- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 24, 2015

Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are grouped together as “The Longshot Frontrunners” in the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics latest breakdown of the 2016 GOP presidential field.

“This remarkable nomination battle has been shaped by these three outsiders,” the authors wrote in their analysis. “While we think that they are unlikely to end up on the November 2016 ballot, each one has influenced what the eventual standard-bearer will do and say — for better or worse.”

Meanwhile, former Gov. Jeb Bush, and Sen. Marco Rubio, both Florida Republicans, as well as Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas are lumped together as “The Long-Distance Runners.”

“The presidential nominating process is anything but a sprint,” they say. “And while there doesn’t appear to be a Steve Prefontaine in the Republican field, a quartet of candidates who do have elective experience seem to be best positioned to have a shot at winning the party’s nomination in the long run.”

The rest of the field is bunched together as the “Breakthrough Seekers.”

In its analysis of the “Longshot Frontrunners,” the group says party leaders are poised to stop Mr. Trump.

“Friends, there is no way on God’s green earth that the Republican Party hierarchy is going to allow Donald Trump to be their nominee for president if they have enough power to stop him,” they wrote. “They hope that Trump will self-destruct, but they are willing to see some bloodletting if needed.”

Turning to Mr. Carson, the authors said the retired neurosurgeon’s lack of political experience and first-hand knowledge on the issues will inevitably get him into trouble — pointing to the recent dust-up over comments about a Muslim becoming president.

As for Ms. Fiorina, they said GOP leaders are thrilled to have someone who can go after Hillary Clinton “without fear of gender backlash from women,” but said there are still questions about her CEO tenure at Hewlett Packard, as well as about her fundraising and “almost nonexistent campaign organization in most places.”

“Fiorina has likely guaranteed herself a spot on the lengthy vice presidential selection list next year, although the same questions about her time at HP that could plague her during the nominating contest would also come up in vice presidential vetting,” the authors wrote.

“While there will be intense competition for the Veep slot, she’s a solid bet to be offered a Cabinet position should the Republican presidential nominee be elected,” they said.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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