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FACTBOX-Possible Republican White House candidates in 2012

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 14 Apr 2011 19:25 GMT
Author: Reuters
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April 14 (Reuters) - Big-name U.S. Republicans are maneuvering for their party's presidential nomination in 2012 to try to deny Democratic President Barack Obama a second four-year term.

Here is a list of prominent Republicans who are seriously considering a run for the White House.

MITT ROMNEY

If there is a Republican front-runner, Romney is probably it. He was outdueled by John McCain in the 2008 Republican race but has since been plotting a return.

The former Massachusetts governor has been on a cross-country blitz to meet wealthy, well-networked donors and announced this week that he will look into setting up an exploratory committee, a formal step toward candidacy.

Romney is independently wealthy, has a strong organization and is prepared to tout his business experience as a way to attack Obama's stewardship of the U.S. economy.

A weak spot for Romney is the healthcare plan he helped develop for Massachusetts. It bears a strong resemblance to the Obama healthcare overhaul that conservatives want to repeal.

Romney took the problem head-on in a speech in New Hampshire this year, saying the approach he used was specific for Massachusetts and would not work as a national policy.

"Our experiment wasn't perfect -- some things worked, some didn't, and some things I'd change. One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover," he said.

Known for his success in the world of finance, Romney has a personal fortune estimated in 2008 at ${esc.dollar}190 million to ${esc.dollar}250 million. But critics say he caused job losses as a corporate raider.

He has been leading opinion polls in New Hampshire, where he has a vacation home that gives him a natural advantage in the state's key primary next year.

A Mormon, Romney might struggle to win support from conservative Republicans in the South.

SARAH PALIN

Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, has major star power in the Republican Party. Since resigning as governor of Alaska in 2009, she has made herself a millionaire with two books, a TV show called "Sarah Palin's Alaska," and many speaking engagements.

A leading voice in the fiscally conservative, anti-establishment Tea Party movement, she enhanced her influence by campaigning for its candidates across the country in last year's congressional elections.

But some Republican heavyweights are leery of Palin because she is a polarizing figure and her support seems limited to conservatives. In a self-inflicted wound, she sparked a controversy with comments about a media "blood libel" against her after the Arizona shootings in January.

Palin traveled to India and Israel last month to beef up on foreign policy. She is still keeping her supporters guessing on whether she will in fact run.

"I'm not saying it's going to be me offering my name up in the name of service," she said in February. "There is so much to be considered, but I certainly believe that this is going to be an unconventional political cycle."

WHEN SHE MIGHT ANNOUNCE DECISION ON RUNNING

Palin has no timetable for deciding on whether to run, but if she does decide to give it a try she might leave it until late because she already has name recognition.

TIM PAWLENTY

The former Minnesota governor 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 governor in a state that has seen big political swings over the years.

Pawlenty won plaudits for eliminating a ${esc.dollar}4.3 billion Minnesota 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.

Pawlenty announced on March 21 that he would set up a presidential exploratory committee, a formal step toward running for the Republican nomination. He was the first senior Republican to do so.

MICHELE BACHMANN

The representative from Minnesota is a leading figure in the Tea Party movement that helped Republicans win the House of Representatives from Democrats last year.

First elected to Congress in 2006, Bachmann rose to prominence in the Tea Party movement during the 2010 midterm election, with her outspoken attacks on the Obama administration.

She is seen as someone who would benefit if Palin decides not to run, as the two appear similar in politics and personality.

WHEN SHE MIGHT ANNOUNCE DECISION ON RUNNING

Bachmann is planning to file papers to form a presidential exploratory committee by June, so she can participate in early Republican presidential debates.

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