The calculus for the 2016 race for the White House has shifted after 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney decided not to run again. Here are a few of the possible contenders:
Jeb Bush: Is the country ready for a third Bush president? The former Florida governor, brother of one president and son of another, has been testing the waters of a White House bid. But his moderate positions on immigration, education and other issues mean Bush, 61, is not popular among many conservatives. His Right to Rise political action committee hired a strategist who in 2012 ran Romney’s campaign in Iowa, one of the first states with presidential nominating contests.
Mike Huckabee: A former Arkansas governor, Huckabee, 59, ran unsuccessfully in 2008 and refused to run in 2012 despite his popularity with influential evangelical leaders and voters. In late January, while promoting his book “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” he was asked by NBC if he was going to seek the nomination and said, “It’s pretty evident I’m moving in that direction.”
Rand Paul: The Kentucky senator, 51, has not been shy about his White House ambitions, hinting he will follow the path of his father, Ron Paul, and run for president. While the elder Paul was a perennial loser in Republican primaries, his libertarian-leaning son has made an effort to broaden his appeal with appearances before young and minority audiences that are not normally considered fertile ground for Republicans. The chairman of the Republican Party in Texas, a state with lots of rich donors, has left that job to join Paul’s camp.
Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor, 52, has fought hard to cultivate an image as a brash bipartisan deal-maker from a blue state. His potential candidacy suffered a setback with the January 2014 “Bridgegate” scandal, but he has used his status as head of the Republican Governors Association to raise money and campaign for candidates in 2014, gathering favors along the way. He formed a political action committee in January.
Scott Walker: Walker, 47, won many conservative hearts in his first term as Wisconsin governor by cutting collective bargaining rights for public workers’ unions. He survived a 2012 recall election and won a second term in 2014. Although lacking the name recognition of some other potential candidates at a conservative forum in Iowa in January, Walker generated positive buzz there and followed it up by creating Our American Revival, an organization that allows him to raise money in a first step toward a campaign.
Ted Cruz: Cruz, 43, is the Texas tea party favorite who championed the government shutdown of October 2013 because of his staunch opposition to Obama’s health care law. The senator has gathered influence in Washington despite his firebrand status, and his national popularity among conservatives has many of his supporters excited for 2016.
Marco Rubio: Rubio, 43, was swept into the Senate in the tea party wave of 2010. The Floridian has since gained a reputation as a national figure, but he has been fighting to strengthen his ties to conservatives after drawing their ire in 2013 for helping lead a failed push for comprehensive immigration reform. He has taken steps to start a political action committee.
Rick Santorum: A favorite of the Christian right, the former Pennsylvania senator, 56, won the Iowa caucuses in 2012 and was an active campaigner in the 2014 election cycle. He says he has not decided whether he will run, but a website is accepting contributions for a presidential campaign.
Lindsey Graham: The South Carolina senator, a close ally of 2008 Republican nominee John McCain, has formed an exploratory committee. Graham, a hawk on security issues and moderate on some others, said he wants to see if “my form of conservatism … will be accepted outside of South Carolina.”
Rick Perry: The longest-serving governor in Texas history crashed out of 2012’s nominating process after an embarrassing debate performance in which he forgot the third government agency he proposed to eliminate. But Perry, 64, has spent the time since then preparing himself for a run and promoting his state’s economic growth. He has been indicted in Texas on charges of trying to force a county prosecutor to resign but dismisses it as a political move by his enemies and considers the indictment a “badge of honor.”
Bobby Jindal: Frequently mentioned as a vice presidential contender, Louisiana’s governor has made it clear he is eyeing a White House run. The former Rhodes scholar, 43, came under fire in early 2013 when he warned his party it needed to “stop being the stupid party.”
Hillary Clinton: The former U.S. secretary of state and the wife of former President Bill Clinton lost an acrimonious Democratic presidential nominating battle to Barack Obama in 2008, but she is the consensus front-runner and holds a large lead in preliminary polls over all potential Democratic challengers. Clinton, 67, has not said whether she plans to run, but supporters have built a national campaign structure to await her candidacy, including a pair of high-profile super political action committees. Since leaving the State Department in 2013, Clinton has been giving a series of paid speeches and campaigning for Democrats.
Joe Biden: The vice president, 71, has served alongside Obama since 2008. Before that, the outspoken foreign policy expert served six terms as a senator from Delaware. Biden, who mounted losing presidential bids in 1988 and 2008, has hinted he is considering running again.
Elizabeth Warren: The first-term Massachusetts senator has so far brushed aside pleas from liberal supporters that she run for president, but the former Harvard Law School professor and persistent Wall Street antagonist, 65, is still a favorite of progressive activists.
Jim Webb: Despite being a long shot, the former Virginia senator became the first person to officially take serious steps toward candidacy when he started an exploratory committee in November. Webb, 68, was secretary of the navy under Republican President Ronald Reagan.
Martin O’Malley: O’Malley served two terms as governor of Maryland, leaving office at the end of 2014. He spent much of the last year campaigning for Democrats around the country, particularly in New Hampshire and Iowa, the first two states with presidential nominating contests, and he had plans to visit New Hampshire again in March.
Bernie Sanders: Vermont’s independent senator was a frequent visitor to Iowa and New Hampshire during the 2014 election cycle and planned to go back to New Hampshire in late January. The self-described socialist, 73, has said he might run for president — a move many political observers believe would be designed to push Clinton to the left.
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