Another month goes by and we are that much closer to the 2016 Presidential election. To be fair, most of the action has taken place on the Republican Party side of things as the Democrats are dependent on Hillary Clinton’s plans before any official jockeying takes place.
But of course the Republican primary is always sure to bring out the entertainment value for our political world. Nonetheless, what you have been witnessing over the past month or so is the beginnings of the 2016 race. Book releases, State of the Union responses and controversial statements are just the tea leaves we can read without being too presumptuous in our quest to determine who is power-hungry enough to seek higher office.
I think this might be the most obvious (or second most) of all the prospective candidates. Jeb Bush has no reason to flip-flop on immigration (and flop-flip back to the center) unless he plans to run for some type of political office. The only other assumption I can think of is that Jeb ran to the right as to help his son George P. Bush run for elected office in Texas but even that is farfetched.
No, Jeb continues to harbor political aspirations and with Chris Christie forcing his way into the de facto “moderate” candidate of the Republican Party; Jeb needs to find a niche role. So he focuses on immigration reform. Also remember, he is a Bush family member; do you really think he is going to settle to be a Vice President or Cabinet official? It’s the Presidency or bust.
If Jeb Bush is not the most obvious prospect for 2016, then he is only second place to Chris Christie. Christie, who looks to be the overwhelming favorite to win re-election as New Jersey Governor, has transformed himself into a conservative darling to a political superstar ever since Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey.
I do believe Chris Christie was grateful for the federal government’s assistance in aid to the Garden State but ever since then he has appeared on Saturday Night Live, Letterman and has defied the Republican establishment from time to time, including Speaker John Boehner. Christie has always embodied the stereotypical New Jersey attitude of being just a “straight-talker” and his carved himself out to be the candidate for “reasonable people who just want to see stuff get done”.
Now, of course Christie is not a superhuman who can unite the parties (remember his attacks on unions and teachers, everybody) so it is easy to play armchair President and assume you could do better than the guy who currently has the job. But Christie is truly someone who could either ride his superstardom to the Presidency or find out the Charlie Crist way that embracing President Obama was not the smartest idea for a potential non-flamethrowing conservative. Boom or bust candidate.
It was the “sip heard ’round the world” when Marco Rubio awkwardly reached for his small Poland Spring bottle during his rebuttal to the State of the Union. While the sip was not a big deal nor represented any big revelation over his character, it did make him seem slightly amateurish.
But besides Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio has emerged as a leading Republican voice on immigration reform and given his potential appeal to Hispanic voters; it makes sense that the Republican Party is trying to turn him into a superstar. The problem is, he might be telegenic but he lacks Christie’s showmanship and doesn’t really have any charisma to make up for his youth. “Young” candidates such as JFK could rely on being “debonair”, Barack Obama had oratorical skills, Paul Ryan was seen as a budget wonk and Bill Clinton could speak to the working class in prodigal ways. Rubio doesn’t exactly fit any of those bills and I can’t see him being a big time player once the debates heat up in 2015.
Bobby Jindal appears to have gained back a small bit of momentum following his disastrous rebuttal to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress in 2009. Jindal has appeared to try and “electrify” and advance the Republican base with his insistence that they must not be the “stupid party” if they want to win elections but he might get lost in the crowd as 2016 approaches.
Remember, while he has improved his oratorical skills since he wished America a “Happy Mardi Gras”; he is still not somebody that can win over voters.
Rand Paul appears to be guaranteed to have the 15% or so that his father, Ron, received in most presidential primaries this past year. He actually has the advantage in already having a base, but the younger Paul needs to find a way to advance past the libertarian faction of his party to be considered anything above a vanity candidate.
Paul has received conservative acclaim for his attacks on Hillary Clinton and his (still-going) filibuster of President Obama’s choice of John Brennan for head of the CIA. He does appear to be willing to enter the traditional conservative appeal but his libertarian zeal might put him in the same box that it did his father. Still he seems to be the most open about running for President so I can’t see him not entering the fray when the rest of the field starts to become much sharper.
Nonetheless, if I’m Hillary Clinton and I run for President in 2016; I like my chances.