What should we expect from the 2012 presidential race?

Kelly Walters

There is nothing more exciting to a political junkie than the beginning of a presidential campaign season.

President Barack Obama has already announced he will seek a second term in office and started attending fundraisers to build up his campaign coffers.

Obama’s second bid for the White House will most likely be much easier than the first because he will not face a Democratic challenger as politically popular as Hillary Clinton.

Obama will face a Republican challenger, but right now there are no clear front runners in the GOP race.

Republicans considering a bid for the White House are diverse in both ideology and political experience. The first Republican primary, recently held in South Carolina, included only five candidates, none of whom seem likely to win the nomination.

Participating in the debate was U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Paul is loved by libertarians who believe in small government, an end to the Federal Reserve and non-interventionist policies.

While Paul is good at receiving loud applause and high poll numbers, he is a long-shot candidate who has in the past been unsuccessful at garnering enough support to win his party’s nomination.

Republicans seem desperate for a leader to emerge and they must realize that no matter who the candidate is, defeating Obama will be an uphill battle.

Many Tea Party Republicans would love to see former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin throw her hat in the ring. But it seems almost comical that she would be supported by the party that repeatedly declared Obama unfit for office due to his lack of political experience.

While Palin had a short two-year stint as the chief executive of the oil-rich state and a previous role as mayor, her overall credentials pale in comparison to others in the GOP.

Billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump seriously considered a run for the White House but announced this week he would not run.

While name recognition alone would have garnered some level of support for Trump, it is unlikely that voters in the general election would have taken him seriously, especially after his recent public campaign to force Obama to produce his birth certificate, thus forever labeling him as a “birther.”

Senior government major Daniel Alma, who identifies as a Republican, believes there is one candidate who has a chance against Obama.

“We would be best served by Newt Gingrich; he’s the smartest man in the room,” Alma said.

As former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich led the “Republican Revolution” and became loved among conservatives for his “family values” platform. But Gingrich comes with personal baggage that may make some right-wingers cringe, like two divorces and an ugly extramarital affair.

However, conservatives may be willing to forgive Gingrich for his past indiscretions if they believe he has the strongest chance to unseat Obama.

Another possibly viable candidate is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Romney is popular among moderate Republicans as a proven business and political leader. He may also be supported by independents and moderate Democrats because of his success in implementing a statewide health care plan that is eerily similar to Obama’s national plan. But getting conservatives on his side could be tricky for that very same reason.

Regardless of who ultimately wins the nomination, the primary fight will be exciting. Republicans will be pitted against each other in what will, no doubt, be an ugly campaign of personal and professional attacks.

For me, campaign season is the ultimate reality TV.