Presidential Candidates 2012

Barack Obama and his challengers

Here are the leading candidates now running (or who have already quit running) for the presidency of the United States in 2012.

(Photo: Shannon Livingston / WENN)

The Republicans

A Republican sat in the White House for 25 of the 40 years between 1972 and 2011. These candidates say they’re determined win that seat back in 2012.

Tim Pawlenty

Former Minnesota Governor TIM PAWLENTY was the very first Republican to throw his hat near the ring for 2012 when he announced in on 20 March 2011 that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee.He made the announcement on his Facebook page, saying “We the people of the United States will take back our government.” Pawlenty then formalized his candidacy on 23 May 2011. He had been governor of Minnesota from 2003-2011, but decided against running for a third term in 2010, presumably to focus on a run for the White House.His presidential candidacy didn’t last long. After a weak showing in an Iowa straw poll, Pawlenty dropped out of the race on 14 August 2011.Tim Pawlenty turns 52 years old in 2012.

Newt Gingrich

NEWT GINGRICH announced his run for the Republican nomination on 9 May 2011. Gingrich was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 until 1999, when he resigned his seat after Republicans took heavy losses in the Congressional elections of 1998. He has since remained in the public eye as a lecturer, author, and TV political pundit. He dropped out of the 2012 race on May 2, 2012.

Newt Gingrich turns 69 years old in 2012.

Herman Cain

HERMAN CAIN is the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and the host of the radio talk show “The Herman Cain Show.” He announced his run for the GOP nomination on 21 May 2011, saying “Let me tell you what the Cain Doctrine would be: We ain’t raising the debt ceiling. We are going to cut the spending.”

Herman Cain suspended his campaign on 3 December 2011. (According to the New York Times, “In suspending his candidacy, as opposed to saying that he was ending his bid, Mr. Cain, according to campaign finance lawyers, maintains an ability to accept money to pay for his campaign so far and potentially to finance the new venture that he called his Plan B: to travel the country promoting his tax and foreign policy plans.”)

Herman Cain turns 67 years old in 2012.

Mitt Romney

MITT ROMNEY was governor of Massachusetts for one term, from 2003-2007. He decided not to run for a second term, and instead ran for the 2008 GOP nomination for president. He lost that year to John McCain. But McCain lost to Barack Obama in the general election, and Romney soon began preparing to run again in 2012. He made it official with an announcement on 2 June 2011, and spent the next year campaigning to be the Republican candidate for president. He succeeded: Mitt Romney was named the party’s candidate at the GOP Election in August of 2012 and ran in the general election against incumbent Barack Obama.

Mitt Romney turns 65 in 2012.

(Side note: Romney’s father, George Romney, ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 and was defeated by Richard Nixon.)

Rick Santorum

As a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2007, RICK SANTORUM made himself a national name by condemning big government, abortion, homosexuality and “radical” Islam. He returned to the big government theme on 6 June 2011 when he announced his run for the GOP nomination, saying “America is a great country not because of our government. It’s because our founders founded a great country.” After winning eleven states in the primaries, Santorum was still behind Mitt Romney in delegates as the Pennsylvania primary approached. Just prior to that primary, Santorum suspended his campaign on 10 April 2012.

Rick Santorum turns 54 years old in 2012.

Jon Huntsman

JON HUNTSMAN had unusual credentials for a 2012 Republican presidential candidate: he had just finished serving in the administration of incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama. Huntsman was Obama’s ambassador to China from 2009 until he stepped down in February of 2011. On June 21, 2011, Huntsman announced that he was a candidate for the Republican nomination. Despite his foreign policy experience, Huntsman never quite got traction in the crowded GOP field. He ended his campaign on 16 January 2012, saying “Today I am suspending my campaign and supporting the candidate who is best-equipped to defeat the president and return conservative leadership to the White House: Governor Mitt Romney.”

Jon Huntsman turns 52 years old in 2012.

Michele Bachmann

MICHELE BACHMANN announced her candidacy in Iowa on 27 June 2011, saying “I am so profoundly grateful for the blessings that I have received both from God and from this great country.” Rep. Bachmann has been a Congresswoman from Minnesota’s 6th District since 2007 — which made her (after Tim Pawlenty) the second Minnesota politician to announce a run for the 2012 GOP nomination. Like Pawlenty, she did not complete the race: she dropped out on 4 January 2012, after finishing sixth in the GOP Iowa caucus.

Michelle Bachmann turns 56 years old in 2012.

Ron Paul

United States Congressman RON PAUL had already for the presidency twice before the 2012 campaign. A representative from Texas since the late 1970s (off and on), Dr. Paul was the Libertarian Party candidate in 1988, and in 2008 he made a try at the Republican Party nomination (he dropped out of the race and Arizona’s John McCain got the GOP nomination). A staunch advocate of limited government — including in foreign affairs — Paul was considered a longshot for the nomination. However, he stayed in the race through to the Republican national convention in August of 2012, at which Mitt Romney was chosen as the GOP candidate.

Rick Perry

Telling a cheering South Carolina audience that “America is not broken, Washington, D.C. is broken,” RICK PERRY announced that he would run for U.S. president on 13 August 2011. Perry has been governor of Texas since 2000, when he replaced George W. Bush, who left office when he was elected president. After a faltering campaign that included much-publicized debate gaffes, Perry suspended his campaign on 19 January 2012.Rick Perry turns 56 years old in 2012.

The Democrats

Barack Obama was elected in a landslide in 2008, and he is not expected to have any major challengers from his own party in 2012. Still, just to be thorough…

Barack Obama

BARACK OBAMA is the 44th president of the United States. He was elected in 2008 after serving four years as a U.S. senator from Illinois. David Axelrod — Obama’s chief strategist in 2008 — left his post as a White House senior advisor on 28 January 2011 to return to Chicago, where he began planning the president’s run for re-election. The Obama campaign announced on 4 April 2011 that it had filed the appropriate papers for a run in 2012, and run he did. He was formally given the Democratic nomination for president at the Democratic national convention in September of 2012, with Joe Biden as his running mate.Barack Obama turns 51 in 2012.


No major independent candidates filed for president in 2012.

Down Memory Lane: 2008

Remember the last time around? John McCain, John Edwards, and Rudy Giuliani? Relive the whole dreamy experience in: PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES 2008 »

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