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WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (Reuters) - The dust has barely settled
from the 2012 presidential campaign, and already there is talk
about who might run for president in four years, when both
Democrats and Republicans will be searching for a nominee.
From Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - a Democrat who ran
a tough primary battle against eventual president Barack Obama
in 2008 - to Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican
vice presidential nominee this year, both parties appear to have
a deep bench from which to draw candidates to compete for the
chance to succeed Obama in 2016.
Here is a look at some of those who could be in the running
during the next presidential election cycle.
Bush, 59, is a popular former governor of the politically
divided state of Florida who opted not to run in 2012. He will
again face pressure from party activists to seek the White House
in 2016. Many in the party believe he could have given Obama a
better contest than Mitt Romney did this year.
But Bush might be reluctant to chase the presidency, in part
because of his surname. He is the brother of former president
George W. Bush and the son of former president George H.W. Bush.
Jeb Bush would have to decide whether a third Bush could get
elected - his brother left office amid historically low
popularity ratings - or whether he would face voter fatigue with
the Bush name.
Jeb Bush, whose wife was born in Mexico, would have an
easier time reaching out to increasingly potent Hispanic voters
than the failed 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney. He has warned
Republicans they must reach out to engage minority voters.
"Our demographics are changing and we have to change not
necessarily our core beliefs, but ... the tone of our message
and the message and the intensity of it, for sure," Bush told
NBC's "Meet The Press" in August.
An education expert, Bush chairs an education organization
called the Foundation for Florida's Future. He showed his
loyalty to the party by actively campaigning for Romney in
Another Floridian, Senator Marco Rubio, got tongues wagging
by scheduling a speaking engagement in the early voting state of
Iowa on Nov. 17, just 11 days after the election. The
41-year-old Cuban-American is a fresh face in the Republican
Party and has built a solid reputation among conservatives by
emphasizing America's founding principles and embracing the Tea
Party movement. He was a keynote speaker at the Republican
National Convention in Tampa and might have gotten more
attention had he not spoken just before actor Clint Eastwood's
unusual appearance, when he lectured an imaginary Obama as if
the president were sitting in an empty chair.
In his speech, Rubio emphasized his modest upbringing. "My
dad was a bartender. My mom was a cashier, a maid and a stock
clerk at K-Mart. They never made it big. They were never rich.
And yet they were successful, because just a few decades removed
from hopelessness, they made possible for us all the things that
had been impossible for them," he said.
Rubio would have the ability to engage Hispanic voters. The
question that he will face in 2016, just as in 2012, is whether
he is experienced enough to serve as president.
He currently sits on two important Senate committees,
intelligence and foreign relations. A minor controversy broke
out over his biography last year when The Washington Post
reported his parents did not flee Fidel Castro's Cuba in 1959 as
he had stated but left in 1956, before Castro seized power.
Rep. Ryan, 42, was Romney's vice presidential running mate
and as such would have an inside track in seeking the Republican
presidential nomination should he choose to do so. As chairman
of the powerful House Budget Committee, he is beloved by many
conservatives for pushing a budget plan that would lead to deep
cuts in government spending.
A Wisconsin native, he would have the potential of winning
that traditionally Democratic state, although his presence on
Romney's ticket did not help deliver Wisconsin for Romney.
Some obstacles for Ryan: It is not easy for a member of the
House of Representatives to win the presidency and he has little
experience outside Washington. He would also face criticism over
his budget plan and how it would overhaul the Medicare health
insurance plan for seniors, an easy target for Democrats in
2012. He used part of his convention speech in Tampa to defend
himself. "We have responsibilities, one to another - we do not
each face the world alone. And the greatest of all
responsibilities is that of the strong to protect the weak. The
truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot
defend or care for themselves," he said. He held his own in a
debate against Vice President Joe Biden, despite lacking the
Democrat's foreign policy expertise.
Christie, 50, is the Republican governor of a Democratic
state, New Jersey. Opting not to seek the Republican
presidential nomination in 2012, he was on Romney's vice
presidential short list but was passed over in favor of Ryan.
He is one of the most skilled Republican speakers in the
national picture and was a popular surrogate for Romney on the
campaign trail. To try to get a handle on New Jersey's budget
woes, he has led an effort for deep cuts in state spending,
making him a popular figure in the party. But he is overweight
to the point where he would face health questions should he
decide to run.
Late in the 2012 campaign, Christie raised Republican
eyebrows with his warm words of praise for Obama for his
handling of Hurricane Sandy. Then, Christie refused overtures
from the Romney campaign to join the candidate in nearby
Pennsylvania, choosing instead to remain in New Jersey and lead
efforts to recover from the killer storm. Some Romney loyalists
complained about this, but Republican strategist Alice Stewart
said it should not damage him.
"When you're in a crisis situation like that, and you're the
leader of the state, and doing everything you can to restore
power and water and put food in the hands of your citizens that
Gov. Christie cares so much about, politics goes out the
window," she said. Still, Christie could face negative attack
ads over his bear hug of Obama from other Republicans in the
party's presidential primary contest should he run. And he may
face a tough fight for re-election in New Jersey next year.
Louisiana Governor Jindal, 41, is an Indian-American who
could help the Republican Party extend its appeal beyond whites.
He is well-liked by conservatives for education reforms he put
in place in Louisiana, and he received high marks for his
handling of the 2010 BP oil spill that shattered fishing
communities on the Gulf coast. He was on Romney's vice
presidential running mate list. But when given a big opportunity
on the national stage, he was thought to have flubbed the chance
when he delivered the Republican response to Obama's 2009 speech
to a joint session of Congress.
Rice, who will be 58 on Nov. 14, is a former secretary of
state and national security adviser for Republican President
George W. Bush. Her name pops up on potential candidates' lists
despite regular denials of political intentions. She received a
prominent speaking role at the Tampa convention and gave one of
the more memorable speeches. An African-American, Rice was
raised during the segregation era in Alabama.
When she left Washington, Rice returned to a teaching
position at Stanford University, and was one of the first two
women to be granted membership to formerly male-only Augusta
National Golf Club, which holds the annual Masters tournament.
As a close confidante of Bush, she has held the levers of power.
She would face questions about her tenure in the Bush
administration when the United States invaded Iraq over false
charges that it possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Other Republicans who might want to make a move in 2016
include New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Virginia Gov. Bob
McDonnell, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Indiana Governor Mitch
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 65, heads a lengthy list
of potential Democratic candidates to succeed Obama in four
years. The wife of former President Bill Clinton has frequently
ruled out a run, but many Democrats think the allure of becoming
the first female president might entice her into the race. She
ran in 2008 but was out-maneuvered by Obama and lost after a
bitter primary battle.
She has been a loyal cabinet official for Obama and her
husband gave perhaps the single most significant speech at the
Democratic National Convention, when he staunchly defended
Obama's handling of the U.S. economy. This puts Obama in the
Clintons' debt. Hillary Clinton has been a steady hand at
foreign policy with her indefatigable overseas travel schedule.
If she runs, she could face questions about how the State
Department handled the deadly Sept. 11 attack by Libyan
militants on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. There have been
accusations that a request for greater security for the U.S.
mission were ignored.
The big question of 2016 will be whether Vice President Joe
Biden, who will be 70 soon, tries to succeed his boss. He has
not ruled out a run. When he voted in the presidential election
on Tuesday, a reporter asked him if this was the last time he
would cast a ballot for himself. "No, I don't think so," Biden
replied. As a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, he is a foreign policy expert.
But Biden was a bull in a china shop during the 2012
campaign. In one speech in the former slave state of Virginia,
Biden told a crowd Romney and his Republicans want to "put ya'll
back in chains." His debate with Paul Ryan was distinguished by
frequent derisive smiles and sarcastic laughter by Biden. When
Obama's healthcare overhaul was signed into law, Biden could be
heard over an open mic muttering to the president that this was
a "big (expletive) deal."
Obama has stuck by his No. 2 loyally through the gaffes, and
Biden has returned the favor. "Folks, I've watched him," Biden
said of Obama at the Democratic convention. "He never wavers. He
steps up. He asks the same thing over and over again: How is
this going to work for ordinary families? Will it help them? And
because of the decisions he's made, and the strength the
American people have demonstrated every day, America has turned
the corner." The potential of an intra-party battle between
Clinton and Biden appeals to political reporters. But a more
likely scenario would see Biden giving way to Clinton and
perhaps serving as her secretary of state should she win.
O'Malley, 49, the liberal governor of Maryland, is getting
national attention from his perch as the current chairman of the
Democratic Governors Association. He is believed to have held
national ambitions for some time. He was given a prime-time
speaking slot at the Democratic convention in Charlotte in which
he espoused liberal ideals. "As we search for common ground and
the way forward together, let's ask one another - let's ask the
leaders in the Republican Party - without any anger, meanness or
fear: How much less, do you really think, would be good for our
country? How much less education would be good for our children?
How many hungry American kids can we no longer afford to feed?"
He has been a top advocate for legalizing same-sex marriage,
which Maryland voters approved in the Nov. 6 election. And he
has referred to illegal immigrants as "new Americans." Should
Clinton or Biden fall to the wayside, O'Malley might get the
attention of the Democratic left during the party's primary
Warner, 57, a senator from Virginia, harbored presidential
ambitions in 2008 but ultimately opted not to run. A
multimillionaire from the telecom industry, Warner served a term
as governor of Virginia and helped boost the state's economy.
Known as a moderate Democrat, Warner is in his first term in
the Senate and there has been some talk he might want to run
again for the governor's seat in his home state. He got
attention as a possible 2016 presidential candidate when he
addressed delegates from the early voting state of Iowa at the
Democratic National Convention in Charlotte
Cuomo, 54, the governor of New York, has been keeping a
relatively low profile. He spent little time at the Democratic
convention and has batted away questions about any presidential
ambitions. Whether he ran or not would probably depend on
whether fellow New Yorker Hillary Clinton decided to seek the
nomination since both would tap into the same fund-raising
sources. With an approval rating in New York that crested above
70 percent this spring, Cuomo is among the most popular leaders
in the Democratic Party. His championing of same-sex marriage in
New York makes him a favorite of progressives.
He built a reputation of fiscal responsibility while working
with a Republican legislature, making him an attractive voice
for voters yearning for across-the-aisle success stories. As a
Catholic and Italian-American, Cuomo, like Biden, he could be a
strong surrogate for the president among conservative Democrats
in the Rust Belt.
Other Democrats who might consider a run include
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Minnesota Senator Amy
Klobuchar, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Montana
Governor Brian Schweitzer.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Todd Eastham)