The 2016 GOP field of presidential candidates continues to grow. Twelve candidates have made their formal announcements, and four additional candidates are expected to announce their bids within the next few weeks. There are so many players in the mix that you need a cheat sheet to keep track of them. The Democrats, by contrast, seem to have only one candidate, Hillary Clinton, who despite the scandals associated with Benghazi, email-gate and The Clinton Foundation, continues to lead the pack with a 40 point lead over her nearest competitor. The crowded GOP field begs the question. How many candidates is too many? When does having so many choices become confusing and ineffective? How many of these presidential bids are incredible long shots or vanity exercises?
The media clearly thinks that there are too many players on the stage and haven’t been shy about expressing their opinion. They have also endeavored to limit the number of candidates who participate in the televised debates. Fox News, which will host the first debate in August, has announced that the debate will be limited to the top ten candidates as defined by their position in the polls. Interestingly enough, the public isn’t ready to narrow their options. A recent Rasmussen poll revealed that 60% of Republican voters want all of the candidates to participate in the debate and 33% want to kick those at the bottom of the pack off the stage.
Republicans want to retain this Chinese menu of candidates because they are desperately seeking leadership. After six years of Barack Obama’s failed leadership, they are determined to take back the White House. Consequently, they want to elect the candidate who has the best chance of beating Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, the Republican voters are not united on who that candidate is. Furthermore, Republican Party leadership is also undecided and divided on this front. Consequently, this landscape gives way to a wide field of candidates playing to an audience which is balancing skepticism with a burning hope to hitch their wagon to a star. Some say that the candidates who are not career politicians such as billionaire business man Donald Trump, former Hewlett-Packer CEO Carly Fiorina, and world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson don’t have a chance of winning and are just taking up space. Others disagree and credit these non-politicians with having incredible charisma and the ability to mobilize crowds and voters with their no-nonsense positions. Similar comments are being lobbied against the candidates who are dragging in the polls, such as Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. People say that they don’t stand a chance and should get out of the way. Others disagree and say that it is too soon to rule anyone out. The public is also extremely divided about the front-runner candidate, Jeb Bush, who just announced this week. Some argue that Bush, who is leading in the polls is front-runner by a very slim margin, and that all he promises is a return to yesterday including some of his brother former President George W. Bush’s failed policies. Others say that Bush is the inevitable candidate because he is the only candidate with the operation and the resources to beat the Clinton machine.
The public clearly has spoken. We need more time to decide who to elect for our next president. We want to keep all options on the table and all candidates on the stage.
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