An early crush of Republican presidential contenders might complicate party leaders' plan to avoid a replay of 2012 by mounting a less hectic and populated primary season focused on a few strong candidates and greater momentum for a consensus nominee, Politico
But the lower-profile hopefuls and supposed long-shots for 2016 are making no apologies for their interest, see "little downside" in trying, and "have already become fixtures on the early-state circuit, particularly in New Hampshire," Politico reports.
"There's a great sense that there are a lot of very good Republican candidates but that the field is wide open," former New York Gov. George Pataki
, one of many in the mix, told Politico.
There are as many as two dozen people viewed as potential GOP candidates for 2016, making it a crowded field.
The challenge is standing out in that crowd, especially when the Democratic contest is so far shaping up to be a party of one: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"I realize that it’s a long shot to be president," New York Rep. Peter King, a presidential hopeful known for his emphasis on public safety and national security, told Politico.
"But once you’re in that arena," King said of the primaries and debates, "you can get coverage of issues you may not otherwise get if you’re not considered as a possible presidential candidate.”
John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, likewise told Politico, "My objective is to get national security at the top of the agenda."
"I'm not motivated here predominantly by personal ambition," said Bolton, but he added, "The field is so large, so fluid," that anything can happen.
Republican activists in some of the early primary states are not discouraging that hopeful outlook.
"Jimmy Carter, no one knew who he was, then he came up, shook hands worked hard," Matt Mayberry, an official with the Strafford County Republican Committee in New Hampshire, told Politico, referring to the Democrat ex-president.
Some of the GOP prospects Mayberry has invited to meet with Granite Staters have very low profiles. He told Politico he took an interest, for example, in former one-term GOP Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich after seeing a book of his in a store.
Ehrlich told Politico that he's taking the attention in stride: "Right now, there’s no rush, there’s no hurry, there’s no committee, there’s no fundraising."
He also said he has a "desire to audition for a more national stage."
The question is how much latitude the national party will give to the likes of Ehrlich, Bolton, King, Pataki, Jim Gilmore, and Carly Fiorina and others who might join the race or express a strong interest in doing so.
"Republicans are hopeful that reforms to their presidential election calendar — a shorter primary season and fewer debates — will eliminate that circus element that damaged the party heading into 2012," write Kyle Cheney and Katie Glueck of Politico.
One presumed front-runner and establishment favorite, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, predicted that "there will be some discipline" in candidate selection in 2016.
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