The Republican National Convention minted the official GOP ticket, but it also set the stage for 2016, and early chatter focuses on vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, according to The Hill
Last week’s performance by the 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman moves him up on the list, even to the top of the list, according to one colleague. He wowed delegates with his speech Wednesday night and showed he can handle to national spotlight.
“Paul Ryan, if something was to go wrong, would be the early front-runner to be the nominee in four years,” Rep. Devin Nunes of California, who said he is close with Ryan, told Politico.
Party veterans told The Hill that the convention gives Ryan a boost and could help establish him as the clear frontrunner in 2016 if Mitt Romney loses to President Barack Obama in November. A Romney victory would be even better, of course.
“The fact that someone can combine the command of policy with a personal presentation is a dynamite combination,” former Rep. Ernest Istook of Oklahoma told The Hill. “Other people may have their foot in the door, but he’s already inside the house, visiting with the prospect.”
Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, compared Ryan’s situation to that of the first President George Bush.
“He’s where Bush was in 1980 when Reagan picked him, and eight years later he’s the nominee,” he told The Hill.
A Romney/Ryan loss, though, would give him less of an advantage.
“He will have gotten a boost, but not quite the same one,” Barnes said.
Even if Ryan is the frontrunner, the field is crowded. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was praised roundly for his speech Thursday night.
Writing in The Atlantic
, columnist Clive Crook observed, “Rubio's quite something, by the way, isn't he? All that nonsense about the GOP's problem with Hispanics: He's most of the solution all by himself, standing right there. Like Obama, a twofer: excellent speaker, model ethnic-minority American. Yes, he'll be a hell of a presidential contender when the time comes…”
Another potential 2016 candidate, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, didn’t impress as much as expected.
“I don’t think he hurt himself with the speech, really, but I don’t think it really was as productive as some people thought it might be,” Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican of Ohio, told The Hill.
Christie still generates excitement, though. When asked about a potential 2016 run by Christie, New Jersey Assemblyman John Amodeo, a delegate at the convention, pumped his fist in excitement, according ot the Newark Star-Ledger. "I don’t want to be negative, and I really hope that Romney wins," he told the paper. "But God forbid, if he loses, I would love to support the governor."
Ross Baker, professor of political science at Rutgers University, said Christie’s speech was not particularly memorable, but it successfully established him as the GOP’s presidential front-runner in 2016 if Romney loses.
“It was not a great speech, but it did the job,” he told the Burlington County Times.
Barnes told The Hill that Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico won big at the convention because she was little known outside of her state previously.
One senior Republican strategist told The Hill that former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida is the heavy favorite.
“Jeb Bush is the granddaddy of them all,” the strategist told The Hill. Republicans may decide a third Bush in the White House would be too much for voters, however.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hit a home run with her Wednesday night speech, setting off 2016 speculation.
According to the Washington Post, Rice has made an effort to stay in the political game in recent months. A recent Fox News poll
in advance of Ryan’s selection as Romney’s running mate showed that Rice was the No. 1 pick for vice president, with 30 percent of Republicans picking her, well ahead of Ryan and even Rubio, the Post reported.
Delegates weren’t ready to say Ryan leads the 2016 field, but they had high praise for him nevertheless.
“I think he’s great. I think he’s wonderful. But I don’t think that gives him a lock,” Diana Bratli of Minnesota told The Hill. “It’s a wide open field.”
“He’s on the national ticket. In terms of jockeying for position, that would give you the inside lane, but I think there are several,” Pennsylvania delegate Charlie Gerow told The Hill. “It’s just going to be a question of who can capture the hearts, minds and imaginations of a new breed of voters.”
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