Decision 2016: The Elephants in the Room

With the 2016 Presidential Election looming, let’s take a look at some of the potential candidates…

Chris Christie: 7/1

The outspoken New Jersey Governor’s star has been on the rise in the GOP since he assumed office in 2010. He was a widely rumoured contender for the 2012 Republican nominee and left everyone guessing until October 2011 (perhaps prophetically) stating ‘now is not my time’.

In the last few months, however, Christie has made a couple of potentially fatal missteps. His much hyped keynote speech at the Republican convention in August “failed to convey the spirit — the essential Christie-ness — that millions have seen in YouTube videos of the New Jersey governor in action.” In the wake of hurricane Sandy he stridently (and repeatedly!) praised the disaster relief efforts of Obama and even posed for photos with the incumbent president. This has inspired ire amongst his party faithful, especially because of the timing, even gaining him the powerful enemy of Rupert Murdoch who tweeted ‘Christie…must re-declare for Romney, or take blame for next 4 dire years’.

The Sandy controversy however, styled as straight-talking, honest leadership, has propelled him to the status of national figure in the US and galvanised support for him in New Jersey for his crucial gubernatorial re-election campaign in 2013. I predict this isn’t the last we’ll see of Governor Chris Christie.

Marco Rubio: 7/1

Senator Marco Rubio was a frontrunner for the Romney campaign’s veep nomination but was pipped at the post by Paul Ryan. This is potentially the best thing that could have happened to him; he has only been in state office since 2011 and can now use the next four years to increase his exposure and experience in high office.

Rubio’s parents are Cuban immigrants and he therefore embodies the crucial rags to riches story that the Republican Party craves to appeal to the ‘people’. However, he has been known in the past to slightly bend the truth of his history by claiming that his parents were political migrants forced out of Cuba by the Castro regime, when in fact they emigrated for economic reasons prior to the revolution.  Hispanics constitute almost 17% of the American population and they are growing at four times the rate of the rest of the nation- by 2050 they will make up 30% of the US population. This has so far proved an elusive demographic for the Republicans with 70% of Hispanics in favour of the Democrats. Rubio could therefore be a key weapon in the fight to capture crucial Hispanic votes in 2016.

It is also in Rubio’s favour that he is from, and represents in the senate, the state of Florida. Alongside Ohio, Florida is the most important battleground state: as proven powerfully in the 2000 presidential election result. Rubio also appeals to both the right of the party (he has been hailed as the ‘crown prince’ of the tea party) and the more moderate wing (he has been declared a solid ‘rank and file’ Republican). He has a potent combination of attributes, and if the Republicans are truly ready to nominate a minority candidate, he is their best bet for President in 2016.

Paul Ryan: 12/1

When his nomination for VP was announced he gave the Romney campaign a much needed bounce in the polls and he put in a solid performance at the Republican convention. Ryan has an incredible 13 years of experience in office. He is currently on a crusade in Congress to rein in government spending and slash the deficit – an aim which really chimes with certain demographics in the US. Ryan is so committed to saving money he sleeps on a couch in his House of Representatives office!

His politics (and ideology) are to the very-right wing of the Republican Party and it has been suggested he was selected as VP candidate in part to appease the tea party movement. He hails from a small town in the swing state of Wisconsin but hasn’t connected as well with the Midwest blue collar workers as Romney had hoped. If he could work on this appeal then this could be one of his strongest cards in 2016.

Ryan tends to be a little light on the truth in his rhetoric with a recent study showing that on average 43% of what he says in his speeches are lies.  He could also struggle with being permanently associated in the public consciousness with Romney’s failed presidential bid. The Republican party have big decisions to make in 2016, but if they want to play it safe the whiter than white Paul Ryan could be their man (although he did win brown-noser of the year in his high school yearbook).

Nikki Haley: 40/1

Although she’s not yet a frontrunner in the odds stakes, Nikki Haley is the only women emerging so far as a serious contender for the nomination.  She served in the House of Representatives from 2005-10 and is currently the Governor of South Carolina. She is the first woman to hold this position in South Carolina and she is only the second ever Indian-American governor in the whole country.

Like Rubio her minority background could be seen as a real positive by the GOP, but she has tried hard to distance herself from her Indian heritage. When she got married she converted from Sikhism to Christianity and she takes an incredibly hard line on immigration. Haley is also vehemently ‘pro-life’ and has voted for numerous bills which restrict abortions and prioritise the rights of the foetus. This stance on reproductive rights could help her connect with right-wing female voters but it might alienate the important moderates and independents.

Republican commentators have praised Haley with one stating that ‘she seems politically savvy in a way that many young stars in the Republican Party aren’t’. For example it is widely believed that her declaration of support for Romney in the primaries, despite holding many divergent views, was a shrewd political calculation. Haley is certainly the women to watch as the nomination dramas unfold- and a much better prospect for the Republicans than Sarah Palin!

(…also watch out for a possible return of the Bush dynasty in the form of ex-Governor of Florida and younger brother of George W…Jeb Bush! 18/1)

PHOTOS/ DonkeyHotey, Bob Jagendorf, Albert N. Milliron