A runner-up in the 2008 race for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney finally became his party's heir apparent in 2011. While Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain took turns surging in the polls, the former Massachusetts governor and finance executive attracted steady support, if not wild enthusiasm, from almost every faction of the GOP. Though his fraught record on health care and a history of politically expedient pirouettes on social issues gave party activists pause, his polished campaign operation and strong economic message convinced many Republicans that Romney is the man for the moment. With the economic recovery and President Obama's poll numbers stagnant, Romney, despite his shortcomings, seemed for much of the year the most likely figure to lead his party back into the White House. But now that a resurgent Newt Gingrich has suddenly passed him in many polls, Romney no longer looks like such a sure thing.
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