Friday, May 2, 2014

From where I sit...

...this morning, the 2016 GOP race may come down to Jeb Bush vs. Rand Paul.

While Bush represents the Republican establishment, the Old Guard and the foreign policy interventionist wings of the party, Paul will be the candidate of the Tea Party, which emerged largely as a reaction to the presidency of George W. Bush.

What about Chris Christie, you might ask. Too damaged. Bush wouldn't be running if Christie were the establishment candidate. Marco Rubio? A Bush protege who won't compete with his former mentor. Paul Ryan? More interested in the House Ways and Means job. Ted Cruz? Too extreme. Mike Huckabee? Won't run. Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, etc.? Don't bother.

So who would win in a contest between Bush and Paul? Well, the former president's brother (and son) has the backing of the establishment, but does he have the stomach for a race? I have no doubt that he'd like to be president, but does he want to run for president? Paul, on the other hand, has the requisite fire in the belly and the fervent support of the base and voters in important early states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Either way, it would be a battle for the soul of the Republican Party.

What do I think? If I had to bet I'd go with the establishment candidate. But 2016 may be different; it could be another Goldwater moment for the GOP. In any case, absent another recession, I can't see either one of them beating Hillary.

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