The GOP will not officially pick its presidential nominee until the Republican National Convention that takes place next August in Tampa Bay, Florida. But the race for 2012 is heating up. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who also ran in 2008, has hovered in the top-tier since his April announcement. But when Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race in August, he immediately joined Romney in the top tier. Rep. Michele Bachmann claimed an early win at the Ames Straw Poll, but she competes with Perry for the attention of Tea Party conservatives and faded after he entered the race. Rep. Ron Paul, who is running for president for the third time, engages the support of young people though most in the media write him off as a fringe candidate. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich plays up his congressional experience, while Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza models himself to be the businessman alternative to career politicians. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman claims to be the most electable of the field, his views on social issues being the closest to the center. On the opposite of the end of the social conservativism spectrum is former Sen. Rick Santorum. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson clings to the bottom tier, not even appearing at a GOP debate until late September.
Former Gov. Sarah Palin continues to tease the media about entering the race, but time is running out before the deadline to get on the ballot of the first primary. Some speculate she might opt for a third party bid. Much can change between now and the series of primaries that will determine the Republican candidate, but many Republican already voters have chosen their favorites.
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