Plays for the 2016 Presidency…Yes, Even in 2014

August 27, 2014

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WITH ONLY TWO YEARS until the 2016 national elections (802 days, as SiriusXM’s Tim Farley might remind us), Americans want to know, Who’s running for president.  Right?  Either that or, like an Apple iPhone tease, we’re being fooled into asking the question, Is it here yet?!  To wit, here are some plays being run by savvy politicos, listed in alphabetical order, who by degrees might like to have their names on our minds:

140430090111-tec19-rand-paulVice President Joe Biden (D)  He goes where he’s asked, but man does he get out.  This week, not unlike others, Biden is pressing the flesh at quasi-campaign stops.  His play is a Draft on the presidency — not his unpopular boss — but the office of the president, an institution he can easily follow, feed off of and, when the time is right, use it to slingshot ahead.

Fmr. Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL)  It’s all in the name for Jeb Bush, but few are writing him off as a 2016 contender.  His plays for now are Deflects (e.g., “I don’t know…haven’t there been enough Bushs in The White House?”) and Pings in the form of well-placed speeches at well-attended GOP confabs.  Either way, his are assessing plays, subtle but engaged enough to keep him in the mix.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)  Just as the Monty Python classic laments, “I’m not dead yet,” so go the hopes of a kinetic but politically dying New Jersey governor.  Christie’s Bridgegate is a Label that still sticks and which has neatly flipped his reputation from a tough-talker into a bully.  He’s not so much running plays as he is trying to counter the ones that are being run on him.

Fmr. Secy. of State Hillary Clinton (D)  For Hillary, the family name is crucial too, but contrasted to Jeb, Clinton’s game is a one-eighty.  Taking her weekly speaking gigs into account, the many random awards, the summer-long book tour, the prime-time TV drop bys, etc., Clinton’s moves describe a nervous or insecure candidate, one who seems craven for attention and who is willing to repeat her failed 2008 campaign of inevitability.  Her principle play to date is a Peacock: def., the unsolicited promotion of a novelty or innovation.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)  He is the tail that wags the Senate dog and a tea party darling, known for his modern filibusters (Peacocks) and post-filibuster spin (Deflects).  In any case, Cruz’s serial strategy is to (1) raise hackles to (2) raise awareness to (3) raise questions of his candidacy.  That Christie has faltered gives Cruz precious greenfield in the straight-talk category, one that is bound to play well in 2016.

Rep. Rand Paul (R-KY)  He is the most serious candidate with the least serious odds.  Like his father, Paul’s ideas are rooted in fundamentals but still too extreme for the GOP base.  Still, Paul’s been busy and clever, taking trips, for instance, to Silicon Valley where — waddaya know — there are serious people with serious money and serious questions about how it’s getting spent.  Paul could be standing at a new intersection of mainstream politics and libertarian-minted nouveau riche.  His principle plays are Trial Balloons (Look at it this way) and Challenges (We can do this differently?).

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX)  Rick Perry’s objective is to redeem himself as a viable presidential candidate.  And he’s succeeding.  His strategy, by accident or design, is to exploit crises.  Look no further than his leadership of the immigration mess on his state’s border and his stare-down with state prosecutors who tossed him an indictment for state office over-reach.  His plays are, aptly, Crazy Ivans.

There are more, of course.  Take Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) whose chances at a Democratic party nomination are so long that he’s been given the nod from Team Clinton — a foil and play toy for the primary, perhaps.  There’s Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) who only covets a house leadership spot or so we’re told.  But his books and plans are well-timed to cast him as a pragmatic and a do-er among ideologues and show horses.  Don’t forget Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) who, one thought, was bound to be the right’s poster child for immigration.  He may still be if Perry weakens.  Finally, there’s the populists’ populist, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who is adamant she’ll not run.  But who else, after all, if Hillary’s peacocks get plucked?

Post by Alan Kelly

Image credit: Fortune Magazine