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Friday, October 28, 2016

The Republican presidential field just gets bigger and bigger. Three early-look lists last week — compiled by Karl Rove, by Politico’s Mike Allen and by conservative talk-show host Steve Deace — identified 26 candidates in total. Yikes!

I’ve been commenting on candidates as it becomes clear they are running for 2016 (regardless of whether he will still be running in 2016). But I haven’t talked about all 26. A quick categorization is in order.

Early in 2015, which will be about a year away from the Iowa caucuses, candidates must start establishing campaign organizations, nationally and in the early states. Stronger candidates don’t have to declare formally too soon. But it’s already late for any candidate to begin to campaign.

I’ve already discussed 12 of the 26 Republicans who appear viable, given their credentials and their positions on issues more or less within their party’s mainstream: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Rick Perry, John Kasich, Mike Pence, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Rob Portman, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. (Some candidates may have views on issues where they’ll find resistance – Bush and Rubio, for example, on immigration, or Kasich on Medicaid expansion. But they have plenty of time to adjust, or no organized group within the party had proved to have a veto on the contenders who disagree with them.)

Each candidate appears to have done what he has to do up to this point. Presumably several will drop out in the next few months. (Will Ryan concentrate on the House? Does Bush want the nomination if it isn’t served up on a silver platter? Is Huck just trying to boost his speaking fees? Or, if he stays in, will Santorum give up his long-shot attempt?)  There is a very good chance, however, that the nominee comes from that list.

No, I didn’t forget Senators Rand Paul or Ted Cruz. They are running serious campaigns, but I don’t think they are viable nominees. Paul isn’t within the party mainstream on several issues, most importantly national security. As for Cruz, it isn’t just that he has annoyed far too many party actors. The failure of the government shutdown he spearheaded in 2013 surely convinced others that he can’t be trusted to look out for the Republican Party.

Rove includes Michigan governor Rick Snyder on his list, while Mike Allen mentions Senators John Thune and Lindsey Graham. But they don’t have the stature in the party to afford a late start, so we need more signs of serious activity before considering them as candidates. I have a low bar for the “running for 2016” classification, yet it has to be a bit more than the old saw of every senator (or governor) seeing a president in the mirror.

That leaves nine other names. Several don’t appear to be running. Why is former New York governor George Pataki still on these lists?  Same with another Rove mention, former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich. Donald Trump won’t be running either (I think Deace is including him as a joke).

That leaves six who may be running, but who aren’t plausible nominees. Dr. Ben Carson is getting the most attention. And, oddly enough, Carly Fiorina has managed to pass muster with the Great Mentioner despite having nothing resembling conventional job credentials or any reason to expect any party group to rally to her. Former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, former Representative Allen West, Herman Cain and Representative Peter King — none has any chance.

Even for viable choices such as Governors Kasich of Ohio and Pence of Indiana, it’s getting to be time to step it up. There’s no one in this field who has the clout to straddle the “maybe” line until June. And there’s little chance any new real candidate can emerge (although virtually any conservative can claim 15 minutes of fame on Fox News and get a mention).

After all, with a full field of serious candidates already in place, the winnowing is probably just around the corner.

Image: DonkeyHotey via Flickr

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  • FireBaron

    And the only one who could possibly do the job correctly – Rob Portman of Ohio – isn’t on anyone’s radar.

    • Dominick Vila

      Portman would be an outstanding candidate. Unfortunately, he is too moderate and pragmatic for the Tea Party.

      • TZToronto

        And so definitely a non-starter. Only those willing to make stuff up need apply.

      • Sand_Cat

        His days as a Republican are likely numbered.

    • edwardw69

      He’s the only one I could vote for, much like Huntsman the last time.

  • Dominick Vila

    If the GOP nomination depends on the wishes of establishment Republicans, that clear favorite is Jeb Bush. Most of the politicians cited in this article don’t have a chance at the nomination. Interestingly, I believe Rand Paul has a better chance than most of the ones included in this list.
    Jeb Bush has relevant experience, a solid conservative record, is intelligent and articulate, but has a Mexican wife. His willingness to run depends more on how willing he is to put his wife and children through the grinder of electioneering in a society where the term Mexican-American is synonymous to illegality and cause for scorn, than concern over the challenges that any candidate for high office encounters on the campaign trail.

    • elw

      I wonder about how another Bush would perform in a National election. Bush 2 left behind such a mess and his father turned into a one term President, so the track record is not good. As far as his Mexican wife goes, that is most likely only a problem for the extreme right – but her record of being caught hiding purchase when crossing the boarder may become an issue. To tell you the truth I am tired of Bush’s and Clintons and am hoping for new and fresh choices. Although if it come down to Hillary and Jed. Hillary wins hand down for me. I just cannot trust anyone with Bush as a last name.

      • Dominick Vila

        The reason Bush Sr was a one term President was because of his decision to raise taxes in an attempt to reduce deficit spending. Such concept is nothing short of sacrilege for most conservatives.

        • elw

          The sad thing is it seem to be more of a sacrilege than starting a war with a lie and overseeing the biggest financial crash since the Depression. Conservative make no sense. I personally will throw up if Jed is their candidate.

  • jointerjohn

    The military industrial complex will not allow Rand Paul to get anywhere near the Presidency.

  • Buford2k11

    everyone on all the lists, have already been vetted…we know their ideology, we really know who they hate and who we should fear…we know the gop/bagger platform…I doubt any of the afore mentioned clown car denizens have many surprises left in their borg minds…

  • Stuart

    Think Chief Justice Roberts would accept a draft? Any other Republican match his national stature?