Politico: 2016 GOP Presidential Field Up For Grabs

Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 12:28 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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The race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination is wide open after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s bridge scandal woes, according to Politico.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is seen by many in the establishment as the Republican antidote to Hillary Clinton. With the gravitas of his last name, Bush has the most potential to fill campaign coffers, according to Politico, but has been vague about his intentions, recently announcing he would not make a decision until after the midterm elections in November.

"He’s the only one in the field who doesn’t have to sell himself," a political operative told Politico.

Another Floridian, Sen. Marco Rubio, is beefing up his operation. He took political heat for his position on comprehensive immigration reform and has been busy recasting his narrative. Rubio has spent heavily on specialized political consultants and is staffed with what Politico characterized as "presidential-level strategists and policy advisers."

With half of his first Senate term under his belt, Rubio, according to Politico, has the strongest national operation of all the presidential hopefuls in his party.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also has a national game plan and has been "aggressively courting" financial backers in Chicago and New York, the latter once considered Christie’s bread and butter, Politico said.

Jindal has launched two independent groups, giving him a national presence. Stand Up to Washington, a federal PAC, helps support conservative candidates in midterm elections  while policy nonprofit America Next, promotes conservative ideas and policies.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a tea party favorite, has made headlines and garnered support for his vocal criticism of domestic surveillance programs. But he has yet to assemble a campaign staff for a presidential bid, according to Politico. His former chief of staff, Doug Stafford, told the publication that Paul is planning to add positions later this year and that he'll be ready should he decide to seek the nomination.

"While each is following a unique strategy to ramp up their operations, I’m particularly struck by Bobby Jindal’s aggressive outreach and early organizing, Rand Paul’s smart messaging on privacy and organizational strength, and Marco Rubio’s discipline at playing the long game," Jim Merrill, Mitt Romney’s former New Hampshire strategist, told Politico.

Outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who sought the nomination in 2012, is considering a second run and has aligned himself with Americans for Economic Freedom, a not-for-profit running national ads trumpeting job growth in Texas during Perry’s tenure. And Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who like Paul is known for making sensational statements and attracting heavy media coverage, has been crisscrossing the country to headline conservative events.

Midwestern governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Indiana’s Mike Pence may also join the pack, Politico reported, as may former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, both popular with conservative Christians and evangelicals.

Christie is down but not out, according to Time magazine, which quoted Sen. John McCain earlier this month saying the embattled New Jersey governor is "still a very viable candidate" and commended his handling of the George Washington Bridge closing scandal.

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