Now that Mitch Daniels is officially out of the 2012 race, many Republicans are scanning the field to find another suitable alternative to Mitt Romney. Politico looks at the possibilities:
- Jeb Bush and Chris Christie: Though they have both flatly said they won’t run, donors and operatives are likely to take another shot at convincing them. Bush, however, will almost certainly continue to decline. Christie, on the other hand—though he’s joked that he might commit suicide to convince people he’s not running—may find that 2012 is his best shot at the presidency. Currently in his second full year as New Jersey governor, he faces a possibly difficult 2013 reelection.
- Paul Ryan and Rick Perry: Similar to Bush and Christie, both have said they won’t run but are likely to be approached again. However, Ryan and Perry have both left the door slightly more open than Bush and Christie, allowing themselves some wiggle room should they change their minds.
- Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman: These two, both of whom are already likely to run, will probably end up benefitting the most from Daniels dropping out. Pawlenty would give Romney a run for his money in Iowa, and both Pawlenty and Huntsman could effectively challenge him in New Hampshire.
Politico notes that, using history as a guide, an establishment-friendly candidate is likely to fill the current void—but it may be late in the game, as Wesley Clark did in 2003 and Fred Thompson did in 2007. Both their candidacies failed, however, illustrating how difficult it is for a late entrant to be truly competitive. (Click for reactions to Daniels' exit