) -- The race for the Republican presidential nomination is on, with Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich among the candidates vying for the chance to unseat the Democratic incumbent, President Barack Obama.

Most polls so far have Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, as the front-runner to get the nod from the GOP, but Ron Paul's supporters are fervent, and Sarah Palin, who has yet to announce whether she'll be in the mix, has the potential to throw the whole race into disarray if she throws her hat into the ring.

Meanwhile, Obama, 49, announced his re-election bid in April as he hopes to become the 14th man to win consecutive presidential elections. His popularity may have cooled since his historic election to the country's highest office, but he's still the man to beat.

The latest name to join the GOP field is Jon Huntsman, who on June 21 became the 13th Republican to formally declare his presidential intentions.


is keeping track of the 2012 presidential field, listing the candidates and their backgrounds, along with any recent news and the latest financial information available about the respective campaigns.

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama has been in office for nearly 900 days, but with the 2012 election less than a year and a half away, he gets mixed grades for his tenure.

Critics can point to the economy's slow recovery, most pointedly the weakness in the housing market and elevated unemployment levels. At the same time, the economy has stabilized, Osama bin Laden was found and dispatched on Obama's watch, and the exodus of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is set to start this month, as promised.

Obama visited an


(AA) - Get Report

factory in Bettendorf, Iowa

last month to emphasize overall expansion of private-sector jobs in the past 15 months in what seemed like an early campaign speech that touted job creation on his watch.

Republicans have unanimously attacked Obama's economic policies and said that he has left the U.S. in disrepair. But the president

fired back at congressional Republicans' management of the debt ceiling at a press conference on Wednesday.

"These are bills Congress ran up. The money has been spent, the obligations have been made," Obama said. "Are we going to step up and get this done?"

Obama's campaign reported that it raised about $46 million in the second quarter of 2011.

Obama will carry over $18.3 million that remained of his $747.8 million hoard from 2008 for his 2012 campaign's coffers.

Obama's campaign contributions updated on July 13.

Mitt Romney

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

entered the Republican race on June 2, declaring that Obama had failed America.

"Now, in the third year of his four-year term, we have little more than promises and slogans to go by," Romney said.

Romney ran for president in 2008 and was one of the Republicans' lead candidates. Eventually he lost the nomination to John McCain after winning primaries in only 11 states. His performance barely edged out former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in total votes, 22.1% to 20.8%. Romney once served as a Mormon missionary in France, attended Brigham Young University, and has received degrees from Harvard's law and business schools.

Romney was the governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, and lost a 1994 U.S. Senate election to incumbent Ted Kennedy.

His campaign announced that it accrued about $18.3 million in the second quarter of 2011.

Notable investments:

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report


Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report



(GOOG) - Get Report


Romney campaign contributions updated on July 6.

Herman Cain

A former Chairman of the

Federal Reserve Bank

of Kansas City, Herman Cain declared his plans to seek the Republican nomination for president on May 21, but he may best be known as a past

Godfather's Pizza

chief executive who took over the company when it was near bankruptcy and brought it back to profitability.

"We are gonna take our country back," Cain said at the time.

Cain ran for a vacant Georgia U.S. Senate seat in 2004 after incumbent Democrat Zell Miller retired, but lost out to Johnny Isakson. He has served as president of the National Restaurant Association as well.

Cain, who was also a senior economic adviser to former presidential hopeful Bob Dole, made a big splash on the national stage back in 1994 when he had an exchange with then-President Bill Clinton about his proposed health care reform plans, famously telling Clinton: "Quite honestly Mr. President, your calculations are incorrect" in a nationally televised town hall meeting.

Newt Gingrich

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich

charged into the race on May 11, after prolonged contemplation about whether to do so.

"I believe we can return America to hope and opportunity, to full employment and to real security," Gingrich said.

Gingrich strongly considered a run back in 2008, but ultimately said that he was not prepared to abandon his post at a nonprofit organization he created.

Gingrich served as a Georgia U.S. representative from 1979-1999, and during that tenure served as the Republican minority whip and House speaker. Before being elected, Gingrich had already lost two consecutive congressional campaigns in 1974 and 1976.

Gingrich's campaign has seen a number of setbacks already, however. A number of his strategic advisers

resigned on June 9

, and members of his campaign finance team left on June 22.

Ron Paul

Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas) decided to break into the race on May 13, announcing his candidacy on


"Good Morning America."

"Time has come around to the point where the people are agreeing with much of what I've been saying for 30 years, so I think the time is right," Paul said at the time.

Paul is no newcomer to presidential elections. He finished third for the popular vote in 1988 on the Libertarian Party ticket, and he tried for the 2008 Republican nomination without any luck. He has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1979. Paul received his M.D. from Duke University School of Medicine and was a practicing OB/GYN.

Paul's campaign reported that it earned $4.5 million in contributions for the second quarter of 2011, which ended on June 30.

Recently Paul made headlines by

proposing a bill to audit the federal government's gold holdings


"No one from Congress has been allowed to view the gold at Fort Knox in nearly 40 years," Paul said in his opening statement during a hearing on the bill on June 23.

Paul announced on July 12 that he

would not pursue his seat in Congress so that he could commit all his efforts to the 2012 presidential run.

Notable investments:

Barrick Gold Corporation



Agnico-Eagle Mines

(AEM) - Get Report





AngloGold Ashanti

(AU) - Get Report


Updated with Paul's announcement to leave Congress.

Michelle Bachmann

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) on June 13

formally announced her intentions to run and said at a debate that night that she would not rest until she repealed Obamacare.

"It's a promise," Bachmann said at the time. "Take it to the bank, cash the check."

Bachmann is serving her third term in the House after winning the seat in 2006. She was a member of the Minnesota State Senate from 2001 to 2007 before she decided to make a bid for Congress.

Bachmann made her name on national scene after she took a leadership role in the Tea Party movement, which made its big push in the 2010 midterm elections.

Tim Pawlenty

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty jumped into the ring on May 23, proclaiming that he would begin telling "the truth" to Americans.

"Conventional wisdom says you can't talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street," Pawlenty said. "Someone has to finally stand up and level with the American people."

Pawlenty succeeded Reform Party member Jesse Ventura as a two-term governor for Minnesota between 2003 and 2011. There were rumblings back in 2008 that he was going to make a run for president, but he decided against it and won the governorship once again.

He also served as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1993 to 2003, and became its majority leader in 1999.

Pawlenty's wife, Mary Pawlenty, served as Minnesota's First Judicial District judge from 1994-2007.

Pawlenty's campaign

raised $4.1 million for his campaign in the second quarter of 2011.

Updated with Pawlenty's campaign contributions on July 13

Rick Santorum

Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum

announced his bid for the nomination on June 6 at a coal mine in his home state near where his father worked.

"I'm ready to do what has to be done for the next generation, with the courage to fight for freedom, with the courage to fight for America," Santorum said at the time.

Santorum most recently served as a U.S. senator between 1995 and 2007. Prior to that, he served as House representative for a district in Pittsburgh from 1991-1995.

As a lobbyist, Santorum famously argued in favor of deregulating the use of steroids by the World Wrestling Federation (now


(WWE) - Get Report

) in 1988, claiming that federal steroid regulations should not pertain to professional wrestling because it was not a real sport. The Pennsylvania state legislature later agreed.

Jon Huntsman Jr.

Most recently the U.S. Ambassador to China

from 2009 through April 2011, Jon Huntsman Jr. said on June 21 he would run for the nation's highest office, and quickly distanced himself from the president who selected him as an ambassador.

"Today Americans are experiencing, through no fault of their own, an experience that is completely alien to them," Huntsman said at the time. "This, ladies and gentlemen, is totally unacceptable and it is totally un-American."

Prior to his China post, Huntsman, whose father founded chemical giant

Huntsman Corp.

(HUN) - Get Report

, was twice elected governor of Utah.

He stepped down during his second term in 2009 to serve the president. Huntsman also served as U.S. Ambassador to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush from 1992-1993. He gained fluency in Mandarin Chinese while he served as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan.

Huntsman was also a one-time staff assistant to the Reagan Administration.

Huntsman's team confirmed to


that it has gathered $4.1 million in fundraising, $1.2 million of which it said was raised on the first day of the campaign.

Sarah Palin

Though Mama Grizzly hasn't entered the Republican race, she has embarked on an ambitious bus tour covering most of the Northeast and New England. Palin's daughter, Bristol, remarked on Tuesday that she already knows whether her mother will jump into the race.

Palin's reputation precedes her, as the pollsters say she is

the most recognizable Republican of this group.

Palin got her start in 1992 as a Wasilla, Ala. city council member. Palin served two three-year terms as mayor of Wasilla between 1996 and 2002, then won the Alaska governorship in 2006. She resigned in July 2009 and did not complete her term.

Palin was the Republican vice-presidential nominee alongside John McCain (R., Ariz.) in 2008. She is a former Miss Alaska second runner-up, and received a bachelor's degree in communications at the University of Idaho in 1986.

Palin has not raised money, as she has yet to announce intentions to run for the Republican nomination.


Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: