It’s January 2015, which means it’s time to ramp up speculation in the 2016 presidential race into full gear. So, looking at the likely candidates, let’s do an oh-so-early 2016 GOP Power Rankings. The players are from the ten Likely Candidates from US Presidential Election News.
1. JEB BUSH – Seems so strange that he would be the front-runner, but he is. He has the money, he has the “establishment” backing, he’s solidifying the multimillionaire contributions, and he’s the smarter Bush brother. It should have been him in 2000 instead of George W. He’ll have his challenges, the biggest of which is his brother’s record. He’ll have to show how he’s more 41 than 43 on foreign affairs, while having learned from both 41 and 43’s mistakes on domestic affairs. He has some demographic advantages (his wife’s Latino) that most of his potential opponents won’t have.
2. RAND PAUL – The story of a primary fight is usually between the Establishment Guy and the Alternative. I think Sen. Paul has a strong position as the alternative. He has a distinctly different view on foreign policy than most of his Republican colleagues, and he’s shown he’s willing to go places other candidates won’t go. He’s done more to reach out to minority groups than most, and some of his father’s fans will naturally give him a first look. I think he’s made enough controversial statements in the past that he could wilt under scrutiny, but he’s in a decent position right now.
3. CHRIS CHRISTIE – He was vindicated in the Bridgegate scandal, which MSNBC dedicated about 500 hours to, but it won’t matter. He’s lost some trust of the base, and to the “establishment” he has some heavy competition ready to wander into the fray. Plus, that sight of him hugging Jerry Jones lost him the early state of Michigan. BUT his style is different, his boldness is refreshing, and he could position himself as the GOP’s LBJ.
4. BOBBY JINDAL – He’s come a long way from his disappointing State of the Union response. He’s hunkered down and focused on his state. And he’s learned how to talk an octave lower so no one again can call him Kenneth the Page.
5. MARCO RUBIO – I don’t know how he’ll ever recover from that truly shameful scandal of drinking some water on national TV! He would actually be in better shape if Jeb Bush wouldn’t run. All other candidates would, but particularly this Florida senator. In fact, I feel like I should drop him a spot.
6. TED CRUZ – The Texas senator has done a great job of rallying his fan base while alienating his co-workers. He should have been more appealing. He’s part Latino, he’s from a populous state, and he’s going to have some rabid supporters. But he’s also going to be one that everyone else in the field will be eager to dump on, and he makes it way too easy to caricature. He’ll try to argue that he’s a true conservative (you know, like Reagan) but he’ll have plenty of competition for that. He needs to show he’s not driven more by headlines than accomplishments.
7. BEN CARSON – He’s a great neurosurgeon. But he’s not a politician, and right now, he has to demonstrate that he’s not just another Herman Cain. He may say the right things on Sunday talk shows now, but other than military generals, when is the last time America elected a president with no political experience? Has it ever happened?
8. MIKE HUCKABEE – The affable, laughable former Arkansas governor still has some mending to do with the base for helping McCain win the nomination in 2008. His folksy populism may still work for some people, but he’s an also-ran, and since the likely Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton, I think the GOP delegates will be more eager for someone new.
9. RICK SANTORUM – Rumor has it he may run. He’ll get some delegate votes if he does. He was embarrassing in 2012, and he’d be more so in 2016. But he knows how to go door-to-door and court each and every vote. He was King of the Island of Misfits Toys in 2012, and he’ll look to reclaim his throne.
10. RICK PERRY – He wears glasses now, but otherwise, see #9.
Other possible candidates:
A. MITT ROMNEY – Mitt. The Mittster. The Mittmeister. Mitt-O-Rama! The only way I can see him getting into the race is if Jeb Bush decides not to, which is highly unlikely. Mitt ran in 2008 and 2012, yes, but what helps him is that he was vindicated on just about everything he projected (Russia, China, Iraq). Buuut he’s also had his chances, and he’d feel like a rerun. However, if Jeb doesn’t run, I can see him jumping in.
B. THE OTHER GOVERNORS – John Kasich (OH), Rick Snyder (MI), Mike Pence (IN), Scott Walker (WI), Susana Martinez (NM), and Nikki Haley (SC) could all make a case. Governors generally do well in elections, and the Republicans actually have a deep bench to choose from. All of them have different state statistics they can crow about to make them look more successful than Chris Christie and if one of them runs and catches fire, they could ultimately emerge as the alternate to Jeb Bush. I look at Martinez and Haley because it would be nice if at least one Republican woman ran, and her last name wasn’t Bachmann or Palin.
C. CONGRESSFOLK – Paul Ryan (WI), Steve King (IA), Peter King (NY). Paul Ryan could get some consideration, since he was the 2012 VP candidate. But he didn’t move the needle in the general election, and he may be content with a longer career in the House. If either King ran, it’d be to feed their ego, boost their profiles and fundraising, but they’d have no chance.
D. SARAH PALIN – She’ll flirt with the idea to suck some oxygen out of the room in 2015, maybe just to see which candidates ask for her endorsement, and she might get another reality show out of it, but that’s it.