The anti-tax Club for Growth is "searching" for a Republican contender to endorse in 2016 even though the conservative group failed to back a candidate in the previous two presidential elections, according to Politico
Six potential candidates, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, made their pitches for that endorsement this weekend to 200 of the group's wealthiest donors at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida.
The organization is sorting through the White House hopefuls and coming up with a handful of favorites while eliminating candidates who do not line up with its tax-cutting and limited-government values, Politico reported.
The candidate who the group may end up supporting will back the Club's opposition to the Export-Import Bank and ethanol subsidies while also planning to continue the ban on earmarks.
"At this point, we'll focus on bringing economic issues front and center," Club for Growth President David McIntosh, a former Indiana congressman, told Politico. "We'll see how the race develops. To be honest, we're ready to think about [an endorsement]."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will probably get the cold shoulder from the Club, according to the political news website. But the field is still wide open for possible conservative candidates or those who lean to the right.
"We've got maybe an embarrassment of riches here in that we've never been able to support somebody before, and now we may get overwhelmed with people we think are worthy of support," said Chris Chocola, who recently stepped down as the group's president after five years.
"It will eventually get narrowed down to a few, and we'll make a decision then. But since I've been around, we've always been searching for the one."
Frayda Levin, a New Jersey donor who sits on the Club's board, is supportive of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, while McIntosh is friends with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a fellow Hoosier who may jump into the presidential race in May, Politico noted.
Pence told the Club crowd: "Thank you for supporting the Republican wing of the Republican Party over this decade and a half. Feel good about that because we're winning."
And during his speech, Cruz said: "This is a room of courageous conservatives. I don't think there's any group in this nation making a bigger difference right now than the Club for Growth. I do know for a fact that I would not be in the Senate if it were not for the Club for Growth."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal blamed GOP moderates in his state legislature for killing his plan to end the state income tax last year, according to the website.
"Instead of abandoning supply-side economics, why don't we actually try to implement them for once?" Jindal said. "We've never seen them actually shrink the size of government or actually reduce spending."
that Jeb Bush spent the weekend trying to convince the skeptical audience of his conservative values. "You're one of the reasons … we don't have an income tax in our state," he said during his speech.
Rubio thanked the Club for its support during his Senate primary challenge
to then-sitting Gov. Charlie Crist in 2009, saying: "I'll tell you unequivocally, there is no way I would have won that race…if it hadn't been for the Club for Growth's support."
Politico's James Hohmann said that "a lack of consensus" may prevent the organization, formed in 1999, from getting behind one single candidate, and instead focus on down-ballot races.
Hohmann added: "But also under discussion during closed strategy sessions the past three days is the idea that the group could give its seal of support to multiple candidates. Or they could just run attack ads against the people they don't like.
"They might also wait until the field has winnowed down to two or three finalists before throwing their full backing behind whoever they believe is most supportive of their free-market agenda."
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