For 2016, A Mix Of Big Names And Longshots

At this early stage of the campaign they seem the longest of longshots:  Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Martin O’Malley.  And the fact is they probably are.  But that doesn’t appear to be enough to deter them from their ultimate goal—becoming president of the United States—and they are already trying to lay the groundwork.

Trump told a crowd in New Hampshire recently that he is actively considering a 2016 bid.  “You know I do have a great television show.  I do have a great life.  I have a business that I love.  But the country is going to hell.”

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson, the only African American preparing to join the race, got a huge reception at a recent conservative conference and is fast emerging as a favorite of socially conservative activists.   “We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave but you cannot be free if you are not brave.”

For Republicans most concerned with foreign policy and national security, former United Nations ambassador John Bolton is casting about for support.   Bolton told my colleague, VOA Senior Correspondent Andre de Nesnera, that he is actively considering a White House bid for 2016. 

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker lead public opinion polls at the moment but not by much.  “Anything can happen and we are likely to see 10 or 12 potential candidates hop in this field and they are really going to have to elbow each other to get the spotlight.”

Democrat Jimmy Carter is perhaps the best modern example of a candidate who emerged from relative obscurity to win not only his party’s nomination but the presidency in 1976.  And it’s that kind of rags to riches story that still motivates longshots today, especially among Republicans, according to strategist Ford O’Connell.  “It could turn into a real ‘battle royal,’ if you will and there is going to be a lot of ups and downs regardless of what the polls say today.  The question is, can someone catch lightning in a bottle and then expand it to all major swaths of the party?”

Read more from Jim Malone at Voice of America

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Analysis & Political Strategy