Feb 18 (Reuters) - Big-name Republicans are expected to announce in coming weeks and months that they will seek their party's nomination to run for the White House in 2012 to try to deny Democratic President Barack Obama a second four-year term.
The campaign is off to a slow start, although several possible candidates are testing the waters, visiting early voting states and lining up supporters.
Here is a list of prominent Republicans who are seriously considering a run. The first five or six are seen as most likely to run.
A leading candidate in the 2008 presidential race, the former Massachusetts governor has carefully positioned himself for another White House bid with repeated visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, early voting states in the candidate-selection process, as well as a book tour.
Known for his success in the world of finance, Romney's Free and Strong America political action committee has raised millions of dollars and if there is a front-runner in the race, Romney is probably it.
But he continues to face accusations that he has "flip-flopped" on issues, a charge that detracted from his 2008 presidential bid. And with Republicans vowing to repeal Obama's healthcare overhaul, Romney's support for a similar Massachusetts law when he was governor could be a problem.
In a recent speech to conservatives, he accused Obama of presiding over "the greatest job loss in modern American history."
Romney has been leading opinion polls in New Hampshire, where he has a vacation home that gives him a frequent presence there -- a natural advantage in the state's all-important primary next winter.
The former Minnesota governor may be the first prominent Republican to announce his candidacy. He emerged on the national stage in 2008 when he was on John McCain's short list to be the Republican vice presidential candidate.
"T-Paw," as he is known by his supporters, was a popular Republican governor in a state that has seen big political swings over the years.
Pawlenty eliminated a $4.3 billion budget deficit without raising taxes and has been a staunch voice against abortion and stem cell research. Critics say he lacks charisma.
In "Courage to Stand," a memoir timed to coincide with his expected campaign, Pawlenty denounced "runaway spending" in Washington and blamed Obama for a mountain of debt.
The governor of Indiana generated a lot of enthusiasm in conservative circles with a speech in which he declared the U.S. fiscal situation akin to the "red menace" that the United States fought during the Cold War.
"The second-worst outcome I can imagine for next year would be to lose to the current president and subject the nation to what might be a fatal last dose of statism. The worst would be to win the election and then prove ourselves incapable of turning the ship of state before it went on the rocks, with us at the helm," he said.
Daniels is to make up his mind on whether he will run in April, when the Indiana legislative session ends.
As governor of Indiana, Daniels is considered a highly competent manager and all-around smart operator. He cut his Washington teeth as budget director for Republican President George W. Bush.
But Daniels lacks pizazz in a party that needs an energetic performer. His comedy skills will be tested when he speaks to the Gridiron Club's dinner of skit and song in Washington on March 12, when an audience of news reporters and VIPs will be listening for every nuance.
The former speaker of the House of Representatives was the main architect of the 1994 Republican midterm congressional election victory and author of the "Contract with America" political manifesto. But the Georgia Republican ended his 20-year congressional career after his leadership was marred by big losses in the 1998 elections.
Gingrich remains a leading conservative figure, political pundit and accomplished fundraiser. He strode into the Conservative Political Action Conference last week to the tune of the "Rocky" movie theme, "Eye of the Tiger" and offered a blistering critique of President Barack Obama.