So far, speculation surrounding the GOP's 2012 presidential candidate has focused on big names — Palin, Romney, Huckabee, Gingrich. But now a group of conservatives — including former Reagan official Ralph Benko, who's closely tied to the Tea Party movement — is circulating an internet petition to draft the lesser known Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). Pence, who some say has a "Reagan quality," beat out the presumed front-runners to win a straw poll at a gathering of more than 1,000 social conservatives in Washington, D.C., last summer. Is he the one to beat Obama? (See the other 2012 Republican wildcard contenders)

He has powerful anti-big-government credentials: Mike Pence could unite economic, social, and national security conservatives, says Philip Klein in The American Spectator. His credentials in the fight against "big government" are impeccable — he opposed it under George W. Bush as well as Obama, voting against both Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan and No Child Left Behind. And "if Pence has any ambition of seeking the presidency, this may be the best time to do it given the wide-openness of the GOP field."
"Drafting Pence"

Name recognition is a big strike against him: "Few Americans have heard of him," says the Associated Press,  so Pence would "face an uphill climb" against such "better-known" rivals as Palin or Romney, both of whom already have formidable fund-raising operations. With more than a year left before the first caucuses in Iowa, Pence has time, but he's a real longshot.
"Campaign is looking to Pence to lead GOP"

The GOP will lose if it picks Pence: There is no doubt that Pence "is the poster child for conservative and Tea Party politics," says Tony Trupiano in OpEdNews. That might help him win the Republican primaries, but it will poison his chances of winning over the independent voters he would need to win the general election. Obama needs a clear-cut conservative to contrast his own ideology and improve his chances at re-election. "Pence would fit that criterion perfectly."
"Campaign is looking to Pence to lead GOP"