A plethora of presidential wannabes has stepped up the sniping and snarking as the 2016 run for the White House turns into a Republican stampede — but is the herd headed for a cliff?
While no one officially has announced they're running, several apparent contenders in the wide-open GOP race are pitching themselves hard to the electorate and to potential campaign donors, hiring political operatives, traveling, making speeches and, obviously, revving up their engines early, The Wall Street Journal reports
The first major shake-out of the candidates will occur Jan. 24 in Des Moines, Iowa, at the Iowa Freedom Summit. At least 18 high-profile Republicans, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, financier Donald Trump, outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are expected to attend, RCP reports.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush are not slated to attend, the Summit's website
Iowa Republican Party Co-Chairman Cody Hoefert told RCP: "This is going to be the first big event of the 2016 caucus cycle. It's the first time we're going to see them on a stage side-by-side where we can compare and contrast presentation, style, how they carry themselves. So it'll be a good first test of the prospective candidates."
On the Democrat side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stands virtually alone, securely and demurely awaiting her chance to announce her candidacy, and the question is whether Republican primary squabbling, slicing up voter sentiment and available campaign cash into ever-smaller pieces, will work to Clinton's advantage.
"In 2012, the Republican primary infighting, which got quite heated at times, played to the Obama campaign's advantage," the Journal said. "Republican candidates' attacks on Mr. Romney for his background in venture capital gave the Obama campaign, which was making the same attacks, a lift.
"Given the crowded field among Republicans and the lack of one among Democrats, that dynamic could play out in similar ways in 2016."
Rick Wilson, a Florida Republican consultant, told the Journal: "We've never seen anything remotely like it. There's no analogous situation with three bigfoot characters in the mix."
Paul already has taken potshots at three front-runners, Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Romney, in his New Hampshire appearances, Politico said
Christie, Paul and Walker are lining up advisers and continuing to make "seriously considering" announcements, as is former New York Gov. George Pataki and even Fiorina, Real Clear Politics reports
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