Ready to run
Marek Mazurek | Tuesday, March 31, 2015
2016 is going to be a big year. As a sports writer, I am looking forward to the Summer Olympics, but as an American, I am looking forward to the presidential election. I am aware the election is more than a year away, and, yes, you still have some time before you are bombarded with ads, but with Ted Cruz’s announcement, the campaign season has officially begun.
Cruz will soon be joined by Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio in officially seeking the presidency as both Paul and Rubio are set to announce their bids in early April. The question is, what does this all mean?
This will be the first campaign for all three candidates and so all three will inevitably have gaffs and skeletons in the closet waiting to be uncovered. As the situation stands, all the three Republican candidates set to run have major challenges ahead.
Looking at their policies, Cruz and Paul are both proud members of the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party. Cruz has focused mostly on wasteful government spending and is famous for reading “Green Eggs and Ham” in connection to government shutdown. Though also believing in a more limited government, Paul has focused more on civil liberties issues like the NSA overreach and is more known for his proposed isolationist foreign policy. These differences, however, are subtle and to many, Cruz and Paul are not distinguishable. This fact will cause the two to split the Tea Party vote within the Republican Party and ultimately, one will have to drop out fairly early if the Tea Party will have a candidate represented at the Republican National Convention.
Rubio, however, is an establishment Republican and many in the Republican leadership like his Hispanic heritage and his connection to the swing state of Florida. Ironically, Rubio’s biggest challenge may in fact be his Hispanic heritage. It is widely known that the Hispanic vote has gone to the Democrats in the last few election cycles, and Rubio’s candidacy will appear, to some, as a shameless appeal to race. To prevent this, Rubio needs to develop a platform that includes more than just immigration reform. This may be difficult as Rubio is not known for much else at this stage in his career and it will be interesting to see whether his economic policies lean more towards those of Paul and Cruz or towards the center.
Fundraising will also be a challenge for Rubio. The big donors of the party are more likely to give to better known contenders like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, while Tea Party donors will flock to Paul or Cruz, leaving Rubio out in the cold. Even fellow middle-of-the-road Republican hopeful, Scott Walker, has a fundraising infrastructure in place from his gubernatorial recall election.
Another distinguishing feature for Cruz, Paul and Rubio is that they are all fairly young. Cruz is 44, Paul is 52 and Rubio is 43, and this means this election is not the last we will see of these candidates. For some or all of these three, winning the nomination in 2016 may not be the end goal. However, the election of 2020 will prove much more difficult with an incumbent president and this fact may have rushed Cruz and Rubio to run before they are fully ready.
Though many other hopefuls, like Bush, Christie, Walker and Trump — I couldn’t resist — have yet to announce, the Republican picture is clearer than it was last week. The campaign is a challenge and few are up to it. Whether Rubio, Cruz or Paul are up to that challenge remains to be seen.