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They say they're not running in 2012

By Candy Crowley, CNN Chief Political Correspondent
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Not in play for presidency in 2012?
  • Several Republicans who are hot in political circles say they won't run for president
  • "I'm not interested leaving the best job in America," Texas Gov. Rick Perry says
  • Despite politicians' pledges not to run, reporters keep asking the question
  • Michael Bloomberg, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton among those who keep saying no

Washington (CNN) -- Political reporters are like market researchers -- always looking for the next big thing.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, if he would run for the Republican presidential nomination in the next year. DeMint's point-blank answer? "No, I am not."

When CNN's Kathleen Parker asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry if he would run, he said, "I'm not interested leaving the best job in America."

Perry and DeMint -- along with Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey -- have remained steadfast on a pledge to keep their current jobs.

Most people couldn't pick any of them out of a lineup. And, in varying degrees, all are hot in the circles of political power. So much so that 10 months into his first term as New Jersey's governor, Christie -- a Republican "It Boy" -- got sick of answering the question.

"What do you want me to say? I'll jump off a building if I'm nominated. I can't say it any other way. I am not a candidate for president," he told News 12 New Jersey in October.

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Well, he could have said -- If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.

It's what Gen. William Sherman said in 1884, definitively eliminating any freak presidential scenario that might arise and giving birth to the term Shermanesque statement.

Jindal got the test on MSNBC's "Hardball."

"I am absolutely not running for president. I know you get a lot of guests who are coy with you. There are no caveats in that statement," he said.

And if there are 50 ways to leave your lover, there are 100 ways to ask New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg if he aspires moving to a different ZIP code.

"No. 1, I am not running for president. I couldn't be clearer about that," he said when reporters posed the question.

There are solid reasons to wonder if Bloomberg has appeal beyond his city limits. He's a billionaire and he's been a Republican, an independent and a Democrat. Can you spell coalition?

It's enough intrigue to keep the question coming.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Bloomberg said he wasn't looking at the possibility of running. Asked if he would change his mind, he said, "No way, no how."

Meanwhile, Gen. David Petraeus -- the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan -- said no to commander in chief when asked by a Vanity Fair magazine photographer during a photo shoot.

As for the country's top diplomat running for the Democratic nomination? "No, I am not," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last year in Bahrain.

And she repeats it early and often.

"I have said over and over again and I'd be happy to say it on your show," she said on Fox News last year. "I am very happy doing what I am doing, and I am not in any way interested in or pursuing anything in elective office."

The constant pursuit of an answer other than "no" is a mixed blessing for politicians who need the limelight but hate the tedium.

"I'm asked this question a lot. You would think about 10 times you would be done with it, but I keep answering it honestly," former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said.

Still, it's hardly fair to blame a reporter for asking when Bush's brother took months to convince.

"I think he'd be a great president. But he's chosen not to run this time, and I finally have believed him," former President George W. Bush said in an interview with CNN.

"No" often has a shelf life.

"I am a believer in knowing what you are doing when you apply to a job and I think that if I were to seriously consider running on a national ticket, I would essentially have to start now before having served a day in the Senate," Barack Obama, the newly elected senator from Illinois, said in late 2004.

About a year and a half later, he was in Iowa at a high-profile political event. A year afterward, he was running for president. The rest is history.

CNN's Ed Hornick contributed to this report.