Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is “the smartest guy, the biggest thinker” in the Republican Party as it looks toward winning the White House in 2016, GOP strategist Karl Rove tells Newsmax TV.
“Six months ago, I would have said, ‘No, he's not going to run,’” Rove tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “But maybe he is. I certainly hope he keeps a very strong voice.”
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The strategist, who helped George W. Bush win the White House twice, says it is too early to predict who might represent the GOP in 2016, but he sizes up some of those most mentioned in Republican circles.
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: “He’s got a re-election to win this fall, and he's got to then take a sober look sometime in the middle or the end of 2014 to see if he's going to get in.
- Florida Sen. Marco Rubio: “His Senate seat is up in 2016. He's certainly developing a strong reputation in Washington as an effective legislator, but he's got some big decisions to make.
- Wisconsin Sen. Paul Ryan: “He did a superb job as our vice presidential candidate in 2012 and is performing magnificently as the Budget Committee chairman in the House.”
Rove also mentions such potential candidates as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder — and two Texans, Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry.
“We've got a large number of very qualified and able people,” Rove tells Newsmax. “The question's going to be how do they comport themselves this year and next and what do they do to help advance our cause, not just their own personal cause, but the cause of the Republican Party?
“We'll learn a lot about them by how much they contribute their talent, their efforts, and their energy to winning races we might not otherwise raise. But we've got a long way to go.”
Rove, however, is more confident about the GOP chances of taking back the Senate next year.
“The Republicans can win back the Senate in 2014. It's going to be a steep hill to climb and requires six seats, but that's what we won in 2010.
“There are seven Democrats up next year in states that were carried by Mitt Romney,” he adds, referring to the 2012 GOP presidential candidate. “Six of them in states where Romney received 10 points or more — and already three of those Democrats have given up their seats.
“Of those six seats, three of them are open, three of them incumbents, the fourth seat, which Romney won by 2 percent, is against an incumbent — and, in addition, there are at least two seats up in states that are going to be competitive, highly competitive.
“Do I think we can win? Yes. Do I think it's likely? I think it's an uphill climb but it is a doable thing.”
Rove adds that “I'm feeling good about West Virginia and South Dakota. We need to have a good candidate in Alaska. We need to recruit a good candidate in Montana. We've got some terrific possibilities in Louisiana — and in Arkansas.
“But we've got a long way to go,” Rove reiterates, “and it's really going to be important to get good candidates who can run strong campaigns and not squander opportunities like we did in 2012.”
Editor's Note: Read the Full Newsmax Interview and Excerpts With Karl Rove
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