Hassett: Pick a card


It seems as if the chaos of the 2012 Republican Presidential Primaries is really not that far gone. Especially since the candidates for next year’s go-around are already getting into it.

In Iowa, we had the Iowa Freedom Summit. Widely considered as a showcase for conservative candidates, featured speakers included Donald Trump, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

All of these people have expressed some sort of interest in running in 2016. Oh, and we didn’t even mention Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, and Bobby Jindal, all who decided to skip the event. I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting.

This should make for quite an interesting debate setup when 2016 rolls around. Kudos to any event organizer that can get them all on the same stage. 30 second response times will be too long with this field. The true litmus test will be how many buzzwords a candidate can fit into one breath.

Democrat voters have it easy. Hilary Clinton’s nomination is such a foregone conclusion that everyone else is scared to even express an interest. Republicans at least seem to be more ambitious/delusional.

All jokes aside, when there’s more candidates than you can count on with both hands, narrowing down these contenders will be essential. Already, the camps have been made. We have the “moderates,” (characterized as such by those far to the right of them): Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie. These are the people that the Donald Trumps of the nomination field would consider something the Republican party “cannot have.” Disregarding the fact that these are the types of conservatives that tend to win the nomination due to the nature of electoral politics.

But on the other hand, the most conservative of the conservatives like, say, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Mike Huckabee, can become wild cards. The ones that ultimately vote in primaries are the party’s energized base, and the last thing they want is a lukewarm RINO to carry the torch. Candidates like Rick Santorum can win states in the primary, as what happened in Iowa in 2012, and upset the momentum in the process.

Last week, the Koch brothers promised to spend an unprecedented $889 million on the 2016 campaign, on par with both parties’ spending. Announced at the Koch annual donor retreat, a few likely beneficiaries have emerged from looking at the guest list. Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz all took part in a forum on economic issues.

With that kind of money, we may see the establishment of a splinter conservative coalition, backed by private ultra-wealthy donors. Rogue Super PACS vs. Party Establishment? Expect excrement flinging, in-fighting, and general nastiness.

So pick a card, any card, because 2016 is going to be full of them.