With former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s announcement this month that he would “actively explore” a run for the White House in 2016, the race for the Republican nomination has begun.
Bush is among many possible contenders. They span the full conservative spectrum, from tea party-based legislators like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to former three-time New York Gov. George Pataki and other moderates and liberals including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The winner may possibly square off against former Democrat Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She is expected to announce her decision early next year.
“It is going to be a big field,” Kyle Kondik, a political analyst for the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, recently told Newsmax. “There’s going to be a lot of capable people in the field.”
Here’s a snapshot of 16 possible contenders (listed alphabetically) for the 2016 Republican nomination:
Personal: Age: 66; U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President George W. Bush; married, one child.
Pros: Strong foreign policy credentials; considered honest, straightforward and direct.
Cons: Seen as lacking in charisma; considered a neoconservative and a war hawk.
Personal: Age: 61; former two-term governor of Florida; son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush; married, three children.
Pros: Regarded as a successful and popular governor in a key battleground state; member of the Bush political dynasty; has high Latino support; speaks Spanish.
Cons: Has the electorate had enough of the Bush family? If he runs against Hillary Clinton, one could ask the same question about that surname. Backs Common Core and immigration reform, two unpopular issues with Republicans.
Dr. Ben Carson
Personal: Age: 63; retired director of pediatric neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins University Hospital; married, three children.
Pros: Rational, plain speaking; brilliant medical background; gained national attention with biting speech against Obamacare at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, as President Barack Obama sat on the dais.
Cons: Has never held political office and lacks political experience on any level; likely considered a one-trick-pony opposing Obamacare.
Personal: Age: 52; re-elected to second term as governor of New Jersey; former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey; married, four children.
Pros: Republican most likely to appeal to Democrats; has a straightforward, no-nonsense style some find refreshing.
Cons: Falling approval ratings since Bridge-gate scandal, including negative scores on handling the economy and other statewide issues; continued flubs on Israel, Cuba and other foreign-affairs issues; personal style continues to rankle some, who feel he comes off as a manipulative bully; considered too liberal by many Republicans.
Personal: Age: 44; in first term as U.S. senator from Texas; married, two children.
Pros: Beloved in the Bible Belt and considered a tea party darling; staunch opposition to Obamacare and amnesty for illegal immigrants and support for conservative ideals have endeared him to the GOP faithful; Cuban heritage aligns him with Hispanics.
Cons: Attacked for amnesty opposition move during recent $1.1 trillion budget debate that helped outgoing Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid get 23 long-stalled nominees of President Barack Obama confirmed; intelligent but can come off as arrogant; opposition from shutdown strategy in 2013 is still raw among some Republicans.
Personal: Age: 59; former governor of Arkansas; ordained Baptist minister; married, three children.
Pros: Personable and glib; veteran TV and radio broadcaster with high visibility; former Southern Baptist pastor with strong religious support; strong on core conservative social principles.
Cons: Has threatened to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent over gay marriage, alienating some moderate conservatives; the Club for Growth opposes him for fiscal policies while governor; has distanced some women with “Uncle Sugar” comments; failed to develop momentum for the nomination in 2008, despite winning some states.
Personal: Age: 43; in second term as governor of Louisiana; former U.S. representative; married, three children.
Pros: Would bring double diversity to the White House as an Indian-American and a southerner; has an impressive resume as a public servant, from, governor, to congressman, president of the state university system and assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, which would give him an inside track on fixing Obamacare.
Cons: Dubbed “the sleeper candidate” of 2016 by The Washington Post, he has not fared well in Iowa voter polls; reflects a broader inability to develop traction nationally; his biggest moment in the national spotlight, the 2009 GOP response to the State of the Union, was not well received.
Personal: Age: 62; governor of Ohio; former U.S. representative; married, two children.
Pros: Impressive political background: former U.S. congressman, Ohio senator; chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Cons: As was the case in 2000, when he considered a presidential run, Kasich has little national presence and is not a factor in most polls; expanded Medicaid in Ohio over GOP opposition and is perceived as a compromiser; received negative attention several years ago after calling a cop an “idiot” for giving him a traffic ticket.
Personal: Age: 69; former three-time governor of New York; married, four children.
Pros: Considered tough on crime, he signed more than 100 new bills to change the Empire State’s criminal statutes; reinstated the death penalty, though it was suspended by a state appeals court.
Cons: Has made similar statements about seeking the nomination in 2008 and 2012 to no avail; has not been in office since before the rise of the tea party in 2009; considered a moderate whose views may not mesh with today’s more conservative GOP.
Personal: Age: 51; U.S. senator from Kentucky; son of former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul; married, three children.
Pros: Plain-speaking conservative with a solid record of backing core Republican values, such as the Second Amendment, immigration, and lower taxes; can build on the following his father developed during his previous presidential runs.
Cons: Kentucky election laws bar him from being on the ballot for a second senatorial term and for president at the same time; strongly perceived as isolationist on foreign policy; libertarian views on gay marriage could alienate many conservatives.
Personal: Age: 64; ending 14th year as governor of Texas; married, two children.
Pros: Longest-serving Texas governor; can tout a strong record of creating jobs and keeping taxes low; his strong stance against abortion made national news.
Cons: Campaign could be affected by indictment on alleged abuse of power charges, accused of pressuring a Democrat prosecutor to resign after a conviction on drunken driving; still trails fellow Texan Ted Cruz in visibility; he could be haunted by gaffes from his unsuccessful presidential run in 2012.
Personal: Age: 67; lost 2012 race to President Barack Obama; former Massachusetts governor; married, five children.
Pros: Successful corporate executive who eliminated a projected $1.5 billion state deficit; helped develop and enact healthcare reform legislation; campaigned extensively for GOP candidates during 2014 midterm season; continues to lead field of possible contenders, including Jeb Bush, in national polls.
Cons: Seen as top choice of Republican Party establishment; “47 percent” comments still resonate negatively with some voters; healthcare program viewed as model for scandal-plagued Obamacare; Jeb Bush could knock him out of the running for the nomination; Romney has said he first would see how the field shapes up before making a decision.
Personal: Age 43; in first term as U.S. senator from Florida; former speaker of the Florida House; married, four children.
Pros: Charismatic and politically savvy; popular with Latinos; gained national attention with “Gang of Eight” immigration legislation; he is Obama administration’s harshest critic over resuming ties with Cuba.
Cons: Has to give up Senate seat to run for president; could possibly square off with Jeb Bush, a political mentor; has clashed with Rand Paul over Cuba; like Jindal, has failed to take advantage of his opportunity on the national stage.
Personal: Age: 44; U.S. representative from Wisconsin; to chair House Ways and Means Committee in new Congress; former chairman of the House Budget Committee; GOP vice presidential candidate on Mitt Romney ticket in 2012; married, three children.
Pros: High approval ratings within GOP; a conservative hero who champions cutting spending, taxes, and entitlements; expected to get higher profile with Ways and Means chairmanship; scored bipartisan points from 2013 budget deal with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.
Cons: Was part of the Romney presidential disaster; voted against President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus bill but sought funds for Wisconsin; “fiscal hawk” reputation has been further questioned by his support of several “budget-busting” bills; described as “the ultimate congressional technocrat” by Politico, Ryan’s image of putting forth strong, yet heartless, legislation could backfire among moderate Republicans.
Personal: Age: 56; former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania; former U.S. representative; married, eight children (one deceased).
Pros: Squeaky-clean and scandal free; one of the GOP’s most respected social conservatives with a strong record opposing abortion and gay marriage.
Cons: Had a reputation as a spender in Congress; came in second to Mitt Romney for the 2012 nomination, with a showing that was better than expected; will still need to raise money in a crowded field, with the great chance of little national media attention; might be considered too evangelical.
Personal: Age: 47; re-elected as governor of Wisconsin; married, two children.
Pros: Dynamic speaker who showed off his substantial political skills in beating back a 2012 recall effort; places ahead of several potential contenders in recent polls.
Cons: Won re-election in a race that had been close for months; he took a beating from labor unions and teachers in his recall challenge; has fallen short of campaign goals for creating jobs; candidacy could be hampered by a state investigation into whether he violated campaign laws, though no charges were filed; lacks foreign policy experience.