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When Sen. John Thune and Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.) opted against 2012 presidential bids, that left just two potential candidates serving in Congress, Reps. Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann. While both are long shots to secure the GOP nomination, Paul and Bachmann have tea party cred that could come in handy should they give it a try.
But the bench is deep when it comes to the No. 2 slot on the ticket to challenge President Barack Obama.
These Members of Congress are likely to be on any nominee’s longish short list for vice-presidential contenders come 2012. Here are a few pros and cons about each.
Pros: Elected in the often-swing state last fall, Ayotte could boost a conservative, Southern male nominee looking for a fresh face to help with independents.
Cons: Gov. John Lynch is a Democrat and could appoint an interim replacement from his party should Ayotte be part of a winning ticket.
Pros: She has proved she can mobilize Republican voters, and she also can raise money. Her 2010 re-election bid was the most expensive in the country, thanks in part to her fundraising prowess. She’s popular among Republicans back home and could make the Democratic-leaning state competitive.
Cons: Among the possible candidates, Bachmann’s list of negatives is the longest. Many Republicans view her as too extreme and unwilling to work with party leaders. As she considers her own presidential bid, Bachmann has made multiple gaffes. She also inflames liberals and would help Democrats galvanize anti-Bachmann voters.
Pros: He has a national profile and symbolizes the beginning of Republicans’ comeback after President Barack Obama’s historic victory. He has fundraising chops and a moderate voting record.
Cons: Even with Brown on the ticket, the GOP is unlikely to win Massachusetts’ electoral votes. Plus he’s popular in the Bay State and polls well for 2012 re-election. Brown could stay on the ballot for Senate and vice president, but putting him on the national ticket puts the GOP seat at risk.
Pros: Long an up-and-comer in the party, the House Majority Leader was briefly considered a possible running mate for Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008. He’s been vetted, and his support at home could help Republicans recapture Virginia’s electoral votes in 2012. Cantor, who is Jewish, also has a broad base of national support.