The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. —THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1788

Does the GOP have a candidate who can beat Hillary in 2016?

As a Republican hoping that my party will retake the White House in 2016, I watched with intense interest as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talked and talked and talked his way out of ”Bridgegate.”

The general consensus is that Christie did a decent job of bemoaning his circumstances and keeping his cool, considering that the damaging political/legal issues have only just begun.

But it was Christie’s “I am not a bully” persona that reminded me just how truly weak the entire bench of Republican presidential hopefuls is for 2016.

Sure, before Bridgegate and just after Christie’s victory in New Jersey there were a few national polls that showed Christie either tied or close to Hillary Clinton. In some, he was actually shown as ahead of her.

Indeed, dealing with Bridgegate could even make Christie a stronger candidate. However, national polls mean nothing three years before a general election. (Just ask the 2006-2007 presidential “front runner,” Rudy Giuliani, how that early status worked out for him.)

The problem for the GOP in 2016 goes much deeper than whether Christie can overcome his first big crisis. (Sorry, unlike some Republicans I do not count Christie’s embrace of President Obama during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 as a hurdle that he needs to overcome.)

What I am referring to is the Herculean task before Christie of winning the 2016 Republican nomination given that the conservative wing and primary-controlling base voters are ferociously anti-Christie for numerous political and policy reasons, among them Medicaid expansion and gun control just for starters.

Here is a representative comment written by your average right-leaning Republican on RedState, the influential conservative website, in response to this negative piece about Christie’s prospects in 2016. (Try to ignore the comma splices, misspellings, and other grammatical and stylistic infelicities.):

We don’t need another McCain/Romney that’s what Christie is in fact, he’s further to the left than either of them. If Christie is the nominee then its time for a 3rd party because the base of the party isn’t being represented.

Thus, here are the some possible Christie scenarios for 2016:

Christie manages to win the nomination and the GOP civil war officially begins.

Christie’s nomination launches a breakaway third party.

Christie’s nomination is the reason the base stays home.

In each case, you can add “and Hillary wins to the end of the sentence.

So if Christie runs and fails to get the nomination or decides against running at all who is left (I mean right) that can defeat Hillary?

The first name that comes to mind is Senator Rand Paul. Paul has been working non-stop gaining national stature and dropping hints about running in 2016. But he is only a freshman senator and is also up for reelection in 2016. Under Kentucky state law Senator Paul cannot run for both the U.S. Senate and president. Therefore, he must make a decision whether to run for president no later than early in 2015m in order to give another GOP Senate candidate time to launch a bid. But then, if things don’t work out on the presidential primary trail, Senator Paul (aka Dr. Paul) will be back practicing medicine under Obamacare.

A safer bet would be for Senator Paul to run for reelection, build up his “brand” both in the Senate and across the nation, and then wait another four or eight years.

In the meantime, there is Ted Cruz of Texas, who won his Senate seat in 2012 and not up for reelection until 2018. Cruz, although a laughing stock to the mainstream media, is extremely popular among primary base voters. Conceivably, he could win the nomination, setting the stage for Democrats to “Cruz” to a Johnson vs. Goldwater-style landslide.

We’re not through with Texas yet because the word is that Governor Rick Perry is planning on making a serious run for the 2016 nomination (at least more serious than his abysmal 2012 campaign. Don’t underestimate Perry, who has a record to run on that sings a real song of hope, change, and job creation. You can’t help but admire Perry as he touts his big Texas economic success story. However, my 2016 forecast for Perry is cloudy with a 10% chance of winning.

And what about former Arkansas Governor turned Fox News host Mike Huckabee? He hinted late in 2013 that he might run again in 2016. But will he be willing to forsake his lucrative TV gig to grind it out on the campaign trail? Probably not, but even talk about running is good for his ratings.

Don’t forget about Wisconsin congressman and former 2012 vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. He is the one who many in the party believe has the best chance of defeating Hillary. But they can keep dreaming because Ryan probably has his eye on a bigger job in the House.

Finally, you can forget about former golden boy, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio too is up for reelection that year and cannot be on the same ballot twice.

So back to my original question: Does the GOP have anyone who can beat Hillary in 2016? An answer did not appear in recent piece by Keith Koffler titled The GOP Needs a Conservative in 2016.  Where Koffler makes the case why the GOP needs a conservative in 2016 but neglects to put a name to the need. Unfortunately the word conservative cannot appear on the ballot opposite Hillary Clinton.

Cross-posted at The Daily Beast

Myra Adams has written for PJ Media, The Daily Beast, RedState, BizPacReview, National Review, and The Daily Caller. She has been a guest on the David Webb Show and BBC World News Service. Her web site contributes all profits to Christian charity.

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  • Geoffrey Britain

    “Does the GOP have a candidate who can beat Hillary in 2016?”

    In all probability, no. The GOP’s lip service to and then repeated betrayal of conservative principals has reached its tipping point. The GOP has permanently alienated its base and is forcing a critical increase in the perception that there is an unavoidable need for a new conservative third party. This is a short term disaster and a long term necessity.

    “unlike some Republicans I do not count Christie’s embrace of President Obama during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 as a hurdle that he needs to overcome”

    It is NOT “some Republicans” but tens of millions of conservatives who count Christie’s embrace of President Obama as an utter disqualification for support.

    It is a mistake in discernment to perceive the conservative wing and primary-controlling base voter’s ferocious anti-Christie feelings as merely personal animosity. The conservative wing and primary base voters are ferociously anti-RINO. ANY Republican who is perceived to be a RINO is now anathema to the GOP’s base and the GOP establishment is too wedded to its big-donor loyalties and their personal survival to recognize the handwriting on the wall.

    None of the potential candidates mentioned have any chance whatsoever of being elected. I find it noteworthy that the one candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, that might have a chance, goes unmentioned.

    Perhaps that because the GOP has no interest whatsoever in nominating an actual conservative. (though its uncertain whether Walker is actually a conservative)

    • Myra Adams

      Walker was not mentioned as a 2016 candidate because his future all depends on whether he can win reelection this Nov. Even if he does win, he will too polarizing in a general election.

  • Succinct

    I learned a couple of new things, I laughed a bit, but *goshdarn* It’s soooooo depressing to realize, it’s true, eye don’t “see” anyone.