. And she still is a formidable force in the Republican Party."

David Petraeus


David Petraeus

General and Commander, U.S. Central Command

General Petraeus, 57, assumed command of the U.S. Central Command just over a year ago and is in charge of U.S. military operations in 20 countries, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. Petraeus, from New Hampshire, has a Ph.D. in International Relations from Princeton University and, according to The New Yorker, has described himself as a "northeastern Republican, in the tradition of Nelson Rockefeller." Although Petraeus has denied having political aspirations, The New York Times wrote last month about growing speculation about the general’s possible candidacy. The paper quoted an Ohio State University professor of military history: "It is other people who are looking at his popularity and saying that he would be a good presidential candidate, and I think rightly that makes the administration a little suspicious of him." Petraeus could move quickly up this list over the next year or so.

Jeb Bush


Jeb Bush

Former Governor of Florida

Earlier this year, Bush, the younger brother of George W. Bush, announced that he would not run for the U.S. Senate next year. If anything, the announcement by Bush, 56, has increased speculation that he'll try to become the third Bush to occupy the White House. Only time will tell if George W.'s unpopularity will limit Jeb's political aspirations, but there is no question that the younger Bush is better suited for the presidency than his older brother. Writing for The Daily Beast earlier this year, New America Foundation fellow Reihan Salam posited that Bush is "the GOP's best hope for beating Obama." Salam explained that Bush is "a successful two-term governor of a big swing state with sterling conservative credentials, a record of appealing to Latino voters, and the raw brainpower and rhetorical skill to match Barack Obama."

Rick Santorum


Rick Santorum

Former Senator from Pennsylvania

Perhaps the most socially conservative of The Top 13's 2012 Republican Presidential Hopefuls, Santorum, 51, also has been among the most open of the potential candidates about his intention to run. Santorum served two terms in the U.S. Senate before falling short in his bid for another six years in 2006, losing by the biggest margin of defeat for an incumbent senator since 1980. Santorum, who currently works as a lawyer and a fellow at a conservative think tank, has been making the rounds in early caucus and primary states like Iowa since the summer. According to, during an interview in Iowa in August, Santorum hinted at his plans when asked whether his conservative profile would fit the state: "One of the things we've seen from the Iowa caucuses is candidates that appeal to the base do very well. I think historically that's always been sort of a key in Iowa. Whether I do or not, I don't know – I mean, we’ll see."

Rudolph Giuliani


Rudolph Giuliani

Former Mayor of New York City

Giuliani may still have presidential aspirations, but after his disappointing performance in the 2008 Republican primaries, it's highly doubtful he'd subject himself to another national campaign. Besides, Giuliani, 65, very well might preempt this discussion altogether by deciding to run against incumbent David Paterson for governor of New York next year. If he does decide to seek the Republican nomination in 2012, the former New York City mayor likely would be able to reassemble his 2008 campaign team and could be formidable, as he continues to trade on his career-making moment as New York City's chief executive on 9/11. Still, Giuliani’s perceived personal foibles and ethics issues make him a long-shot to emerge as the Republican candidate.

Gary Johnson


Gary Johnson

Former Governor of New Mexico

The candidate most likely to carry the torch for supporters of Ron Paul's libertarian movement, Johnson, 56, has already indicated his interest in the Republican nomination. The former two-term New Mexico governor has been largely out of the spotlight since leaving the statehouse in 2003, but actively supported Paul's candidacy in 2008 and has spent the past few months successfully building up grassroots libertarian support. Even tried and true libertarians, however, recognize the limitations in a Johnson candidacy. During his second term as governor, Johnson came out strongly against the war on drugs, and his views on legalization often overshadow his stances against the Iraq war and in favor of limited government, while making him vulnerable to attack from the right. Johnson won't win the nomination, but, like Paul, he could force his fellow candidates to focus on issues that are typically ignored during presidential campaign.

Condoleezza Rice


Condoleezza Rice

Former U.S. Secretary of State

Rice, who served as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor in the Bush administration, is currently a political science professor at Stanford (where she was provost from 1993 to 1999) and a senior fellow on public policy at the Hoover Institute. Rice, 54, was rumored to be considering a run for the Republican nomination in 2008. However, she ended that speculation during an interview in February 2008 with Meet the Press: "I have always said that the one thing that I have not seen myself doing is running for elected office in the United States." Nevertheless, Rice, a former Democrat, was considered a serious candidate to be selected as John McCain’s running mate. And while Rice has not signaled any interest in running in 2012, that hasn’t stopped the speculation about her intentions or the proliferation of Rice in 2012 Facebook groups. Like Jeb Bush, however, Rice very well may struggle to overcome the legacy of former President George W. Bush’s two terms.

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Comments Leave a comment

KungFuJay ★★

Yeah, but who's gonna run for the Democrats???

9:02 AM   Nov 03, 2009

tloveisready ★★

Just oof

9:11 AM   Nov 03, 2009


This is an excellent list of potential candidates as it stands now. My guess is that over the next few years the Republican Party will become much more conservative, catering to the more extreme factions within the party. There are signs of this already - NY's 23 race where the Republicans pushed out a moderate Repub in favor of a more conservative candidate, the defection of Arlen Spector, the popularity and influence of Palin among self-identified Republicans, Repubs getting prepared to take down Crist in Florida in 2010. Beacuse of this I think we'll see some very conservative candidates jump in the race who are not yet in the public eye at the moment but who will want to carry the conservative values banner. Maybe John Thune (S SD) or Jim Demint (S SC). Someone of that ilk.

9:34 AM   Nov 03, 2009


I'm actually gagging at this list right now. Which probably means you have the right people on there. But Rudy's popularity dropped like a stone during the last election, so I wouldn't say he should be on here.
FYI, the web links for the last three are mixed up.

10:19 AM   Nov 03, 2009


Thanks, recycleonly. All fixed.

10:32 AM   Nov 03, 2009


durr ;/

2:37 PM   Nov 03, 2009


Let's not forget that Mitt has the perfect republican haircut. This counts for at least 70% of his popularity. Nobody really likes him as a person, or his ideas. It's the hair.

3:00 PM   Nov 03, 2009


And his attention to detail. The dude dyes his eyebrows.

4:55 PM   Nov 03, 2009


Yet Gingrich still has better brows. Barbour's probably not going run.

7:23 PM   Nov 03, 2009


I bet Romney pays his Barbour Pawlenty of money. So much so that he's G(ett)ingrich.

8:11 AM   Nov 04, 2009

KungFuJay ★★


9:24 AM   Nov 04, 2009


Bobby Jindal. oh ya, now its an Indian's turn to be President. alright sounds awesome.

Why is Aaahhhnnooolddd not there? Screw the constitution!!!!

11:07 AM   Nov 04, 2009

jason ★★

Jindal was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is an American. Schwarzenegger was born in Austria (though he is a US citizen, he's ineligible under the Constitution).

1:10 PM   Nov 04, 2009


civics smackdown!

3:34 PM   Nov 04, 2009


Wow, thor...don't scrape your knuckles on the way out of the forum.

3:38 PM   Nov 04, 2009


I think that's a pretty comprehensive list. Although if you'd made a list of Democrat contenders in 2005, I don't think Mr. Obama's name would be close. But I digress.

8:22 PM   Nov 04, 2009


I actually think Jindal will be the best candidate for the party. I am so not a Republican and would never vote for him but he has the whole Fortune 500 thing and the Battered State thing going for him in this economy. Plus Republicans like to think they're progressive and vote for women/Indians.

As for the 2005/Obama comment. Too true. I told friends in 06 then when Obama runs I will get a job on his campaign. All my friends told me I was crazy and he'd never run and if he did I was entirely under qualified.

7:35 PM   Nov 09, 2009


It's going to be Bob McDonnell. After Jindal dropped the ball this year, all the major fundraisers and donors started sending McDonnell their money. Jindal won't win the nomination. As much as they might claim otherwise, they want a good white christian southern man for president. McDonnell is their new white knight and they are making major plays behind the scenes to secure his future. That said, it might not happen until 2016 when it will be a free for all again.

1:46 PM   Nov 10, 2009


Govenor Jindal is my Govenor and is very good.Now he may
decide not to run in 2012,but I hope eventually he will run.
I like Rudy Giuliani and Sarah.
This I do know whoever the GOP picks I'll support.I
will not vote for Pres.Obama of that I am sure.Another
thing we do not need a WEAK Republican.What we need is a
TRUE CONSERVATIVE!Don't knock my Govenor.He is good.

7:34 PM   Nov 20, 2009


Sura,let me tell you something.If you care about this
country and having a country and having your FREEDOM
you will vote for a REPUBLICAN.If you vote Obama
this country.REPUBLICANS must take back Congress.

7:37 PM   Nov 20, 2009


Sura,you have NO idea what the hell you are talking about
The Republicans are PROGRESSIVE NO NO it's the
with voting for a WOMAN or in Gov. Jindal's case INDIAN?
He was BORN in the USA.His parents are immigrants.There is
PERSON HAS THE RIGHT VALUES.NOW you keep this attitude
and VOTE DEMOCRAT and YOU are helping to destroy out country.They want SOCIALISM and COMMUNISM.Is that what you
want????? WAKE-UP You need to listen to Sean Hannity,
Mark Levin ,
Listen to Glenn Beck .These people are telling it like it is and you can do you own research,but it's people like you
that put Obama in.Thank you A****!

7:43 PM   Nov 20, 2009


What a list. Is anyone else turned on?

5:45 PM   Mar 11, 2010


Not bad you got 3 out of 4 of the top tier canidate's. The nominee's are; 1. Mitt Romney 2. Newt Gingrich 3. Rick Santorum. but you failed to mention Ron Paul who is still in it.

4:10 PM   Mar 06, 2012

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