Romney political machine warms up for possible 2016 run
by Joseph Slife & Kent Covington
Posted 1/14/15, 03:52 pm
The staff of The World and Everything in It has profiled 22 possible candidates for president in 2016 in its White House Wednesday series. Now they take a look at who’s ahead and who’s making moves as the big campaign gets closer.
Entering stage right. The GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee may be hoping the third time’s the charm. Last Friday, Mitt Romney told a group of donors he is, in fact, considering another run for the Oval Office. His backers are quick to point out that a third run is not without precedent; Ronald Reagan won in on his third try in 1978, four years after losing the nomination to President Gerald Ford.
Most of the 2016 Republican primary polls done in recent months did not include Romney, a reflection of the fact that many presumed he would not run. The GOP field looks like a Manhattan subway car at 5 p.m. on a Friday, with no clear frontrunner, but that fact might have encouraged Romney to try to jump on. The Washington Post reported he is moving quickly to reassemble his national political network of donors, supporters, and former aides. The Post said he told one senior Republican that he “almost certainly will” run for president once more.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s announcement last month that he was seriously considering running might have forced Romney to move up his timeline to compete for Republican political resources—money and talent. Bush said he’s willing to release 10 years of tax returns if and when he formally announces a White House bid. That could be a slam at Romney, who took punishment in 2012 when Democrats used his reluctance to release his tax returns as a political battering ram. With Romney’s apparent entrance, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has to make up his mind quickly about whether to run.
Priming the pump. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida says he’s closer to deciding about a White House run.“I’m confident we can put together a very credible, well-financed campaign that has a real chance of winning,” he told CBS News this week. Rubio also released a new book this week titled American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone. The book reads like a presidential campaign primer, promoting his positions on a wide range of issues.
Maybe its most notable pitch is his endorsement of a piecemeal approach to overhauling immigration, a policy favored by many conservatives. That approach stands in contrast to the comprehensive overhaul bill he co-sponsored in 2013, which landed him in hot water with the conservative base of the party.
Rubio takes aim at the apparent Democratic presidential frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, calling her policies “20th century relics”—another sign, perhaps, that he’s preparing for political battle.
Political power rankings. Here’s how The World and Everything in It ranks the possible GOP presidential candidates right now, based on their individual political merit, as shown in recent polls and political events.
10. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
9. Texas Gov. Rick Perry
8. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
7. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has yet to provide any strong indication about his plans for 2016.
6. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
5. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who moved down from No. 2 last week. Having Romney enter the race this week hurt his position.
4. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
3. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
2. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
1. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. He owns the headlines and the polls right now, mainly due to name recognition.
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Joseph is the senior producer of WORLD Radio and the co-host of The World and Everything in It.