Is this the cradle of 2016 contenders?

September 30, 2014 Posted by admin

The Tristate has four – yes, four – potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates: Rob Portman, Rand Paul, John Kasich and Mike Pence. Maybe it’s something in the water that makes our local politicians more apt to have an eye on the White House. Whatever the reason, here’s what you need to know about the region’s possible contenders – who they are, whether they will run and whether they’ve got what it takes to win.

Name: Rob Portman

Current job: U.S. senator from Ohio

Age: 59

Family: Married to Jane Portman; three children

Resume: U.S. House, 1995-2003; U.S. Trade Representative under President George W. Bush, 2005-06; Office of Management and Budget director under Bush, 2006-07; U.S. Senate, since 2010.

Three reasons he could win the GOP nomination:

• Portman has “a billion-dollar Rolodex,” as GOP consultant and Portman political confidant Barry Bennett recently told the Washington Times. That means the Ohio Republican can probably raise the millions he would need for a White House bid; he also has extensive political and business connections he could tap for a national campaign.

• Ohio played a key role in the 2012 GOP primary race, and it’s always been pivotal in the general election. No Republican candidate has ever won the White House without winning Ohio, so Portman could use his Buckeye State roots as a major selling point in any campaign.

• He has a gold-plated resume, with experience serving in Congress and the executive branch. And because he is not an ideologue or partisan lightning rod, he could appeal to Democrats and independents.

Three reasons he could lose the GOP nomination:

• His support for same-sex marriage will make him untenable to social conservatives, a voting bloc that will play a huge role in determining which Republican candidate wins the nomination. Social conservatives play key roles in two early states in the Republican nominating calendar: the Iowa caucuses and the South Carolina primary.

• One of the biggest knocks on Portman is that he’s boring – or “vanilla” as some pundits put it – lacking the charisma of other possible GOP contenders, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Portman’s allies say that’s a misperception, but there’s no question he’s a button-down, straight-laced policy wonk.

• If there’s any tarnish on Portman’s political resume, it’s from the time he spent working in the Bush administration. In particular, his stint at the helm of Bush’s budget office could hurt Portman’s efforts to portray himself as a crusader for fiscal discipline, since Bush ended his presidency amid mounting national debt and an economy in full meltdown.

How he’s polling: Portman is not even a blip at this point. He’s not on most pollsters’ lists of possible GOP nominees whom they ask voters about right now, and when they do ask about him, he doesn’t move the needle. In an October 2013 New Hampshire survey, for example, Portman’s support didn’teven reach 1 percent.

How he’s maneuvering: Portman traveled to New Hampshire last month, and he’s heading to Iowa next month. He says his visits to those crucial presidential primary states are focused on efforts to help Senate Republicans win a majority in 2014, but they serve a secondary purpose. He’s also beefing up his foreign policy bona fides, with a recent trip to Ukraine and calls for strong action against the militant Islamic group known as ISIS.

What he’s said about 2016:Portman has said that if hedoesn’t see another strong GOP candidate who he thinks could win a general election, then “I will take a look” at running for president. “But right now, I’m planning just to run for Senate in Ohio.”

Our translation:If former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush doesn’t get in the race, Portman will.

Name: Rand Paul

Current job:U.S. senator from Kentucky

Age:51

Family: Married to Kelley Ashby; three children

Resume:Ophthalmologist; member of U.S. Senate since 2011.

Three reasons he could win the GOP nomination:

He is working it, big time. Paul has made multiple trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, and he has paid advisers on the ground in both of those critical presidential states. He’s already considered the early front-runner, albeit in a very unsettled Republican field.

He already has an enthusiastic following. Here’s an assessment from the Washington Post’s politics blog: “He starts with the activist and donor base his father, Ron, built during two presidential campaigns. Onto that he adds his own political skills and a Republican agenda that, of all the potential candidates this side of Jeb Bush, might have a real chance at expanding the party’s coalition in 2016.”

He’s a tea party darling, but he’s also made a concerted appeal to minority voters to broaden the GOP’s appeal. He has espoused expanded voting rights and drug sentencing reform, and he has grabbed headlines by speaking to civil-rights group that usually align with Democrats.

Three reasons he could lose the GOP nomination:

The GOP establishment doesn’t want Paul to be the party’s nominee. Top GOP strategists and deep-pocketed donors think he’s too far-right fringy to win a general election, and they can exercise a lot of muscle in the political process.

Paul has shifted positions on a bevy of issues, attracting accusations that he’s a finger-to-the-wind politician. Just read the first three paragraphs of this Sept. 14 Washington Post story:

Sen. Rand Paul wanted to eliminate aid to Israel. Now he doesn’t. He wanted to scrap the Medicare system. Now he’s not sure.

He didn’t like the idea of a border fence – it was expensive, and it reminded him of the Berlin Wall. Now he wants two fences, one behind the other.

And what about same-sex marriage? Paul’s position – such marriages are morally wrong, but Republicans should stop obsessing about them – seems so muddled that an Iowa pastor recently confronted him in frustration.

He’s got skeletons: Paul has been accused of plagiarizing parts of his speeches and elements of his book, “Government Bullies.” And one of his a former Senate aides is a one-time advocate of secession who wore a Confederate mask and expressed support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

How he’s polling: According to a RealClearPolitcs analysis of 2016 polls, Paul is near the top of the still-forming GOP field. RCP’s average of 2016 surveys shows Christie leading the pack with 11.5 percent support, followed by Jeb Bush at 10.8 percent and Paul with 10.3 percent.

How he’s maneuvering: Every which way.

What he’s said about 2016: “We really haven’t finally decided,” Paul said in a recent interview with RealClearPolitics. “My wife is not completely convinced of it. And some of it is that things can change. Within six months, will we still be in a position, through national surveys, that people think we can compete? Will there be a reason why we couldn’t? So I think you have to wait a little while until you get closer to the season of campaigning for that office.”

Our translation: Wild horses couldn’t keep him out of the 2016 race.

Name: John Kasich

Current job:Ohio governor

Age:62

Family: Married to Karen Waldbillig Kasich; two children

Resume:Ohio Legislature, 1979-1982; U.S. House, 1983-2000; unsuccessful run for president, 2000; a managing director with Lehman Bros., 2001-08; Fox News commentator, 2001-09; governor of Ohio, since 2011.

Three reasons he could win the GOP nomination:

He’s the governor of a major battleground state headed for an easy re-election in 2014. That’s a big selling point.

He can say he presided over an economic comeback in a state hard hit by the recession – delivering tax cuts and budget surpluses, Medicaid expansion and prison reform. Some pundits say Kasich has crafted a new brand of “compassionate” conservatism.

The son of a mailman who grew up in the Pittsburgh area, Kasich has “blue-collar roots” and can connect with “average folks,” former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., told the National Journal in January. In other words, he’s not GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and he probably wouldn’t get caught dissing nearly half the electorate as people “who are dependent on government” and “believe that they are victims.” (The infamous “47 percent” remark.)

Three reasons he could lose the GOP nomination:

Kasich embraced one of the most controversial elements of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law: Medicaid expansion. The Affordable Care Act is still toxic among Republicans, and any politician supporting Medicaid expansion can expect to face sharp attacks linking them to what’s become known as “Obamacare.”

Kasich took a beating in 2011 when voters resoundingly rejected the centerpiece of his first-term agenda – a law he signed in March of that year to restrict collective bargaining rights for public-sector union workers. Less than eight months later, Ohio voters approved a state referendum repealing that measure, known as Senate Bill 5. The defeat left Kasich reeling, with Politico, a Washington news outlet, writing that the vote had left “serious tread marks” on Kasich and he had “fast become his party’s poster boy for conservative overreach.”

There’s plenty of other fodder that Kasich critics could dig up for attack ads, including his support in 1994 for a ban on assault weapons and his stint as a managing director of Lehman Bros. before the economic meltdown.

How he’s polling: Like Portman, Kasich isn’t included in most national 2016 surveys at this point. In the October 2013 New Hampshire poll, Kasich got the same asterisk as Portman. * = Less than 1 percent. In Ohio, he fares better, but he would still lose a hypothetical match-up against possible Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. In a July survey by Quinnipiac University, for example, Ohio respondents choose Clinton over Kasich by 47 percent to 40 percent.

How he’s maneuvering:Kasich went to Las Vegas in March to meet with GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. Adelson invited the Ohio Republican and three other possible 2016 GOP candidates to speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition and meet with him privately. In what some have called the “Sheldon primary,” the casino executive is actively looking for a mainstream Republican to back financially in the 2016 race.

What he’s said about 2016: “All I’m considering now is winning and keeping Ohio going,” Kasich recently told The Enquirer. “When I was very young … I’d see the governors walking around, and I’m like, ‘Gosh, that’s the governor there.’ Now I’m the governor. … This is the job I want. Period.”

Our translation: Ask that question again after the governor’s race is over. Kasich might open the door a little wider.

Name: Mike Pence

Current job:Indiana governor

Age:55

Family:Married to Karen Pence; three children

Resume:U.S. House, 2001-12; Indiana governor, since 2013.

Three reasons he could win the GOP nomination:

Pence has stellar conservative credentials on fiscal and social issues alike. In Congress, he was an early member of the Tea Party Caucus and crusaded to defund Planned Parenthood. In Indiana, he has pushed to cut taxes and increase school vouchers, although he’s recently taken some flak from conservatives over his push for an alternative version of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, among other decisions.

He could benefit from deep ties to influential conservative groups, such as the Club for Growth and the Heritage Foundation. He’s also allied with David and Charles Koch, the wealthy GOP brothers who have a powerful national political network.

He’s a governor from America’s heartland who also knows his way around Washington.

Three reasons he could lose the GOP nomination:

He’s an unknown without a big federal campaign account. “He’d have to go from zero to 50 pretty fast,” Robert Dion, chair of the political science department at the University of Evansville, told the Indianapolis Star this year.

Some see him as too conservative to be able win a general election. Like Paul, he could face resistance from major GOP donors who don’t want to see him as the party’s nominee.

Despite a long career in public office, Pence doesn’t have a long list of accomplishments. He’s been Indiana’s governor for two years, for example, but he won’t submit his first budget until next year because the state is on a two-year budget cycle.

How he’s polling: Like Portman and Kasich, Pence hasn’t yet made it onto the list of possible presidential candidates pollsters are asking about.

How he’s maneuvering:He’s been beefing up his foreign policy portfolio, with a trip to Germany, where he touted Indiana businesses, visited U.S. troops, and blasted the Obama administration as too soft on Russia.

What he’s said about 2016: “I can tell you that, for a small-town guy from southern Indiana who grew up with a cornfield in his backyard, it’s a very humbling thing to be mentioned for the highest office in the land,” he recently told the Wall Street Journal. “But my focus is on Indiana.”

Our translation: Just cut a few lines from that answer (like the last six words), and you’ve got the makings of a nice little presidential stump speech.

Gannett Washington Bureau reporter Maureen Groppe contributed.

Article source: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/elections/2014/09/29/cradle-contenders/16463723/

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