Politico Magazine asked some of the smartest and most experienced Republican operatives, pundits and even a former presidential candidate to weigh in on the suddenly unsettled field of 2016 GOP presidential aspirants. Three months ago, this conversation would have sounded like the Republican version of the Hillary chatter we’re hearing on the left today. Most of us would simply have cast Chris Christie as the inevitable nominee-in-waiting. No one can make that argument now, and the continued sell-off of Christie’s political stock has unlocked his formerly rock-solid donor base. It clearly tempts significant players to “buy the lottery ticket,” as Grover Norquist puts it.
If you ask me, Christie is almost dead but too stubborn to lie down. But not all of my Republican colleagues agree. Some of these folks are still Christie fans; some see potential in other favorites like former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, to name a few—and weigh their various strengths, weaknesses and selling propositions. Also making the list are former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan—all with previous experience on the national stage, though with obviously mixed results. Veep wannabe Sarah Palin and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough will get a kick out of being on the list, but almost certainly won’t pull on the snow boots for a trip to Iowa or New Hampshire.