charles-krauthammer

Opinion
By Charles Krauthammer, Opinion Writer
March 27, 2015 at 1:30 PM

With Ted Cruz announcing and Rand Paul and Marco Rubio soon to follow, it’s time to start handicapping the horses and making enemies.

No point in wasting time on the Democratic field. There is none. The only thing that can stop Hillary Clinton is an act of God, and He seems otherwise occupied. As does Elizabeth Warren, the only Democrat who could conceivably defeat her.

On to the GOP.

First Tier

1. Marco Rubio. Trails badly in current polls, ranking seventh at 5 percent, but high upside potential.

Assets: Foreign policy looms uncharacteristically large in this election cycle, and Rubio is the most knowledgeable and fluent current contender on everything from Russia to Cuba to the Middle East. The son of Cuban immigrants, he can break into flawless Spanish (so can Jeb Bush) and speak passionately about the American story in a party that lost the Hispanic vote by 44 points in 2012.

Liabilities (in the primaries): His Gang of Eight immigration apostasy, though his current enforcement-first position has wide appeal. Second, after Barack Obama, will voters want another first-term senator with no executive experience? (Same for Cruz and Paul.)

Major appeal: Fresh, young, dynamic persona is a powerful counterpoint to Clinton fatigue.

Goes out at 3-1.

2. Jeb Bush. The consensus favorite (though I remain a bit skeptical). Solid, soft-spoken, serious, with executive experience and significant achievements as governor. What he lacks in passion, he makes up for in substance. And he has shown backbone in sticking to his semi-heretical positions on immigration and Common Core.

Obvious liability: His name. True, it helps him raise tens of millions of dollars, but it saddles him with legacy and dynastic issues that negate the inherent GOP advantage of running a new vs. old, not-again campaign against Hillary.

Odds: 7-2.
Cruz announces 2016 run for president(2:07)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) announced his intention to run for president in the 2016 election during a speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. (AP)

3. Scott Walker. A fine record of conservative achievement. Has shown guts and leadership in taking on labor unions and winning three elections (five if you count proxy elections) against highly energized Democrats.

Good, rousing speech in Iowa, but has stumbled since, flubbing routine questions on evolution and patriotism, then appearing to compare the Islamic State to Wisconsin demonstrators. Rookie mistakes, easily forgotten — if he learns from them.

Pandered on ethanol and fired a staffer who complained about Iowa’s unwarranted influence. Sure, everyone panders to Iowa, but Walker’s calling card is standing up to pressure.

Most encouraging sign: ability to maintain altitude after meteoric rise. Numbers remain steady. And his speeches continue to impress.

Odds: 4-1.

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