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Liam Richards
Ready for Hilary?

Who are the likely candidates in 2016 US Presidential election?

With 20 months to go, expect the hype machine to kick up a notch soon.

WHEN BARACK OBAMA ended his State of the Union address last month, he marked the beginning of his last year as President that doesn’t have an election.

Once 2016 gets underway, Obama will become an increasingly marginalised figure in US politics, as the election circus ramps up.

Campaigns for the candidacy of both the Democratic and Republic parties will kick into gear in earnest after this Christmas, with both set to crown their nominees officially in July.

However, the road to the White House is not a short one. Already, interested candidates are forming exploratory committees or public action committees (PACs) to fund-raise and plan for a tilt at the role of world’s most powerful man or woman.

With Obama and Mitt Romney’s campaigns spending over $1 billion between them in 2012, some time is needed to gather coins. But who is going to be on the ballot?


Democratic Convention J. Scott Applewhite J. Scott Applewhite

The party who hold the office always seem to be going from a standing start in years when the President has to be replaced (America has an eight-year term limit), which is unsurprising.

The party is focused on attempting to govern, key campaign staff are either burned out from previous campaigns or employed in the White House and there is a tacit agreement to hold off on campaigning while the sitting President is still working on an agenda.

Which means that the Democrats have done less positioning and manoeuvring than the Republicans – at least in public. Here are the possible competitors in the primary race:

Joe Biden

Germany EU Ukraine Diplomacy Matthias Schrader Matthias Schrader

The general feeling about Vice Presidents is that if, at the end of an eight-year term, they want to run, they should be given, or will have, a clear run at the nomination.

That’s not the feeling around Biden.

He will be 74 when the next election comes around and, having lost primary campaigns in 1988 and 2008, it is not known if he wants another battle.

He can be gaffe-prone, but he is hugely popular with the party’s liberal wing: he supports same sex marriage, renewable energy, student loan forgiveness, and universal health care, while he opposes Arctic drilling, increases to defence spending and doesn’t feel his beliefs on abortion should impact on legislation.

He’s from a state – Pennsylvania – that has emerged as a battleground in recent years and can help the Keystone State’s 20 electoral college votes stay blue.

For Biden, the issue is how much he wants to take on a bruising primary and a Presidential election.

Hilary Rodham Clilnton

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You may have heard of her.

The former Secretary of State and New York Senator is in the ring and putting her gloves on, despite any attempts to make it seem otherwise.

The party loves her, she has a high-profile name and massive support from political donors. Opponents will attack her over her husband’s affairs and the Benghazi attacks which led to the deaths of four Americans in Libya.

But 57% of Americans weren’t closely following hearings on that incident last year and Clinton remains a hugely popular figure.

Elizabeth Warren

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The Massachusetts senator is gaining momentum for a tilt at Hilary, offering a liberal option for the party.

Many see the campaign for her to run as an attempt to push Clinton to take on Wall Street and big business.

She said before Christmas that she won’t run and a liberal academic woman from Massachusetts winning the Presidency is a tough scenario to envisage.

Martin O’Malley

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Yes, he’s Irish.

And Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, whose ancestors hail from the west, is emerging as a viable alternative to Clinton.

He’s ambitious, liberal, likeable and is staunchly allied to Barack Obama.

He made nearly 200 campaign stops with Democrats in last year’s mid-terms so will be popular on campaign stops. But is he well known enough?

Despite being part inspiration for The Wire’s Tommy Carcetti, he lacks national profile.

May be a VP candidate.

Brian Schweitzer

Schweitzer Iowa AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

In 2008, Barack Obama got 47% of the vote in Montana.

On the very same day, Schweitzer took 65% of the vote as he was elected governor for Big Sky Country.

He can woo undecideds, loves guns, will attract conservatives and would give the Democrats a strong chance at winning Georgia, Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The problem is that he may not energise the party the way Obama did in 2008, with his stance on carbon, guns and spending.

Others to watch: Deval Patrick, Mark Warner, Andrew Cuomo, Howard Dean


The Republican manoeuvring has already begun, with people quitting jobs at news stations and declaring themselves out already.

Jeb Bush

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You know the name.

He will appeal to moderates, should carry Florida and has a massive national profile with two ex-Presidents on speed dial.

He’s putting together an impressive team and will have the party’s establishment behind him.

But his surname could be politically toxic and the Tea Party don’t like his views on healthcare or immigration.

Marco Rubio

US Cuba AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Young, good-looking, Hispanic and from a key state (Florida).

In 2012, Rubio was the GOP’s silver bullet, a man who would make them popular in the cities as well as the deltas and plains.

Since then, his momentum has stalled entirely.

A recent poll put him in 10th place in New Hampshire, one of the first states to vote for the nominee.

Some see him as having become caught in between the Republican party establishment and the Tea Party.

Rand Paul

GOP 2016 Paul Charlie Neibergall Charlie Neibergall

Son of libertarian hero Ron Paul, Rand is popular among a huge cohort of Republicans.

However, he is a maverick.

He is against military intervention abroad, wants states to decide on gay marriage and wants congress to be term-limited.

His Senate seat is also up in 2016 and Kentucky doesn’t allow people be on two ballots at once.

Is he willing to go all in with time still on his side?

Chris Christie

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The New Jersey governor was seen as the kingmaker in 2012, with all candidates courting his endorsement.

The Romney camp were terrified of him running because he was seen as a many who could beat not only Mitt, but Obama.

Since then, a controversy over a bridge has seen his momentum stall. He holds just around 7% support at the minute.

John Kasich

Ohio Budget AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Governor of an important state (Ohio), Kasich has long been thought an outsider.

However, this week he started meeting with key Republicans and booked a trip to South Carolina (an important state in the Republican primaries) and Mitt Romney thinks he can win.

A decent dark-horse bet.

Others to watch: Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz

Read: So, how did that “I am not Barack Obama” ad work out?

Read: Joe Biden tries to give girl kiss on the cheek, gets rejected

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