Conservative

Kraham: Despite 2012 election, Washington already preparing for 2016

The ink has barely dried on newspaper headlines from the last presidential election, but it’s never too early to talk about the next one. Forget the fiscal cliff, war in Afghanistan, implementing Obamacare and a serious student debt crisis. The next four years in Washington will be all about who will be inaugurated in 2017.

Despite what most pundits say about the 2016 presidential race, the field is wide open. Choosing our next president will be a long and arduous process, but we’ll have a diverse cast of characters to keep us entertained until Nov. 8, 2016. The vicious cycle of presidential handicapping continues and political columnists rejoice.

At the center of all 2016 discussion is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. President Obama’s rival-turned-ally has excelled in the State Department with consistently high approval ratings, but won’t say whether a second presidential run is probable. Bill Clinton wants her to run, but after a long career as First Lady, senator and now Secretary of State, it’s time for Clinton to permanently retire from politics.

Vice President and Syracuse University College of Law legend Joe Biden is used to being next in line for the presidency. Biden, more so than Clinton, has hinted at continuing his political career. If historical precedent means anything, Biden is a smile and wink away from the Democratic nomination. Saturday Night Live writers are on standby.

A pair of New York politicos — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) — are making waves on the national scene. The influence and money associated with New York politics are certainly handy when launching a national campaign.

A planned presidential run can also explain why Cuomo has dragged his feet on natural gas drilling. He doesn’t want to upset every tree hugger from Ithaca to Irvine.

Presidential candidates need name recognition. Democratic hopefuls like Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) and other Obama 2012 surrogates can only ride the president’s coattails for so long. They can’t run with the heavyweights and will shortly return to the depths of cable news obscurity.

Basically, if you don’t know their name, they won’t be president. Ever heard of Mike Beebe? John Hickenlooper? Bueller?

The Republican field is lined with big names and this year’s convention all-stars, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie’s straight-talk leadership and sincere working relationship with Obama during Superstorm Sandy made his presidential stock soar. Christie’s bipartisan appeal — his approval rating tops 70 percent in a heavily Democratic state — is a huge plus for Republicans who desperately need independent support.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) represent the wide-eyed young bucks of the GOP. Ryan’s experience as a vice-presidential nominee doesn’t hurt, but the 42-year-old congressman feels a bit washed up. Voters like exciting new faces.

No matter what, Republicans must put Rubio on the 2016 ticket. They desperately need to win back Florida and compete nationally for the Latino vote. A Cuban-American like Rubio could provide a needed boost for Republicans in this voting bloc, turning the page on eight years of cold relations.

Right now, neither party is a clear favorite to win in 2016. While we can predict which candidates may run in the next four years, we can’t predict the state of our economy, foreign relations developments or any political sex scandals that may come to light.

So pay attention during the next four years; watch, listen and learn about these candidates because it’s ultimately up to the voters.

Who knows, maybe you’ll become that political hipster who supports the next president before it’s cool.

Jared Kraham is a senior political science and broadcast journalism major. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at jmkraham@syr.edu and followed on Twitter @JaredKraham.

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