We are not here to endorse a political candidate. However, 2016 is going to be a free for all in the Presidential arena. This election will not feature an incumbent for the office with a built in advantage. This is the same situation that occurred in 1980 (Reagan versus Carter), 1988 (George H.W. Bush versus Dukakis), 2000 (Bush versus Gore), and 2008 (McCain versus Obama). In short, the field is wide open. Hillary Clinton nearly took the Democratic nomination in 2008 (and was the presumptive candidate) before Obama’s run. That means that 2016 may be the year that a female candidate breaks through on the top of a major party ticket. This list focuses on the most intriguing possibilities for a female candidate to come through.
10. Roseanne Barr
With the California based Peace and Freedom Party, Barr actually finished sixth in the Presidential race this year with 48,000 votes nationally. Barr would have to run as a traditional Democrat to get traction. However, her platform of ending the Federal Reserve, legalization of marijuana, and marriage equality focuses on hot button issues that voters are starting to get behind. Barr could conceivably frame herself much like Ross Perot did in 1992. Properly packaged, Roseanne’s portrayal of a former housewife with straight talking common sense answers may be the refreshing tonic to greater political vistas in 2016.
9. Christine O’Donnell
In 2010, Christine O’Donnell took what some would call the extreme views of the American Tea Party as a Republican candidate and won forty percent of the vote in Delaware. What else did she do? She made her run into a national campaign. Granted, O’Donnell was parodied on Saturday Night Live for the famous ‘witch ad.’ However, can you say anything about the races in states such as New Hampshire or Vermont in 2010? Unless you live there, you probably can’t. O’Donnell combines sorority house good looks with a philosophy whose impact on the American landscape seems to have been greatly under-reported. The House of Representatives changed on the Tea Party message. The Republicans held on to it in 2012. If you take that package outside the traditionally liberal Mid Atlantic region, you would have a national candidate with more appeal that most in the media are willing to admit.
8. Linda McMahon
Linda McMahon is another example of a candidate who would do much better nationally than she did in her home state. Linda McMahon is a Republican who married into (and helped expand into a national phenomenon) World Wrestling Entertainment. She is a successful businesswoman. She also made inroads in a traditional blue state towards getting into national office… twice. If you give states such as Florida, Georgia, and Arkansas a chance to vote for Linda McMahon on Super Tuesday, then you have a real possibility of securing a Republican national ticket where a local one failed. After all, the same strategy worked well after a loss for Abraham Lincoln. If you put Linda McMahon in front of them, the solid south and west will listen to her.
7. Susan Rice
In politics, there is no such thing really as bad publicity. Rice, as the United States ambassador to the United Nations, is currently under fire for disclosure of information in relation to the attack on the Libyan Embassy. Rice is also a candidate to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Given the nature of American politics and culture, Rice’s role will not be nearly as important in four years as how she held up against Republican attacks. If Rice manages to look strong and defiant in the face of adversity, that is an image that voters will pay attention to in 2016.
6. Michelle Bachmann
In 2012, Michelle Bachmann did two things. First, she lost to get the Presidential bid for the Republican Party. Second, the Representative for the House from the state of Minnesota also got her message across effectively on a national stage. Successful Republican nominees tend to have multiple runs. Romney set-up 2012 in 2008. John McCain set-up 2008 in 2000. Ronald Reagan threw his hat into the ring three times. Bachmann did nothing to hurt herself in 2012. By 2016, the Midwestern wife, mother, and politician might just be the progressive choice the Republican party is willing to put on the top of their ticket. If anything, the campaign that just passed had Bachmann peaking too early.
5. Sarah Palin
After being branded ‘Caribou Barbie’ and lampooned by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live, many would think that Palin is essentially done on a national stage. However, Palin rather wisely did not run in 2012. Palin did not want a re-hashing of the losing effort in 2008. However, there is precedence for Palin’s eventual success that comes from an unlikely source. Bill Clinton lost an election in Arkansas. Clinton also had a nominating speech which many thought would doom him on a national stage. Clinton also suffered an embarrassing family scandal many thought would end his 1992 candidacy. Saturday Night Live parodies successful candidates. Palin has managed to keep herself relevant in the public eye. Palin also has not been tarnished by a loss on the top of the ticket. By 2016, eight years in the national eye could once again position Palin as a potent force in Republican politics.
4. Elizabeth Dole
When Bob Dole failed to give his official support to his own wife’s Presidential campaign, Dole might have honestly wondered what he was doing with boxes of Viagra sitting around. He certainly would not be using them for anything useful in the near future. Since 2000, Dole served successfully as a United States Senator and has been politically active for decades. If she had won re-election in 2008, she would have served through 2014. Age might be a factor in a Dole run in 2016. Dole will be 80 at the time. However like Reagan, Dole would be sensitive to the concerns of the voter on age. She would not make an issue of any potential opponent’s “youth and inexperience.”
3. Condoleezza Rice
If anything, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s profile has risen since her time in the G. W. Bush White House. Rice has consistently demurred whenever asked about a run for the nation’s highest office. Rice’s potential run would probably be analogous to the run of Barry Goldwater in 1964. Goldwater had been fairly consistent in not wanting to run for the Presidency. However, the cry came out essentially to “draft the son of a b—-.” Goldwater finally acquiesced and was ultimately unsuccessful. Rice represents the Republican parties’ best bet to cross cultural, philosophical, as well as gender barriers. In order for the Republican Party to effectively move forward, Rice would be an ideal candidate to present a fresh young as well as diverse image.
2. Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton once described her negative appeal as having to do with people associating her with “their mother-in-law.” Despite this, Clinton was the leading as well as favorite candidate to win in 2008 before Barack Obama made his rock star run to the Presidency. Since then, the former United States Senator and First Lady has only padded her resume by adding Secretary of State. Clinton has stated that she will not be continuing in that post. Clinton also went through a lengthy period of introspection before running for the Senate as well as ultimately the Presidency. Without another compelling once in a lifetime run, Clinton would again emerge as the odds on favorite for the nomination. In the past 16 years at that point, Clinton would have well moved past First Lady to establish a legitimate resume on her own. Never say never in politics or in the search for a college football head coach.
1. Michelle Obama
Before you dismiss this one completely, you might want to look up the name Lurleen Wallace. Lurleen was the wife of polarizing Governor George Wallace in the deep segregated southern state of Alabama in 1960s. Regardless of people’s understanding the Lurleen was Governor-by-proxy, she still beat two former Governors in the Democratic primary for the state. Alabamians are now proud to have elected a female governor in the 1960s. If Obama was to run, we have a feeling that she would not simply allow her husband to do the job regardless of what supporters might think when they vote for her. Obama would be an attractive candidate not only based on her own achievements but also if the voter electorate wants to maintain a relative continuity on the Obama administration policies. Can you imagine an Obama/Clinton round two in the 2016 Democratic national primaries?