WASHINGTON – Tea party hero and Republican Sen. Jim DeMint (SC) has privately ruled out a presidential run in 2012, according to the Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza.
Though he was never a top contender, DeMint carries significant weight with the tea party movement, which is expected to play an important role in selecting the GOP’s 2012 nominee.
The Republican presidential field is slowly taking shape as several candidates have announced their intention to form exploratory committees, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Other candidates rumored to be considering jumping in the race are former Govs. Mike Huckabee (AR), Mitt Romney (MA), Sarah Palin (AK), and Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN). Wild-card candidates who plan on running include businessman Fred Karger and conservative activist Herman Cain.
By choosing not to run, DeMint opens up a doorway for other contenders to try and capture the tea party vote, and may instead seek to play kingmaker during the debates and primaries.
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