GOP Activists Hope for Surprise 2012 Candidate

GOP activists are hoping for a surprise candidate, but will a late entrant really be a savior?

By SHARE

Giuliani has fared well in recent polls, but many political observers say the timing feels off. Giuliani was considered a strong candidate for the nomination in 2008, but he bungled his shot, and it's not clear why 2012 would be any better. New York Rep. Peter King, a close friend and also a possible 2012 candidate, has said that Giuliani is already mapping out a strategy to focus on winning the New Hampshire primary and knocking current frontrunner Mitt Romney from the race.

Two legislative stars, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, have also left the door open for a possible run. Ryan has denied interest in running, but told Fox News this month that in the wake of Daniels' bowing out, he wants "to see how this field develops." DeMint recently told The Hill newspaper that he's now considering a run. Ryan's deficit reduction plan, which includes controversial changes to Medicare, has become the de facto platform for the Republican party. DeMint has established himself as the leader of the Senate's Tea Party wing. "[DeMint] has a number of things going for him. He's got impeccable conservative credentials, and he comes from an important primary state," Langer says. Both still seem like long-shots for the nomination, although they may be strong candidates for the vice presidency. "If you look at the playbook of the Democrats right now, and the fact that they want to make the Ryan Medicare plan the main issue, there's no better person to defend that than Paul Ryan," Telford says. Other long-shot candidates who have expressed interest in a run include King, Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. [See 5 reasons Palin will get the 2012 GOP nod, and 5 reasons she won't.]

For many of these candidates, the race may come down to timing. In the run-up to the 2008 primary, Republican activists hoped that former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson would add some Hollywood sparkle to the race. But the cautious politician and actor waited until Sept. 5, 2007 to announce his bid, giving him too little time to overcome the perception that he was uninterested in the race. For today's pols contemplating a late entry, the clock is ticking.

  • See a slide show of who's running and who's not in the Republican primaries.
  • Vote now: Who is your pick for the 2012 GOP nomination?
  • Enjoy political cartoons about the 2012 Republican field.