Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.)

Christie “thinks on his feet and returns fire,” one strategist said. “Republicans love that.”

He already has a lock on the New York-New Jersey fundraising network, and his success as chairman of the Republican Governors Association has boosted him nationally. 

But Christie will need to focus on the New Hampshire primary right away because conservative voters in Iowa and South Carolina aren’t likely to give him an early boost.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.)

With the best name ID and access to his family’s deep political and fundraising lines, Bush would loom large over the field if he does run. But strategists question whether he wants it bad enough to go through the grinder.

“There are lots of differences between him and his brother, but one of them is that George loved to campaign and Jeb does not like it,” one Republican said. “Jeb can disarm Wolf Blitzer in an interview, but I’m not sure he’s interested in handling 100,000 screaming Ted Cruz fans.”