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The Elephant in the Room

A nonscientific way to pick a GOP contender—whether it's a swaggering outsider, a former executive, or a semi-anonymous ex-governor

1. Michele Bachmann. The tax lawyer turned Minnesota congresswoman has parlayed her conservative activism into being the right-wing blusterer du jour.

2. Herman Cain. Can Americans really get behind the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, whose decision-making experience includes taking the deep-dish pie off the menu?

3. Newt Gingrich. His ABBA ringtone was odd, the six-figures owed to Tiffany's (TIF) was odder, but his trip to Greece at the outset of his campaign may have been oddest.

4. Jon Huntsman. President Obama's former ambassador to China has a lot of foreign policy experience—but nonconservative views on civil unions and climate change.

5. Sarah Palin. The Mama Grizzly may have been the original Northern power mom, but she's no longer the Tea Party's sole darling. And she's been atypically coy about 2012.

6. Ron Paul. The Texas congressman has a passionate libertarian following. But his staunch opposition to the Federal Reserve and the Iraq War keeps him on the GOP fringes.

7. Tim Pawlenty. He tried to shed his anonymity by coining Obamneycare. Yet the only thing people know about the former Minnesota governor is that no one knows who he is.

8. Rick Perry. The tough-talking Texan, who's packed a gun on jogs, says he might enter the race. That would thrill Tea Party Activists, who love his defense of states'rights.

9. Mitt Romney. The privileged son, former Massachusetts governor, and private equity executive is again trying to sell America on his ability to restart the economy.

10. Rick Santorum. Known for his anti-abortion views, the former Pennsylvania senator is a conservative favorite. Still, he's largely unknown to all but hard-core Newsmax readers.

Lerer is a reporter for Bloomberg News. Davis is a reporter for Bloomberg News. Flint is an editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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