Who’s Who: 2016 Presidential Hopefuls


The votes were barely in and the celebratory confetti barely dropped on President Barack Obama for his impressive re-election victory last Tuesday night before politicians, prognosticators, and the voting public turned their attention to the 2016 presidential election.

Obama’s second and final term means a jump ball for the White House in 2016, and there is no shortage of Democrats and Republican who are positioning themselves or pondering a run in 2016.

How quickly is the next election coming upon us? A poll of the potential Democratic field for the 2016 Iowa caucuses was released last week. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the Public Policy Polling survey at 58 percent and Vice President Joe Biden was second at 17 percent.  New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was third at six percent followed by Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at three percent.

The rest of the potential field – Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia – each barely registered one percent.

So even though Inauguration Day 2013 is 12 weeks away, here’s a look at the some of the possible Democratic and Republican candidates for 2016:


SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON –  She generally high marks as Obama’s secretary of state until an apparent terrorist attack at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. Clinton has indicated that she won’t re-up for Obama's term two. Still, expect congressional Republicans to go after her hard in hearings on the Benghazi incident in hopes of wounding her 2016 presidential chances.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN – A run by the affable but gaffe-prone vice president would put Obama in a bind. Who does he support? His faithful Number Two or Hillary Clinton, whose husband – former President Bill Clinton – served as Obama’s effective “Explainer-in-Chief” at the Democratic convention and on the campaign trail, helping fuel Obama’s victory.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO – His father, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo teased and flirted with running for president in the 1990s but never pulled the trigger. The younger Cuomo has his father’s looks and more ambition than the old man, if that’s possible. The hint that Andrew is going to run? New York State is running television commercials promoting itself.

 GOV. DEVAL PATRICK – The only African-American candidate being talked about right now. He’s Massachusetts’ first black governor and only the second black governor elected by any state. Virginia’s Doug Wilder was the first. He succeeded Mitt Romney as Massachusetts governor. Patrick has Washington experience, serving as an assistant attorney general during Bill Clinton’s presidency.  Patrick cut his chops practicing law with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Like Obama, Patrick is a graduate of the Harvard Law School. If Patrick flames out as a presidential candidate, look for him to be in the mix for the Number Two spot.

GOV. MARTIN O’MALLEY – The Maryland governor and former Baltimore mayor has been one of the more high-profile Democratic surrogates for the Obama campaign in 2012, regularly appearing on the Sunday news shows. O’Malley is also one of the few potential Democratic presidential candidates who have already visited Iowa to test the waters.

SEN. MARK WARNER – The Virginia Democrat weighed running for president in 2008 but backed off. What Warner would have going for him is that his Southern roots could deliver his own state and possibly others below the Mason-Dixon Line. Warner is a political centrist. Depending on where the country is politically in 2016 that could be a plus or a big minus.

SEN.-ELECT ELIZABETH WARREN – Gave a fiery speech at the Democratic National Convention. Now she has to perform as a U.S. Senator before being seriously considered White House material.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE – Christie would have been considered the odds-on frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination. Then he ditched helping Romney’s campaign in the final days leading to the election to spend quality time with Obama touring parts of New Jersey ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Christie praised Obama’s handling of the disaster, a treasonous move that made many Republicans angrier than a nest of Africanized bees. That could come back to haunt Christie if he runs. Romney’s campaign brain trust already started a negative whisper campaign against him. Plus, by the time 2016 rolls around Christie might be one and done as governor. He’ll be up for a second term in Trenton before then and is expected to face a challenge by Newark Democratic Mayor Cory Booker. Christie knows his re-election isn’t a cinch – he’s a Republican governor in what’s largely a Democratic state.

SEN. RAND PAUL – The freshman senator and Tea Party favorite from Kentucky inherits an impressive and dedicated presidential campaign apparatus thanks to his father, retiring Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who sought the GOP nomination in 2008 and 2004. Father and son are Republicans with fierce libertarian streaks. Unlike the elder Paul, who was viewed by some as the kooky uncle who wanted to take America back to the gold standard, Rand Paul has more political savvy.  However, Paul’s almost isolationist approach to U.S. military and foreign policy may be too much for many Republican voters.

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM – That’s right, the staunch conservative, fiercely anti-abortion candidate who swears he said “Blah people” instead of “Black people” when talking welfare will probably be back on the campaign trail in 2016. He pushed Romney to the brink in the 2012 GOP primaries with almost no money. Social conservatives love Santorum, but given the fiasco and comments about abortion that contributed to Republicans losing winnable Senate seats in Indiana and Missouri, more mainstream Republicans might shy away from Santorum.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO – After watching Obama smoke Romney by getting more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, Republicans decided last week that maybe it’s time they were nice to the nation’s fastest-growing voting bloc. They are likely to drop their opposition to comprehensive immigration reform policy as a sign of their new-found love – and desperation. The rise of Hispanic voters could present an opening for Rubio, who was already in the mix in Romney’s vice presidential considerations. While being a Cuban-American could be a plus for Rubio and potentially help deliver Florida to the GOP win column, there’s no guarantee that he can bring all Hispanic voters nationally into the GOP tent. Hispanics, like blacks, aren’t monolithic.

FORMER GOV. JEB BUSH – 2016 might be long enough for Americans to cure themselves of George W. Bush fatigue and give Jeb, who was a popular Florida governor, a chance to run. Long viewed as the smarter Bush brother, education policy was Jeb Bush’s thing as governor, a winning issue to attract women voters that Republicans desperately need.

REP. PAUL RYAN – Ryan couldn’t even help deliver his home state Wisconsin to the GOP presidential ticket last week. But he’s still a member of the House of Representatives, chair of the House Budget Committee, and a potential contender in 2016. Conservatives regard Ryan as one of Congress’ best young minds on fiscal issues. But his lack of foreign policy experience and his anti-abortion stance – stricter than Romney’s – could be a problem.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL – The Louisiana governor has the same advantage that Rubio has in being a minority – Indian-American – at a time when the Republican Party desperately needs some color. Like Ryan, he knows his fiscal stuff to the point of being wonkish. Social and religious conservatives love him, though his details of witnessing an exorcism while in college might turn some off.

HERMAN CAIN – Don’t count out the Pizza Man in 2016. Time cures all wounds and Republican voters might forgive and forget Cain’s alleged marital infidelities that stopped his 9-9-9 run cold in 2012. But Tea Party types still adore Cain and he still gets lots of face time on Fox News.

FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY – Sure he lost big-time, but Romney still has lots of money and four years to reinvent himself yet again. Only problem is that some conservative Republicans made it clear last week that they want nothing more to do with him. At a post-election news conference, one prominent conservative Republican demanded that 2016 GOP candidates be forbidden from hiring Romney’s campaign manager, advisers, pollster, or Karl Rove, the George W. Bush mastermind who raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Romney-friendly super PACS to run anti-Obama campaign ads. That went well, didn’t it?


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