It’s rather interesting that with all of the problems facing our nation – both at home and abroad – many in Washington are more interested in the 2016 presidential race. While the Democrats have a very strong contender in Hillary Clinton, the Republicans don’t really have a true leader at this juncture. According to most “political experts,” there are at least 16 possible presidential contenders on the GOP side. One strategist describes this as the “most open field we’ve ever seen” for the Republican Party. So let’s take a look at the GOP contenders for the class of 2016:
• Mitt Romney – The more Gov. Romeny says he isn’t running, the more likely he will run. I don’t believe the man has gotten over his loss in 2010.
• Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) V One of the most recognizable names in the field, Paul seems to be still comfortable in front of the camera. His positions are extreme, but are very clear. He is still seen as somewhat of an outsider, which helps him, too.
• Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) – Gov. Christie is still a name to be reckoned with even as his image has taken hits from his own home state. He still comes across as a “playground bully” on occasion. His credibility has been severely damaged in my opinion.
• Former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.) – There’s no better name recognition than “Bush” in the U.S. Gov. Bush has the family legacy on his side, but he faces tough questions from GOP stalwarts on his immigration stance. He may not be “conservative” enough by Tea Party standards.
• Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee – The favorite among staunch conservatives, Gov. Huckabee has become more well-known through his Fox News show. He did fairly well in 2008 and may believe he will do better in 2016. Unfortunately, this fella comes across sort of like a “snake oil salesman.”
• Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) – Sen. Ted Cruz has proven successful at getting his conservative message out to voters. He’s likely to do well in his own home state and throughout the South. If he gets the nomination, which is certainly possible, he would be very much like Barry Goldwater was in 1964.
• Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) – The Senator from Florida could see his star power drained by Jeb Bush. Two candidates from Florida might be seen as “one too many.” But Sen. Rubio projects a very good image and would be a strong candidate.
• Gov. Scott Walker (Wisc.) – The name “Scott Walker” is not one of the well-recognized names. But Gov. Walker is a conservative dark horse and he plays that “game” very well.
• Gov. Rick Perry (Texas) – Gov. Perry is another candidate who some believe could show some resurgence. The Democrats won’t be so lucky, however, to face Gov. Perry in 2016.
• Dr. Ben Carson – Dr. Ben Carson, a conservative favorite, has been a vocal critic of President Obama. But come to think of it, who in the GOP ranks hasn’t been a critic. Dr. Carson might wind up on the ticket, but in the second slot.
There are several other “wanna-bees,” including: Gov. Mike Pence (Ind.), Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.), Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Gov. John Kasich (Ohio).
Even though the election is still a long way off, polls are already being run by a number of groups. A recent Quinnipiac survey shows former Mitt Romney topping the list of potential candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination for president. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush came in second. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tied for third place with retired surgeon Ben Carson. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kty.) was in the fourth spot, according to the Quinnipiac University poll.
On the Democratic side, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is firmly in the lead with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) second and Vice President Joseph Biden third. If Clinton does not run, the Vice President leads Sen. Warren 34 percent to 25 percent. In a head-to-head match-ups, the survey says Romney would beat Hillary 45 percent to her 44 percent; Hillary would top Christie 43 percent to 42 percent; Jeb Bush 46-41 percent and Rep. Paul Ryan 46-42 percent.
Personally, I believe that Jeb Bush would be the strongest opponent for Hillary Clinton. The Democrats won’t be so fortunate as to have either Mitt Romney or Gov. Rick Perry as the GOP’s standard bearer. But “hope springs eternal” and the Clinton camp may get its wish for an opponent named either Romney, Perry, Cruz, Rand or some of the others who may seek the nomination. But they also know that a Clinton-Bush battle would be a barn-burner.
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