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How big GOP 2012 field could boil down to three

Three top-tier GOP presidential hopefuls are likely to emerge, and neither Sarah Palin nor Donald Trump are among them.


Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (l.) gives former Massachusetts. Gov. Mitt Romney a pat on the back at a conservative Freedom Foundation of Minnesota event in Bloomington, Minn. last year.

Craig Lassig/AP/File

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Flip through any list of Republicans running for president or probably running or maybe thinking of running, and you'll find at least a couple dozen names. From Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty to Michele Bachmann, Rudy Giuliani, and Donald Trump, it's a potentially vast field peppered with outsize personalities and also folks who make you say, "who?"

Why so many?

"Because people perceive vulnerability in President Obama," says Darrell West, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution. "We have high unemployment, we have 2-1/2 wars, and there's a lot of contentiousness surrounding health care. So nobody's afraid to take on a sitting president."

RELATED: Is Obama unbeatable in the 2012 presidential election?


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