Jennifer Rubin looks at GOP candidates: ‘They’re off! (for 2016)’

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Pragmatic conservative writer Jennifer Rubin took a look Monday in the Washington Post at the Republican candidates lining up for a run at the 2016 presidential race. In her Right Turn blog post titled ‘They’re off! (for 2016),’ Rubin comments on the GOP field.

In a nod to the strength of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s exploration and sure entry into the contest, Rubin notes, “The race has and will continue to be a contest between Bush and the most electable not-Bush candidate.”

Here are some of Rubin’s observations from her post:

Top Tier – Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush:

Bush has the money, the record (it should be evident now how conservative he is on guns, foreign policy and most everything else) and the organization to go the distance. There is, however, real concern about Bush fatigue, whether he has the fire in the belly to ignite crowds and if someone else would be a better match-up against Hillary Clinton.

Top Tier – Not-Bush candidates:

Scott Walker: “Walker has executive experience, a pugnacious personality, self-discipline (to get up to speed on foreign policy, for one thing), an organization fit for a national contest and enough money for now. He’ll say Rubio lacks executive experience and Perry is of the last generation while he would be a stark contrast to Clinton.”

Marco Rubio: Rubio will argue the main issue of our times is foreign policy and there is no one better than he. He’ll paint Walker as too inexperienced on that score and make the case that if you want an eloquent and dynamic contrast to Clinton, he’s the best choice. He will have plenty of money, top-flight advisers and political skills galore.

Rick Perry: Then there is Perry who bears virtually no resemblance to the Perry of 2012. He’s yet to give a bad performance, has superb retail political skills, can give a stem-winder, has become expert in foreign policy and has arguably the best and longest conservative record in the field. He will say both Rubio and Walker are too untested, less accomplished than he and not yet ready to stand on the stage and compare favorably to Clinton.

Second Tier:

Rubin notes that, “Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) … lack the strengths of the first tier not-Bush candidates in temperament, broad appeal and accomplishments.”

For Ted Cruz: “Cruz doesn’t get that it is not all about him,” and adds:

When he demands to know who else suffered as much as he at the hands of liberals, he asks us to forget that his “suffering” is deliberately calculated to advance his own career. More important, no one cares how much he has been criticized; they care what he has done for them. The answer is virtually nothing. He’s a magnificent gadfly who lacks achievements. That’s not a presidential profile.

Ouch.

Rand Paul doesn’t fare much better:

Paul still wants the administration to keep talking to Iran (haven’t they given away enough?) an thinks there are “good things” in the Iran deal. Those sentiments alone are enough to disqualify him in the GOP race. He is otherwise bedeviled by the rest of his national security record, his prickly personality and his mediocre retail skills (he often appears disengaged and bored, lacking warmth and failing to project real interest in those he is meeting).

Third Tier:

Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the rest will need a lightening-in-the-bottle moment. However, one of them, or Rick Santorum or Ben Carson, could upset one of the top contenders in Iowa, thereby knocking that contender from the race.

So as of now the Democrats have Hillary who has formally declared, and Republicans have Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul. Stay tuned … there are plenty more to come.

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