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2016 US Presidential Candidates

When political pundits or politics geeks speculate about 2016, there is only one “given.” Barack Obama will not be the Democratic presidential nominee. During the 2016 campaign, Obama will either be completing his second term a hero, or he will be a discredited president who failed to live up to the hope.

In 2016 the Republicans will be looking for new faces. Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, tops the list. Jindal, son of Indian immigrant parents and a convert to Christianity, impressed many with his leadership during the Hurricane Gustav evacuations. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is most certainly a curious case when it comes to running as a Republican candidate. Whilst it may be no secret that he is the first Indian-American to run for president, Jindal also professes to be one of the youngest at only 44 years old. Majoring in public policy, Bobby Jindal from the outset had a passion for public office, and has worked within politics from a relatively early age.

Fusing traditional conservative views with a modern twist, Jindal is strongly pro-life, expressing a need to create an amendment distinguishing ‘person’ from ‘conception’. Moreover, he realises the need to crack down on a number of humanitarian issues such as people trafficking, and the focus of rehabilitation of drug offenders.

He was also selected to deliver the Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union address in 2009. Married with three children, he studied at New College in Oxford.

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Jeb Bush, brother and son of two former presidents, was widely admired for his performance as governor of Florida. Because voters are still suffering from “Bush fatigue,” Jeb had no choice but to pass up a run in 2008 and deny interest in a 2012 campaign. Widely popular within the party, 2016 could be his year. Aside from maintaining a household name, ex-Florida governor Jeb Bush can best be described as a moderniser for the Republican Party, with a distinct ability to pinpoint potential demographic groups that can be lured further into the Conservative cause. Describing himself as a ‘practising, reform-minded Conservative’, there has been considerable debate on whether this viewpoint translates into a candidate which strays from the core values of the GOP.

Jeb Bush does not necessarily fit the ideological mould for conservative leadership, but this may be the winning formula for the emerging Hispanic demography looking to find a political home of their own. Jeb Bush represents a unique position of both having a pro-life agenda and rejecting gun control, mixed with compassionate views towards immigration and a fluency in Spanish.
A graduate of the University of Texas, Bush is married and has three children.

Chris Christie, Republican governor of New Jersey, famously told television host David Gregory that “he may need a job after 2013.” Early in the Obama administration, he set Republican hearts aflutter with his victory over Democrat Jon Corzine. Although Chris Christie is largely a popular and well respected figure, his decision to run for president did not come as much of a surprise. He frames himself on being a straight talking and relatable politician, with his presidential slogan ‘Telling it like it is!’ donning posters and yard signs across the country. Christie’s appeal resonates the most with middle America, with his credentials in job creation and keeping taxes low for working people. Many of his policies are not overtly hardline; such as the recognition of treating drug users as opposed to punishing them, and lenient views in regards to abortion and immigration. Christie is married with four children. He attended Seton Hall University.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden will automatically figure in speculation about the 2016 Democratic nomination.

Clinton, former First Lady and senator from New York, will be 69 years old in 2016, the same age as Ronald Reagan when he was elected to his first term. Often touted to be the most notable Democrat candidate running in the race to succeed Barack Obama, Clinton’s credentials stretch from her experience as Secretary of State. Her positions on a number of issues are very progressive, and her continued support for environmental, social and foreign policy reform certainly play towards her advantage. Extensive experience in public office may prove to be the kingpin in her bid to become president, as well as the fact that she managed a relatively successful campaign for the oval office back in 2008, eventually losing out to the incumbent Barack Obama.

Ben Carson is regarded as a somewhat refreshing presidential candidate, with a variable résumé as a retired pediatric neurosurgeon and an author of a number of quasi-patriotic bestsellers. Bypassing the commonly slanderous label of being a ‘career politician’, Carson has the potential for widespread Republican appeal with his modernizing fusion of religiously inspired values and borderline centrist positions on a number of issues.

Not surprising given his background, his policy strength concerns the reform of healthcare in America. He deemed ‘Obamacare’ as the “worst thing since slavery” and it had “fundamentally changed the relationship between the government and the people”. Although a topical issue throughout the 2012 presidential campaigns across the board, there is no guarantee that ‘Obamacare’ will be as prominent an issue as it was this time round. It is certainly true that Carson has had no experience of public office, and can not be regarded as a seasoned politician by any means.

Texas senator Ted Cruz invokes an almost idealistic notion of what it means to be a Conservative, through the recurring theme of courage and ‘the promise of America’. The emotional connection towards his potential voters may prove to be a focal point in his success and the positive ethos of his campaign has the ability to encompass the values that the majority of Americans truly believe in. Cruz can be described as a moderate Conservative much like his bilingual counterpart, Jeb Bush. Whilst holding cornerstone Republican views in regards to immigration and ‘Obamacare’, his views on foreign policy remain rather cautious as his agenda tends to lean towards domestic concerns.

Carly Fiorina stands alone as the sole female candidate for the Republican Party, yet she has never let the glass ceiling prevent her from achieving a prosperous career in business. Although not an overtly notable candidate in a saturated field, her business credentials have led her to pursue the economy and jobs as her strength, much like Mitt Romney back in 2012. Fiorina campaigns strongly against crony capitalism, outsourcing and the alleged burdens on small businesses.

A number of her weaker positions lay within the fields of social issues such as abortion, where she proclaimed that “Liberals believe in protecting flies, not human lives”. Whilst her views on foreign policy are relatively thin on the ground, she has spoken out about the need for America to take the forefront in international affairs, with noted scepticism towards potential adversaries such as Russia and Iran. Carly Fiorina’s positions are highly unique to the Republican race, and her appeal may swing towards the centre ground of American politics.

Jim Gilmore represents an almost gentle approach to the Republican presidential race, with this economic credentials leading the forefront of his campaign. Utilising the much used phrase “most Americans believe that their children will not be better off than they are”, Gilmore advocates an almost compassionate approach to the betterment of society though one of his keystone agendas, Jim’s Growth Code; which is made up of initiatives such as bring a flat linear rate of tax for all businesses, and enhanced tax credits for families deemed to be living in poverty.

Lindsay Graham is most certainly an impressionable figure within this field of Republican candidates, much like former candidate John McCain, he had a successful career within the United States military as an officer, later to be promoted as a colonel. While these credentials do not entirely qualify someone to become president, it can be argued that having political experience certainly does. Transitioning his career into public office, he has served as a senator for South Carolina since 2005. His pro-life credentials and support of small businesses may excite the lower to middle class demography of the Republican party, and his background as an individual arising from humble origins may give Graham a natural advantage in the race to become president.

Mike Huckabee is by all means a recognizable figure as far as Republican candidates are concerned. He has served as the long term governor of Arkansas, earned himself a respectable third place in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries popular vote, and later went on to host his own talk show Huckabee on Fox News. Whilst this is his second bid to become president, he already has a pre-established base on which to work with. Although Huckabee may have the distinct advantage of running a previous campaign, one of the main challenges he faces is the effort he must make to broaden his appeal beyond evangelicals and social conservatives.

Ohio governor John Kasich is most certainly a seasoned politician, with a long and illustrious career as a U.S representative dabbling in the 2000 Republican primaries. Describing himself as a ‘change agent’ with a ‘tenacious, authentic’ approach to life, Kasich has the appeal of a number of select groups of the electorate, advocating a $120 million debt relief fund for students, and taking a modest anti-drugs stance, yet some of his other positions may hinder the scope required for presidential success.

Proclaiming ‘bible stories as historical fact’ and cutting the waiting time for receiving gun ownership may alienate blocks of voters with a preference for reform, yet on the other hand the core Republican base may be excited at the prospect of a candidate keeping in line with traditional conservative values.

In many recent Republican races, either the governor or mayor of New York has deemed himself fit to run as the presidential candidate for the party. George Pataki most certainly fits this criteria announcing his bid via video link on this personal website. Largely regarded as an underdog in a very saturated field of candidates, Pataki adheres to reflecting on his experience as governor, having ‘brought conservative solutions to a state in crisis’.

George Pataki differs strongly from many of his counterparts on a number of issues, professing a belief that he could overcome the GOP stance abortion, and banning lobbying by former members of congress. Such bi-partisan views are indeed risky in a dedicated conservative array of candidates, yet the ability to stand out in a cherished ability within politics.

It is hard to forget the memorable 2008 and 2012 presidential runs by Rand Paul’s father, Ron. Exciting the ‘Blue Republican’ movement, there was certainly something unique and unexampled in his bid. Not surprisingly, his son is taking the forefront in trying to carry on the support staged by his father. Kentucky senator Paul certainly excites the younger demographic of Americans, perhaps being one of the few candidates to utilise a hashtag; #standwithrand.

Paul stands for tax reform and the cutting of bureaucratic practises to allow policies to flow more free and coherently. His views on foreign policy stands apart from the rest of the field, with a largely cautious and anti-interventionist approach being advocated.

Rick Perry is certainly a recognizable figure as the illustrious former governor of Texas and as a charismatic veteran politician. He can be also remembered for his 2012 bid for the Republican nominee, keeping steadfast to his conservative credentials. Rick Perry advocates the lowering of taxes and less governmental regulation. He believes in taking a hard stance in foreign policy, with particular regards to ISIS and Syria. His religious credentials may place him at odds with the reforming element with the Republican party, tempering his ‘War on Religion’ views with accusations of ‘atheists trying to sanitize Christianity’. Such credentials may place Perry at odds with certain factions with the Republican party.

Often touted as a speculative vice-presidential candidate back in 2012, it comes as no surprise that Marco Rubio decided to explore the opportunity to run for president . There is certainly ambition at hand with Rubio’s presidential bid, with the promise of building a ‘new American century’ for the future. Although from the outset it appears that America’s hegemony may be at risk, Rubio’s campaign is one of reassurance and continuation of American prosperity, with a focus on the future and not of ‘going back to the past’. One such issue of particular concern is Rubio’s policy towards the island of Cuba, the birthplace of his own father. He strongly opposes any diplomatic or economic ties with Cuba, keeping in line with the historical narrative of previous US administrations. Aside from these differing stances, Marco Rubio represents an interesting take on the values that the GOP stands for. He is certainly a moderniser from the outset, yet he takes deep comfort in some of the historically core issues that are ingrained within conservatism.

It is not hard to forget the famous Rick Santorum tune ‘Game On’, professing ‘justice for the unborn and factories back on our shores’, yet the momentum behind his campaign for 2016 may struggle to succeed with such a large field of candidates. Santorum is vocal on corporation reform, proclaiming himself as a ‘pro-worker Republican’, arguing against big business loopholes and tax subsidies that move jobs offshore. His credentials on civil rights issues are largely sqaure within the conservative bracket, with strong stances against gay marriage, and promoting the traditional family unit. The positions of Santorum place him as a solid conservative candidate, with a typical outset expected within the field.

Donald Trump can largely be personified in his own words; ‘The American dream is dead.. but I will bring it back’. Trump had dipped his toe in the water back in 2012 before taking the plunge into political matrimony, yet such ambitions have been met with controversy. A classic populist, Trump has the ability to both alienate and inspire the electorate with his often firebrand rhetoric in regards to keystone GOP concerns such as immigration and gun control. What has yet to be known is the ability to appeal to the majority of Americans in some of his overtly conservative views. His proven economic credentials are certainly to his advantage, yet this alone may not warrant an electoral victory against a strong Democrat rival.

Scott Walker certainly has sincerity and charm, yet these attributes may have to compensate for any particular policy strengths. Opposition to same-sex marriage, endorsement for opposing gun restrictions and abortion limitations will excite the Republican core, yet it may hinder the ability to reach out to swing voters or minority groups. His views on foreign policy indicate a desire for America to assert itself more prominently than ever before, opposing the thaw of US-Cuba relations and expressing a desire to send troops to pariah states such as Syria. Walker is most certainly a wildcard candidate in a field of big players, and this could very well lead to his advantage. He is by no means a cautious candidate, and a middle-of-the-road ‘lame duck’ approach is certainly out of the question.

Lincoln Chafee is a Democrat politician from Rhode Island that essentially has credit for being a defector from the Republican Party, and whilst in the GOP he was the only member to vote against the Iraq War; thus earning himself a unique place in political history itself. Chafee has often been characterised as a moderate former Republican, renowned for pursuing a somewhat centrist agenda. Typical for many democrats, his positions are liberally at best, calling for a de-escalation of US foreign policy, and supporting LGBT and minority issues where he can.

Former Baltimore mayor Martin O’Malley announced his bid to become the Democratic president-elect back in May 2015, campaigning on a ticket of ‘rebuilding the American dream’. O’Malley campaigns on a number of core topics for his election bid, largely on the issue of education. Such positions include the promotion of more public charter schools, further funding for resources and encouraging tax credit contributions for private schools. O’Malley has further positions on crime and punishment, supporting the abolition of the death penalty and appropriating more funding to policing and prisons.

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has emerged as one of the most progressive voices in American Politics, with substantial positions of campaign finance reform, human rights, income inequality and climate change. Civil liberties are almost on the agenda for Sanders, often speaking on the erosion of such freedoms in the age of mass surveillance. Bernie Sanders may be the most overtly liberal of all the Republican and Democrat candidates in the field combined, going as far as proposing wide scale Wall Street and banking reforms across the board, with undertones of socialism ensuring. .

Other possibilities…

Paul Ryan, the young, telegenic and issue-driven  congressman from Wisconsin, will be a highly visible Obama foil from his position as House Budget Committee chairman. From there, he can tout his proposals for entitlement and tax reform as alternatives to Democratic policies. Married with three children, he is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune defeated Democratic Minority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004 and was re-elected in 2010 without opposition. Although he is interested in 2012, he may decide, because of the crowded field, to defer a run until 2016. He holds an MBA from the University of South Dakota.

Biden, who was a highly regarded senator from Delaware, never got over the “presidential bug.”He would be a natural heir to Obama, but at the age 74 in 2016, he would be considered “too old.’

Andrew Cuomo, elected as governor of New York in 2010, will be widely touted for the 2016 Democratic nomination. Cuomo, a graduate of Fordham University and Albany Law School, served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration and as state attorney general. He is the son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and was formerly married to Kerry Kennedy, a daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy. They have three children.

If Rahm Emanuel is elected mayor of Chicago in 2011, he could logically use that office as a springboard. Emanuel, who recently resigned as Obama’s chief of staff, was an architect, as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, of the Democratic takeover in 2006.  Emanuel, who received a master’s at Northwestern University, is married and has three children. His biggest obstacles to future political advancements are the cut-throat world of Chicago politics and his reputation as an aggressive “take no prisoners” mentality.

Tim Kaine, former governor of Virginia, was considered a potential Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2008. His prospects for a White House were hurt by the fact that, as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, his name will be forever associated with the party’s drubbing in 2010. Kaine is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Kathleen Sebelius, former governor of Kansas and current Secretary of Health and Human Services, has the resume and record to make a serious run for the presidency. Her father, John Gilligan, was governor of Ohio. Married with two sons, she holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.  She was so well-respected in the Democratic Party that she was chosen to give the party’s response to President Bush’s 2008 State of the Union.

Additional aspirants for the presidency are bound to surface. In fact, the eventual 2016 presidential nominees may now be virtually unknown. Keep in mind that in 1970, few people outside of Georgia heard of Jimmy Carter, and in 2002, practically no one knew who Barack Obama was.

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