Now that the presidential race is over, it’s time to take a break from presidential politics. Just kidding. If we did that, The Daily Caller would be out of business. Here are 13 potential Republican contenders for 2016 (in no particular order):
1.) Marco Rubio — Considering the GOP just lost the Hispanic vote by a very large margin, Rubio is suddenly an even more appealing potential 2016 presidential contender than he already was due to his Cuban-American heritage. Many wanted Romney to pick the first term Florida senator as his running mate. Rubio is arguably the most exciting Republican politician on the national stage today, able to give speeches that are as electrifying as they are inspiring. But there are concerns that he may have been more enmeshed in a Florida Republican Party ethics scandal than people know, even if a complaint against him was tossed out by the Florida Ethics Commission in July.
2.) Chris Christie — The bombastic New Jersey governor rebuffed an effort by Republican donors and commentators to get him to run for president this cycle, saying he wasn’t yet ready. But in 2016, he just may be. Christie is most popular for boldly taking on the budget problems in his state, as well as his YouTube videos confronting questioners in New Jersey about the necessity to make hard decisions, which have attracted millions of views. But Christie has recently taken heat from Republicans for the effusive praise he heaped on President Obama for his leadership during Hurricane Sandy in the waning days of the presidential race. Nonetheless, he has to be considered a very real contender for 2016, especially if he wins a second term as governor next year.
3.) Jeb Bush — In a country of 300 million people, you would think that there would be plenty of serious presidential contenders, but it seems we keep going back to the Bushes. Considered a serious man and a policy wonk, Jeb has also been talking about the need for the GOP to do a better job reaching out to Hispanics for a very long time — his wife was born in Mexico. Jeb’s downside is his last name: George W. Bush still isn’t Mr. Popular nationally and there is a natural reticence to electing the third member of the same family as president in less than three decades. But watch out: Jeb could be for real.
4.) Rand Paul — Paul could carry on the legacy of his father, Ron Paul, by making a run in 2016. But though the Kentucky senator seemingly shares many of his father’s views, he packages them in a more palatable way and is seemingly more interested in working inside the Republican Party. Just as an example: While Ron Paul refused to endorse Romney, Rand did after his father dropped out of the race.
5.) Paul Ryan — As Romney’s running mate this cycle, the House Budget chairman is automatically a top contender for 2016. Ryan remains an intellectual leader in the Republican Party and many conservatives were far more excited with him as the VP candidate than Romney as the presidential candidate.
6.) Sarah Palin — It’s hard to come up with a case for her, but she still has supporters and is still pretty young. The 2008 GOP VP nominee could conceivably run, but it’s easier to see her feinting a run to remain relevant (cue the nasty emails).
7.) Bobby Jindal — It is difficult to believe that Jindal is just 41 considering all he’s done. Before being elected governor of Louisiana at 36 in 2008, Jindal served as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (at 24), president of the University of Louisiana System (at 28), an assistant secretary of Health and Human Services during George W. Bush’s presidency and a U.S. congressman. Oh yea, he was also a Rhodes Scholar who turned down offers to attend Yale Law School and Harvard Medical School. That’s quite a resume, though some suggest a poorly performed national Republican response to President Obama’s first address to Congress in 2009 is disqualifying. But that one speech is unlikely to damn his candidacy. Jindal will be completing his second term as governor as the Republican primary heats up.
8.) Rick Santorum — Rising from the back of the GOP field, Santorum surged to the front to become the final alternative to Mitt Romney during the Republican primary. Though lacking Romney’s resources, Santorum mounted a real challenge to Romney and for a brief moment it looked like he actually had an outside shot at upsetting him to win the Republican nomination. Ultimately he fell short, but he built a loyal following in the process and those who saw him engage constituents at town halls in the early primary states came away impressed with his grasp of the issues. If he runs, Santorum will be taken more seriously at the beginning of the presidential primary contest next time than he was when he launched his 2012 campaign.
9.) Mike Huckabee — Huckabee had a strong showing in 2008 but opted not to run in 2012. Now with a Fox News show, he may decide he doesn’t want to get back into elective politics. But Huckabee has a following and is a great communicator, especially of social conservatism, and should he choose to run, he could be a contender. As we get closer to candidates making decisions, you may want to watch Huckabee’s weight to see where he’s leaning.
10.) Bob McDonnell — The relatively popular governor of Virginia has been mentioned as a possible contender in 2016. He currently serves as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association.
11.) Rick Perry — Believe it or not, Perry is said to be considering another run. In his third term as governor of the second largest state in the Union, it makes sense on paper. But considering his abysmal performance running in 2012, he may want to reconsider, if only to save himself from further embarrassment.
12.) Mike Pence — A former radio host and congressman, Pence was just elected governor of Indiana. He has been mentioned as a presidential contender before and even won the Voter Value Summit poll in 2010. He is also popular with the tea party.
13.) Morry “The Grizz” Taylor — The tire mogul ran in 1996 but didn’t fare particularly well in the GOP primary. But he did become the main focus of Michael Lewis’ book on the race, “Losers: The Road to Everyplace but the White House.” It’s hard to read that epic campaign tome and not become enamored with the blunt-talking “wild man from the Midwest.” When TheDC talked to the Grizz in August, he said that if Mitt Romney lost, he would run again in 2016. “If Obama wins then you guys get ready, because somebody is going to have to fix this mess and it is going to be a real bad mess in four more years if he’s running it,” he said. “And then I’m going to run. Because if you had now with the TV and the debates, I would have a blast.” TheDC can’t tell if he’s serious, but on this question we can’t be neutral: Run, Grizz, run.