The ever-evolving lineup of GOP presidential contenders had some major shifts in the past month, leading armchair and professional pundits alike to wonder, “Are they in? Or, are they out?”
Big-name, potential Republican presidential candidates have recently announced their intentions not to run.
On April 25, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour dropped out of the race. As Politico noted in its’ reporting, Barbour’s decision was largely a surprise to those in political circles. He had been traveling around the country, courting potential voters and the media, in what appeared to be a momentum-building lead up to an announcement of his campaign. Barbour did not get into specifics about his decision but did say that he could not “with certainty” guarantee to his supporters “an all-consuming effort” that a presidential campaign and candidacy require. Family reasons may also have played a part. Barbour’s wife, Marsha, had publicly expressed her reluctance of a campaign, calling it “a huge sacrifice.”
National campaigns can take their toll on a candidate’s health, finances, and family as they crisscross the nation trying to garner votes, and it may be that looking down the long road to November 2012 was more than some wanted to endure.
Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, was the next prominent Republican to drop out, on May 14. By way of explanation, he said, “I'm going to gladly continue doing what I do," a reference to his profitable media presence on radio, TV, and print since leaving office and failing to win the 2008 primary. A run would take him away from these ventures and reduce his income, apparently a strong enough reason for Huckabee to stay out of the race.
And then it seemed, as if once we had turned our attention to the next potential candidate, then he, too, dropped out.
Donald Trump, vocal in his doubt regarding President Obama’s birthplace, was skewered in the media. Perhaps most memorably during Seth Meyers’s jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, after Obama’s long-form birth certificate was released by Hawaii.
Trump dropped out.
But was he just another one-issue candidate? Albeit an already famous face but that nonetheless raised eyebrows and garnered media attention for a quick 15 minutes of political hit air?
The latest news came in the early morning hours on May 22nd when Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels surprised many with his announcement that he was not running for president. The Indianapolis Star’s front-page headline on Sunday quoted Daniels’s reasoning, “I love my country; I love my family more.”
Citing family reasons as a key decision-making factor is a common explanation for not entering the presidential race, as Daniels did. Though it lead Republican strategist Mike Murphy to quip on NBC’s Meet the Press, “Old rule of politics, if you’re going to run, make sure your wife is going to vote for you.”
But, remember the last election? Waaaay back in 2008? With no incumbent, Democrats, Republicans, and Third Parties offered up a mix of serious contenders, single-issue distracters, and middle-of-the-pack sorts. In the early days of 2007, talk and speculation abounded about the odds of Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Bob Hargis, Jared Ball, Sam Brownback, John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and Bob Bar.
Who? Some names may have you scratching your head. Many of the 2008 candidates are still widely known and active, but others have dropped from the political radar altogether.
That election, as a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy found, was “unprecedented in terms of its early start and how much early coverage it received.”
So settle in, because the fun and speculation has only just begun for 2012.
As for the current list of Republican hopefuls, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has formally announced his candidacy as has Newt Gingrich. Former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum are expected to announce, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is all but confirmed to run… but will he? The way the past few weeks have been, it is anyone’s guess what the final slate of Republican contenders will look like.