2012 Election: Twelve GOP Candidates Who Might Challenge Obama

The 2012 presidential election is years away, but there is already a growing crop of Republicans who are toying with the idea of seeking the GOP's presidential nomination.

The first test will come April 8-11 when the Southern Republican Leadership Conference will hold a widely attended cattle call in New Orleans, which several potential GOP presidential candidates are expected to attend.

ABC News spoke with strategists, Republican Party officials and conservative leaders to narrow down the list of GOP candidates who seem the most committed to taking back the White House.

Here's a look at a dozen Republicans whose names have emerged as possible contenders to take on President Obama in 2012. In the end, not all of these Republicans will run. But as of today, they seem like the 12 best bets to get into the race.

One Republican not on the list? Scott Brown. The newly elected senator from Massachusetts is the conservative darling at the moment. Insiders say, however, that his support for abortion rights and the overlap between his political team and that of Mitt Romney will keep him out of the 2012 race.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney
Pro: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is widely seen by political insiders as the frontrunner for the GOPs 2012 presidential nomination. His strengths include being seen as "the next guy up" in a party with a tradition of rewarding second-time candidates (think Nixon in 1968, Reagan in 1980, Bush I in 1988, Dole in 1996, McCain in 2008). Other assets include his personal wealth; his efficient staff; his fire-in-the-belly; his work on behalf of Republican candidates around the country; and his business background. Like many aspiring presidential candidates who have come before him, he has written a new book, "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness," which is set to be released March 2.

Con: Romney, who dropped his support for abortion rights as he got closer to his 2008 presidential run, faces lingering questions about his authenticity. There also remain certain evangelical Christians who are not sure if a Mormon qualifies as a Christian. Romney showed in 2008 that he can endure the rigors of a presidential campaign. His previous run, however, also makes him something less than a fresh face.

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