Saturday, May 09, 2015

Race for the White House 2016 Volume 19

The action in advance of next year's Presidential election is starting to advance at a rapid pace, especially on the Republican side. This past week saw the formal entrance of three more candidates, with several more to come. At the same time, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who was buzzed about just a couple of weeks ago as a likely candidate, is now apparently opting out of the race.

This past Monday, Dr. Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina formally announced their campaigns. Carson has never run for office before, while Fiorina was unsuccessful in 2010 taking on a tough challenge to a Senate incumbent in California. In 2008, the top two Democrat candidates were an African-American and a woman, but Carson and Fiorina are unlikely to reach the level of support that was held by Obama and Clinton back then. Still, they will have their supporters and will have the chance to increase them at debates. Carson has many supporters on the right and was catapulted out of nowhere politically a few years back, simply because he criticized Obama Administration policies at a Prayer Breakfast as Obama sat on the dais. I think he is an extremely impressive person, but I have not seen much political starpower from him as a candidate in these early stages. On the contrary, I think Fiorina has actually been doing quite well rhetorically on the trail. It would be an absolute miracle for her to become the GOP Presidential nominee, but if she does well, she might very well receive consideration for the number two spot on the ticket.

May 5th saw former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee kick off his second Presidential campaign at his hometown of Hope. That of course is the small town where another former President was born and used as the theme of a 1992 campaign. In 2008, Huckabee exceeded expectations to become one of the last Republicans standing, with the strong support of his fellow Evangelicals and wins in Iowa and a handful of southern states. This time around, the field is larger (as is Huckabee once again), and I think it will be tougher for him to break out. Still, Huckabee cannot be totally counted out in Iowa. His campaign announcement contained a good deal of class warfare and not so subtle jabs at Jeb Bush, but Huckabee is going to have to try to move as far to the right as possible, and will move away from his public strategy of 2008, in which he tried to come across as a "nice guy." For conservatives, Huckabee's economic record as Governor leads much to be desired.

Two other candidates are making plans to formally enter the contest this month. Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania Senator, who received significant social conservative support in a 2012 run will be giving it another shot as will Lindsay Graham, a veteran South Carolina Senator, who might be one of just two of a large GOP field who has served in the military. It seems as if every U.S. Senator named Graham or Gramm has run once for President and Lindsey, who is very close to 2008 nominee John McCain, is one of the candidates who every cycle says, "what the heck, I might as well just run for President." He is a stauch hawk on national security issues but is very much distrusted by some on the right in regards to economic issues as well as immigration. His presence in the race though leads to questions about the importance of South Carolina's early primary. It is possible that Graham could narrowly win his home state in a very crowded and divided race, but that might diminish the entire process there.

Additionally, many other candidates are expected to announce before the end of the summer, but questions persist over whether New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is not polling anywhere near what he once was in early tests, is actually going to run. On the Democrat side, it is also worth asking, why Vice President Joe Biden has not formally ruled out a race, now that the party establishment seems to be all in on Hillary Clinton.

She seems to be feeling the need to not take much for granted though as she faces primary opposition, and Hillary Clinton is moving considerably to the left since announcing, most recently on the issue of illegal immigration. In 2008, she ran on getting tougher on illegal immigrants, but now has taken a position in which she wants a quick citizenship process for all illegals currently in the country. That position puts her to the left of even Barack Obama. Clearly, her team is feeling the need to pre-empt an Elizabeth Warren type challenge, but if she does advance to the general election, she may be seen as too far to the left for moderate voters.

At the same time, Jeb Bush, who some consider the GOP frontrunner, despite some anemic polling numbers in Iowa, seems very intent on not moving further to the right during the primary process than he feels comfortable with. As a supporter, I do not think there is any doubt that the former Governor is a genuine across the board conservative, but many in my party just do not share that view. All of this is going to make for some significant challenges for Bush in the battle for the nomination of a very conservative party, but if he does manage to pull that off, he might find himself ideologically positioned quite well for a general election.


At 2:08 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Big question is whether Jeb decides to run for Rubio's US Senate seat in 2016 ?


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