gallery The Ones Who Got Away
Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour—we hardly knew ye! With the Republican presidential field shrinking daily, Shushannah Walshe tallies the stars who are staying home in 2012, from the flirts (The Donald) to the door-slammers (Jeb Bush).
Jose Luis Magana / AP Photo Mitch Daniels
In May 2011, the Indiana governor announced he would
not be a presidential candidate in 2012. He just couldn't get his family on board for what is sure to be a grueling campaign, he said: "The counsel and encouragement I received from important citizens like you caused me to think very deeply about becoming a national candidate. In the end, I was able to resolve every competing consideration but one, but that, the interests and wishes of my family, is the most important consideration of all." The decision is a blow to his many supporters, who saw the former director of the Office of Management and Budget, with his message of fiscal discipline, as a strong option to take on Obama. It was widely known his wife, Cheri, had reservations about the scrutiny their family would be under. In 1993 she left her husband and four daughters, married another man in California, and then returned to Indiana and remarried Daniels four years later. It is an unusual story that no doubt would have been discussed endlessly on the campaign trial. Elise Amendola / AP Photo Chris Christie
New Jersey governor
is in demand for 2012. He's a hard-charging, crowd-pleasing GOP dynamo, but he's playing hard to get. Speculation about a 2012 run has been running so high, he has been forced to tell reporters in a crystal-clear statement that he's a no: "Short of suicide, I don't really know what I'd have to do to convince you people that I'm not running. I'm not running." Of course that hasn't stopped the speculation, and some just won't take no for an answer. Christie even has Iowa Republican donors flying to New Jersey this month with the goal of trying to draft him. They may not be successful, but it's clear he likes being courted, sitting down not only with the Iowans, but with many of the 2012-ers. All this makes Christie this season's kingmaker—and surely at the top of the veepstakes list.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images Mike Huckabee
The 2008 Iowa caucuses winner and Fox News host was polling at the top of national presidential polls, but
Huckabee decided against a run
last weekend. He teased out the decision, saying he was the only one who knew whether he was in or out. He had every political observer guessing, making those curious about his decision tune into his talk show to hear the news. Then he drew it out until the very end of the hour, waxing poetic while letting down his supporters: "All the factors say go, but my heart says no." The other candidates rushed to put out statements praising the former governor of Arkansas—that is, except for rival Mitt Romney. Despite a well-known dislike for the former Massachusetts governor, Huckabee said Romney left a "gracious" voicemail for him after his announcement, and he pledged to back him if he becomes the GOP nominee.
Donald Trump's flirtation with running for president was outrageous… and we aren't even talking about his hair. Running a campaign before the campaign on a platform questioning whether President Obama was born in the United States, Trump gave a voice to the fringe, not to mention giving reporters a wonderland of eyebrow-raising statements and gaffes to cover. At the
White House Correspondents' Association dinner
, he received an unwelcome roast from Obama that had everyone in the crowd entertained—except for Trump. The real-estate magnate ultimately decided to focus on what he does best: hosting
. In his statement, in true Donald fashion, he said he would have gotten the nomination and beat Obama. We're not so sure, but yes, The Donald would have been fun to cover.
The Mississippi governor had staff waiting in the wings, but he too surprised 2012 watchers by deciding against a run. Calling it "a difficult, personal decision," he said he didn't have the "fire in the belly" for a grueling campaign. His wife's reaction (a 2012 theme!) was
no doubt part of the decision
; she told a local TV station of a potential presidential run: "It horrifies me." Barbour's
early stumbles on race
also would have haunted him during the campaign. But as former RNC chairman, he would have undoubtedly been a fundraising machine for what will surely be a high-priced campaign.
David J. Phillip / AP Photo Rick Perry
Last week Republicans looking to fill the opening left by Mike Huckabee were buoyant at news from
Real Clear Politics
that the Texas governor could be thinking about entering the 2012 field. Perry would have been able to woo Southern voters who might otherwise have gone to Huckabee and Barbour, and his retail politicking skills would have helped him on the stump. But he also seems be a no, telling reporters last week: "I've made my decision," stressing that a 2012 run is not on his radar. But he is enjoying the flirtation— even taking a veiled
shot at Romney's health-care plan in Massachusetts
and saying, "There are still a number of folks out there who haven't made a decision" about 2012.
Earlier this year the former Florida governor got a love letter in the form of a
National Review column written by Rich Lowry
urging him to enter the 2012 fray. In 2008, another Bush running for president may have been unthinkable, but Lowry wrote that "the Bush rehabilitation has begun" and added that Jeb "has a better chance to unite the establishment and Tea Party wings of the GOP than anyone else." Unfortunately for Lowry and others who were eager to have a third Bush in the White House, Jeb
told Politico he would not run in 2012
Despite being aggressively courted by conservative groups for the presidential race, the Indiana congressman made a different 2012 decision, deciding to run for governor of the Hoosier State instead. The social and fiscal conservative kept political observers guessing which campaign he would wage, but eventually told supporters in a letter first reported by the
: "In the choice between seeking national office and serving Indiana in some capacity, we choose Indiana." Pence is favored to win in his home state but as a hero to social conservatives made many Republicans wish he had set his sights on the White House instead of the governor's mansion.
Alex Brandon / Getty Images John Thune
The South Dakota senator seemed an obvious choice: His state borders the first caucus state of Iowa, he's widely popular in GOP circles, and he's got those movie star looks. Although widely thought to be a formidable candidate, he also
decided against a run
, announcing on his Facebook page that he had received "encouragement" and his decision "involved lots of prayer," but now was not the time. Instead he decided to stay in the Senate and keep his leadership posts. The Midwesterner may have his eye on 2016 or even be the 2012 nominee's No. 2 on the ticket.
Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo Paul Ryan
He's quite possibly the GOP's most loved member at the moment. Newt Gingrich even had to apologize to the Wisconsin congressman after calling his Medicare proposal "radical change" on NBC's
Meet the Press
. In late April,
, "There's desire at the highest ranks of the Republican Party" for Ryan to make the 2012 leap because of his "Path to Prosperity" budget plan and his national defense and pro-life bona fides. Despite the encouragement, at 41 he's eager to remain House Budget Committee chairman, even ruling out a Senate run to succeed
Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl
. Bill Kristol is a fan,
urging Ryan to run with Marco Rubio as his running mate
. Despite the encouragement, Ryan definitively ruled out a 2012 run on Sunday, but did leave the door open to a future run, telling David Gregory: "I'm not going to get into all these hypotheticals for the future. My point is: I'm not running for running for president. You never know what opportunities present themselves way down the road."
Sascha Schuermann / AP Photo Gen. David Petraeus
dedicated to drafting the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan for the White House, but it doesn't seem like Gen. David Petraeus has any interest in occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The architect of the troop surge in Iraq did make a trip to the first primary state of New Hampshire in March, launching speculation that he was considering a run, but he
told reporters at the speech
at St. Anselm College—the site of many presidential debates—that a run was out of the question. "I thought I've said 'no' as many ways as I could," Petraeus said. "I will not ever run for political office, I can assure you of that." The White House may not be on his radar, but he's not disappearing from the public eye. In April, President Obama nominated Petraeus to be the next director of the CIA.
The first-term Florida senator is a GOP superstar. He ran a 2010 campaign that forced Gov. Charlie Crist to become an independent and still easily bested him in November. Although Rubio is a fresh face in the Beltway, that hasn't stopped the 2012 talk, both in D.C. and
at home in the Sunshine State
. He's sure to be on top of the VP list, but in April he ruled out a run, telling NBC's
Meet the Press
that "under no circumstances" would he appear on the Republican ticket next year.
Although he flamed out early in his 2008 bid for the presidency, the
former New York City mayor told The Daily Beast
in March, "I would say I have not closed the door on doing it." Unlike others on this list, it seems Giuliani hasn't completely closed the door on a run.
Asked by NBC's David Gregory
if he were still considering getting into the race, he answered, "Not right this minute, but yes I am."
had it that the New York City mayor might wage a third-party run for president, hoping to get support from voters turned off by both parties and looking for another option. The billionaire could easily self-fund a run, but in December he ruled it out,
telling David Gregory on
Meet the Press
that "no way, no how" was he going to run for president. He said he wasn't "looking at the possibility of running."