Certain Republican governors left no doubt their hopes and dreams for 2016 when they collectively piled on against former GOP nominee Mitt Romney this past week – indicating Romney’s statements Barack Obama was elected in large part because of his willingness to promise freebies to particular segments of the voting population was not the right tone for Republicans. (Romney was right by the way – but it appears those governors cared less about that and more about distancing themselves from someone who lost a national election) According to Politico, there are at present no less than 15 prominent Republicans giving serious consideration to running for president in 2016:
(Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio is among a long list of Republicians hoping to usher in a new era of conservative values in America as the GOP nominee in 2016)
Tired of presidential politics? Get over it: Upwards of 15 prominent Republicans are privately contemplating 2016 campaigns for the presidency — and the most serious and ambitious of the bunch are already plunging in, some quite publicly.
Don’t expect them to officially announce or even officially decide for many months. But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are doing nothing to disguise their presidential ambitions.
Rubio and Ryan, both arguably better positioned than Jindal, are also competing for the mantle of the high-energy, forward-thinking conservative. POLITICO has learned both will unveil new policy plans at an awards dinner of the Jack Kemp Foundation in early December: Ryan will begin a new push on a more modern approach to alleviating poverty, focused on education; Rubio will lift the curtain on an economic empowerment message, heavy on college affordability and workforce training.
Not to be outdone, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and heir to his father’s libertarian following, is now on the record exploring a run that will focus heavily on returning power to the states. In a post-election interview with POLITICO, Paul said he wants to find common ground with liberal Democrats on softer marijuana laws and help create an eventual pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
POLITICO has also learned that Rick Santorum is telling friends he wants to run again. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has said publicly that he might, too, and has begun talking to donors and other top supporters like he means it. And Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor with strong credentials on education and winning back Hispanics, has told advisers he will sit back to see how things unfold over the next year before deciding whether to finally give it a go.
“On every conference call, the message is the same,” one top official said. “We’re going to push out our new generation of leadership. We’re not going to sit back and let the extreme voices define what it means to be a conservative.”
Unlike 2008, when Republicans chalked up their defeat to a bad GOP ticket in a terrible post-Bush environment for the party, many of the most influential voices are calling for substantial rethinking of the conservative approach to politics. They are reckoning with demographic trends that favor Democrats — as well as with exit polling suggesting the assumption this is a center-right country might be wrong, or was at least wrong on Nov. 6, when a center-left electorate showed up.
Rubio plays up his working-class roots and values as part of an appeal to voters making $30,000 to $50,000 a year — a group Romney lost badly but with whom Republicans used to be very competitive. That, combined with his connection with Hispanic voters, would make him a bit of an anti-Romney — the one card nearly every one of these candidates will try to play, however subtly. Rubio planted the flag in Iowa last weekend, setting a record at a Republican fundraising event. Look for him to flex his muscles in coming months in the other early states: New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.