The Republican Party itself was the big star of this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, says Ed Rollins, who served as national campaign director for the 1984 Reagan-Bush campaign.
"To a certain extent, the Republican Party won," Rollins, now senior political analyst for Fox News, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"I can't tell you who's going to win, but I can tell you that some very significant men and maybe a couple of women might get into it before all is said and done . . . some real serious conservatives," he said Monday.
Rollins says there are several contemporary politicians who have some of the same qualities as Ronald Reagan, including talk-show host Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas.
"He's a great communicator, he's a big personality – which is part of what Reagan had," Rollins said.
"[And] certainly Gov. [Scott] Walker [of Wisconsin] has come through some real tests and real battles. Jeb Bush was a great, effective governor of Florida for two terms. Governing a big state makes a big difference, as Reagan learned."
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Rollins expects "four or five serious governors" in the upcoming presidential race "and certainly a couple people like [Sen.] Rand Paul and others" from the Senate.
But the selection process is not without problems and the need for big money, he said.
"The dilemma that we face is that we have a primary process that causes problems in the sense that we've got the first four, which are Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina," he said.
"And my sense is if you want to be a serious candidate, you've got to come out of one of those probably winning two out of the first four to keep moving forward.
"[It's an] enormous amount of money to run today . . . in excess of $1 billion when you get to a general [election]. But you've got to add $50 to $75 million to get through the primary process, and they're all talking about starting after the midterms, which means you really have to raise $1 million a week to be a viable candidate.''
The issues, Rollins says, run down party lines.
"My sense is this is going to be an election in which [President Barack] Obama's going to talk about a redistribution of wealth and minimum wage and Democrats are going to follow suit," he said.
"We're going to talk about how this president took one-sixth of the nation's economy and did an overhaul of it without basically taking any input from Republicans and it's now failing and failing miserably.
"At the same time, it did not do one single thing to bring down the cost of healthcare. So, that's a very strong issue and we could win the Senate on it."
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