Countdown to 2016: The Republican Candidates
After the defeat in 2012 the Republican Party was left just a few steps from disarray, with the party divided and left stuck between “traditional” values and adapting to 21st Century America. Romney’s defeat was predicted by many, including Nate Silver of 538, after a long, bitter Republican primary campaign where nobody stood out. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, Romney was the worst of the willing candidates, except for all the others. With the incumbent Obama being very hard to beat, many of the potentially strong candidates, including Jed Bush, many decided to wait a few years until the battle would become just a bit easier, or at least that’s what they hoped. However, with the Democrat ticket likely to be very strong again at the next election, notably with Hillary Clinton, even the best Republican candidates will struggle to become the 45th President of the United States.
A child of Cuban immigrants, Marco Rubio is a sure-fire choice if the Republicans want to show that they are ready to connect with 21st Century America and put their “traditional” views, which hurt them in 2012, behind them. A Tea Party candidate, he managed to beat the official Republican nominee for his Senate seat and win despite coming from behind. His involvement in the new immigration bill negotiations could harm his chances with the “traditional” element of the GOP, but for those who want to win over the growing levels of immigrants and minorities, he would still represent a symbolic choice. He’s already been on a trip to Iowa, a crucial swing state, and his knack for speeches could see him become the name on the Republican ticket in 2016.
Many thought that he might have considered running in 2012 but with the possibility of being associated with the “toxic” Bush brand, he sensibly chose to wait at least four more years. It might seem like he’s just in with a chance just because of his name, but in his position as Florida governor he did quite a good job. Credited with many good policies, including crucial education reforms which took Florida from one of the worst performing states to one of the best, with little increase in budget, he has many things going for him. Crucially, he’s also known for trying to turn the GOP around, to become more receptive of immigrants which should put him in a good position. If that’s not enough, he speaks perfect Spanish and is married to a Mexican-American. It’s not hard to see how Jeb Bush could easily become the Republican nominee.
Another possible choice is Chris Christie, the current Governor of New Jersey who rose to national prominence in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. A Republican Governor in a solid Democratic state, he would be a popular choice. Just like the other possible candidates, he’s criticised the position of the party again possibly representing a choice if the party wants to seem different. However, he’s annoyed parts of the party a few times, such as when he supported Obama’s Super Storm relief efforts just before the 2012 election. Recently, he’s made moves that make it seem like he’s at least thinking of running, having secret weight loss surgery, possibly following in the footsteps of other candidates who have done the same in the past. He could become the pick, but at the moment it doesn’t seem as likely as the others.
With the likely Democratic candidates it’s likely that the race might be over before it’s even properly begun unless Hillary Clinton does something wrong. However, that’s not likely to put off the potential Republican candidates who could think it’s their year. After the bad result in 2012 the party will be keen to win, as if Clinton does win it’s likely that the Democrats will have the White House secured for another 8 years. The party does need change its position at the next election, moving away from the “traditional” values and turning to 21st Century America, leading to Rubio, Bush and Christie standing out. At the moment there isn’t really a front-runner, but I think it’s got to be Rubio or Bush.