The first Republican presidential debate for Election 2016 will take place on Fox News on August 6. They have stated that they will only allow the candidates who finish in the top ten on average of the five most recent national polls. This means that some credible candidates who don’t happen to be polling well in summer could miss the stage while more unserious challengers would get the air time.
It’s difficult to keep track of who has officially declared they’re running vs. those we know will, but they need to get some money and organization lined before they make their official announcement, but here’s where they stand.
- Ted Cruz
- Rand Paul
- Marco Rubio
- Mike Huckabee
- Ben Carson
- Carly Fiorina
- Rick Santorum
- George Pataki
Most Likely In:
- Jeb Bush
- Scott Walker
- Rick Perry
- Chris Christie
- John Kasich
- Bobby Jindal
- Lindsey Graham
- Donald Trump
- Susana Martinez
- Jim Gilmore
- Peter King
- Bob Ehrlich
- Brian Sandoval
- Rick Scott
- Nikki Haley
- Rick Snyder
- Mitt Romney
- Mike Pence
- Paul Ryan
- John Bolton
- John Thune
- Mitch Daniels
- Rob Portman
- Condoleezza Rice
- Newt Gingrich
- Jon Huntsman Jr.
So of the Ins, Likelys, and Laughing Stocks, we still have 16 people. Six of them won’t make the stage. So which ten would I want to see in that first debate, and which six would be cut? (This isn’t my top ten favorites for the presidential nomination, but which ten I’d want to see in that first debate).
16. DONALD TRUMP – I don’t care if he officially declares this time, even though I don’t think he will. He’s publicly flirted with running for public office for 25 years, but he never does. He likes making headlines and making money, and if he runs, it’ll be to further tickle his massive, gold-plated ego.
15. RICK SANTORUM – I know he technically came in second in the 2012 Republican primaries, but that just illustrates how unserious Mitt Romney’s challengers were. This is a much deeper, substantive field, and Rick has zero chance of winning. I know what his answers will be. I don’t need to hear him anymore.
14. RICK PERRY – He’s wearing glasses now, so he’s got that going for him, but Republicans do not want a nominee who sounds exactly like George W. Bush. He had his chance. Oops.
13. MIKE HUCKABEE – He technically came in second in 2008 because he stayed in the race just long enough to make sure he got more delegates than his hated rival Mitt Romney. Huck’s already fumbled out of the gate by embracing the Duggar family. He should have kept his Fox News show.
12. LINDSEY GRAHAM – As entertaining as it might be to watch him square off with Rand Paul over foreign policy, Graham is one of those establishment types that most of the base doesn’t care for. I don’t think he could finish in the top 5 in his homestate of South Carolina, let alone anywhere else. I know some of the ones who don’t have a prayer make my top ten, but I’m more curious about them than him.
11. GEORGE PATAKI – He should have run in 2012. He would have had a better shot. Now he’s running in the Jon Huntsman role. The moderate who was a good governor in his day but now seems just as content to take shots at his own party as the other side. At this point, I don’t see him doing better than Rudy Guiliani. Remember how much money he spent to get one delegate? On the other hand, he’s my toughest elimination. Maybe someone else will stumble in the next couple months.
10. BEN CARSON – The good doctor has no prayer, and I was baffled when I watched him in an interview, but I’d like to see if he withers in a debate or actually explodes. He’s polling high now, so this’ll give those supporters a chance to see if there’s any “there” there.
9. CARLY FIORINA – Her resume wouldn’t indicate she has a chance, but she’s actually proven to be very good in interviews and stump speeches. Let’s see how she does in a debate. (I’m glad at least one woman is running on the Republican side.)
8. CHRIS CHRISTIE – The guy that Republicans were begging to run in 2012 has taken a couple hits. Some party operatives grumbled that he gave too much credit (and positive optics) to Pres. Obama for hurricane relief, and Christie’s 2012 convention speech was all about himself. I don’t think the Bridgegate scandal hurts him much because MSNBC dedicated eight months of programming to it, and nothing stuck to Christie. Let’s see how his bombastic approach plays against other Republicans.
7. BOBBY JINDAL – The Louisiana governor and Rhodes scholar should have some things he can boast about in a debate. Forgotten at this point is his flop of a State of the Union response a few years ago.
6. TED CRUZ – He’s a master debater and a smart guy, but I’d like to see his peers poke at his talking points and see if he can keep his base happy while also sounding like someone who could broaden his appeal in the general. There’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom. I also think he has no chance, but I respect how he’s doing in polls.
5. JOHN ELLIS “JEB” BUSH – Many, dare I most, Republicans are uncomfortable with putting a third Bush in the White Office, and the thought of a Bush/Clinton 2016 race seems like it’d set a record for low voter turnout. But the Florida governor needs to show how he’s his own man, and especially how he’d be different from his brother.
4. SCOTT WALKER – Wisconsin Democrats tried over and over again to get rid of him and they just couldn’t do it. Walker has that purple state appeal, and he’s something new on the national scene.
3. RAND PAUL – He’s unique in many ways compared to the rest of the field, foreign and domestic. I think it’ll be fun to watch him challenge his competitors, and then see which one can most intelligently dissect his approach.
2. MARCO RUBIO – Governors tend to do better than senators, but if the biggest knock against him is that he drank some water on national TV, then he’s in decent shape.
1. JOHN KASICH – I am most curious about the Ohio governor. He’s been in Congress, he’s been governor, but he’d also need to demonstrate that his employment at Lehman Brothers won’t be a millstone around his neck.