The good news for the Republican party is that pound for pound, this is the best field of candidates ever assembled before Presidential primaries. Three or four of the candidates would have been better choices than anyone on the Republican side since 1984. The bad news is that only one can be the nominee and the presence of so many is hurting that person’s chances of winning the general election.
It isn’t just about the confusion that has ensued. Even in late 2011 when there were several valid candidates vying for attention and taking turns leading in the polls, the course was relatively clear because we only had to hear from a few of them at a time. Now, we get flooded with opinions from so many of them that it’s hard to keep track if you’re not a pundit or enthusiast. Even those hovering in the lower echelon are getting plenty of air time which takes away from the serious candidates.
The bigger problem is with fundraising. With so many people asking for money, the GOP donations are being spread too thin. This isn’t a problem on the Democratic side where two people are splitting the pot. For Republicans, there are millions of dollars being donated to campaigns that have absolutely no chance of winning the nomination. This is a waste.
Lastly, there needs to be some deals made quickly. It’s clear that Lindsey Graham is not running for Commander-in-Chief as he says he is but rather he’s vying for Secretary of Defense or even Secretary of State. The top candidates need to assure him that he will get his wish if he drops out now. The same is true for Chris Christie who is technically running for Attorney General. He would fit perfectly in this role under Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. These campaigns need to make that clear to him so he can get out of the way.
Here are the candidates who need to leave after the next debate:
- Mike Huckabee – The evangelical vote that gave him a chance in 2008 has gone to Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. Now, Huckabee is appealing to the elderly vote but it’s not enough to carry him through. However, it could help another candidate win the nomination if he pushes his support in their direction. Now that he’s not on the main debate stage, it’s time to throw in the towel.
- Chris Christie – As with Huckabee, he was relegated to the kiddie table for the next debate. He’s made his point, demonstrated his skills when it comes to defending his positions, and has secured the ability to get the cabinet position he’s always wanted.
- Rand Paul – Even though his numbers are barely good enough to stay on the main debate floor, he can’t win the election. Even though that fact alone is not enough to push him out the door, the fact that he could also lose his Senate seat if he doesn’t start shifting his campaign in that direction soon is definitely reason enough. As a Senator, he is one of the best.
- Bobby Jindal – He’s made enough of a fuss to get attention for another run in 2020 (if the Republicans lose in 2016) or 2024. He could even make a strong play for a VP spot if Jeb Bush or John Kasich get the nod.
- Rick Santorum – He really should never have run in the first place. His chance was 2012 and he simply didn’t make it. Now, he hopes he can pull a play out of Mitt Romney’s book and improve on previous losses, but it’s clear that this run is nowhere near as good as the last one. He’s now embarrassing himself.
- George Pataki – There’s no light at all for Pataki. No cabinet position. Maybe an ambassadorship. Otherwise, he did more harm to his legacy by throwing his name in and failing miserably.
- Lindsey Graham – Secretary of Defense Graham will be a nice shift after the line of failures that President Obama has put out there over the last seven years.
If we can get the field down to a manageable level, the party will have a much better chance of winning in the general election. The longer that these people stay in, the harder it’s going to be to beat Hillary Clinton or even Bernie Sanders. They must go quickly.