Some of the most outspoken conservative lawmakers in the House of Representatives said Wednesday they are pleased with the emerging crop of potential Republicans gearing up to run for president in 2016.
During the monthly “Conversations with Conservatives” gathering in the Rayburn House office building, the conversation naturally turned to the 2016 race, which has heated up over the last few weeks with moves by Republicans Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.
Other Republicans commonly mentioned as potential presidential candidates include Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal.
None of the lawmakers on Wednesday offered support to a specific candidate, but several said they like what they see.
“I think there’s a lot of candidates that we’re excited about,” Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador said during the hourlong session with members of the media. “This is one of the most exciting times for the conservative movement and Republicans in general…I think we couldn’t have a better field of candidates.”
Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon said of the Republicans often mentioned as possible candidates: “Even the ones I agree the least with are 10 thousand percent better than Hillary Clinton.”
Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp said Republicans need an outsider.
“Even in the Republican Party, especially here in Washington D.C., you have this top-down Washington-knows-best approach and philosophy,” he said. “I’m looking for a candidate that is the total opposite. From the ground up. Looking for new ideas. Bold. Visionary.”
Florida Rep. Daniel Webster argued that the Republican Congress can really do a favor for the party’s eventual nominee by getting work done over the next two years. “We got plenty of good ones,” he said of potential candidates. “We got to also shore them up by showing that we as Republicans can lead.”
“We could hurt them by not proving to the American people that we are leaders,” Webster said. “And we could help them by showing the American people that Republicans can lead.”
Discussing the general election, Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis argued a Hillary Clinton presidency would “the third term of Barack Obama.”
“I would be a little bit concerned about a Hillary Clinton presidency if I believed she was closer, philosophically, to Bill Clinton than she is to Barack Obama,” Lummis said. “But I don’t believe that. I believe that Hillary Clinton’s views are much more similar to Barack Obama’s than I do to Bill Clinton. Therefore, I think a Hillary Clinton presidency would be more of the same.”
Labrador also took aim at the Democrats, arguing they have a far worse bench of candidates than Republicans.
“If you think about it,” the Idaho congressman said, “the Democrats have one candidate, Hillary Clinton. A stale, old-ideas person who is not going to excite anybody in the United States about the future of America, how to get America moving forward.”