While we're on storm watch here in the Northeast, maybe it's an OK time to play "2016"
"One of the Fix's favorite phrases," the post begins, "is this: It's never too soon."
No, it's not that I take WaPo "Fix"-master Chris Cillizza seriously, but one thing you know when you read Chris is that if he's saying it, other political insiders are saying it. I would also note that this post, "The Fix's first rankings of the 2016 Republican presidential field!," is a collaborative effort with co-"Fix"-ers Aaron Blake and Sean Sullivan, and I've certainly been more impressed by their writing, though I assume it's just a matter of time before they're properly sculpted into authentic Village blitherers.
And as to the notion that it's never too soon, well, it seems to me all too obviously way too soon. Still, while some of us are rendered virtual shut-ins by the storm track, waiting to see just how bad the dreaded overnight dump is going to be (at the moment the weatherfolk are scaling back predictions for the NYC area to maybe 5-8 inches of snow, but Boston is far from off the hook), it seems like a harmless enough exercise -- after all, Blue Bloods doesn't go on till 10 -- just to peruse what the Village insiders are chattering about. Naturally you should view it with the appropriate introductory hemming and hawing, which you can do onsite (here's the link again), where you'll also get all the internal links.
10. John Thune: The South Dakota senator looks the part of a presidential candidate — tall, dark, handsome — and has a record that conservatives love but isn’t scary to the party establishment. The issue for Thune is whether he wants it badly enough. He had a golden opportunity to get into the 2012 race as a major contender and, oddly, passed. As the Post’s Dan Balz wrote at the time, Thune’s “no” to 2012 could well have a lingering impact on his chances in 2016.My off-the-cuff response is: Jeez, what a list! Is there anyone here who could (a) do the job and (b) get nominated? Of course impressing me is beside the point.
9. Rob Portman: He doesn’t bring the glitz and glamour of some of the other names of this list, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t include the Ohio senator. His experience as White House budget director makes him a credible voice on economic matters, and his current gig as National Republican Senatorial Committee vice chairman means he won’t be far away from the party’s most influential donors. Plus, did we mention he’s from Ohio? Long a presidential debate prep partner, Portman could well play the role of candidate in 2016.
8. John Kasich: The former congressman and current Ohio governor was a big deal in the Republican Party and even ran for president, briefly, in 2000. Provided he can win reelection in 2014, we should expect Kasich to at least consider a presidential bid. Kasich is a conservative favorite and comes from a swing state that is increasingly recovering economically. And at a press conference in November, he notably didn’t rule out a future presidential run.
7. Mike Pence: There was chatter that Pence was weighing a run for the nomination in 2012, but he opted instead to leave the U.S. House to make a successful bid for the Indiana governorship. Smart move. Pence, whose background prior to getting into politics was in talk radio, is an underrated communicator and is the sort of person who already has a significant following among the Republican activist base. If you are looking for a dark(ish) horse in the 2016 primary, Pence might be it. (Worth noting, though: He might have to give up his current office, which is up in 2016.)
6. Rand Paul: The first-term Kentucky senator looks more and more like a presidential candidate every day. During a foreign policy address at the Heritage Foundation this week, he took a more middle-of-the-road approach than his father, Ron Paul, while also sticking to his libertarian ideals. Paul has also been among the most outspoken conservatives in the Senate in recent weeks, which suggests he won’t let anybody get to his right in a presidential primary.
5. Jeb Bush: The stigma associated with his last name is fading, and by 2016 it will likely be even less of a factor. Republicans like Bush’s dual appeal to the conservative and establishment wings of the party, and he is seen as a leading figure on education and immigration reform. His recent Wall Street Journal op-ed on the latter issue suggests he wants to remain part of the conversation, but his reported effort to buy the Miami Marlins suggests a guy who isn’t banking on becoming the third Bush in the White House. We’ll find out in time just how big a role he wants to play. If Bush shows any sign of actually moving toward the race, he’d likely top this list.
4. Paul Ryan: The House budget committee chairman and former vice presidential nominee recently said that he’s “decided not to decide” about 2016. Well, OK. But let’s face it, it’ll be hard for Ryan to ignore the question, given his status as one of the party’s leading figures. Ryan’s message since the end of the 2012 campaign has been clear: We live in a world of divided government, and we need to find a way to make that work. If Congress can accomplish more in the next four years than it did in the previous four, look for Ryan to stake claim to some credit. One question remains: Is Ryan better positioned — temperamentally and in terms of his native strengths — to be the next House Republican leader rather than one of a field of GOP presidential candidates? That’s quite possible.
3. Bobby Jindal: The Louisiana governor is running — and running hard. His speech at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Charlotte last month laid a marker for how Jindal will run for president: as an outside-the-Beltway reformer who has achieved results on conservative pet projects (education reform, tax reform) during his time as governor. While many in Washington know Jindal only by his flop of a Republican response to President Obama’s first congressional address, that seems more the exception than the rule when it comes to his potential on the national stage.
2. Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor is the most popular man on this list, in large part because he gets the approval of people from across the political spectrum. But in fact, some in conservative circles are starting to be suspect of Christie because of his willingness to criticize his party — see his John Boehner rant — and his praise of Obama related to Hurricane Sandy. Christie certainly wants to lock down his 2013 reelection campaign first, but if he wants to run for president, he’s at risk of making some enemies among conservatives right now.
1. Marco Rubio: The Florida senator has just been christened — by us and others — as the new de facto leader of the Republican Party. But with that opportunity comes peril — notably, if Rubio fails to shepherd a successful immigration bill to passage and/or alienates conservatives in the process. But Rubio is the most naturally gifted politician on this list and his party seems ready to put him forward as its face, as evidenced by his being chosen to give the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.
My second response is: Would a similarly compiled list at this stage of the 2012 GOP presidential follies not have looked awfully similar? With endless nattering about people like, you know, T-Paw? I know that in 2016 the Republican nominee won't be running against an incumbent president, but then, back in 2011 and 2012 were there any Republicans who didn't think of the incumbent president they would be running against as a sitting duck?
In any case, when you get insight like "The South Dakota senator looks the part of a presidential candidate — tall, dark, handsome" (John Thune) and "He doesn’t bring the glitz and glamour of some of the other names of this list" (Rob Portman), you know you're getting the Grade A punditry.
John Thune? Rob Portman? I say, bring back T-Paw.