On Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Daily Beast contributor Kristen Soltis Anderson made an amazing statement. She said Republicans “understand that they need to start cultivating new and fresh talent.”
Fascinating. Because the GOP has been cultivating new and fresh talent for years now and is — finally — poised to look to a whole new generation of Republican leaders, quite possibly starting with the 2017 occupant of the White House.
The past few election cycles have been grim. The Republican Party went with Sen. John McCain because, well, it was his turn (just like in 1996 with Sen. Bob Dole). Pretty much the same thing in 2012 with Mitt Romney. The party has had few new ideas and even fewer new faces since George W. Bush came out of nowhere and won back-to-back elections to open the 21st century.
Not so for the party as a whole, though. After the congressional sweep in 2010, Republicans smashed the Democrats in the 2014 midterms. They took so many seats in the House that the party now has the widest majority since the 1940s. Before the elections, pundits predicted Republicans might well take the Senate — they did, sweeping nine seats away from Democrats, which tied 1942 for the fourth-most GOP pickups.
But there’s more: Republicans control 68 out of 98 partisan state legislative chambers — the highest number in party history, according to Real Clear Politics. And in 24 states, they hold the governorship and both houses of the legislature; Democrats have that level of control in just seven states.
Yet on Sunday, the brain trust on “This Week” went on and on about the prospects for Democrats in 2016. Weirdly, though, they talked only about two possible candidates — Hillary Rodham Clinton, who got crushed last time by a first-term senator no one had ever heard of, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a one-dimensional politician who has repeatedly said she does not plan to run in 2016.
The Dem bench thins significantly after that — ever heard of Jim Webb or Martin O’Malley? Didn’t think so. They get mentioned most often after Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Warren. And party leaders still talk seriously about Vice President Joseph R. Biden making a run. Highly unlikely. So crushable.
There are others: Andrew Cuomo, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Brian Schweitzer, Mark Warner — none are exactly household names. My favorite is, of course, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who tells us that he will announce early next year whether he will make a go. His thinking: Perhaps America is ready to elect a self-described socialist to the White House. My thinking: When pigs fly.
On the other hand, the Republicans are sitting on the deepest bench they’ve had in decades. Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, counts some 26 potential candidates: “John Bolton, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Pete King, Mike Pence, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Joe Scarborough, Scott Walker, and Allen West … Dick Cheney, Tom Cotton, Mitch Daniels, Joni Ernst, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani.”
“Each of you would be a better president than Hillary Clinton. You would deserve the thanks of man and woman if you beat her. And if your name is not on this list, don’t feel slighted. Rather, feel free to volunteer you’re also more ready than Hillary. If you think you’re the right person go for it.”
He missed a few others: Nikki Haley, Brian Sandoval, Susana Martinez. And of course Rand Paul. That pushes the number to 30. Not all are top-tier, ready-to-govern candidates, but all are, as Mr. Kristol points out, “more ready than Hillary.”
So get ready. The mainstream media is set to push its few weak Democratic candidates on America. Meanwhile, the Republican Party will run its prospective candidates — maybe 30 — through the paces to find the one ready to lead in 2016. Hillary was crushed in 2008; if she goes in 2016, the result will be the same.
Only this time, it will be a Republican giving her a drubbing.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.