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The 2012 Republican presidential race is now narrowed down to two men with a legitimate chance of grabbing the nomination — Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum — as well as two other candidates in Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul who, as long as their campaigns remain solvent, are still out and about on the campaign trail.
Sure, the ongoing Romney-Santorum showdown is a good thing, because it gives voters the chance to increasingly focus on the issues by contrasting the two candidates' positions and records against each other. But still, we can't help pining just a little bit for the bygone days of 2011 when no fewer than nine GOP candidates fought like Russian cats for camera time during the first debates of the 2012 election cycle.
It's in that spirit that we venture away from the glare of current events for a two-part series with an update on each of the six Republican presidential candidates who have already dropped out of the race.
Part 1: Jon Huntsman Jr., Michele Bachmann, Gary Johnson
Candidate: Jon Huntsman Jr.
Dropout date: Jan. 16
Current occupation: Chairman of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation
In the news: Just 10 days after ending his presidential bid, Huntsman succeeded his father as chairman of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.
In mid-February, Huntsman became the 15th member of the board of directors for Ford Motor Co. — a position that will pay Utah's former governor $250,000 annually.
In a Feb. 23 interview with MSNBC, Huntsman called for a formidable third-party candidate to enter the presidential race. "I think we’re going to have problems politically until we get some sort of third-party movement or some voice out there that can put forth new ideas," he said. "We might not win, but we can certainly influence the debate."
As de facto punishment for those third-party comments, the Republican National Committee uninvited Huntsman from a lavish fundraising dinner on March 4 at which he had originally been scheduled to be a featured speaker.
Candidate: Michele Bachmann
Dropout date: Jan. 4
Current occupation: Represents Minnesota's 6th District in U.S. House; tea party darling
In the news: Bachmann verbally scuffled on CNN with host Piers Morgan in early March when he called her "one of the most judgmental people in America probably." (Bachmann's response: "Well that's rude. That's absolutely rude. I'm not a judgmental person.")
On March 15, she joined Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in formally asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to stop sending military aid to Egypt on the grounds the Egyptian government is not "implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion and due process of law."
Bachmann, who raised more money than any other House candidate in the 2010 election cycle, is the only one of the Republican presidential candidates running for re-election in 2012. Talk about a mismatch: Bachmann's Democratic opponent will likely be an attorney who supports Occupy Wall Street and has no campaign staff.
Candidate: Gary Johnson
Dropout date: N/A
Current occupation: Libertarian Party presidential candidate
In the news: Johnson, you'll recall, is the former two-term New Mexico governor who became the first Republican candidate to declare his presidential candidacy in 2011 but somehow still failed to talk his way into the televised GOP debates.
On Dec. 28 Johnson announced he was leaving the Republican Party and would seek the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination instead.
These days Johnson is out pounding the pavement with policy-heavy campaign events in places like Salem, Ore.
Check back Tuesday for Part 2: Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty