» View our political blog, with updates and analysis of the GOP presidential nomination process.
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, while 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, then, that we venture away from the glare of current events for a two-part series to update you about each of the six Republican presidential candidates who have already dropped out of the race.
Today, it's Part 2: Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty.
(If you missed Part 1: Jon Huntsman Jr., Michele Bachmann, Gary Johnson, here's the link.)
Candidate: Herman Cain
Dropout date: Dec. 3
Current occupation: Media personality, small-time poker player
In the news: In early January he founded Cain Solutions Revolution, an organization focused on perpetuating public dialogue about Cain's ballyhooed 9-9-9 economic plan. Later that month he signed an agreement to reunite with his former radio employer (although in a more limited capacity than before he left to run for president).
Also in January, Cain delivered the Tea Party Express' official response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address and appeared as the guest of honor at comedian Stephen Colbert's satirical "Rock Me Like a Herman Cane" rally in South Carolina.
In early March, Cain aggressively campaigned for Gingrich in Oklahoma.
And most recently, Cain won a $10 poker hand at the Wynn Las Vegas Encore Resort on March 16 with three-of-a-kind 9s — or in other words, a hand that included 9-9-9.
Candidate: Rick Perry
Dropout date: Jan. 19
Current occupation: President, err, governor of Texas
In the news: On Feb. 25 details emerged about Perry's decision to double-dip the Texas pension system for elected officials. (In addition to his $150,000 annual salary, Perry also already receives an additional $90,000 per year in retirement benefits because of an obscure 1991 Texas law that allows elected officials to reap a full retirement while still serving in public office.)
Perry is presently fighting the federal government with such astonishing vigor on two different fronts that it's almost as if he wants Texas to again become its own sovereign nation. On March 16, Perry encouraged the attorney general of Texas to sue the Obama administration for deciding to pull $35 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood in Texas.
That same day, Perry appeared on Fox News and vowed to reinstate a controversial Texas voter ID law that the feds have banned, even if it requires fighting the federal government all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Candidate: Tim Pawlenty
Dropout date: Aug. 142 comments on this story
Current occupation: Official surrogate for Mitt Romney and co-chairman of Romney's campaign
In the news: Has it really already been seven months since Pawlenty exited the race after failing to win the Ames Straw Poll?
Just within the past month, T-Paw has endorsed former foe Michele Bachmann for her Congressional re-election bid, declared he won't be Romney's running mate in 2012, delivered a rousing speech extolling Romney's virtues to the California Republican Party's convention and predicted that Romney will win the GOP presidential nomination.