The race for the next president of the United States is officially on. President Obama is the Democratic incumbent and will naturally assume the nominee for this fall’s election. However, the field has been crowded and slowly windling for the Republicans. In a race that has seen many ups and downs, the Republican nominee still has yet to be decided.
In early fall of 2011, the race had 9 lead Republican candidates: Texas Governor, Rick Perry; former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich; Texas U.S. Representative, Ron Paul; former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney; former Pennsylvania US Senator, Rick Santorum, Minnesota U.S. Representative, Michele Bachmann; Georgia Businessman and politician, Herman Cain; former Utah Governor and U.S. Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman and former Minnesota Governor, Tim Pawlenty.
Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race in early August of 2011, after finishing third in the Ames Straw Poll, behind winner Michele Bachman and runner-up Ron Paul. He has endorsed Mitt Romney.
Herman Cain was the first to drop out after his campaigned became marred in scandal over his alleged sexual impropriety with women who worked under him while he was head of the National Restaurant Association. As Cain’s campaign began to pick up steam from the Republican debates, it became victim to scandal. Several women came out against him and said he sexually assaulted them and one woman claimed to have had an affair with him. Cain has yet to endorse anyone.
Michelle Bachman was the next to drop out, after loosing the Iowa caucus and not placing in the New Hampshire primary. She has not endorsed anyone.
Jon Huntsman dropped out after the New Hampshire primary. He spent much of his time campaigning in New Hampshire, but finished third. He has endorsed Mitt Romney.
The latest candidate to drop out is Rick Perry. Political gaffs in the presidential debates have marred his campaign. He has misspoke on several occasions, most infamously forgetting a third point he was attempting to make, which caused a media storm soon after. Perry has endorsed Newt Gingrich.
Then there were four. Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul are left.
Romney has been labeled the likely candidate, but during a recent debate he was asked about releasing his tax statements, which has caused quite a flurry. He is also been criticized for his involvement in the failed company, Bain. Further, critics have cited his flip flop stances on several key issues like abortion, economic bailout and others to name a few.
Rick Santorum has campaigned that he is the best candidate to appeal to the Tea Party and the Republican base, citing that the Tea Party helped reenergize the GOP in 2010. He too, has faced a few political gaffes, making negative comments about African Americans and then retracting them after a media firestorm.
Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House from Georgia, has been labeled the conservative. He has also had some questionable stances on the economy and joblessness. However, he has picked up energy after the South Carolina primary. Critics worry if his reach is large enough to bring in more liberal Republicans.
Then there is Ron Paul. He came in third place in the Iowa caucus and second in the New Hampshire primary. He has resonated a following that allowed him to go relatively far in the 2008 campaign. He skipped the Florida primary, stating that he’d rather go after smaller state primaries like Nevada, Maine and Louisiana.
After all the ballots were counted and collected in Iowa, Rick Santorum was declared the official winner, after Romney was originally declared the winner. Romney won the New Hampshire primary, albeit narrowly to Ron Paul. So he and Santorum have one win under their belt, with Paul close behind. Newt Gingrich is still hanging on for the final stretch in what looks like a continued game until Super Tuesday, March 6th.