Ok, who are the "top Republican candidates" for the 2012 White House race.

THis is not meant to be a partisan bash session, but a legitimate question. So leave off your jokes about “Satan” or “It doesn’t matter, they are all losers” responses.

When the latest scandal arose concerning Gov. Mark Sanford, it was stated in many reports I saw that he was a leading candidate for the run for the White House in 2012. Now, other than his stated refusal to take stimulus money, I had never heard of the guy.

When Utah Gov. Huntsman was nominated for Ambassador to China, part of the rhetoric was that he was also a major contender for the Republican nomination. Living in a neighboring state, I knew a lot about him, but never heard his name thrown about for the Republican nomination until about a week before the announcement of his appointment.

So, were Sanford’s Presidential prospects overblown to improve the story? Who are the leading contenders? I heard some talk about Jindal, and, of course, Palin, Romney and Huckabee. Who else?

Supposedly Newt Gingrich is planning a run, hence his heightened presence in the media scene for the past 8 months or so. I don’t know that I’d call him a “front-runner” but I’d be pretty surprised not to see him in the primaries.

The media (and the man himself) pretend that Newt may run every cycle, but I don’t think they or anyone else believes it.

Gov Pawlenty will probably take a crack at it. I believe I heard he’s not running for Governor again, which I think suggests he plans to try for Prez.

I wonder if Palin won’t see the light and decide to sit out a cycle. Her status as a national punchline might die down after a few years, and another term as governor would make her a more believable candidate. I can’t imagine her getting to far in '12.

Mitt Romney. He’s been too quiet.

I can’t imagine her getting far in 2012 either although Politico was reporting that she’s not planning another run for governor thus allowing her between 2010 and 2012 to wander the countryside in campaign mode rather than being stuck within sighting distance of Russia.

Of course, they also said that she hasn’t offically announced anything and probably won’t until the last minute in order to keep her lame duck period as governor to a minimum.

Gingrich seems strangely hesitant. I think he doesn’t want to make a run unless he’s pretty sure he’ll win. So he’ll only run if he thinks Obama is vulnerable and there are no other strong Republican candidates. And that’s very unlikely - if Obama is weak it will draw out strong Republican challengers.

I think Palin is almost certain to run. Everything about her is pointing in that direction (including the fact that the last election’s VP candidate is always a presumptive Presidential candidate for the next election). The question is whether she’ll be seen as a credible candidate and be able to get the nomination and election.

Has anyone heard from Jeb Bush lately?

No, Sanford was at least a logical choice to make a run based on his resume, and last year I said I thought he’d make sense as a VP pick for McCain. We know how that turned out.

Palin’s going to run. She’s already made trips to Iowa, I believe. And Pawlenty has said he is not going to run again in MN (Simplicio is right). There are definitely high hopes in some quarters about Jindal, and he could probably recover from that bad State of the Union response in time. The election isn’t for three years and it was one speech. Romney’s got too much money and free time not to try again, and he’s been critical of Obama often enough that I think he believes he has a chance. And I think Huckabee did well enough that he will try again.

No cite, but I remember reading somewhere that he had pretty much ruled out a run at the Presidency.

People who ran previously and may well take another crack:

Mike Huckabee
Ron Paul
Mitt Romney

Other Possibilities:

Jeb Bush
Mitch Daniels
Jim DeMint (better chance now that Sanford is toast)
Jon Huntsman
Bobby Jindal (his lame State of the Union rebuttal hurt him)
Sarah Palin
Tim Pawlenty
David Petraeus

Romney would be stupid not to give it another shot, assuming the economy isn’t some well-oiled machine by then. He pretty much boiled down to “the economy guy” in the last primary. Deserved or not, that kind of branding gives you a leg up.

I could see Jindal running, maybe, sorta. 2012 is a ways off. However, he has kind of kept a lower profile since the State of the Union fiasco and his rising star momentum fizzled out. He’s going to need to start from Step One again and that means some time to get re-introduced to the public. I actually see him as more of a VP candidate.

Really? Wow. That sounds like some serious wishful thinking (from somebody, not suggesting astorian).

astorian’s list is a good and comprehensive one. I’ve also heard Petraeus’s name come up a time or two. Although I don’t even know if he’s a Republican, I suspect he is, and he has that Eisenhower/Powell “apolitical and [mostly] successful general” vibe going that would be appealing to a lot of people.

Haley Barbour, the well-connected governor of Mississippi, just succeeded Sanford as chair of the Republican Governor’s Assn., and has also been mentioned as possibly having White House ambitions. He has a pretty good rep, from what I’ve heard, and his response to Katrina and its aftermath has generally been considered effective.

I don’t know that Jeb Bush has definitely ruled out a run, but some people close to him were quoted last year as saying he recognizes that the American public still has a bad case of Bush Fatigue. A shame, in a way, because he had a better record as governor than his brother, and by all accounts is significantly smarter.

Sam Brownback might run again, but I really doubt it.

Oh, he’s a very intelligent guy. Unfortunately, he’s egotistical as hell and his negotiation skills make W look like a real statesman.

Another Bush is the last thing we need.

Bush Sr lied about not raising taxes, and told Iraqis that if they rose up against Saddam he’d support them. Of course when they did rise up, he didn’t help and they got slaughtered.

Bush Jr… well, I don’t even know where to start about him.

The last thing the world needs is another Bush in the White house.

Keep in mind that the republican front-runner in 2006-2007was Rudi Giuliani. It’s quite possible that whoever gets the 2012 nomination will be someone that most of us hasn’t really heard of yet.

The front-runner was incorrect, but its not like McCain came out of nowhere. If we made a list of “top GOP candidates” in 2006, I’m sure McCain would’ve been on it. Similarily everyone though Hillary would get the Dem nomination, but Obama was still commonly mentioned as someone who would run against her.

As The New Republic put it:

and on the prospect of Barbour’s POTUS aspirations:

The New Republic is certainly entitled to its opinions, but I recall articles in both The New York Times Sunday Magazine and Newsweek in the last few years that had good things to say about Barbour. In any event, as an Obama supporter, I welcome any GOP candidate who wants to lose to him in 2012!

It all depends on whether we can get the President for Life Amendment through in time.