07/25/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Chris Matthews And "Hardball" Panel Examine If There's A '2012 Republican Curse' (VIDEO)

Republicans just can't seem to catch a break as another one of their leading candidates to challenge President Obama in 2012, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, falls by the wayside - he revealed today that his seemingly random and secret trip to Argentina (which sparked a frenzy in the political world) was about ending an affair he'd been having with an Argentine woman.

Sanford is almost certain not to run for the Republican nomination in 2012. Indeed it's questionable if he'll be able to serve out the last year of his term as governor. But Sanford is just the latest in a string of high-profile setbacks among Republicans who were considered viable contenders against Obama in 2012. Just a week ago, Senator John Ensign of Nevada admitted to an extramarital affair. Texas Governor Rick Perry suggested that his state could secede from the union during raucous Tea Party protests. And Bobby Jindal crashed in his prime-time debut with a widely-panned State of the Union rebuttal earlier this year.

Chris Matthews and his "Hardball" panel of NBC's Chuck Todd and the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza debated whether or not there's a Republican curse of 2012. Todd made the good point that the ones who seem to be floating to the top, like Miss. Governor Haley Barbour and Mitt Romney, have been in the spotlight before and "have made all their mistakes, have been around the block before."

Matthews grinned widely and said, in one of his classic lines, "So veterans do well in the playoffs, right, is the old argument." "Exactly," Todd replied.

Watch the debate below.