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For many, Clinton, who started as the solid favorite for the Democratic nomination only to have Obama snatch it from her, is the prohibitive favorite for her party’s nomination if she wants it. At this point, we just don’t know if she will want it. Maybe the former first lady doesn’t even know yet.
Biden, who will turn 71 toward the end of this year, was mocked often during Obama’s first term, but the former Delaware senator’s role in negotiating a deal to avert the fiscal cliff and his lead role in trying to come up with gun legislation that could be both effective and enacted suddenly makes him look like a more serious contender in 2016, if he chooses to run.
After Clinton and Biden, the list becomes more speculative. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley are seen as ambitious and interested. Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer probably should be on the list as well.
Cuomo’s oratorical skills and access to New York state’s Democratic dollars can’t be ignored, and while O’Malley didn’t exactly set the world on fire at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, his state has put up good numbers on education and his very liberal views could be appealing to Democrats. Schweitzer has a folksy quality that many like, though I have felt for years that he tries way too hard.
If Clinton takes a pass, another woman or two could well come forward (New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has received mention, but other names are sure to circulate, as well), and given the makeup of the Democratic Party, a serious minority contender certainly can’t be ruled out.
Compared with the early Democratic line, the list of possible GOP hopefuls looks about the size of the cast of “Les Misérables.”
Unsuccessful vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal surely have to be at or near the top of any list.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who resisted efforts to draft him into last year’s race, sounds more likely to run in 2016, though he probably hurt himself more with rank-and-file Republicans with his comments praising Obama after Superstorm Sandy than most national political reporters now understand.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who ended up being the final anti-Mitt Romney alternative in the race for the 2012 GOP nomination, is acting as if he will be a candidate, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry has indicated that his seriously flawed run last year wouldn’t preclude him from making another try. (Perry, of course, has not announced whether he will seek re-election in 2014.)
Two high-profile governors over the past couple of years, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, probably should be on any list. McDonnell leaves office at the end of this year, so he will need a way to remain relevant after that. One senator who need not worry about that is Kentucky’s Rand Paul, who is widely seen as a future presidential contender, possibly as early as 2016.