FACTBOX-Possible Republican White House candidates in 2012
Dec 15 (Reuters) - Texas Governor Rick Perry on Wednesday said he would not run for U.S. president in 2012, as the race to take on Democratic President Barack Obama is taking off.
Following is a list of Republican contenders, many of whom have built robust fund-raising operations and paid repeated visits to the early battleground states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
A leading candidate in the 2008 presidential race, the former Massachusetts governor has carefully positioned himself for a return to campaigning for the White House with repeated visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as a book tour.
Known for his good looks and charm, Romney joins Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty as a leading Republican fund-raiser. His Free and Strong America political action committee has raised millions.
But he continues to face claims of flip-flopping, a charge that detracted from his 2008 presidential bid. One example earlier this year came when Romney assailed Obama's healthcare reform package as an abuse of power. The remark quickly drew comparisons between the Obama legislation and state reforms implemented in Massachusetts during Romney's governorship.
The outgoing Minnesota governor first emerged as a potential contender in White House election politics in 2008, amid speculation he could become Republican John McCain's running mate.
Though the mantle went to Palin, Pawlenty is now viewed as a leading Republican presidential hopeful.
He has built up a presence in Iowa and New Hampshire by making repeated visits. As a popular Republican governor in a traditionally Democratic state, Pawlenty eliminated a $4.3 billion budget deficit without raising taxes and has been a staunch voice against abortion and stem cell research.
The former Alaska governor has used lucrative television, book and speaker deals to emerge as one of her party's biggest stars since being the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee.
She is a leading voice in the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement and enhanced her influence this year by campaigning for Republican congressional candidates across the country.
Those activities and her success at fund-raising are driving speculation of a possible White House run by Palin in 2012. But the political journal Politico has reported that some Republican heavyweights may want Palin out of the spotlight for fear she could become a liability to the party.
Distinguishing himself as a conservative who is "not angry," the former Arkansas governor used a mixture of anti-abortion, anti-gay politics and regular-guy charm to win the 2008 Republican Iowa caucus against candidates with bigger names.
A Baptist minister with strong ties to the Christian Right, Huckabee continues to poll strongly in Iowa and has been seen as a potential presidential front-runner in 2012.
But he is also dogged by controversy for granting clemency to Arkansas criminals, including a felon who later allegedly murdered four Washington state policemen and died in a gun battle with a Seattle officer.
The former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives was the main architect of the 1994 Republican midterm election victory and author of the Contract with America political manifesto. But the Georgia Republican ended his 20-year congressional career after his leadership was marred by big losses in the 1998 midterm elections.
Gingrich remains a leading conservative figure, political pundit and accomplished fund-raiser whose political advocacy group has outstripped his Republican rivals by collecting more than $20 million during the 2010 election cycle.
The Louisiana governor entered White House politics in 2008 when he was named as a possible running mate for McCain. Palin got the nod but the son of Indian parents won the coveted task of delivering the party response to Obama's first address to Congress.
Jindal, Louisiana's first nonwhite governor since the Civil War era, skipped the chance to address the 2008 Republican presidential convention to oversee Louisiana's successful response to Hurricane Gustav, a stark contrast to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster.
The New Jersey governor provides the Republican Party with a new bright spot for 2012. He drew national attention as a corruption-busting U.S. attorney who won convictions or guilty pleas against scores of public officials.
He has since proved a popular governor in a traditionally Democratic state, despite ardent stands against abortion and gay marriage, making him a potential magnet for independent voters in industrial swing states.
The Texas governor has become a conservative favorite with deep support in the Tea Party. On Wednesday he told Reuters, however, that he did not want to run for the top U.S. office. [ID:nN15166088]
But he has fueled speculation that he is testing the waters with a national tour to promote his new book and he is a constant critic of the Obama administration.
Others seen as testing the presidential waters include Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, South Dakota Senator John Thune, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Representative Ron Paul of Texas -- a former candidate for the Republican nomination.
Note: The fund-raising data on the potential candidates comes from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks the role of money in U.S. elections. (Reporting by David Morgan, Ed Stoddard and Peter Henderson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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