There’s been a great deal of speculation concerning the identity of the Republican presidential nominee in 2016 (it’s all but a foregone conclusion that the Democrats will run Hillary). To my mind, there are three clear front-runners, and I’d like to briefly discuss each of them along with the advantages and disadvantages they carry. Obviously there are other possibilities, and some people may disagree that these are the most likely to get the nod (or even to run at all), but I’m confident in the logic of my choices. Without wasting time on any further preamble, then, the list runs as follows:
Jeb Bush – History’s only two-term Republican governor of the state of Florida seems well poised to turn his career of political good fortune into a White House bid. He is a solid candidate with strong appeal to the conservative base, something the Republican party has been lacking in recent memory. His greatest liability, however, scarcely needs mentioning: He is a Bush. With a fresh history of George “Read My Lips” Senior, and of course the infamous George “Axis of Evil” W, there’s a compelling case to be made that America has had its fill of this family. With names like Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Kennedy etched into the past, will this really be the first to achieve a three-time “American Dynasty”?
Mitt Romney – I admit, this one is a bit of a long-shot. Not concerning whether he will run, mind you, which I actually consider quite likely, but his chances of getting the nomination again are bleak. Mitt Romney is disingenuous even by a politician’s standards, and that’s saying a lot. If the man doesn’t read opinion polls every morning to find out what he’s going to believe that day, he might as well. As Governor of Massachusetts, he was liberal to the core and passed a social healthcare bill with pride; as presidential nominee for the nominally conservative Republican party, he ripped apart what was essentially the same idea just because it was called “Obamacare”. Insanely rich, he is careful to be humble in the public eye, telling absurd stories about how he refuses to use central heating in his house no matter how cold the weather, for fear of running up the bill; among his rich friends, of course, he talks down to 47% of the country, believing they “pay no tax” and that they have no wish to take responsibility for their own lives. I could go on, but it seems unnecessary. On the other hand, Romney is the very definition of a proven candidate. He was defeated by Obama in 2012, but in no way soundly defeated, and he’s got the money and the (again) rich friends to go the distance. When he gets serious about being president, you have to pay attention.
Chris Christie – This is probably the most likely of the three. Aside from the fact that he is a likeable conservative, as Governor of New Jersey, Christie led his state through the devastation and aftermath of the horrible Superstorm Sandy. He spent many sleepless nights coordinating disaster relief and trying to save as many lives as possible. You just can’t pay for street cred like that. On the other hand, he earned significant Republican ire in 2012 when, mere days before the November presidential election, he publicly praised Barack Obama for the federal government’s assistance in responding to the storm. No one needs to be reminded that Obama, who received a conspicuous bump in the polls following this show of respect, went on to narrowly win reelection. It’s impossible to know how much impact Christie really had on this, of course, but what’s undeniable is that a lot of people remain very angry about it.
And there you have it. I suppose that if I had to order the above list by political viability, I’d rank it Christie, Bush, and finally Romney. But don’t count any of these men out, and make no mistake: Each has a real shot at the GOP nod in ’16.