Parsing the Possible GOP 2016 Candidates: Part II, the Middle Ground.

I am one of the first people to complain when talking heads argue about presidential primary polls when primary elections are more than a year away. If 2012 taught us anything it’s that a leading candidate early in the race can be one of the first candidates out by actual election time. Regardless, I’ve been looking at several polls for potential GOP 2016 candidates (mind you, none of them have declared yet) and it’s the same names repeatedly being mentioned. For this I would like to briefly look at the most possible contenders and offer a quick opinion on them. The two most recent national polls I have were conducted by FOX and CNN/Opinion Research. In the former Bush, Perry, Paul, and Christie rounded out the top with Christie, Paul, Huckabee, and Ryan in the latter. Other names in both included Cruz, Walker, Santorum, Ryan, Rubio, and Jindal. In the second installment of this three part series I will look at those candidates who are right in the middle of the pack, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin each averaging around 8 percent in national polls.

Senator Rafael "Ted" Cruz of Texas has quickly surged as a national figure of the GOP and is especially loved by tea party type groups. He is also relatively new to elected office having only been elected to the Senate in 2012. He has made a name for fighting Obamacare (ACA) and championing numerous conservative issues. Along with Senator Paul, Cruz represents a new breed of GOP senator; young, vocal, and eager to anger the mainstream old guard such as Senators McConnell, McCain, and Graham. Polls show him to be in the middle of potential GOP candidates in national polls, winning several conservative straw polls and ranking among the most favorable of potential candidates. The same can't be said of his favorability among fellow GOP colleagues and it is well known that his relationship with Governor Perry is tense. I strongly feel the only reason Cruz is being considered as a serious candidate is due to his rapid ascent in the national spotlight.

I most see Cruz as a Santorum-Gingrich type of candidate. Immensely popular with several GOP constituencies but not enough to ensure an outright majority and plagued by views, style, and rhetoric that won't attract many more. Cruz is incredibly polarizing and shares that same love or hate relationship with voters that Santorum and Gingrich have. Like Gingrich he is quick to speak out and pick fights and in doing so alienates GOP colleagues. His twenty hour plus speech on the Senate floor against the ACA in September 2013 was admirable though ultimately futile. While I accept that life has its ups and downs and this is especially true in politics, his effort still fell far short of rallying a majority of GOP support to him in the Senate. Cruz is seen as having had a significant role in pressuring House Republicans in such a way that ultimately resulted in a government shutdown the following month. The October shutdown which at 16 days stands as the third longest in U.S. history accomplished little, earned the ire of Americans, and fueled a GOP civil war. For these reasons Cruz is painted as an obstructionist by the left and in a primary his GOP opponents will be all the merrier to do so as well.

If Cruz were to enter the race expect the primary to be more bitter, personal, and attack-driven as a result. Cruz will take shots at anyone not as conservative as him such as Perry, Bush, or Christie. If they decide to attack back they will no doubt damage public perception of themselves for stooping to the same level though the damage will be primarily thrust on Cruz though. Cruz has the ability to build a sizable financial war chest but I believe he would exit the race fairly early after only a few primaries. He's popular now but will he be so in 2016? Remember, polarizing hard conservative Rep. Bachmann was at one time the leading candidate after winning several conservative straw polls and look where she ended. Personally I believe Cruz is ill fit to seek the presidency at the moment; he is brand new to elected office and too polarizing. Though he is ambitious and I don't doubt for a second that he will run, I only feel he won't get very far and will only gain more enemies than friends.

Then there is Senator Marco Rubio of Florida who like Cruz is another fast rising Senate star of the GOP. He has taken numerous steps that show an intention to eventually run for the presidency. Like other candidates he has been touring early battleground states such as Iowa and New Hampshire while speaking at major GOP related events where prospective donors can and are being courted. He also has a book coming out later this year after the fall mid-terms. Rubio had a great deal of support early on but took a bit of a hit when immigration legislation he helped write was poorly received last year. Now though he is regaining momentum in several states. I don't see Rubio winning states in the primaries and caucuses though, rather coming in second or third in many. Ultimately I see Rubio as the most likely in the current field of prospective candidates to be named as a running mate.

So far Rubio has been collecting donations in droves. His conservative fiscal policy ideas and more mainstream views on social affairs compared to other senators such as Cruz and Paul are refreshing. These same views are also more acceptable to the majority of GOP voters and coupled with his rather inoffensive character, he is well liked. At the same time he is highly knowledgeable on issues and is currently working towards expanding the topics he can speak on and adequately debate. Benefitting Rubio is that he has managed to avoid much flack that was created by the government shutdown, something his colleague Cruz can't escape. Additionally, he isn't afraid to listen to those who don't share his viewpoints and can put forth his positions with a great deal of clarity. The one memorable gaffe he has up until now was the sip of water he took during the GOP rebuttal to the SOTU in 2013. Embarrassing and fodder for comedy, yes, a negative portrayal of his ideas and beliefs, no.

Many say that in 2016, the GOP must court the Hispanic voter if it is to be successful in winning the presidency. Rubio like Cruz are both Cuban-Americans and there are those who say that since they are Hispanic, either must win for the GOP to prevail. I don't believe this; rather I believe Rubio especially can bring civility to the debate on immigration, a concern that is heavy among the Hispanic community. In a campaign I also expect Rubio to stay above the fray at least among potential other candidates from the senate like Cruz or Paul. I see Rubio and I see maturity, intelligence, and compassion. He's not a brawler nor should he be as he commands a leading presence that supplants such a brash fighting quality. Despite all of this I don't see him winning the primary or even coming in second ultimately. Supporters will say Rubio has about the same number of years of elected experience as President Obama but I say let him further mature. Rubio needs executive experience, he needs a mentor because he is prime material for post 2016 presidential elections. I strongly believe Rubio would make an excellent choice as a running candidate if any of the potential candidates with gubernatorial experience are to prevail. If he wants to run, fine, I feel confident that any campaign of his will be mature and non-damaging to him and will serve to enhance his experience.

Finally there is Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin who was chosen as Romney's running mate back in 2012. There has been much speculation of Ryan considering a presidential run and this month he will be embarking on a national tour to promote his book The Way Forward which outlines his vision of the GOP in the future. A national tour while promoting his views on the future of the party all sound like early attempts at building a base of support. On the other hand he might be attempting to gain an increased role in the party while remaining in Congress; in January he will most likely become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the fulfillment of his career ambition. Because of that, I don't seriously consider him seeking the presidency in 2016.

Regardless I feel compelled to analyze Ryan since he is performing incredibly in polls. Ryan has several advantages if he were to run. He benefits enormously from name recognition having been the vice presidential candidate for the GOP in 2012. The fact that he was chosen out of all others can be viewed as his superiority to others and in so much that he should be the next choice of the GOP. He is highly educated and is regarded as a numbers man, something that can be seen as beneficial with our economy in the poor state it currently is. And for the most part he has been free of making embarrassing statements, something that can't be said of other potential candidates. Furthermore his potential power base is vast as he is rather inoffensive and preaches at the moment at least, a brand of conservatism which is fairly palatable to the majority of the party.

Though with advantages also come disadvantages. The Path to Posterity more commonly known as the Ryan Budget will prove a massive impediment to him as many will accuse him of being uncompassionate in resolving the economic situation here. Personally I don't find Ryan all that inspiring, rather fairly dour and I'm not alone in that belief and in an election that will be driven by charisma, that will be a disadvantage. Ultimately the question remains if he is running or not. He is expanding his national presence but this might be a sincere attempt at molding the GOP into his vision. If he is to become Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Ryan will be able to yield an incredible amount of power and influence within Congress due to the importance of that committee. Since this is something he sought, I don't believe he would remove himself from it to engage in a presidential race.

Cruz, Rubio, and Ryan each have advantages and disadvantages. Rubio has had the longest national name recognition I believe followed by Ryan and Cruz and each can draw support from various groups within the GOP. In all honesty, I don't see Ryan being a major contender. If he runs it will be because of political insiders pushing him to do so and as a result the passion on his part won't really be there. He is set to assume a position of great power in January, why would he damage that. Cruz will embark on nothing more than a tour of self-destruction. There is the chance that he could perform incredibly well but he can't win the presidency. Too polarizing, too combative, and unable to expand his base of support, Cruz should set his sights on staying in the Senate. And then there is Rubio, the most mature and impressive of the possible candidates who hail from the Senate. I like Rubio but in 2016, I believe the GOP nomination is and should be gained by one of those who hail from a gubernatorial position. Rubio would make an excellent running mate and can help the ticket draw support from a more diverse group. That is where I feel he will wind up. Next in the series: Part III: the leaders.

Posted by SPBrooker at August 11, 2014 3:08 PM
Comment #381814

Another good, thoughtful article. For the most part, I agree with your analysis, although I would not put some things quite so charitably.

Rubio looks like a candidate for the VP slot. He does not show leadership in any way that would be good enough to propel a run for the presidential nomination. Immigration reform was identified by the Republican National Committee as the most important single piece of legislation the party could pass to help it do better in national elections, and Rubio was given the job of spearheading it. He failed miserably. By the time it was over, the compromise reached by Senate Republicans and Democrats was rejected by the House Republicans, and the GOP legislation that was eventually passed was penned by the most anti-immigrant, bigoted Congressman in the party, an appalling human being named Steve King. The upshot? Deport them all! And all the House Republicans voted for it. Yikes!

If Rubio exhibited some other leadership qualities or assets he might have a chance. Contrast Rubio with Obama, who, whatever one might think of his politics or performance as president, nevertheless showed some amazing assets as a nominee. Obama showed a genius for building an organization, staffing it, executing a strategy to defeat what seemed like an unbeatable front runner, and generating excitement with oratory. Goodness gracious, they gave him a Nobel Peace Prize just for showing up! To date, neither
Rubio nor the others has shown that kind of genius or inspirational ability.

Rubio also shows a lack of integrity that I believe most people will detect. He recently made statements denying Global Warming, although he most certainly knows it is actually happening. He was trying to appeal to the Republican base. The problem is, no one will believe him when he does that kind of thing. It reeks of weakness. Whether a politician agrees or disagrees with his party, sometimes it is necessary to show some spine.

Ryan could not even carry his own state as a VP candidate, so is hard to see why he would even be considered for another VP nomination, never mind presidential one. His votes on personhood amendments and getting rid of Medicare are absolutely toxic. He possesses name recognition, and not much more.

Cruz is the most interesting one. He is ambitious like no one else. He lies with ease, and knows enough to conceal his role in those lies and other horrendous, unpopular acts. He has found a way to act as a shadow Speaker of the House, and he controls the extreme element of the GOP, which is precisely the element most likely to vote in primaries. He is absolutely toxic for the GOP, but that won’t stop his personal ambition from fueling a run. Cruz is another McCarthy: he uses the same despicable tactics, and he is every bit as scary, but less drunk, and much smarter.

Posted by: phx8 at August 11, 2014 6:00 PM
Comment #381818

With these candidates I believe we are seeing the logical end-of-life of Nixon’s Southern Strategy crossbreeding with the DeLay gerrymandering. Nixon’s pandering to the dominionists and segregationists legitimized and involved the racists and fundamentalists that are such an anthema to liberals and the founding fathers vision of a secular and inclusive government. DeLay’s “permanent Republican majority” through gerrymandering ensured a majority of house seats would remain in the hands of a single party, no matter the worth of any particular candidate.
As a result, we have far right extremists like Ryan and Cruz winning their seats via a narrow but committed base. Having to “out crazy” their opponents leaves them with very limited appeal beyond the inner sanctum of their district and the teaparty (refer to Romney’s miserable performance).
re: your list, Cruz is too much a liar, Ryan is too unlikable and Rubio is too much the milquetoast to survive national campaigns. When you get to Ron Paul, there may be something worth debating.

Posted by: Dave at August 12, 2014 10:45 AM
Comment #381819

Agreed. The GOP has been pushing a string, and now they are almost at its end. The Southern Strategy has been doomed by demographics. It is no coincidence the GOP displays so much vitriolic bigotry and racism. Those are the signs of the strategy’s death throes. What goes around, comes around, and oh boy, is it coming around in 2016!

The funny thing is, everything political is conspiring against the Republicans to make it even worse. The 2014 midterms are highly likely to encourage the GOP to not only NOT change, but to double down on their current approach. The political map is hugely beneficial to them. They will be born on third base, but convinced they hit a triple. The presidential candidate, whoever that turns out to be, will have to meet the demands of the increasingly extremist and radical elements. ‘Look at 2014’, they will say. ‘The secret to winning elections is to be even more conservative! The only reason we lost in the past was because we were not conservative enough!

And it will be hard for the GOP to fight that logic. After all, the odds are that the GOP will retain the House, and in 2014 the political map gives them a decent shot at taking a narrow majority in the Senate.

What most conservatives don’t realize is that, as favorable as the political map will be to the GOP in 2014, it will be MORE than twice as favorable to the Democrats in 2016. Due to gerrymandering, it will take about 55% of the vote for Democrats to control the Senate. That is not in the cards in the upcoming midterms, short of another government shutdown or Hobby Lobby decision. However, throw in a strong Democratic presidential candidate running against a Republican candidate crippled by the Southern Strategy and xenophobia, and then add in a political map in the Senate which will be HUGELY favorable to Democrats, and…

There is a good chance the Democrats will take the House, have a supermajority in the Senate, own the Executive Branch, and make SCOTUS nominations that will make the Judicial Branch a liberal arm of the government for the next generation.

I’m loving every second of it. Everything about 2014 is set up to absolutely destroy conservatives in 2016, and most don’t even know it.

Posted by: phx8 at August 12, 2014 5:21 PM
Comment #381820

Golly Gee phx8…you’re so smart. Many thanks for the sage information. You make the possible huge defeat of the dems in November 2014 almost sound like a win.

Dem: Well yes, harrumph…you stomped us real good…but just you wait till 2016.

Rep: OK

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 12, 2014 7:00 PM
Comment #381821

phx8 “…and make SCOTUS nominations that will make the Judicial Branch a liberal arm of the government for the next generation.”

Just imagine…liberal glee in defeating our Constitutions purposeful separation of powers. Not surprising as these same liberals applaud obama’s illegal usurpation of congressional power.

Perhaps phx8 could entertain us with his notion of what a liberal Supreme Court would accomplish for all citizens.

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 12, 2014 7:13 PM
Comment #381822

By the way, I have been reading articles from numerous sources writing about how many dems are running as conservatives to try and keep their seats. Isn’t that a laugh?

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 12, 2014 7:20 PM
Comment #381824

Royal Flush,
Remember Cain and my predictions? Did you print my comment like you said you would? How did that turn out? Let’s take a trip in the way-back machine, and review a comment by RF:

“PHX8, the great political seer, has predicted the demise of Herman Cain. He no doubt knows something that few others on the planet know, or perhaps, he is simply crossing his fingers while typing such drivel.

I have printed his prognostication above so that I have it handy when he is proved false. It will be great fun to reprint it at the appropriate time.

Should actual proof come to light that Mr. Cain is guilty of some offensive conduct towards women, I will gladly eat his words that I have printed off.”
Comment 331327
November 1, 2011

As for a liberal SCOTUS…
A liberal SCOTUS would overturn Citizens United, limit the idea that a corporation is a person and that money is its form of free speech, and severely restrict the ability of the rich to buy access and influence with our politicians. It would also overturn the Hobby Lobby decision, and the concept that a corporation has the ability to hold religious beliefs.

Posted by: phx8 at August 12, 2014 8:32 PM
Comment #381849


Democrats will take the House, have a supermajority in the Senate, own the Executive Branch,
Be careful what you wish for. Some teaper’s who got elected to congress were true believers yet seemingly all were immediately corrupted by the power and K-street money. I only hope that the teaper candidates really were as big a jerks they seemed to be and that people like Davis and Grimes really are as good as they seem to be, like Elizabeth Warren has been.
SCOTUS nominations that will make the Judicial Branch a liberal arm of the government for the next generation
As for SCOTUS, absolutely. What the last decades of judicial abuse by the right has shown us is that activist (and ignorant, don’t forget Thomas) rightwing judges are disastrous to the vast majority of citizens. We must save the court, I only hope Scalia and Kennedy crap out faster than Ginsburg and Breyer.


Really? Rather than talking points it would be nice to hear a logical rebuttal. I’m curious, exactly how did the President “(usurp) congressional power”? I mean actually, not the vauge allegations Boehnner et. al. are fabricating and promulgating with Faux support. How exactly is what President Obama did illegal and unprecedented? Exacly how is a 5:4 liberal majority “defeating” the seperation of powers but the current 5:4 corporatist majority isn’t? As for your request about what would a liberal SCOTUS do for us, recent history of the Warren court: dramatically expanded the force of Constitutional civil liberties. [32]It held that segregation in public schools violates equal protection (Brown v. Board of Education, Bolling v. Sharpe and Green v. County School Bd.)[33] and that traditional legislative district boundaries violated the right to vote (Reynolds v. Sims). It created a general right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut),[34] limited the role of religion in public school (most prominently Engel v. Vitale and Abington School District v. Schempp),[35][36] incorporated most guarantees of the Bill of Rights against the States—prominently Mapp v. Ohio (the exclusionary rule) and Gideon v. Wainwright (right to appointed counsel),[37][38]—and required that criminal suspects be apprised of all these rights by police (Miranda v. Arizona);[39] At the same time, however, the Court limited defamation suits by public figures (New York Times v. Sullivan) and supplied the government with an unbroken run of antitrust victories
Meanwhile the Roberts court has given us Coporations religion and the right to buy politicians.

Posted by: Dave at August 13, 2014 9:16 AM
Comment #381851

Dave: “Exacly how is a 5:4 liberal majority “defeating” the seperation of powers but the current 5:4 corporatist majority isn’t?”

You either read and comprehend poorly or purposely avoided the comment actually made by phx8.

Dave: “how did the President “(usurp) congressional power”?”

Same reading and comprehension deficiency as noted above. It has been discussed ad nauseum and arguments by the right are simply dismissed by you.

phx8, can you provide actual proof that Mr. Cain is guilty of some offensive conduct towards women?

I do thank you phx8 for your ideas of what a liberal SCOTUS should do. We merely disagree, or are there more actions you would like to see?

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 13, 2014 2:07 PM
Comment #381852

Dave, excuse me if I try to help RF out here. He seems to be a little bit keyboard inhibited today.

5:4 for liberals is not the same as 5:4 corporatist because I hate liberals and love me some corporations.

And then he is usurping power:

Because he’s lawless!!(with lots more of those !)

Because he refuses to enforce the law we are trying to dismantle!!(more of those ! too)

Because he is ruling by executive order!!(even though he has written fewer of those than any modern predecessor, we get to use special conservative math to come up with our equation there)

Because he’s presidenting while black, that’s the worse one!

See it’s as plain as day when you keep your eyes tightly closed and just stick to the right wing talking points.

No need to thank me RF, we all know how you can’t really define why you think because you just know that President Obama is a bad, bad man because you say so.

Posted by: Speak4all at August 13, 2014 3:34 PM
Comment #381853

RF, I would suggest a shredder for that print out you have for phx8 and then maybe a little marinara or alfredo sauce to go with it.

Posted by: Speak4all at August 13, 2014 3:36 PM
Comment #381854

phx8 wrote: “…make SCOTUS nominations that will make the Judicial Branch a liberal arm of the government for the next generation.”

Speak wrote: “5:4 for liberals is not the same as 5:4 corporatist because I hate liberals and love me some corporations.

Hey Speak, read what was written. You just don’t get it do you. There is a difference between a majority of justices and making the SP simply an “arm of the government”. The Constitution did not set it up that way. Is that something you wish to change?

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 13, 2014 4:12 PM
Comment #381855

RF, you live in a world unto your own. Believe me when I say I do not want to in any way enter that as it is filled with a very strange belief system. I merely pointed out that by your interpretation anything liberal is bad. If the Constitution did not set it up that way how in the heck did we get the Citizen United decision by a bunch of corporatist justices that believe that corporations are people and need freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to buy the politicians of this country when they want to. What difference would it make to you if they were liberal justices that then used their power to make decisions that helps government govern. We are all pretty sure about who doesn’t get things on this blog, look in a mirror.

Posted by: Speak4all at August 13, 2014 4:35 PM
Comment #381856

Poor Speak…so convoluted. The Supreme Court has never been simply an arm of the government subject to the president’s wishes and desires.

The libs are really losing it with their likely big losses in November. I recommend they stay away from sharp objects.

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 13, 2014 4:53 PM
Comment #381857

RF, no problems with sharp objects for me perhaps your dull mind is the problem? Look I don’t care to do your insult trading this afternoon, you can do that all by yourself. You are a very, very confused person and I know that this is caused in part by trying to maintain that very confused belief system that you are clinging to. I won’t go into what accounts for that because I know that must be very frustrating for you and do not want to add to your frustration, I understand.

The Supreme Court is part of the governing process of this country.

Posted by: Speak4all at August 13, 2014 5:14 PM
Comment #381858

Speaks is probably a nice guy. I don’t understand how he can accuse me of insults. Take a look at what you have written today and REPENT.

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 13, 2014 5:16 PM
Comment #381859

RF, I have written the truth. That it disagrees with your estimation is something you need to deal with. You don’t understand a lot and that is evidenced by what you write here. As I have told you before I suspect that you and I could get along if we weren’t on a blog that requires political discussion. Your adherence to an uninformed ability in this area does not contribute to a truthful political discussion.

I hope you enjoy your snack that phx8 has prepared for you but I doubt that you will stick by your word, you rarely do.

Posted by: Speak4all at August 13, 2014 5:24 PM
Comment #381860

Speak, it appears that no amount of coaching will help you reform and learn how to think for yourself. You have become nothing more than a parrot.

A dialogue with you is impossible as you can read but not understand.

What grades did you miss in school. Find a good remedial program and it will change your life for the better.

I know you are under extreme stress as your party appears to be going down in flames. Hillary has joined with Reps in revealing what an ass obama really is when it comes to foreign policy. He doesn’t have one except “don’t do stupid things”.

obama’s domestic policy is a joke. His own party is running from him in their election attempts.

Posted by: Royal Flush at August 13, 2014 7:22 PM
Comment #381866

I am really looking forward to the November elections and the 2016 elections. As I have stated in the past it is my belief that the adversarial political nature of our country is something I value. It is a celebration of our accomplishments to have an election process that will help determine the future of our country. We are very fortunate to have this system in place. I believe that however the election results turn out that the challenges we face will be met with the resolve of our citizens and their elected officials. As dysfunctional as it may seem sometimes it’s a lot better than the next best thing. I am just pleased that I have been part of this process and can continue to appreciate it, that would include it’s failures and accomplishments both.

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Comment #382571

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