Believe it or not, it has almost been eight years since Obama swept into power on a chorus of “Yes We Can!” The world has changed significantly since then, and so has American politics. Not only has the rise of the Tea Party given birth to the most divisive and obstructive congress since the Civil War, but America has ended two wars, battled a devastating recession, and fronted the attack against a new world terror threat.
So who will be the next President of the United States?
Isabelle Walker has put together a short list of possible candidates, including outside chances, front runners, and those who could come away surprising everyone.
Governor of New Jersey
Chris Christie is the Governor of New Jersey and has been touted as a potentially huge player in the 2016 Presidential Campaign.
In the aftermath of the devastation left by Super Storm Sandy in the US North East, Christie was praised for his bipartisanship and his ability to work with Barack Obama. But he in turn enraged his GOP colleagues by joining forces with the President to fix the battered Jersey coast line.
However in 2014 Christie used his political capital to close several lanes of the double decker George Washington Bridge during morning peak hour, causing chaos for NYC travellers. He did this as political revenge aimed at Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, who refused to endorse Christie in his election bid.
Christie is popular with a traditionally Democratic demographic, which could prove invaluable for the Republicans in the North East. The GW Bridge scandal will have left a sour taste in the mouth of many New Jerseyans, but if there’s one thing American politicians can rely on, it’s voter amnesia.
Former Governor of Florida
Son of the President George Bush Sr., and brother of President George W Bush, John Ellis ‘Jeb’ Bush certainly has Presidential blood coursing through his veins.
This could be seen as his golden ticket or the albatross hanging from his neck.
Touted by his father as the golden child, everyone was surprised when it was George, not Jeb, who got the first Presidential Guernsey. Despite being seven years younger than George, it was always Jeb’s manifest destiny to reach the heights of the American Executive.
The Florida “hanging chad” scandal clouded Jeb’s Governorship for a time. Conspiracy theorists on the left were convinced that the Florida Electoral College vote of 2004 was rigged by Jeb to secure his brother’s Presidency.
However, Jeb has been lauded as the front runner of the 2016 campaign. After Mitt Romney’s early withdrawal from the race, the Washington Post reported that Bush is the only GOP candidate with financial backing robust enough to pull off a victory.
He is well liked among the majority of Republicans but has drawn some ire from the influential Tea Party for not being ‘sufficiently conservative’.
US Senator from Kentucky
Rand Paul is a young US Senator with a strong Political pedigree. On Superbowl Sunday 2015, he unofficially announced his intention to run for President by encouraging his followers to print out their own ‘paper footballs’. These were quickly hashtagged as #libertyballs and were inscribed with ‘RAND 2016’.
Paul is a Member of the Tea Party. However, his Tea Party affiliation stems from the fact that he is a staunch libertarian and constitutionalist, rather than his having a penchant for ultra-conservativism and gun-toting religiosity.
His father, Ron Paul, ran the 1988 Libertarian Presidential Campaign against George Bush Sr. as a reaction to Bush’s backflip on raising taxes.
Though the Tea Party has incredible sway in the GOP and Washington D.C., it is unlikely that Paul’s extreme Libertarianism will sit well with any moderate Republicans.
Carly Fiorina is worth mentioning in this Republican line-up because of her lack of representative political experience. The one time candidate for a US Senate seat from California (2010) has thrown her hat in the ring off the back of an impressive resume, both in business and political advising.
Fiorina was the first woman to head up a Fortune 20 Company, and in 1998 was named the ‘most powerful woman in business.’ After stints with AT&T and Lucent, Fiorina was named the CEO of computing giant Hewlett Packard. After
just under six years, Fiorina was unceremoniously dismissed by HP, resulting in an instant jump in the company’s stock.
Though Fiorina was reeling from the dismissal, she has solidified her image as a survivor, remaining in the spotlight and fighting through the stigma of her dumping to become a well-respected authority on business.
Though she has never officially held political office, Fiorina has earned her stripes. Fiorina was an advisor to John McCain during the 2008 Presidential Campaign and was even being quietly considered for the Vice Presidential position. However, her 2010 bid for the US Senate has been pointed to as a potential challenge moving forward. Republican strategists labelled the run ‘disastrous’, and also named unpaid campaign debts and her dismissal from Hewlett Packard as key issues to overcome.
US Senator from Texas
Ted Cruz is a Republican Senator with strong ties to the Tea Party. A relatively young Presidential candidate at 44, Cruz is the first Latino Senator from Texas and will thus command a strong vote among the vital Latino community.
Born in Canada – a potentially contentious issue given the hoopla of Obama’s birth certificate scandal – Cruz recently made waves with a Senate filibuster in which he read out, among other things, a Dr Seuss book, to his children at their bedtime, on national television. His filibuster was the third longest in the US Senate history.
Cruz has rallied against Obamacare, attempting to repeal it several times, and was instrumental in the US Government shutdown of 2013.
Cruz would be attractive to the Republican Party due to his ability to court the Latino vote which has generally evaded the GOP. However, his grass roots ties to the Tea Party and his disdain for compromise may prove too risky for moderate Republicans.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Former: Secretary of State; Senator from New York; First Lady
Hillary Clinton is arguably the Democratic Party’s front runner for the 2016 Presidential Candidacy. From her career’s humble beginnings as a lawyer in Little Rock, Arkansas, to fronting the Senate Committee during the Benghazi debacle, Clinton has continually polarised and impressed.
As First Lady, Clinton was instrumental in formulating health care policy and was known as a heavy hitter when it came to high ranking decisions.
Clinton ran a solid campaign for the Democratic nomination in 2008 but was edged out by Barack Obama. She was made Secretary of State for the first term of the Obama Government and performed strongly. The Republican Party crucified Clinton for her handling of Benghazi, but the incident in Libya is unlikely to destroy her chances of becoming President.
With Clinton in the White House, she brings with her a plethora of experience in her husband, Bill – arguably one of the most successful post-war Presidents.
Vice President, former US Senator from Delaware
No stranger to a Presidential campaign, Vice President Joe Biden is a Democratic veteran. He ran for office in 1988 and twenty years later in 2008, and he is set for another shot at the White House come 2016. Biden is affable and recognisable, thanks to his tenure as VP. He is likeable, unassuming and Irish Catholic, but having stood next to a maligned President for the last few years, his stock may have lowered.
He was 30 when he was elected to the Senate (the minimum age required to hold office) and suffered immense tragedy in the weeks after his election. His wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident, leaving Biden to look after two sons; he commuted via train from Wilmington in Delaware to Washington D.C. every day (a one and a half hour trip) to ensure he could be at home every day for his sons.
Biden’s major downfall leading into this election will be his age. At 72, he will be an old Candidate and this could prove a crucial point of contention for many voters. Obama’s choice to endorse either him or Hillary Clinton (as is expected) will be a major game changer.
Representative from Illinois
An outside chance, Luis Gutierrez has had an intriguing career as a Democratic political figure and Latino activist. Of Puerto Rican descent, Gutierrez has been compared to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. due to his use of non-violent civil disobedience in his advocacy.
Gutierrez is a vocal advocate of workers' rights, LGBT rights and gender equality. His heritage will make him popular with the Latino vote, but his progressiveness may not be palatable to the majority of white America.
It would be unlikely the Democratic Party would endorse such a progressive and unknown candidate, but Gutierrez has certainly earned the right to throw his hat in the ring.
Governor of Maryland, Former Mayor of Baltimore
Martin O’Malley, as his name would suggest, is an Irish Catholic and the Governor of Maryland with a track record of progress and tax reform. He has overseen the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Maryland, as well as the outlawing of Capital Punishment.
His national ambitions are considered the ‘worst kept secret in Maryland’ and in 2013, he admitted he was laying the framework for a Presidential Run.
His issue will be going up against the big hitters in Clinton and Biden with his relative inexperience on the national stage.
Although it is unlikely O’Malley will succeed in 2016, he should definitely be earmarked for future elections.
Former Governor of Pennsylvania, Former Mayor of Philadelphia
Ed Rendell spent eight years as the Governor of Pennsylvania. His tenure as Governor was highlighted by his ability to capture traditionally Republican suburbs of Philadelphia, as well as retaining heavily Democratic areas (largely due to his previous role as Mayor of Philadelphia).
After his gubernatorial career ended in 2011, Ed Rendell returned to his former law firm, Ballard Spahr.
Rendell was touted as a possible running mate for John Kerry’s 2004 Presidential ticket, and his popularity in Philadelphia helped the Democrats secure the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania.
Rendell has said publicly that if Hillary Clinton is to forgo her opportunity for a run at the White House, he would step up. In his words: ‘well, why not?’
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