Sunday, May 17, 2015

The GOP presidential nomination: A crowded stage and many reasons for being there

By Richard Barry

As it is becoming increasingly clear that Jeb Bush's path to the GOP presidential nomination is anything but certain, party officials are growing concerned that the process could continue on well into the spring of 2016, with all the problems that prolonged internal snipping could bring.
This could cost presidential aspirants tens of millions of dollars; pull them far to the right ideologically, from hot-button social issues to foreign policy; and jeopardize their general-election chances. And in such a muddled lineup — officials are planning to squeeze 10 or more contenders onto the debate stage — candidates will be rewarded for finding creative ways to gain notice.

“We’re in a danger zone,” said Doug Gross, a top Republican establishment figure in Iowa. “When the party poobahs put this process together, they thought they could telescope this to get us a nominee who could appeal to a broad cross-section of people. What we’ve got instead is a confederation of a lot of candidates who aren’t standing out — and in order to stand out, you need to scream the loudest.”

This is not news, but it does put a couple of observations in play. There will be candidates on that stage who are not there because they think they can win. Mike Huckabee's lucrative Fox career can only be furthered by saying the kinds of things from the perspective of the religious right that have made him famous. Ted Cruz, already loathed by his more mainstream Republican colleagues, will be focused on setting himself up as the leader in Congress and beyond of a radical right-wing movement, sort of like Sarah Palin with a brain. It's not Rand Paul's time, but he's young and will be looking at this election cycle to set himself up for the future. Fiorina, Carson, and on and on depending on who gets asked to participate are there for their own reasons.

So, yes, candidates will be looking to get noticed on a crowded stage, but not just those who are in a position to win the nomination, but others with various agendas not necessarily in tune with the needs of the GOP, which will make things even more dangerous for the eventual nominee and the party.

If "softening their image and expanding their appeal" is how Republicans win the White House in 2016, this is not how to do it.


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