Who's hot, who's not in the run-up to Campaign 2016

Campaign 2016
by Nick Eicher & Kent Covington
Posted 1/07/15, 03:52 pm

The staff of The World and Everything in It has already 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.

Huckabee making headlines. For the past six years, former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has hosted his own weekly TV talk show on Fox News. But this past weekend, he announced he’s leaving it behind.

There’s been a great deal of speculation as to whether I would run for president,” Huckabee said. “And if I were willing to absolutely rule that out, I could keep doing this show. But I can’t make such a declaration.”

Huckabee said he won’t make a final decision about running for president until the spring, but he cannot continue to host the show while exploring another presidential campaign. The Washington Times this past week reported Huckabee wants to make sure he can raise at least $ 25 million—or perhaps even $50 million—by the first week of February before he decides on a presidential run. 

Huckabee, an exceptional communicator, became well-known in the GOP during his 2008 run, and he maintained his visibility through his talk show. As a former Baptist pastor, he has a strong following among evangelical voters and social conservatives. 

The question now is, can he broaden his appeal? Fiscal conservatives are highly critical of Huckabee’s record as governor, sometimes calling him a “big government Republican.” Huckabee’s presence in the GOP field could affect potential candidates such as Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Ted Cruz, all of whom also draw their bases from the more conservative wing of the Republican Party.

Christie versus Bush. Another potential candidate on the Republican side, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has traveled outside of his home state lately, seen most recently side-hugging Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones at a football game. As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, he has attended numerous inaugurations so far this month, raising his national profile. 

Christie seems to be on the political mend after the George Washington Bridge scandal. But that incident opened the door for another establishment favorite, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Much of the support that seemed to be ticketed for Christie before the bridge debacle wound up at Bush’s feet instead. Meanwhile, a Bush Oval Office bid looks more likely with each passing week. Last month, he announced he is actively exploring a presidential campaign. And last week, he formally resigned all of his board memberships in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

Presidential 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. Ben Carson

9. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz

8. Texas Gov. Rick Perry

7. Ohio Gov. John Kasich

6. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

5. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has had an important public voice in recent weeks following the president’s move to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants.

4. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul

3. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is getting a lot of publicity after ending his Fox News program for a possible White House run.

2. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who still does well in primary polls and has good name recognition.

1. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who leads in almost all recent, major polls. He also has a big fundraising jump on some other potential candidates.

Listen to White House Wednesday on The World and Everything in It:

Nick Eicher

Nick lives in St. Louis, loves the Blues (as in the NHL), is executive producer of WORLD Radio, and co-hosts WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickEicher.

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