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While we rightly focus on the 2014 primaries and upcoming midterm elections, let's take a break and look in on the field for the 2016 presidential race.
The length of the presidential election cycle is now longer than two years, unfortunately. That means that to get the best candidates, we have to anticipate where things are going to be next year, after the mid-terms. Prospective candidates who work hard for others in 2014 may help themselves in 2016.
On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton is the presumptive nominee, should she decide to run, but she will be forced to run as a continuation of the Obama administration. That might prove difficult in a number of ways, but Clinton has no choice: she hasn't distanced herself from Obama at all before the campaign, and will be unable to do so if she runs. She has to run as Obama II -- if she runs at all.
The current Real Clear Politics polling for Republicans shows no clear front-runner.
The Establishment Is Already Claiming It's Over
In 2012, the steady drumbeat of Mitt Romney's "inevitability" turned off voters, depressed turnout in Republican primaries, and caused donors to avoid other candidates. Some "powerful insiders" may be trying to draft Jeb Bush, or maybe it's just the same inevitability meme revving up:
Many if not most of 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s major donors are reaching out to Bush and his confidants with phone calls, e-mails and invitations to meet, according to interviews with 30 senior Republicans. One bundler estimated that the “vast majority” of Romney’s top 100 donors would back Bush in a competitive nomination fight.
Ramesh Ponnuru argued that Bush is a viable establishment candidate, despite his last name. Bush would be a divisive candidate, not just for Republicans, but would be forced constantly to distance himself from his brother and father during the general election, as well.
Florida insiders say he's running. The Week went further to say Bush is Republicans' "only option." After all of that prep work by others, Bush himself said Wednesday he's thinking about it. He'll have to do a lot of explaining over his support for the Common Core, over saying that breaking immigration laws can be an act of love, and over his questionable business deals.
The trouble is that we've heard Bushes run twice as conservatives before, and twice seen them fail to govern that way. As Ace of Spades put it,
I haven't seen this much buzz and hype about a product America had no particular desire for since Cop Rock.
There will be an unhappy ending to a Bush nomination, predicts United Liberty's Jason Pye.
That doesn't stop establishment types from implying, as in this snide, insulting, and race-baiting column, that all opposition to Bush's immigration reform stances are based on dislike for foreigners and that he's the inevitable nominee. All of that is, in a word, poppycock.
That same post is among a pack of articles attacking Rand Paul, both from the right and the left. This week it's Paul; next week it could be someone else. Conservatives buying into the attacks on the various candidates need to know that the other side will try to pick our guys off one by one, trying to clear the field for their guy (or gal). If you fail to defend an ally, or even worse, join in the attacks on candidates you don't particularly support, you will find allies scarce when your favorite is under the spotlight.
Other Possible Candidates
Probably not running:
While I'd prefer to help elect some of those candidates over others of them, it's a good thing that we have such a large and diverse pool of potential small-government candidates to pick from. For once, it would be nice to see a Republican debate that puts winning issues like jobs and spending back on the table. It doesn't have to be the "next guy" in line.
Candidates who are thought to be inexperienced or too young to win still need to think about running in 2016. It usually takes more than one campaign to be elected president. All of them can help their cause by skipping a fund raiser or two for their 2016 campaign and helping out in 2014.