Another day, another Republican enters the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. There are now so many — a baker’s dozen, perhaps more if another has entered the race while you’ve been reading this — and three more are expected to announce in the coming days.
So to keep track of the lot, I’ve compiled this handy primer on the race (and just like everyone in Washington, D.C., I’m an expert on politics [although I really have covered politics Inside the Beltway for 25 years, so trust me]).
Let’s start with the longshots and work up to the Top 5.
16: Donald Trump. Seriously, he’s running. In his announcement speech, he said “I” 195 times, and also declared “I’m really rich.” Sure, he’s just looking for some media coverage in between tapings of his horrible TV show, but his message of common sense — and his disgust for politics as usual — is resonating with some. Still, he’ll be out of the race in no time and back to his golf courses.
15: Lindsey Graham. Who? Never mind.
14: Bobby Jindal. The Indian-American governor of Louisiana was the talk of the town in 2012, but this time around he barely registers in the polls. And he’s a throwback to the socialphobic Establishment candidates of the past (he thinks schools should decide whether to teach evolution and his head nearly exploded after the Supreme Court gay marriage ruling). Jockeying for a veep slot.
13&12: Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. Two more blasts from the past who are singing out of the same hymnal. Americans — even conservative Americans — aren’t going to vote for single-issue candidates this time. Nowhere to go but down and out for these two.
11: Ben Carson. A tricky one. He’s not a politician, and people like that. The famed neurosurgeon also delivers the Trump-type message: This country’s in terrible shape precisely BECAUSE politicians are morons. But he’s got an unskilled team of political lightweights and he’s timid in interviews, so he won’t go far.
10. George Pataki. A three-term governor of liberal New York, he’s a more moderate Republican who is pro-choice (you don’t see that every day). A tax-cut champion, Pataki would be a formidable candidate if the field wasn’t filled with so many skilled governors. One and done.
9: Rand Paul. The Tennessee senator wowed with a filibuster on privacy andgrabbed headlines with a strong rollout after announcing, but he has since faded. He’s having a hard time finding a moneyman to bankroll his campaign. His Libertarian bent attracts the Millennials, but his weak foreign policy stances turn off the GOP base.
8. Ted Cruz. He’s the talker of the bunch, a certified champion debater from Harvard. Unlike Paul, he’s raising cash and can last until the primaries. But like Paul, he announced early and has since been overshadowed. Plus, he talks weird. Only one U.S. senator has a chance this time and it’s not Rafael Edward Cruz.
7: Carly Fiorina. She’s a player and, while not a politician, she’s running a powerful campaign early on. Able to target Hillary Clinton without fear of the sexism charge, the businesswoman has been all business — even showing up at a Clinton rally to steal the spotlight. While she won’t be the nominee, she will be on the short list for veep.
6: Rick Perry. The governor of Texas forgot one of the three things he was trying to say in 2012, and became a Saturday Night Live joke. But he’s since donned some smart-looking glasses and he’s been studying up for this run. He delivered a powerful speech to start his campaign and he could easily rise into the top tier.
5. John Kasich. He’s not even in the race yet but he’s Top 5. A highly successful governor of Ohio (a big swing state), he’s conservative through and through. He’s a candidate many donors have been waiting for, and he’ll build a strong team quickly. Plus, if Jeb Bush stumbles, Kasich becomes the Establishment darling.
4. Scott Walker. The guy own three elections in four years in liberal Wisconsin. He’s got the conservative bona fides and a strong track record. He’s not particularly good on his feet and so far has stumbled on the national stage. But he’ll be in the race till the end.
3. Chris Christie. Don’t sell him short. The New York Times hates him (always a good sign), but the guy won two elections in bright-blue New Jersey. And he’s got the Jersey brawler in him. His campaign motto is “tell it like it is,” and that’s what he’s going to do. He also can go head-to-head with anyone.
2. Jeb Bush: Obviously the Establishment front runner, and he’s sucking up so much money there soon won’t be enough to go around. He owns Florida (another swing state), speaks Spanish fluently and, like Kasich and Walker, has a strong record. The question remains, though: Will America go for a third Bush?
1. Marco Rubio. He’s the strongest candidate right now. A powerhouse on foreign policy, he brings a compelling personal story. Again, the New York Times hates him (remember the story on his driving record and the boat he bought?) Pro: He’s the youngest candidate in the field. Con: He’s the youngest candidate in the field.
But there’s still nearly 500 days until Election Day. Anything and everythingcan change.
Except not for Donald Trump. “You’re fired.”
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