While we are over two years away from election day, for now, the protagonists appear to be Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Mike Pence, Paul Rand, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker.
Five are current or former governors, with Rubio, Cruz and Paul grabbing attention from the US Senate.
According to the article, the preliminary race to become Republican presidential candidate in 2016 are taking new turns. After Gov. Chris Christie's “Bridgegate” and Jeb Bush's game out, room is now open to candidates such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
The most important division line in the group of candidates, which also includes Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, is, according to Burns and Haberman, is that between the prepared and the unprepared. Rubio and Jindal have moved ahead because they are already preparing behind the scenes, while candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker “ look powerful on paper but have done little to capitalize on their promise.”
Jim Merill, Mitt Romney's former New Hampshire strategist, said: “While each is following a unique strategy to ramp up their operations, I’m particularly struck by Bobby Jindal’s aggressive outreach and early organizing, Rand Paul’s smart messaging on privacy and organizational strength and Marco Rubio’s discipline at playing the long game.”
Burns's and Haberman's article also takes a closer look at some of the candidates. Marco Rubio “has surrendered himself with presidential-level strategists and policy advisers from the outset.” He has also paid “hefty sums” to specialized consultants, including Republican data analytics firm 0ptimus and digital consultant Mike Harinstein.
Bobby Jindal has formed two independent groups to push his national message: Stand up Washington (a federal PAC) and America Next (a policy nonprofit). His consultants include the pollsters and ad men at OnMessage, Inc., a company that has worked for Jindal for ten years. Furthermore, Jindal has made four trips to New York City, former Christie turf, as well as trips to other major cities.
After the Fort Lee traffic scandal, or “Bridgegate,” Christie was forced to break off from his former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, and that affected his campaign negatively. Even though Christie has been to Florida and Michigan and will be going to Utah this month in his capacity of RGA head, a veteran GOP hand said “He's lost the thing that made him special. He's lost the authenticity.”
Rand Paul is among the most active candidates, having traveled to the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina and the West Coast money corridor, but he has made few additions to his staff since his 2010 Senate Race. However, he is expected to add more staff later. Doug Stafford, the front and center of the campaign, said: “Should he choose to run, our organization is ready.”
Together with Rand Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry belongs to the group of “semi-prepared” candidates. Perry “has given strong signals that he hopes to run for president a second time,” and the nonprofit Americans for Economic Freedom is now running national ads promoting Texas job growth under Perry. According to Burns and Haberman, “neither Paul nor Perry would be prepared to jump into a presidential race tomorrow — but it’s a good bet that if they had to take off a month from now, they could clear the organizational runway.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz might be Rand Paul's closest rival in terms of media profile and credibility with the party's activist base. Like Paul, he has traveled around to meet with potential donors. Preliminary 2016 polling places Cruz in the front.
Jeb Bush, viewed my many GOP members as their answer to Hillary Clinton, is a popular candidate among the wealthiest Republicans. Bush has met with donors and discussed running with members of his inner circle; however, that circle hasn't change much since he left office more than five years ago, except for a few new additions – Romney campaign alum Kristy Campbell and aide Josh Venable, for example. Furthermore, the Politico article says, “there's no sign of a ramp-up in Bush's idiosyncratic political pace.” One of the reasons might be is built-in prominence in the party. A Republican operative said that Bush is “the only one in the field who doesn't have to sell himself.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence represent “some of the brightest spots in the GOP's state-level comeback since 2010.” Nonetheless, Walker is facing a rough reelection fight with Democrat Mary Burke this year. He has not worked to assemble a 2016 campaign machinery and is not expected to do so until the end of the year. Pence has only been Governor for a little more than a year, and he hasn't explored the possibility of running for presidency. On the other hand, he has met with prominent conservative activists who have urged him to run.
Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee are “practically clones” in the 2016 race. They are both past Iowa caucus winners and have significant media profiles and “unassailable Christian conservative credibility.” Both have said that they are open to running in 2016. Santorum still have a list of 400,000 small donors through his political group Patriot Voices. He's also releasing a book next month, “Blue Collar Conservatives.” Former Arkansas governor Huckabee has maintained his national profile through his Fox News show and numerous book projects.