Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Biden 2016?

It hardly seems likely, but the veep's not ruling himself out... yet.

And, you know, it's never too early to start thinking about future presidential elections. Well, sure, it can be, but what's interesting is how many top-name Republicans seem to be staying out of the race for 2012 while keeping their options open for 2016.

Think about it. Obama looks pretty formidable. Were he to win, 2016 would be an open race in both parties. There's no natural successor to Obama other than Hillary or Biden, though either one, and especially Hillary, would be a strong contender in a field that could include the likes of Kaine, Warner, and Cuomo.

But whoever's in the Democratic field, Republicans will likely have a much better shot of winning than against Obama. And so while the 2012 Republican field is pathetically weak, the 2016 field could include the likes of Ryan, Rubio, Jeb Bush, Jindal, and any number of other up-and-coming or established stars.

Sure, some of the explanation for this year's weak Republican field is generational. After McCain, there was no natural successor in the GOP, excapt maybe Jeb, and some of the young stars, like Rubio and Ryan, just aren't ready for a presidential run. But I really do think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Obama -- who, let us not forget, looked vulnerable not so long ago -- has weathered the Republican storm and emerged as a potent political force with solid approval ratings and a campaign all set to recover the successes of 2008.

For some, like Romney and Pawlenty, this may be the only shot ever to win the nomination. For many others, though, running would mean a grinding primary campaign and, for the winner, a likely loss next November. It makes much more sense, it would seem, to wait for 2016, when the Democratic opponent will be much more beatable (and when the GOP may be a bit more willing to accept a less extremist nominee, perhaps if the Tea Party loses some of its influence).

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