By Doug Porter
It takes a big wad of cash to be considered a serious contender for President these days. The costs of campaigning by all candidates for the top job in 2016 race is expected to top $5 billion, nearly double the amount of the 2012 election.
Despite the high price tag, the Republican party will soon have no fewer than 16 ‘serious’ candidates running for President, a phenomenon made possible by seemingly unlimited donations from people and corporations with more cash than common sense.
Today we’ll take an early look at the field, ranked by composite survey results via Huffpost Pollster. These will change as new polling is released–I’m using what’s there at 7am, July 7th.
President Obama, now coasting through what was predicted to be the lame duck portion of his tenure, took note of the size of the GOP field last week. From USA Today:
“We’ve got some healthy competition in the Democratic Party, but I’ve lost count how many Republicans are running for this job,” Obama told a supportive crowd in La Crosse, Wis.
“They’ll have enough for an actual Hunger Games,” he added.
The GOP presidential nomination contest currently features 14 candidates, with two more — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — expected to announce bids later this month.
I’ll be noting where each candidate differs from the norms–i.e., climate change isn’t man made, no new taxes, etc– expected in GOP primary candidates, as in “No” for most everything. Past experience leads me to believe many of these stances will change later in the game, given that many of them have changed already.
Donald Trump (13.6%)
Where do we start? His big mouth has given the Trumpster high visibility, hence the poll results. Right now he’s doing the Mexican Hate Dance. Next week it will be something else. Every comedian in the U.S. loves this guy.
Trump has been explicit about saying he’s opposed to cuts in Medicare and Social Security.
The real estate tycoon told CPAC in 2013 that Republicans should not cut Social Security or Medicare because most Americans want to keep the benefits as they stand now. His solution is unclear, but he has indicated that general economic growth would play a role. Trump tweeted in May that he knows “where to get the money from” and “nobody else does.”
Jeb Bush (13.3%)
What’s-his-name’s brother. He’s got name ID, and the whiz kids at 538.com say he’s ultimately similar to John McCain and Mitt Romney in terms of overall political stances. Now if he can just get people to forget the great recession, everything will be great.
Nailing down Jeb Bush on the issues is challenging, to put it mildly. Mostly you can say he was ‘for’ something (like a path to citizenship for immigrants) before he was ‘against’ it. Two issues stand out: he’s promising a miracle economy and his dedication to privatizing… social security… education…
Ben Carson (10.5%)
The retired brain surgeon from Michigan has never held public office and that’s a plus for his many supporters on the libertarian side of the GOP.
Carson’s policy positions tend to be more pronouncements than promises. He’s the closest thing the GOP has to a pure Free Marketeer.
I had to pick something to differentiate him, so I went with taxation. From the Washington Times:
“Many alternative forms of taxation are used throughout the world, but the model that appeals most to me is based on biblical tithing. Under that system, everyone was required to pay one-tenth of their income to the designated authorities of the theocracy. You were not excused if you experienced a crop failure, nor were you asked to pay triple tithes if you had a bumper crop. Under this system, the man with the bumper crop obviously would pay a lot more in tithes than the man who experienced the crop failure.”
Marco Rubio (9.4%)
He’s handsome, Latino, and knows the difference between Tupac Shakur and Adele. He was for a path to citizenship and now not-so-much. If it weren’t for that damned Bush character, he’d be leading the pack.
If you had to pick one area where Rubio’s stands out, it would be foreign policy. While he’s all for cutting the federal budget, the defense part of the equation would grow in a Rubio administration. Call him the ultra-hawk, but with a cute smile.
From Fox News:
If Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) ever became president, would he advocate for a permanent U.S. troop presence in the Middle East?
“Absolutely,” he told Neil Cavuto this afternoon on “Your World.” Rubio explained that the bin Laden mission would have been impossible without a U.S. troop mission in Afghanistan. He also said that having U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq could have prevented the advance of ISIS.
Rand Paul (8.4%)
The junior Senator from Kentucky is a Republican wrapped in libertarian clothing. Much of that appearance is derived from the fact that his father’s near cult status within the libertarian movement. (He has been, at times, good about calling out government overreach in the spy business)
But if you looked at Paul’s stances on social issues and didn’t know who his papa was, you’d think he was your basic GOPer…No, No, and more No.
While Paul says same-sex marriage should be up to the states, he’s disgusted by the idea. From Think Progress:
Paul warned that deviating from “traditional” marriage could lead to people marrying animals. “It is difficult because if we have no laws on this people take it to one extension further,” Paul told Glenn Back. “Does it have to be humans? You know, I mean. So there really are—the question is what social mores, can some social mores be part of legislation?” (Paul later said he was being sarcastic.) He also mocked Obama’s decision to support marriage equality. “Call me cynical, but I wasn’t sure his views on marriage could get any gayer,” Paul quipped.
Scott Walker (8.0%)
As Governor of Wisconsin his claim to fame is based on winning several bruising battles with unions. The Koch brothers love him. Walker preaches the gospel of job creation, even though the state ranks 35th in the Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States, which tracks the change in a series of economic indicators. And, alas, the promised economic boom hasn’t materialized in the wake of tax cuts.
He has not officially declared his candidacy yet. The consensus of much of the chattering class is that his biggest weakness is foreign policy. A trade mission to London, meant to shore up his credibility, ended up being overshadowed by his refusal to answer a question on evolution.
Mike Huckabee (7.3%)
The former Arkansas Governor has made no secret of his positions on social issues, which is to say he hews to the evangelical Protestant line.
The one area where Huckabee differs from other GOP candidates is health care. While he’s all for repealing the Affordable Care Act, Huckabee alone says that government should have a role in subsidizing “extraordinary costs.” (He’s also suspiciously soft on immigration)
Here’s Gov. Mike on the gay marriage question, from CNN:
Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee says expecting Christians to accept same-sex marriage is “like asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.”
He also called homosexuality part of a lifestyle, like drinking and swearing.
The former Arkansas governor, winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses and likely 2016 contender’s comments came during an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” as he defended an excerpt from his new book in which he says he has friends and associates who are gay.
Ted Cruz (4.7%)
The Senator from Texas is a tea party favorite, having rallied the troops in Congress during several confrontations with the Evil Obama. His reputation as a loose cannon has alienated many in the GOP leadership. Most of his positions on policy questions, however, can be described as ‘same as the rest, except with more venom.’
It’s been the tendency in the mainstream media to sometimes treat Ted Cruz like a joke. Apparently they don’t realize that the joke candidate slot has already been taken by Donald Trump. Cruz is smart. And determined. God only knows what he’d actually do in the White House…
Here’s Sen. Cruz on taxes, from the Dallas Morning News:
…in railing against the IRS, Cruz puts the emphasis on abolishing the agency. Even on his website, there’s no fine print explaining how he envisions the government operating without a tax enforcement agency.
And since taking office five months ago, Cruz has embraced both a national sales tax and a simplified income tax — competing ideas for replacing the current tax code. Each requires enforcement of some sort, especially the flat tax Cruz generally promotes, because taxpayers would self-report earnings, major deductions and how much they owe.
Rick Perry (3.4%)
The former Texas governor has new glasses for this campaign. And, go figure, this time around he’s running as The Moderate Republican.
Deep in the heart of Texas, the Houston Press noticed the difference:
Lately, we’ve noticed something different about former Gov. Rick Perry. He’s been busy running for the 2016 GOP presidential nod, but it hasn’t been the same old sprinting-to-the-right rhetoric of 2012. The perfect hair is still there but Perry is now sporting “smart guy” glasses and selling himself as something a little different. The Perry-for-President 2016 model is starting to sound like, well, a moderate.
There are no discernible differences between Perry and the rest of the pack outside of the rhetoric.
Chris Christie (3.0%)
The New Jersey Governor has a different kind of tough guy persona. After being considered by many as the real hope for moderates in the Republican party, he’s come out swinging, ready to take on…whomever…
Instead of “reform” Gov. Christie goes for “renewal” in his policy speeches. He won’t raise taxes and he won’t take shit. Got that?!
The one issue clearly differentiating Christie from his competition is that he acknowledges that climate change is real and humans are causing it. Admitting to the problem and actually doing something about it as Governor of New Jersey are, however, two different things.
Rick Santorum (2.8%)
So this guy loses his last campaign for the Senate and dropped out of the 2012 presidential race (he did win Iowa and 10 other states), and he’s trying for the top job again. He’s packaged as socially conservative populist.
There is one teeny-tiny difference in his policy ideas: he would support a 50 cents per year increase in the minimum wage for three consecutive years. A real working class hero…
Carly Fiorina (2.6%)
Her experience laying people off at HP and losing the 2010 race for Senate in California apparently qualifies her for the job in her mind. The campaign is tanking badly, having raised a measly $1.4 million in the second quarter. Management responsibilities (I’m not making this up!) have been outsourced to her Super PAC.
Here’s the rationale (it’s certainly not any stances on issues) differentiating Fiorina from other candidates, From Think Progress:
“If Hillary Clinton were to face a female nominee, there are a whole set of things that she won’t be able to talk about,” Fiorina told reporters mid-April. “She won’t be able to talk about being the first woman president. She won’t be able to talk about a war on women without being challenged. She won’t be able to play the gender card.”
She later told Bloomberg that her candidacy “renders the Democratic ‘war on women’ baloney sort of neutral. It will be definitely harder for her to run against a woman. … because the political rhetoric that she talks about will be far more difficult for her to make credible.”
John Kasich (2.2%)
The Ohio Governor is too moderate for the GOP’s right wing, which tends to dominate the primary season. He was okay with expanding Medicaid in Ohio and hasn’t walked back earlier statements about the possibility of a path to citizenship for immigrants. He has not formally announced yet, but will shortly.
…Kasich is open to the idea of creating a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants, has supported the Common Core education stands and occasionally lectures the GOP for being insufficiently concerned about offering policy solutions instead of simply opposing Democrats.
Kasich though, in his advocacy of Medicaid, has gone farther, suggesting that accepting the federal funds for the poor is essentially a requirement for a Christian man like himself.
“Now, when you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer,” said two years ago, when describing his Medicaid push.
Christian compassion? Obviously not a good fit for today’s GOP.
The One Percenters
Here’s the bottom of the pack:
Lindsey–the boogie man’s coming to get you--Graham (1.3%)
Bobby–I can kiss some Grover Norquist ass- Jindal (0.9%)
George–I wanna debate Donald Trump–Pataki (0.3%)
On some slow news day in the near future, I’ll get around to surveying the Democratic field, I promise.
On This Day: 1846 – U.S. annexation of California was proclaimed at Monterey after the surrender of a Mexican garrison. 1903 – Mary Harris “Mother” Jones began “The March of the Mill Children,” when, accompanied part of the way by children, she walked from Philadelphia to President Theodore Roosevelt’s home on Long Island to protest the plight of child laborers. One of her demands: reduce the children’s work week to 55 hours. 1954 – Memphis D.J. Dewey Phillips of WHBQ became the first D.J. to play an Elvis Presley record.
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