Due to size constraints, I have broken this article into pieces for posting. Part 3 of this article, covering Scott Walker, Rand Paul and Chris Christie, will be released tomorrow at noon–for Part #1, follow this link.
The No-Chance Brigade
Put simply, there are a host of GOP candidates who may be included on the debate stages and in the opinion polls, but who have absolutely no chance in winning the primary itself. These people are either deluded, aiming to score a post-campaign speaking engagement, or possibly angling to join a presidential ticket as the vice president.
Ben Carson: Ben Carson is arguably the most intelligent person on the GOP side, being a famous and highly-skilled brain surgeon. That said, he is an extreme example of intellectual compartmentalization and, while skilled in medicine, he is an absolute imbecile in the realm of politics. He is famous for saying absolutely insane things, including that the Affordable Care Act was the “worst thing since slavery” and that the USA is transforming into Nazi Germany under Obama’s leadership. For a top-ten list of these stupid things, you can follow this link.
While the GOP may love his rhetoric, the sad fact is that large portions of the GOP base simply hate African Americans (ex. polls have shown that nearly half of deep-south Tea Partiers want to criminalize interracial marriage), making it virtually impossible for Carson to advance in the primary. Additionally, Carson is still taking paid speaking engagements, almost certainly suggesting that even he doesn’t think that he can win.
Carly Fiorina: The only woman in the GOP race, Fiorina’s claim to fame is her time spent as the CEO of Hewlett Packard. Unfortunately for Fiorina, her tenure as the HP CEO (1999-2005) was disastrously bad, and resulted in HP firing over 15,000 employees and seeing its stock prices cut in half. In totality, Fiorina is regularly rated as one of the worst CEOs in the last few decades, and this doesn’t speak well for her chances in the primary. Any marginally competent opponent will absolutely hammer Fiorina with negative ads, calling her incompetent, a truly awful executive and a job-killer.
Marco Rubio: Several years ago, I would have claimed that Rubio could have had a chance at the nomination, both due to his extreme conservatism and his rare background as a Latino who can speak to the predominantly-white GOP base. Unfortunately for him, speaking engagements revealed him to be not all that bright, and several embarrassing incidents (ex. his water break during the State of the Union response) have largely turned him into a political joke. After being exposed as a racially tokenistic empty suit for far-right talking points, his star dimmed and there is little chance that Rubio will ever recover this lost promise.
Ted Cruz: While he is very intelligent, Cruz pretends to be dumb for the party base. This has made him fairly popular among the right wing primary voters, but irritating, at best, for anybody who considers themselves a moderate. He might have had a chance at the presidential nomination, if only he didn’t make his name by stepping on his party allies and calling them fake conservatives to his “true” conservatism. Cruz is absolutely despised by many members of his own party, and they will take any opportunity to stab him in the back come campaign season. Finally, Cruz doesn’t have a significant infrastructure in place (like Bush), and hasn’t raised a significant campaign war-trust—these things tend to indicate that he is running to gain more attention, not as a serious play for the party nomination.
Rick Perry: There are some things that a political career simply cannot recover from—one such thing is the amazing and painful “oops” moment during the 2012 primary, where Perry forgot the third executive office he would eliminate and his debate opponents started helping him out by listing off possible targets. This, and other, embarrassing incidents have led many to assume that Perry is either intellectually disabled or a long-term user of some sort of drug that makes him exceptionally slow, if not intermittently incoherent. Perry has no chance at beating Bush or Walker and may not even make it onto the debate stage.
Lindsey Graham: Other than championing every war ever theorized in the neoconservative bubble, Graham has no national profile, nor has he ever distinguished himself on any real issue. He is a pure chicken hawk neocon and even the right wing is unlikely to support his particular brand of extremism.
Ironically, Graham lacks the intelligence to filter his comments before speaking, and has sometimes said things that are altogether too honest for Washington—for example, after the 2012 beating sustained by the GOP, Graham said the following:
Donald Trump: While Trump wants to be seen as a serious businessman, he is, in reality, just a ridiculous buffoon. He built a name for himself off of a $200 million inheritance from his father, yet has managed to bankrupt multiple companies and leverage their demise for a personal profit. In addition to being a failed businessman, he has no serious public policy knowledge and looks like somebody stapled a shell-shocked squirrel to his head in liu of hair implants. In short, he is a joke candidate who perennially trolls the media for attention during primaries that he cannot possibly win.
No, this was not photo-shopped.
As a final note on Trump: While he is a ridiculous fool today, Trump once held some very progressive ideas (likely before he realized that his hucksterism was much more suited for the right wing). In fact, in 1999, he actually championed a 14.25% wealth tax on all individuals, corporations and trusts with more than $10 million in assets. This would have raised $5.7 trillion in revenue overnight, dramatically reduced the wealth gap, erased the accrued national debt, and put the USA on the path to a fairly massive long-term surplus (remember, this was before the Bush tax rates turned the Clinton surplus into a deficit).