GOP Rivals Slowly Emerge for 2012 Battle
Barbour, Pawlenty only the first to begin making political waves
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2009 6:41 AM CDT
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty answers a question during a news conference in St. Paul, Minn. on Tuesday, June 2, 2009 where he announced that he would not seek a third term.   (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – The 2008 presidential campaign was one of the longest in history, but be prepared: As the Washington Post reports, the 2012 race may be even longer. With the Republican Party at its weakest point in decades, possible challengers to Barack Obama are already scrambling for position. The latest: Mississippi governor Haley Barbour has scheduled appearances this month in key states Iowa and New Hampshire.

Yesterday, Tim Pawlenty, who narrowly missed the No. 2 spot on the McCain ticket, announced he won't seek another term as Minnesota governor—sending blog and cable speculation into overdrive. Other candidates may still emerge, from South Dakota Sen.  John Thune to South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. Why so early? As one strategist said, "The last thing anybody wants to do is look back in late 2010 and say, 'I wish I could run.'"