Video: Republicans playing the field

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    >>> one day after his presidential campaign imploded, newt gingrich vowed to carry on.

    >> i had a candidate for the united states , because i think we are in the early stages of the obama depression. 14 million americans out of work. there are 1 in every 4 american families has a mortgage that is more expensive than the house is worth.

    >> nbc's david gregory , moderator of "meet the press, quats joins me more in a busy week in politics. you there reset button pushed there in this case, and reporters poring through the e-mails of sarah palin . where does this leave the republicans?

    >> unsettled. you have sarah palin treated lie a presidential candidate , and she's not. they're going after her time as a governor, and a time as a candidate, and at the time, she's a common tartd and a political figure in her own right, and we'll see if that changes. we're finding not a lot of bombshells. irritation with the media, and working through the rigors of being an office holder ooze a governor. might we have learned this on the vice presidency , but more insight into how she operates. to the point of language, very interesting that he's still in it, but all of the attention is all the wrong kind of attention. the campaign, a lot of backstabbing going on against his wife, melissa, saying she had an iron fisted grip on the schedule. with this backfighting going on in the campaign, this isn't good.

    >> we reached the end of the week. congressman anthony weiner has survived so far. how does that bid for his survival?

    >> that's status quo, but the leaders of the house, nancy pelosi , who is quite upset with how this haspenned. but nevertheless said publicly it's up to his constituents whether he should resign or not, and he's looking at a poll right now that shows majority support for his lead.

updated 6/13/2011 12:57:10 AM ET 2011-06-13T04:57:10

Newt Gingrich vowed Sunday night to continue fighting for the Republican nomination for president "no matter what it takes."

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Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Los Angeles, Gingrich tried to reset his White House bid, roiled by a rocky rollout and crippled in recent days by the mass exodus of top staff and advisers.

"I will endure the challenges. I will carry the message of American renewal to every part of this great land," Gingrich told a crowded ballroom at a Beverly Hills hotel. "And with the help of every American who wants to change Washington, we will prevail."

Story: Gingrich: 'Strategic difference' plagued campaign

Hitting the campaign trail for the first time since senior aides stepped down, the embattled former House speaker delivered a hawkish foreign policy address that won approval from his audience of hardline supporters of Israel. Gingrich pledged to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions, suspend funding to the United Nations if it recognizes a Palestinian state under the control of Hamas, and move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

But the recent upheaval in his political operation was clearly on Gingrich's mind. He reflected that his decades in public life have left him accustomed to the rigors of hard-fought elections.

"In fact, I have had some recent reminders," he quipped to appreciative chuckles from the audience of 600.

Gingrich was swarmed by reporters and television cameras as he shook hands with well-wishers at a reception before the speech. He largely ignored questions from the media.

Image: Newt Gingrich in L.A.
Mark J. Terrill  /  AP
Republican presidential hopeful, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition at their 2011 Summer Bash, Sunday, June 12, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

But when asked by one reporter if he was still a viable candidate, Gingrich shot back, "Go ask the voters."

Among the Jewish Republicans gathered Sunday night, there was skepticism the former Georgia congressman could rebound.

"No," Abraham Wacht, a businessman from Santa Monica, Calif., said with a smile and a shake of his head. "You can't start a campaign like that. I love him, but reality is reality."

But Brett Nemeth, a lawyer from Huntington, Beach, Calif., said Americans love a comeback story.

"I think he's brilliant and if anyone can do it, he can do it," Nemeth said.

Story: Senior Gingrich aides resign campaign en masse

For Gingrich, the speech offered the former college history professor an opportunity to showcase his wonkish command of policy.

He also served up a stinging indictment of the Obama administration's foreign policy, accusing it of pushing "dangerous policies of incoherence and confusion." The Democratic White House, he said, has too often chosen political correctness over common sense.

And those choices have had consequences, he said.

"While the United States and her allies have won important victories in the war on terrorism, it is impossible to look at the totality of the world 10 years after 9/11 and conclude that we are on the winning path, or that the world is a safer place," he said.

Gingrich argued that "both Israel and America are at a dangerous crossroads at which the survival of Israel and the safety of the United States both hang in the balance."

Troubles have plagued the Gingrich campaign since its formal launch just one month ago.

He blundered on NBC's "Meet the Press," likening a Republican budget plan that passed the House to "right-wing social engineering." Days of bad press followed revelations that he had a no-interest loan account at Tiffany's worth up to $500,000. And just as the GOP presidential race began to heat up, Gingrich disappeared on a luxury cruise in the Greek Isles with his wife, Callista.

Even as Gingrich vows to battle back, the path forward is daunting.

He must replace the core of his campaign infrastructure, a tough task after telegraphing to would-be staffers that he's difficult to manage. His campaign fundraising has so far been anemic, and with the GOP race still taking shape, Republican donors will be less than enthusiastic about filling the campaign coffers of a campaign in disarray.

Story: As ex-aides speak out, Gingrich pursues bid

Gingrich headlined a private fundraiser earlier in Los Angeles before Sunday night's dinner.

He now heads to New Hampshire for a debate Monday night among Republican White House hopefuls. Also on Monday, Gingrich's new book "A Country Like No Other" is set to hit bookstores. It's the 24th book for the prolific Gingrich, who has also been making political documentaries with his wife since resigning as House speaker in 1999.

He'll be screening one of those documentaries before tea party crowds in Philadelphia and Savannah, Ga., in coming days as he tries to craft what he describes as a citizen-driven campaign, heavy on new media and other nontraditional events.

It was, in part, deep disagreement over that strategy that prompted top Gingrich staffers and operatives on the ground in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to step down.

His aides had been urging Gingrich to hew to a more traditional campaign schedule of grassroots events in states like Iowa, where voters are accustomed to spending time with candidates in advance of the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

Departing aides cited deep differences over strategy and questioned whether Gingrich is committed to spending enough time on the road in key states to win.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Newt Gingrich

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  1. Rep. Newton Gingrich, R-Ga., meets with reporters in Washington, D.C,. on March 1, 1979. Gingrich was first elected to public office in January 1979 representing Georgia's 6th District after two previous unsuccessful runs. He was subsequently re-elected 10 times. (John Duricka / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Gingrich with his first wife, Jackie, and their daughters, Jackie Sue and Kathleen. Gingrich was married three times, his first in 1962, to his former high school geometry teacher, Jackie Battley. At the time, he was 19 and she was 26. They split in 1980 following an affair Newt had with Marianne Ginther, whom he married six months after the divorce was final. (Calvin Cruce / Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Gingrich laughs at a joke told by President Ronald Reagan during one of his speeches on Jan. 26, 1984 in Atlanta. In 1983 Gingrich founded the Conservative Opportunity Society, a group of young conservative House members, which Reagan borrowed ideas from for his 1984 re-election campaign. (Joe Holloway, Jr. / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Gingrich, left, is congratulated by House Minority Leader Bob Michael after he was elected minority whip on March 22, 1989. Rep. Jerry Lewis, the Republican Conference chairman, is at the right. Gingrich succeeded Dick Cheney following his appointment as Secretary of Defense in a close election in which he beat Edward Rell Madigan. (John Duricka / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Gingrich, the House minority whip, addresses Republican Congressional candidates on Capitol Hill on Sept. 27, 1994, during a rally where they pledged a "Contract with America." The contract laid out 10 promises that the Republicans would bring to vote on the House floor including tax cuts, term limits and a balanced budget amendment. House Minority Leader Bob Michel of Illinois did not run for re-election that year, giving Gingrich his chance at becoming Speaker of the House which he did in November. (John Duricka / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Gingrich uses a chart during a press conference on Capitol Hill, May 2, 1995, to demonstrate what will happen to Medicare if it isn't shored up. Republicans have accused the Clinton Administration of evading the program's growing financial problems. The conflict between Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress over Medicare, healthcare, education and the environment led to the longest federal government shutdown in history. (Richard Ellis / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. President Bill Clinton and Speaker Gingrich laugh during their open question forum at the Earl Bourdon Senior Center in Claremont, N.H., on June 11, 1995. The forum appeared cordial and friendly in an atmosphere of non-partisan cooperation despite the tension between the men. Clinton campaigned on a promise of welfare reform, but Gingrich accused him of stalling as two proposed bills were vetoed. Gingrich then personally negotiated with the President and a bill was passed on Aug. 22, 1996. (John Mottern / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Candace Gingrich, Gingrich's lesbian half-sister, waves to the crowd during the 25th Annual San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade on June 18, 1995. Newt Gingrich has stated his opposition to same-sex marriage and the adoption of children to same-sex couples. (John G. Mabanglo / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Speaker Gingrich, left, talking with Clinton, right, aboard Air Force One, Nov. 5, 1995, as the plane headed to Israel and to the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Gingrich said that the president slighted him during the flight which helped prompt the partial shutdown of the federal government. From second from left are, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, former Secretary of State George Shultz, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle of South Dakota, White House press secretary Mike McCurry and White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta. (White House via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Gingrich feeds a white Bengal tiger, named Kaboul, while hosting the Larry King Live television show, March 29, 1996, in Washington. Gingrich, who frequently hosts events featuring rare animals, was promoting April as "National Zoo and Aquarium Month." Gingrich is known for his interest in animals and wrote an introduction for the book 'America's Best Zoos.' (J. Scott Applewhite / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Gingrich and his second wife, Marianne, leave their home for Capitol Hill, Jan. 7, 1997. During his term as House speaker, 84 ethics charges were filed against him, all but one were eventually dropped. On Jan. 21, 1997, the House voted to reprimand Gingrich, the first time in its history that the Speaker of the House had been disciplined for ethics violations. (Mark Wilson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Gingrich hugs Christine DeLay, right, wife of Rep. Tom DeLay, and her daughter Dani, near the caskets of Capitol police officer Jacob Chestnut and Special Agent John Gibson that lie in state in the Rotunda at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on July 28, 1998. Gibson and Chestnut were killed July 24 by a gunman who charged past the Capitol security and opened fire in the building. (Joyce Naltchayan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Gingrich and John Boehner, left, with then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Conference vice chairman Jennifer Dunn, at news conference with entrepreneurs promoting the GOP tax relief plan, on July 17, 1997. That summer, an attemped 'coup' to replace Gingrich as speaker of the U.S. House took place with Boehner and Bill Paxton leading a group including Armey and Tom DeLay. (Scott J. Ferrell / Congressional Quarterly via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Gingrich shakes hands with Clinton as First Lady Hillary Clinton and Rep. Barbara Kennelly watch before the president signed the Balanced Budget Agreement on the South Lawn of the White House August 5, 1997, in Washington. The budget agreement was reached after much negotiating and included cuts designed to balance the budget by 2002. As the economy improved Gingrich asked Clinton to submit a balanced budget for 1999, ahead of schedule, which he did. (Paul J. Richards / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. President Clinton shakes hands with Speaker Gingrich beside Vice President Albert Gore prior to the president's State of the Union address to the 105th Congress on Capitol Hill, January 27, 1998, in Washington. Gingrich was one of the leaders of the Republicans seeking to impeach Clinton following the Moncia Lewinsky scandal. It was during this time, that Gingrich himself was having an affair with a House staffer, Callista Biske, 23 years his junior. (Luke Frazza / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Speaker Gingrich talks with a customer after signing his book, "Lessons Learned the Hard Way," at Borders Books in Charlotte, N.C., April 8, 1998. A prolific reviewer on, Gingrich himself has written or co-authored over 20 books, most of them historical non-fiction. (Andy Burriss / The Herald via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Speaker Gingrich hugs neighbor Lucia Roy in front of his house in Marietta, Ga., before making an announcent to the press that he is stepping down, Nov. 7, 1998. Following the mid-term elections in which the Republicans lost five seats and Gingrich took much of the blame, he decided to leave. (Ric Feld / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Gingrich and his third wife, Callista, during a visit to the U.S. Capitol for the unveiling of Gingrich's official portrait on Nov. 15, 2000, shortly after they were married. Gingrich admitted to the extra-marital affair during an interview aired March 9, 2007, with conservative Christian leader James Dobson. Gingrich divorced his second wife Marianne in 2000 when his attorneys acknowledged his relationship with Callista Bisek, a former congressional aide who is now his wife. (Mario Tama / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton listen to former Speaker Gingrich during a media conference on Capitol Hill on May 11, 2005, in Washington, D.C. Kennedy, Tim Murphy and Gingrich held the news conference to announce a bill that would transform the healthcare system by creating digital health information networks. In 2003 Gingrich founded the Center for Health Transformation to develop a new healthcare system. He supported the Medicare Prescription Drug Act and advocated with Hillary Clinton on healthcare information technology. (Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Newt Gingrich, formerly a southern Baptist, converted to his wife's faith, Catholicism, in March of 2009. Here, he discusses a new film he co-produced on Pope John Paul II's historic role in defeating communism in eastern Europe, on June 9, 2010, in Warsaw, Poland. In 2007, Gingrich wrote 'Rediscovering God in America,' which attempted to show that the founding fathers intended to encourage religious expression. (Czarek Sokolowski / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Gingrich speaks at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, Jan. 25, 2011, in Des Moines. Gingrich has advocated replacing the Environmental Protection Agency with the an 'environmental solutions agency,' while also supporting a flex-fuel mandate for cars sold in the U.S. (Charlie Neibergall / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Gingrich speaks to reporters after a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, March 18, 2011. Gingrich initiallly supported a U.S. military intervention in Libya before he was against it. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Gingrich poses with Georgia Republican delegates Irene Karakolidis and Pearlie Sicay Finchers, right, while campaigning at Finchers BBQ, May 13, 2011, in Macon, Ga., after announcing two days earlier his intention to run for the GOP presidential nomination. (John Amis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich talk to media after their meeting in New York, Dec. 5, 2011. Trump, who flirted with running himself, met with many of the GOP candidates -- all hoped to get his support. Gingrich didn't get his endorsement, but did get a commitment to mentor a group of children from New York's poorest schools. (Seth Wenig / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich talk during the ABC News GOP Presidential debate on the campus of Drake University on Dec. 10, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa. Gingrich surged ahead in the polls and became the target for criticism from his opponents. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich share a light moment during their Lincoln-Douglas style debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Dec. 12, 2011. Gingrich hoped to revive the format, from 1858, on live television. So far, only Huntsman has accepted his offer to debate one-on-one. (Brian Snyder / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Newt Gingrich speaks to reporters during a campaign stop at the Southbridge Mall in Mason City, Iowa, Dec. 28, 2011. By late December, Gingrich had fallen in the polls, just in time for the Iowa caucus. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wipes away a tear while speaking about his deceased mother during a forum put together by Moms Matter 2012, Dec. 30, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa. The normally confident, even brash candidate, showed his emotional side a few days before the first test with voters in Iowa. (Andrew Burton / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Newt Gingrich is applauded by his wife, Callista, right, at his Iowa Caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 3, 2012. Gingrich placed fourth, behind challengers Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. The dramatic fall came after a barrage of negative attack ads sponsored by a Romney-supporting super PAC. (Jeff Haynes / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Newt Gingrich makes a point during the opening question of a debate at the North Charleston Coliseum Jan. 19, 2012 in Charleston, S.C., next to Mitt Romney. The debate, before South Carolina primary on Jan. 21, was opened with a question to Gingrich about statements made by his second wife, Marianne, which prompted a hostile response. In an interview with ABC News, she claimed Gingrich asked her to choose between an open marriage or a divorce after revealing his affair with the woman who is now his now third wife. To CNN's John King, the moderator of the debate, he replied, "To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine." (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Gingrich smiles during a campaign event at the Grapevine Restaurant in Spartanburg, S.C., on Jan. 21, 2012. After fourth place finishes in Iowa in New Hampshire, Gingrich picked up an endorsement by Rick Perry,who dropped out of the race. Gingrich won South Carolina's primary by 12-points over Mitt Romney. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Former presidential hopeful Herman Cain endorses Newt Gingrich at a campaign event on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 in West Palm Beach, Fla. The announcement was a surprise to Gingrich staff following Cain's previous endorsement of "the American people." (NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista attend his Florida primary night party Jan. 31, in Orlando. Mitt Romney defeated Gingrich by 14% to win Florida's primary, but Gingrich vowed that he was staying in the race, reminding voters at most states have yet to vote. Florida is a winner-take all state and with it's 50 delegates, Romney pulled ahead witih 87 delegates to Gingrich's 26. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Gingrich leans in to speak with his grandson as he announces he is suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination May 2, 2012 in Arlington, Va. "Today, I'm suspending the campaign but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship. Callista and I are committed to be active citizens. We owe it to America. We owe it to Maggie and Robert," Gingrich said, referring to his two grandchildren. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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Explainer: The 2012 GOP presidential field

  • A look at the Republican candidates hoping to challenge Barack Obama in the general election.

  • Rick Perry, announced Aug. 13

    Image: Perry
    Sean Gardner  /  REUTERS
    Texas Gov. Rick Perry

    Mere hours before a major GOP debate in Iowa (and a couple of days before the high-interest Ames straw poll), the Perry camp announced that the Texas governor was all-in for 2012.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Texas governor.

    While some on ground in the early-caucus state criticized the distraction, strategists applauded the move and said Perry was giving Romney a run for his money.

    Slideshow: A look at Gov. Rick Perry's political career

    He may face fierce opposition from secular groups and progressives who argue that his religious rhetoric violates the separation of church and state and that his belief that some groups, such as the Boy Scouts of America, should be allowed to discriminate against gays is bigoted.

  • Jon Huntsman, announced June 21

    Image: Jon Hunt
    Mandel Ngan  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman

    Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, made his bid official on June 21 at at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former governor of Utah.

    He vowed to provide "leadership that knows we need more than hope" and "leadership that doesn’t promise Washington has all the solutions to our problems."

    The early days of his campaign were clouded with reports of internal discord among senior staffers.

    Slideshow: Jon Huntsman Jr.

    Huntsman, who is Mormon, worked as a missionary in Taiwan and is fluent in Mandarin. But his moderate credentials — backing civil unions for gays and the cap-and-trade energy legislation — could hurt him in a GOP primary. So could serving under Obama.

  • Michele Bachmann, announced on June 13

    Image: Michele Bachmann
    Larry Downing  /  REUTERS
    Rep. Michele Bachmann

    Born and raised in Iowa, this Tea Party favorite and Minnesota congresswoman announced during a June 13 GOP debate that she's officially in the running for the Republican nomination.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Minn. congresswoman.

    Bachmann tells The Associated Press she decided to jump into the 2012 race at this time because she believed it was "the right thing to do."

    She's been criticized for making some high-profile gaffes — among them, claiming taxpayers would be stuck with a $200 million per day tab for President Barack Obama's trip to India and identifying New Hampshire as the site of the Revolutionary War's opening shots.

    Slideshow: The political life of Michele Bachmann

    But Bachmann's proved a viable fundraiser, collecting more than $2 million in political contributions in the first 90 days of 2011 — slightly exceeding the $1.8 million Mitt Romney brought in via his PAC in the first quarter.

  • Rick Santorum, announced on June 6

    Image: Rick Santorum
    Charlie Neibergall  /  AP file
    Former Penn. Sen. Rick Santorum

    A staunch cultural conservative vehemently against abortion and gay marriage, the former Pennsylvania senator hopes to energize Republicans with a keen focus on social issues.

    He announced the launch of a presidential exploratory committee on FOX News, where he makes regular appearances. He make his run official on June 6 in Somerset, Pa., asking supporters to "Join the fight!"

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former Pennsylvania senator.

    No stranger to controversy, Santorum was condemned by a wide range of groups in 2003 for equating homosexuality with incest, pedophilia and bestiality. More recently, Santorum faced criticism when he called Obama’s support for abortion rights “almost remarkable for a black man.”

    Slideshow: Rick Santorum's political life

    Since his defeat by Democrat Robert Casey in his 2006 re-election contest — by a whopping 18 percentage points — Santorum has worked as an attorney and as a think-tank contributor.

    A February straw poll at CPAC had him in twelfth place amongst Republicans with 2 percent of the vote.

  • Mitt Romney, announced on June 2

    Image: Mitt Romney
    Paul Sancya  /  AP file
    Former Massachusetts Gov. and presidential candidate Mitt Romney

    The former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential candidate has spent the last three years laying the foundations for another run at the White House — building a vigorous political action committee, making regular media appearances, and penning a policy-heavy book.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former Mass. governor.

    In April, he announced, via YouTube and Twitter, that he'd formed an exploratory commitee. Romney made his run official in Stratham, N.H., on June 2.

    The former CEO of consulting firm Bain & Company and the president of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Romney frequently highlights his business background as one of his main qualifications to serve as president.

    Slideshow: Mitt Romney's life in politics

    To capture the nomination, Romney will have to defend the health care overhaul he enacted during his governorship — legislation that bears similarities to the Obama-backed bill despised by many conservatives. He'll also have to overcome the perception of being a flip-flopper (like supporting abortion rights in his 1994 and 2002 bids for office, but opposing them in his '08 run).

    In the first quarter of 2011, he netted some $1.8 million through his PAC "Free and Strong America."

  • Herman Cain, announced on May 21

    Image: Herman Cain
    Brendan Smialowski  /  Getty Images file
    Talk show host Herman Cain

    Cain, an Atlanta radio host and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has support from some Tea Party factions.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Atlanta radio host.

    An African-American who describes himself as a “citizen’s candidate,” he was the first Republican to form a formal presidential exploratory committee. He officially entered the race in May, telling supporters, "When we wake up and they declare the presidential results, and Herman Cain is in the White House, we'll all be able to say, free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, this nation is free at last, again!"

    Prior to the release of President Obama's long-form birth certificate, Cain rehashed the birther theory, telling a Florida blogger, “I respect people that believe he should prove his citizenship ... He should prove he was born in the United States of America.”

  • Ron Paul, announced on May 13

    Image: Ron Paul
    Cliff Owen  /  AP file
    Rep. Ron Paul

    In 2008, Texas congressman Ron Paul’s libertarian rallying cry — and his opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — did not fall on deaf ears. An idiosyncratic foe of the Federal Reserve and a passionate advocate for limited government, Paul mounted a presidential run that was characterized by bursts of jaw-dropping online fundraising.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the Texas congressman.

    Slideshow: Ron Paul

    He officially launched his 2012 campaign in New Hampshire, saying, ""The revolution is spreading, and the momentum is building ... Our time has come."

    In the first quarter of 2011, raked in some $3 million through his various political organizations.

  • Newt Gingrich, announced on May 11

    Image: Newt Gingrich
    John M. Heller  /  Getty Images file
    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

    The former speaker of the House who led the 1994 “Republican Revolution,” Gingrich remains a robust presence on the GOP stage as a prolific writer and political thinker. In recent years, Barack Obama has provided a new target for the blistering critiques Gingrich famously leveled at President Bill Clinton.

    Click here to see a slideshow of the former speaker of the House.

    In early May, he made his 2012 run official. "I have been humbled by all the encouragement you have given me to run," Gingrich wrote on Facebook and Twitter.

    But a month later, the campaign was practically in ruins — with his campaign manager, spokesman, senior strategists all resigning en masse. Most cited issues with the "direction" of the campaign. But Gingrich vowed to press on.

    Slideshow: Newt Gingrich

    Also at issue: Gingrich’s personal life could make winning the support of social conservatives thorny for the twice-divorced former lawmaker. In a damning interview earlier this year, Esquire quoted one of Gingrich’s former wives describing him as a hypocrite who preached the sanctity of marriage while in the midst of conducting an illicit affair.

    Additional obstacles include his recent criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan’s fiscal plan as “right-wing social engineering" and reports of a $500,000 line of credit to Tiffany’s, the luxury jewelry company.

  • Gary Johnson, announced on April 21

    Image:Gary Johnson
    Jim Cole  /  AP
    Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson

    The former New Mexico governor took a big leap in late April, not by announcing an exploratory committee, but by actually announcing his official candidacy. “I’m running for president of the United States,” he told a couple of supporters and cameramen gathered for his announcement outside the New Hampshire State Capitol.

    He's a steadfast libertarian who supports the legalization of marijuana. He vetoed more than 700 pieces of legislation during his two terms as governor.


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