(CNN)If you thought 2016 was the election year that would never end, 2012 has some news for you! In recent weeks, the rumor mill has been working overtime regarding three Republican 2012 presidential candidates — Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty — and their potential 2018 ambitions.
#TBT: 2012 presidential candidates are so hot right now
Romney is a favorite to run for the Senate in Utah, and Bachmann and Pawlenty are potentials to run as Republicans in the special election for one of Minnesota's Senate seats, although none have officially declared their candidacy.
What would their campaigns potentially look like? Hard to tell, since congressional races are very different from presidential ones. And a lot has changed since 2012.
Looking back at each of their official presidential campaign announcements tells us a lot about how things have changed, how they haven't and what each candidate ran on in the past. You can see highlights from each speech in the video above and on CNN Politics' Instagram page.
All three made their announcements in early primary states, former Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty and then-Rep. Bachmann in Iowa and former Massachusetts Gov. Romney in New Hampshire. Romney eventually became the 2012 Republican nominee.
In 2012, the GOP had an obvious political enemy in President Barack Obama. Easy enough to attack a President from a different party who spent his first term ushering in the passage of the Affordable Care Act. It remains to be seen if Romney would continue to be one of President Trump's chief antagonists if he chooses to run.
This time around, if they decide to run, each of these potential candidates faces a different challenge. The scope is state-level, but other than whatever Democratic opponents they have, there isn't an obvious, singular enemy in Washington to rail against. The GOP controls both chambers of Congress and the White House.
Then again, Obamacare is still around.
Romney, Pawlenty and Bachmann announced in 2011. All three mentioned debt, deficits and the national budget in their opening pitches for the White House. That's less of an issue these days for Republicans. The tax bill their party passed in December could increase deficits by more than $1 trillion over a decade and we're days away from a possible government shutdown.
Minnesota voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election -- it also went for Obama in 2008 and 2012 -- and the midterms are usually not easy for the President's party. Utah went red by a pretty wide margin in 2016 and Romney is popular with the base there.