Saturday, April 18, 2015

Race for the White House 2016 Volume 16

Welcome to the 16th edition of my look at the '16 Election. It also of course takes 16 post-season wins to achieve a Stanley Cup or an NBA championship.

This weekend, more than 16 GOP candidates converged on New Hampshire to address a Leadership Summit. It was actually over 20 potential hopefuls. Many of them believe they have what it takes to be elected the next Commander in Chief, but at least one of those (Trump) has no real intention of mounting an actual campaign. Others (such as Carly Fiorina) may be continuing to put their name out there in hopes of somehow finding a place on the national Republican ticket next summer while others may really be focusing deep down on preparing for a run in 2020 or 2024, whenever the next time the Republican field will not feature an incumbent President.

All of the Republican candidates in New Hampshire this weekend tended to not attack each other, but most had plenty to say about the frontrunner on the Democrat side. Last Sunday, Hillary Clinton formally entered the contest (complete with a rather unimpressive looking H -> looking campaign logo thing.) She announced via a web video in which she barely appeared personally and spent a few days this week in Iowa having highly scripted low-key events with "voters", who apparently were actually Democrat activists and volunteers playing the role of random voters.

The Clinton roll-out has gotten somewhat mixed reviews. Some felt she did a better job of humanizing herself and looking like she was having "fun", as she was driven from her home in New York to Iowa in a van dubbed "Scooby." Of course, that is putting aside the security camera footage of her and her aides buying food at a Chipotle in Ohio, in which the Presidential candidate seemed to go unrecognized as she donned sunglasses and did not appear to speak to anyone. The candidate and her campaign also did not leave a tip for the Chipotle workers who served them their food across the counter. I guess those Ohio voters were not deemed worthy of being a "champion" for. Needless to say, Clinton is going to have to eventually be far more open to discussing issues in specific ways as well as talking to citizens and voters in less restricted circumstances. Nonetheless, after nearly years of speculation (in which even I believed she might ultimately not run), Clinton is in the race and will dominate the Democrat field in terms of money raised and organizational support, at least for the forseeable future.

In contrast to Hillary Clinton's rollout, a Republican candidate the next day announced for President in a somewhat more traditional way. Still, Florida Senator Marco Rubio chose a 6pm local time slot to announce in a big speech in Miami, which seemed designed to receive live coverage on Fox News' Special Report daily broadcast. The first generation American called for a "New American Century" and spoke in very unsubtle terms about how he was a candidate for the future, putting him in contrast with Hillary Clinton and also probably his former Republican mentor Jeb Bush.

While Jeb Bush remains my candidate of choice, I have no choice but to admit that I find Marco Rubio a very impressive person and his oratorical skills pretty impressive (although he does occasionally mix up certain words and seems to often have dry mouth and need water while speaking.) In his announcement speech, Rubio expanded upon the inspiring example of his family history that he talked about in a very widely acclaimed speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention. This clearly means a lot to Rubio, who appeared emotional at times, and I believe he is one of the strongest political communicators around today. If Jeb Bush of Florida does not become the Republican nominee, Rubio probably has at least a 50/50 shot of being on the ticket, even if he has to settle for Vice President.

For either better or worse, Rubio in the 2016 race is much like Barack Obama in the 2008 race, being a young, charismatic freshman Senator from a minority racial background who gave very inspirational speeches. I would point out that Rubio has two more years of Senate experience than Obama does and has been seen as more of a player on Capitol Hill, as well as his significant state legislative background than the current President had when he mounted his run. Republicans tend to like to nominate Governors though, as they point to their executive experience, and that is clearly something that Rubio is lacking. If the Senator gets nominated though, a general election campaign against Hillary Clinton may be somewhat stylistically on par with Barack Obama vs. John McCain.

Rubio clearly has received a lot of political attention in the past couple weeks and we will have to see how it affects his fundraising as well as his showing in early primary and general election polls. Some on the right have clearly taken a liking to him once again (after he had fallen out of favor for a time when he was working on a compromise immigration reform plan with Democrats in the Senate) and his ascent may be coming at the expense of Scott Walker right now. Rubio probably deserves to be ranked in the Top 4 in the very large GOP field right now, but other candidates will continue to look to make their own impressions. Mike Huckabee will be formally announcing in early May that he will be making another run, and a former top tier hopeful, Chris Christie, seems like he is going to try to make a run based on blunt policy positions and the specter of "straight talk." Other hopefuls in crowded fields from Bruce Babbitt to Richard Lugar have tried to take that tack before to not very impressive results.

So for now, Bush, Rubio, and Walker appear to be doing the best in the vying for establishment support, while Ted Cruz and Rand Paul try to seek out running room on the right. The news that Ohio Governor John Kasich may indeed be serious about running for President could eventually have a dramatic impact on the race.


At 9:29 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

I still have a Governor being the GOP nominee for President!


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