Right from the beginning of the year, the Presidential election stole headlines in 2012. From the GOP narrowing down its nominee to Mitt Romney to President Obama's re-election in November in one of the most expensive campaign seasons ever, there were stories and subplots throughout the way.
FOX News Radio's Rich Johnson recaps:
When it all began, nearly a dozen men and women had designs on challenging President Barack Obama. Starting in May of 2011 in Greenville, South Carolina, ending on February 22, 2012 in Mesa, Arizona, most of the Republican candidates of the moment stood at the podiums and hammered away at each other.
(Mitt Romney) "We got change, we didn't get hope." (Newt Gingrich) "I'm pretty comfortable dealing with Presidents. No other candidate in this race has that kind of experience." (Rick Santorum) "I've been a strong, consistent conservative. I've been someone who's gone out and fought the tough battles that most politicians shy away from." (Ron Paul) "What should the role of government be? Should it be there to run an entitlement system, or should it be there to police the world? I say no. The government should be there to protect our freedoms, and nothing else."
When it was over, Mitt Romney - the man that most believe had the only real shot at knocking off the incumbent - was the Republican nominee.
(Mitt Romney) "I'm gonna help the American people get good jobs and a bright future."
Then, finally, Election Day. And no doubt, President Obama re-elected, beating Romney in the national popular vote by 4%, then taking an overwhelming Electoral College victory, 332-206.
(President Obama) "And we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America."
But it was a bumpy road for both men and a very long road.
Over on Capitol Hill, some members of Congress decided to give up their seats rather than run for re-election. Others decided to seek a new office, and a few of those ended up losing out on a job altogether.
FOX Senior Capitol Hill Producer Chad Pergram has more:
You had a lot of people in the House and the Senate who decided to call it quits - Mike Ross, a Blue Dog Democrat from Arkansas; Heath Shuler - the NFL quarterback, not a very good NFL quarterback - but was here, another Blue Dog; Dan Boren, a Democratic Congressman from eastern Oklahoma. These moderate Democrats quit because it was going to be very tough to win re-election and, in some cases, they weren't too happy. The House of Representatives has gotten more and more liberal in the past couple of years. They're not pleased with the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, she continues as leader and so some of these people cashed it in.
Jim DeMint. Well, some people that this Republican Senator from South Carolina, very popular, very controversial sometimes, is often times the logjam in the Senate. He left to join the Heritage Foundation, to become its President, and some people think that that's even a bigger megaphone that he'll have over there because he recruited a lot of people to come into the Senate - conservative Tea Party members Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky - and that has definitely changed the contour of the Senate.
Republican Sen. Dick Lugar, had been in the Senate since 1976, somebody who had a reputation of working across the aisle, he lost his primary to Richard Mourdock. And in Missouri, you had Todd Akin, a Republican Congressman, won a tough three-way race there. And then both of them sort of went off into left field when it came to abortion - Todd Akin, in particular, said that the female body had a way of shutting down what he called legitimate rapes, which people beat him up for. And Claire McCaskill, Democratic Senator from Missouri who many thought was going to be the most vulnerable Democrat on that side of the aisle, won re-election. And then you had Joe Donnelly, a Democratic Congressman, a moderate from the northern part of the state, he beat Mourdock in the general election, as well. So these were two states in generally Republican territory, where Mitt Romney did pretty well, that Republicans were banking on as lay-ups to get control of the Senate again, and guess what? The Democrats took two away from them.
There was an additional gubernatorial election in 2012 after disgruntled taxpayers in Wisconsin collected enough signatures to have a recall election in their state.
FOX News Radio's Jennifer Keiper followed it every step of the way:
Shortly after Scott Walker was sworn in as governor of Wisconsin in 2011, he introduced his Budget Repair Bill - it called for stripping collective bargaining for most public employees. Protesters, many union members, flocked to Wisconsin's state capitol.
(Protester) "This is about workers' rights and human rights!"
Union forces and others from outside Wisconsin pumped in money and support trying to stop the legislation from going through. They failed, and vowed to send a message to Republican Scott Walker another way: recall.
In January 2012, critics of Gov. Walker were able to get enough signatures on petitions against him to force a new election. Also challenged: Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and 13 State Senators. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat who lost to Walker previously, announced in late March that he'd challenge Walker again.
Then, on June 5, 2012, Scott Walker learned that he'd remain governor.
(Gov. Walker) "I want to thank God for his abundant Grace. Next, I particularly want to thank not only you here, but people all across the state. I want to thank you for your prayers."
The governor made nice with fellow lawmakers, holding a beer and brats summit after the election, but some voters say:
(Voters) "Something that has been as polarizing as this is going to take a long time to come back from." // "I think maybe they'll simmer down a little bit. I think there's probably going to be some pretty strong opinions on both sides for a long time."
Now, Wisconsin Senate Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says the GOP is frustrated with how the Government Accountability Board handled the recall elections and thinks there should be reform. Governor Walker says he has no problem with the non-partisan board that oversees elections in his state.
Jennifer Keiper, FOX News Radio.