May 5, 2015 — The group of Republican presidential candidates is expanding by three, as former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson officially launched their national political efforts yesterday, and former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee made his entry official today.
Fiorina, the only woman in the Republican field to date, is already isolating herself with Hillary Clinton in order to offer a stark comparison about the direction each woman would lead the county should one of them be elected at the end of next year. Obviously, the outlook for both is much different beyond ideology and political philosophy. While former secretary of state, senator, and First Lady Clinton looks to be in the catbird seat to capture the Democratic nomination, Fiorina, a failed California US Senate candidate, is among the longest of shots on the Republican side.
Dr. Carson, a renowned medical practitioner who once successfully severed Siamese twins, came into the political realm with a 2013 National Prayer Breakfast speech, with President Obama sitting only a few seats away, and spoke critically of the state of American culture; it attracted great attention around the country. Dr. Carson has been on the speaking and writing circuit ever since, and though not a national figure, he has in the recent past polled equivalently with Jeb Bush in several state surveys.
Former Gov. Huckabee, who ironically announced his candidacy in his hometown — Hope, Arkansas, a birth site he shares with none other than former President Bill Clinton, who is now striving to become the “First Spouse” -– will hope to build upon his semi-successful 2008 presidential effort that saw him win the important Iowa Caucus and six other states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and West Virginia) on his way to capturing the overall second position in terms of delegates won. He would fall to eventual GOP nominee John McCain but outpaced future Republican presidential nominee (2012) Mitt Romney. Huckabee, who subsequently hosted his own Fox News television program, did not seek the presidency in 2012.
Fiorina may have the most difficult path, and is attempting to traverse the political road by moving right -– she’s a conservative, pro-life female designed to appeal to the right-dominated Republican primary voter and caucus attender class -– but she is perhaps less known than any of the candidates.
Already starting off her campaign with an embarrassing gaffe -– her campaign strategists failed to secure the “Carlyforpresident.org” and “carlyfiorina.org” web domains -– her critics were able to post negative reviews of her tenure leading Hewlett-Packard under her presidential committee’s own name. This is a poor beginning for a candidate who will cite her role in technology development as a building block for her presidential effort. Additionally, her only venture into elective politics was running a rather poor California Senate race ending in a 52-42 percent loss to incumbent Barbara Boxer (D) in 2010, one of the best Republican election years on record.
Dr. Carson’s task is to build upon some early momentum that has since dissipated, as he returns to single-digit support in most polls. His refreshing take on the political world will be attractive to some, but whether he can mount a technically proficient campaign to effectively communicate what should be a resonating message is doubtful.
Former Gov. Huckabee has the potential of being a major contender. He has past primary and caucus wins already under his belt and an impressive record in Arkansas politics where, directly following Mr. Clinton in the State House, he began a Republican wave that now dominates the state’s political landscape. The former governor is already one of the candidates who consistently reaches polling plateaus that eclipse double-digits.
One of the reasons the first four nomination states, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, are chosen is so candidates who may not attract a large amount of money are competitive. Particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire, candidates can still reach a receptive electorate through grassroots campaigning.
Huckabee will certainly win delegates, but if the other two announcing yesterday can also do so –- even a small number -– a resulting open convention becomes a greater reality. If that occurs, and delegates are left to themselves to choose the next Republican nominee, then any result becomes possible.