What Are The GOP’S Options In The 2016 Presidential Campaign Now?

What Are The GOP’S Options In The 2016 Presidential Campaign Now?

Here's a rundown of the most-discussed potential Republican presidential candidates for 2016.
Liz Mair
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Awake, tired politicos, rub your eyes, and grab a large cup of coffee. 2014 is over. Even with the Louisiana race still technically undecided, it ended last night. Today the other “it” begins… it is the first day of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Now begins roughly a year, perhaps a year and a half, of insane speculation, horserace over-analyzing, moment-by-moment focus on the latest gaffes, endorsements, fundraising numbers, clever and stupid social media ploys, debate wins and losses. In a couple of months, you will already be sick of it and desperately want it to end.

But it is beginning, and as the Republican party, its grassroots, its donors, even its occasional voters turn their eyes to the race, it is a good time to take a snapshot of where each prospective candidate stands: Assets, liabilities, and inexplicable oddities. Off to the races we go.

Jeb Bush

Let’s just kill all excitement right upfront and state that Jeb Bush will not run for president.

There are numerous reasons for this. For starters, being president is a pretty sucky job, actually, as is running for president, and both are certainly monster-sucky jobs compared to the things Jeb does now. But perhaps more importantly, when literally everyone in your family has run for president, and you’re in the younger generation, yet another elder Bush running for president slightly risks poisoning the well, something Jeb is sensitive to.

There is also plenty of evidence to back up the conclusion that Jeb wants to look like he might run for president and scare the crap out of the entire rest of the prospective field and make them listen to what he’s got to say and heed his advice and instincts on things like education and immigration and the importance of executive leadership. However, looking like you’re running is not the same as running, and people close to Jeb know it. Jebites who would—if Jeb were seriously considering running—be staying away from other candidates like the plague are engaging in a lot of candidate dating. In fact, some of them have even already put a proverbial ring on it.

Jeb will not run, unless no one in the field can speak to his issues on even some vaguely acceptable level and unless no governors with a strong track record of leadership jump in. The odds of both of those things failing to occur are slim at best. The prospective field is actually pretty free market and anti-restrictionist when it comes to immigration; it includes people who have focused on education in a serious way; and some strong executive types appear likely to run.

Ergo, no Jeb. This would be sad for political reporters if indeed it were acknowledged, but of course it won’t be. Expect the Jeb buzz to continue. Expect him to never emerge as a candidate unless something seriously, seriously weird and currently completely unforeseen happens.

Chris Christie

Chris Christie is, not surprisingly, very likely to run.

On the plus side of the ledger, Christie gets stuff done and takes no prisoners. He does what a governor is supposed to do, and what a president fundamentally is responsible for: He executes. This is a lot of the reason big donors love Christie. That gives him a big starting advantage: Money. Money with which to hire the best staff. Money with which to build out the best technology infrastructure. Money, money, money.

There is also an element of the famed John McCain “straight talking” to Christie, though with no dark sense of humor infiltrating his comments. A lot of voters, and not just (or even mainly) Republicans, like this. It reads as no-nonsense, and certainly will help keep Christie out of the inauthenticity hole Mitt Romney fell into so regularly.

However, there is a flip side to this, also. A recent Buzzfeed piece about Christie on the 2014 campaign trail was categorized under the tag of “yelling,” and that is a pretty accurate reflection of what most people perceive him as doing, always. There’s a fine line between a guy who can be a dick and get stuff done and a guy who’s just a bully. Christie needs to stay on the right side of that line, and it won’t be easy with the media up in his face.

Christie could be forgiven for thinking this will be easy to handle, since he’s operated in the toughest media market in the country throughout his time as governor, and went through a proverbial crapstorm where the Bridgegate scandal was concerned. But the reality is—and any seasoned communications operative who has worked presidential campaigns will tell you this—what Christie has experienced to date is nothing compared to what will hit him the second he steps into this arena. It is not clear that he or his current team is prepared for it. Given Christie’s propensity for engaging in screaming matches with liberals and hecklers and other irritants, it is also frankly not clear that Christie’s vocal chords are ready for this.

Christie needs to have a game plan for appropriately managing what will be vastly heightened scrutiny from hostile forces, including members of the media and of his own party who think he’s way too far to the Left on everything from guns to taxes to abortion (even if this latter assertion is dubious ) and even those who resent the comments he made in defense of Romneycare in 2012.

Christie also needs to have a game plan with regard to balancing out the basic energy requirements of retail politicking on the trail, dialing for dollars, and doing everything else a candidate must do. Christie is to be commended on his weight loss, but put it this way: I am a relatively energetic, slim woman and there is no way in hell that I could cope with the day-to-day schedule of a presidential candidate attempting to compete in either Iowa or New Hampshire. This is going to be a challenge for Christie, like it or not.

Ted Cruz

Here’s your other big let-down: I think it highly unlikely Ted Cruz will run for president.

Pick your jaw up off the floor and consider this: Right now, Ted Cruz has life just about as sweet as it can be, if you’re a politician. And in January, it’s only going to get better. Intra-party strife will increase, but Republicans will actually be dictating the agenda in both houses of Congress. More focus will be placed on the question of what is the heart and soul of the Republican Party as the race for president gets underway. Cruz is going to be in high demand as all of this plays out. Just look at all the 2014 candidates who wanted him by their side.

Even as it stands today, Cruz is the rock star of the party. The guy who is lauded by the grassroots all day, every day, for his efforts to defund Obamacare, slash spending, or go after Obama on really any issue that is hot and topical. By maintaining that position, he already gets to do all the fun things that a presidential candidate does: Give speeches, go on TV, blast Democrats, blast RINOS, focus on specific areas of interest in the Senate, ratchet up all kinds of wins there. He also has to do none of the things that are tedious and annoying: Calling donors, spending months out on the road eating terrible food and being frozen cold while working to win the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary.

Cruz has it absolutely great right now. If he runs for president, there’s a significant risk that he jeopardizes all of that in what would be a pretty big gamble (because running for president always is) that entails no additional fun and a lot of additional drudgery. Unless he really, really, really just wants to be president (and he seems to really, really, really love being who he is right now), this just doesn’t seem like a logical move.

One caveat is that one does occasionally hear grumbling from people who are “kind of a big deal” in Texas about how Cruz is really representing himself more than the state, how he’s lost popularity there since being elected, and so on and so forth. If this is real, and Cruz is seeing it in his polling, and if he is also seeing in presidential polling an opening where he could do well, he might then consider running because if it’s giving a presidential run a shot and opening up some new horizons, or sticking around ready to slog it out in 2018 when people he needs to perform well in a re-election campaign just can’t be bothered with him, well, then he might go the presidential route. But this seems unlikely as it stands. Thus, the safer bet is, no Ted Cruz candidacy, just rumors and anticipation.

Carly Fiorina

This is one of the lesser-discussed possibilities out there, but I include it because I get a lot of questions about it.

Carly Fiorina was widely rumored to be in the running for the vice presidential nomination spot in 2008. While she lost her 2010 Senate run in California, she outperformed the much more moderate, much better funded Meg Whitman and beat the voter registration gap in the state. She is generally considered to be one of the most deft destroyers of Democratic narratives and talking points where Sunday political shows and other on-the-spot, high-visibility environments are concerned. And the launch of her UP Project and its activity in places like New Hampshire has generated a lot of chatter about what exactly she is up to and whether she might run for president (as have her answers to questions about exactly that).

It is not clear at this stage exactly what Carly is up to, but assuming she could at least be toying with the idea of running, it’s worth noting a few assets and liabilities.

First, in the plus column, Carly is an excellent communicator, and a fierce and effective attack dog. She is also smart and knowledgeable, and in a range of areas that go well beyond business and technology. She is strong in debates, and it’s easy to imagine her going head-to-head with Hillary Clinton and performing well. She would likely run a more tech-savvy campaign than many other prospective candidates, which matters because even if Republicans come on leaps and bounds from our present circumstances, we still lag behind Democrats and this will be a significant disadvantage in 2016. Carly also probably has better data on what works with women, and what does not, than other prospective candidates, and that will matter if we are running against Hillary Clinton or indeed Democrat veterans who know how to widen the gender gap and kill Republicans off with it. Perhaps most of all, Carly has shown she is willing to do deeply unpopular things that she believes are right and never waver in the face of extreme, harsh criticism. This matters as a leadership quality. It is also something that conservatives wish they would see more of in conservative candidates, and Carly is, as it happens, quite a bit more conservative than most people would guess.

By the same token, however, Carly’s willingness to persevere with an unpopular strategy where she believes in it and take a pounding if needs be is also the root of much criticism of her time in business, and that would be a recurrent theme in attacks against her. Mitigating that on a national scale would be much tougher than doing so in even a big state; as we saw in 2012, attacks on candidates’ business records play very differently in states like Ohio than many candidates expect. That is something that GOP primary voters are more attuned to now than they were as the 2012 cycle got underway.

Carly would also face the challenge of having very minimal name ID outside business circles compared to someone like Christie, Paul, or Walker. That means a lot of time on the trail or a lot of money to spend to get on people’s radars. Carly could self-fund to a point, but not to the point that most people would assume. It is also a fallacy to assume that as a woman, she would automatically prove more attractive or appealing to women than all the male candidates, though as seen in her California race, a lot of male voters do rally to strong women.

Finally, with any candidate whose background is more in business than in politics, there is a risk she will prove too businesslike as a candidate. What does this mean? Voters claim to want straight shooters, who will speak the truth even if it is controversial. The reality is that these traits are actually more favored by the Securities Exchange Commission, shareholders, and investors. Voters don’t always want to hear the truth on contentious or controversial topics like abortion, globalization, free trade, tax reform, education, job training, immigration, or—perhaps most of all— entitlements. They want to hear things that validate their views and make them feel good, even if it means a candidate spouting total nonsense. Candidates with business backgrounds frequently get into trouble because they don’t tell voters what they want to hear nearly enough, and they can be too focused on “doing” and not enough on “saying.” Carly has more experience in the political realm than your average business candidate, but this remains one reason why career politicians often trump candidates with a private sector background in tough races. And of course, running for president of the United States is the toughest race on the planet.

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee will not run for president. Huck already has the ability to influence the party and force members of it to speak to his constituency’s concerns (does anyone really think that Rick Santorum or a similar candidate will not hew the line that Huckabee’s voters expect to hear on gay marriage or abortion?).

He also has the ability to do so while not having to slog it out every day on the campaign trail, deal with attacks on himself and his record (which he handled more testily than most candidates during 2008), and make a lot more money by staying out of the race. For a guy with Huckabee’s background, that is not to be underestimated.

Also, remember that with the expectation that Hillary will run, there are a lot of reporters and researchers spending a lot of time in Arkansas digging up dirt. A lot of what they find will be Hillary-related. But some of it would probably be Huckabee-related, too, and any (further) ethics problems that emerge would tarnish his political, media and business brand.

Running for president just isn’t good business for Huckabee at this point.

Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal is the candidate who has recently most signaled his presidential ambitions, grabbing conservative media attention for everything from his proposed defense policy to his views on Duck Dynasty. He is already working very hard at running for president and getting some attention, mostly from more elite, intellectual conservatives who want a nominee that is smart as a whip, above all else.

That is Jindal’s big strength. With the arguable exception of Rob Portman, he is probably smarter than anyone else who will run for president in 2016 by a large margin (even if he tries to play folksy and average with some of his cultural commentary, the guy is a Rhodes scholar and don’t you forget it). With the country facing a lot of big challenges, which may need to be addressed by someone with a particularly big brain, he will generate more interest than a lot of observers might predict. He also ticks the social conservative box nicely, which will matter to a lot of voters, and he is not an old white guy.

How advantageous this last point would be in a general election, in practice, is an open question, but the fact is, a lot of Republican voters are tired of being labeled as racists and supporting someone who doesn’t fit the stereotypical Republican mold (on numerous counts) can be a big draw for conservatives particularly irked by the racism charge. That they’d be able to tick this box while also supporting a very conservative guy who happens to be much smarter than your average bear is even better.

On the down side, however, Jindal is perceived as overly bland and boring, perhaps too Mr. Rogers-like by a lot of voters still, and he will have to work to overcome those preconceived notions. It will probably be better for him to address this hurdle by emphasizing his smarts, though he does display an interest in attempting to rectify the problem by engaging in cultural commentary that strikes some people as goofy and utterly inauthentic. There are a lot of people who would prefer to think of Bobby Jindal as reading the Economist for fun (as he probably does), rather than devotedly tuning into Duck Dynasty (does he really?).

Jindal also remains little-known, and will have to spend a lot of time, energy and money getting known by primary voters. He simply lacks the public profile of a Christie, Perry, Paul, or Walker.

John Kasich

Kasich is another figure who has been vigorously signaling his intention to run for president of late. This has a lot of conservatives downright confused, as they do not understand where a guy who expanded Medicaid and defended it, and has pissed off some vocal conservatives in his state royally, gets votes from more-conservative-than-your-average-voter primary voters. To this, Kasich fans offer rejoinders involving his pro-life stance and policies (things that do still matter a great deal to a lot of folks in the grassroots, to be fair).

By various accounts, Kasich does not seem to care about the rifts with conservatives in his home state, or what people think about his Medicaid expansion. His bet seems to be that voters will be interested in an executive with a business background and strong views on budgetary matters who won re-election in the most hotly-contested state in the country in a landslide. That seems like an argument that will be more persuasive with donors than voters. But if he has the cash, the voters may come in due course.

One less-discussed factor is the impact that Kasich’s former career at Lehman Brothers could potentially have. This was a line of attack that various Ohio politicos and observers feel was actually leveraged less than they expected in 2010, but it seems likely that in a packed GOP primary field, it could be raised more vigorously. Again, after the experience of 2012, Republican voters may be gun-shy about supporting a candidate who is potentially very prone to having his business record attacked. They know how effective such attacks were against Romney, and Lehman is a better-known name than Bain was at the outset of that campaign.

Rand Paul

Depending on your brand of conservatism, your views on the importance of outreach to non-traditional GOP voters, and your level of tolerance for fiery rhetoric and a lot of Republican self-flagellation, you either love Rand Paul or hate him. Very few politically-tuned-in Americans, and even fewer Republicans, have no opinion of him or a neutral or mild opinion of him.

In the “love” camp are libertarians, a lot of self-described Tea Partiers, Republicans who believe the party needs to do vastly more to engage minority voters including shifting away from policies many minorities view as problematic, Silicon Valley Republicans, younger voters, and a lot of people who wouldn’t normally vote in Republican primaries (note that these categories also overlap). This makes technology and the digital aspect of campaigning potential real strengths that Paul will have over other candidates (he has access to a pool of talent that other candidates will not). It also creates an imperative for him to do much, much more in terms of leveraging that technology to organize and turn out his voters, because a large segment of potential Paul supporters are not people who would definitely participate in caucuses or vote in primaries absent significant, concerted pushing from the campaign. Paul is interesting to, and has the provisional backing of, a surprisingly large number of big GOP donors, as well as a bevy of potential small-dollar donors. Paul ultimately has the potential to be something close to the Republican equivalent of 2008 Democratic candidate Barack Obama (insofar as the primary race is concerned), if he plays his cards right, runs a tight ship, and exploits bipartisan concerns surrounding civil liberties issues (which could be heightened with a prospective Hillary Clinton presidency). Remember all the chatter about Obamacans, and Independents and Democrats who couldn’t get on board with Hillary in 2008 because of her votes on the Iraq War and her perceived hawkishness in general (with implications for things like surveillance policy)? They still exist, and they also exist in reverse. Call them the Paulocrats, and Independents and Republicans who feel that a shift to a more isolationist yet realist foreign policy might be smart.

On the other side of the coin, however, there are a lot of people who don’t like Paul, and some significant liabilities he will need to deal with. Neoconservatives, foreign policy hawks, and strongly pro-Israel (but non-evangelical) voters generally hate and fear him for deep, philosophical reasons. Some social conservatives think he’s a bit too soft for their taste. Some more mainstream Republicans worry about his positions, which to them read as rather extreme (even if many Americans might objectively disagree) and foresee an easy Hillary Clinton win if Paul is nominated. Others fret about the potential for some more fringe characters in the libertarian-conservative movement to torpedo his campaign. Concerns on the latter two fronts may prove to be unfounded, but Paul will need a plan to ensure that it is so.

Perhaps more than any other prospective candidate, the media likes to go after Paul and it would be easy for him and his team to conclude that because of this, they’re better prepared to handle a very hostile press corps than any other candidate. It would be a mistake for them to assume this, however, and be complacent about it. Paul represents a significant threat to a lot of powerful interests, and a lot of Democratic Party and liberal organizations especially hate him because he is attractive to certain segments of the Democratic base and is making a serious effort at engaging voters that Democrats consider exclusively theirs and view almost as political demographics to which they are entitled. This would include, for example, minority groups, and most especially African-Americans.

Paul is a threat to such interests, which could make him far more viable than expected, or alternately cause the ruin of his campaign. What is clear is that Paul has a very different set of assets and liabilities to other likely candidates, and may wind up being the most interesting candidate to watch, whether you love him or hate him.

Rick Perry

When the words “Rick Perry” and “presidential candidate” are mentioned in tandem, two things tend to happen. First, people trot out “1, 2, 3” and “oops” jokes. Second, people laugh as if you are the world’s best comedian. But a second Rick Perry candidacy, while not a dead cert, is also not a joke—and perhaps ought not be treated as one.

Everyone knows the knocks on Perry. He is not generally considered to be an epic brainbox, and his 2012 campaign convinced a lot of people that he is dimmer, more gaffe-prone and generally unreliable and incapable as a candidate than he really is. He also has some positions that read as pretty extreme and scary to a lot of mainstream Republicans (recall his views on Social Security, and he is an unabashed social conservative).

But Perry knows how to run a big state, get stuff done, and deal with difficult problems. He is a conservative who has been capable of attracting Hispanic support. He has a solid economic record. People who love him really, really love him (there’s very little lukewarm sentiment about Perry). He is telegenic (yes, this matters). And there are two other major assets Perry has that people too frequently overlook.

First, he is one of two likely contenders who has actually run for president before, and therefore knows just how hard and horrific a presidential campaign really is (the others are just conjecturing right now, and probably underestimating the sheer hell that awaits them, because all first-time candidates do). This enables Perry to better understand what giving 100 percent of his energy and effort really means, and then to prepare to give more than that (whether or not he actually does).

Second, Perry generally has a reputation for being incredibly dangerous when he’s down and discounted. He likes being the underdog, as opposed to being the frontrunner. Right now, the bar couldn’t really be set any lower for Perry where expectations are concerned. Nearly everyone thinks—unfairly, in my view—that he is a blundering dolt who can barely get his name right in a debate. Those expectations will be insanely easy to beat, and if and when Perry does run and begins exceeding them and starts riling up crowds and killing it where retail politics is concerned, he will look much more threatening.

Perry should not be discounted, even though he might best be described as a wild card at this stage.

Rob Portman

Rob Portman is the preferred candidate of a lot of people who matter in the context of a packed GOP primary: More socially moderate voters, who need a candidate to flock to; Republicans looking for someone fundamentally smart and competent and no-frills who can deliver if not excite in debates; DC establishment types who could almost go for Chris Christie but aren’t wild about the yelling; and potentially younger voters who might be sour on Democratic economic policies but also cannot stomach voting for a candidate with whom they disagree on gay marriage (a small, but potentially quite expandable, pool). Portman will interest a lot of bigger donors, and when Jeb fails to enter the race, there will be Bushie types who naturally flock to him. He also could be interesting in a state like New Hampshire, which he knows well having attended Dartmouth and having a child who currently studies there.

On the flip side, Portman might possibly read as even less interesting to your average grassroots activist than Tim Pawlenty when not making out-of-left-field jokes or calling President Obama a doofus. He is not a terribly exciting public speaker (though he is reportedly much better at retail politics, which matters greatly in Iowa and New Hampshire). And social moderates are not a big constituency within the GOP primary voter pool, so while he might be able to start off in a decent position, his ability to hold it is very dependent on other candidates in the race. Portman will also probably be attacked for having served in the Bush administration; it remains to be seen how that will be viewed in 2016.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney will not run in 2016. Yes, yes, there are lots of Romney loyalists—the kind of people who routinely remark about him being such a fundamentally good man—who want him to run, and will not even look at other prospective candidates until he has had “I Will Not Run In 2016” tattooed across his forehead.

But irrespective, Romney will not run. He got dusted in 2012, an election that should have been winnable by a Republican, and is frankly just too disliked by too many people in the party to give this a third go-around. People want a fresh face, not a two-time loser. And, undoubtedly, Ann Romney would like to spend more time with her husband and not watch him be savaged by the media, Democrats, and his party for yet another time.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio’s name has been mentioned less of late as that of a viable prospective presidential candidate, but make no mistake: A lot of big donors still like him, and he is still attractive to a lot of people in the party. The conventional wisdom is that he damaged his brand and his standing by pursuing immigration reform. But a look at GOP presidential nominating history indicates that support for comprehensive immigration reform ultimately helps win nominations, not lose them (Seriously: Go look at how McCain won the nomination; it’s called “Florida” and support for immigration reform ultimately helps, not hurts, there).

Rubio does appear to have faltered a bit more than was optimal and overcorrected when he started taking incoming fire over his support for comprehensive immigration reform. A lot of people view his switch after championing the Gang of Eight bill to talking up his pro-life credentials and opposition to Common Core as rather obvious and craven. But this is at least partially unfair: Rubio is rather socially conservative, and could reasonably have been expected to talk about life issues as a senator, with or without immigration reform having been within his purview.

The real challenges for Rubio are not voter concern about immigration, or his response to being taken to the woodshed by a lot of immigration restrictionists after pushing for the bill. Rather, they are to do with the underlying sense a good chunk of Republicans have that the country has not prospered under a relatively young, inexperienced, charismatic, good-speechmaker with an inspiring personal story involving achieving the American Dream after being born to a foreign parent, and worries that merely switching the philosophy and party label of said individual wouldn’t dramatically improve the outcome. Furthermore, some Republicans say that Rubio may be less enthusiastic about traveling and being away from Florida than other candidates. If that proves to be true, it will be a big problem.

Of course, Rubio could choose to simply run for re-election in 2016. Or he could think of running for governor in 2018—if he wants to spend more time at home, the latter option might appeal more than running for president.

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum will probably run for president. He is not otherwise engaged in pursuits that would keep him out of the race. In the absence of a Santorum run, there is no candidate who can or will speak as aggressively and passionately to his voters’ concerns (primarily social issues), and that would be an intolerable situation for him.

Like Perry, Santorum has run before, which may give him a more realistic view of what the race will entail. That said, Santorum has never seemed particularly inclined to take certain steps that would undoubtedly help him win elections, even when he knows full well what those steps are. As a 2016 candidate, he would very likely continue his pattern of focusing extensively on social issues, on which he is very conservative and about which he can sound extremely preachy, negative, and indeed angry. In the absence of a Romney-type candidate, his ability to engage in blue-collar versus white-collar, wealthy versus working-class fights and have that prove politically expedient would be much diminished.

All this being said, he still has a base in Iowa that is leverageable and the ability to force other candidates to talk about his issues, which oftentimes gets them into trouble without adversely affecting him.

Scott Walker

It is not clear yet whether Scott Walker really wants to run for president. However, if he makes this decision shortly, he could be a formidable candidate.

Walker is adored by many in the GOP base, and that adoration cuts across intra-party divides. A lot of libertarians love him. A lot of mainstream and moderate Republicans love him. A lot of neoconservatives and hawks love him. About the only people who worry deeply about a Walker nomination are people who know there is a hard ceiling on his potential levels of support in a general election, because he is so hated by Democrats and unions.

Make no mistake, those on the left of American politics would go all-out to stop a Walker presidency in a way they probably would not were any other candidate nominated. That said, Walker has already had to contend with this reality a few times in a state that leans blue, and he has prevailed due to a combination of hard work, avoiding procrastination, taking his beatings upfront, and always assuming the very, very worst, preparing for it, and then hoping for the best. Unlike a lot of candidates, Walker is a hard worker and an over-deliverer.

Some Republicans worry that a Clinton-Walker contest would look like a grievous mismatch between someone with boatloads of experience and credibility and someone with relatively little of both. To the extent that Walker looked inexperienced and lacking in credibility two weeks ago, though, that is a perception that may already be changing among some critics.

Others worry that Walker is too boring—another Pawlenty, they say. That charge mostly seems to come from people who haven’t seen Walker up close and personal or at his very best (very often when his family is close by, something he would be well-advised to ensure is a point covered off at most campaign events should he run). Walker is very different to Pawlenty, in some ways good (a more charismatic speaker), and in some ways bad (a far less-built out national political organization).

The latter is probably one of the two biggest challenges facing Walker—his operation is extremely Wisconsin-centric, and he will need to staff up, staff well, and staff fast in order to position himself to run and win.

The other big challenges facing Walker is the same as that about to be confronted by other candidates: He is another Republican who has been subjected to harsh scrutiny by the media and therefore may be under the misapprehension that he and his team are ready to deal with the spotlight that comes with running for president. Like all of them, except for those who have run before or been in a similarly-scrutinized position (Fiorina, as CEO of Hewlett Packard), if he thinks he’s ready to deal with the hell that may be about to ensue, he will be proved wrong.

So, Off to the Presidential Horseraces

Which of these candidates will in fact enter the fray? Who will be the 2016 nominee? There are simply too many factors in play right now to even guess at an answer. But make no mistake, the potential 2016 field is probably the most philosophically, ethnically, background and gender-diverse that we’ve seen in years. It is also probably the most intriguing and appealing to voters within the party and outside it. Watch closely. It will be an exciting race.

Liz Mair is president of Mair Strategies, LLC. She has consulted for Carly Fiorina, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Scott Walker, and a variety of Fortune 500, major trade association, and large non-profit clients.
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