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US Politics Amp Policy
Winning White House race will cost $1bn
From the Financial Times of Sun, 21 Dec 2014 20:47:20 GMT
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is the frontunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, with few in the party expressing an interest in taking her on©Reuters

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is the frontunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, with few in the party expressing an interest in taking her on

It is set to be one of the toughest US presidential races and certainly its most expensive. With 687 days to go to election day, the 2016 campaign is already rich with storylines as candidates hone their messages and handshakes for the gruelling primary schedule ahead.

Will voters warm to another contest between America’s two modern political dynasties in Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush? Or will other, less well-known candidates capitalise on unrest in the US over its widening economic and social fault lines and growing disquiet over its role as the world’s policeman?

For Republicans, the field will be one of the most crowded in years, with establishment favourites such as Mr Bush and Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, poised to battle candidates who have attracted huge followings among the party’s grassroots activists — such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

With no clear frontrunner, it will also be one of the most open presidential races, matching up candidates with strong political track records but divergent stances on core Republican issues such as immigration, national security and gay marriage.

Among Democrats, most expect Mrs Clinton, the former secretary of state and senator from New York, to use the primaries mainly to bolster her war chest as much as to refine her messages on the economy and foreign policy.

Few Democrats, including progressive poster child Elizabeth Warren, have expressed an interest in taking on Clinton Inc. this time around, although Mrs Clinton’s propensity for mistakes could create a gap. So, too, could the intensity of the opposition research machine against her, which has spent years combing through her ties to Wall Street, the Clintons’ foundation work and her political record.

Campaign finance experts say anyone considering a run will have to raise at least $100m just to be seen as a credible candidate. To win, the cost is expected to top $1bn — nearly $1.5m for every day between now until November 8, 2016. That is an awful lot of handshakes.


Hillary Clinton
Hers to lose if she decides to run, Mrs Clinton will have a huge fundraising and organisational advantage over any other candidate. Being the frontrunner has its risks, however; she once held a big lead over Barack Obama in 2008, and must not commit the same errors she did then.

Martin O’Malley
The outgoing Maryland governor’s prospects took a big hit in November, when his handpicked successor lost to a Republican in a race widely seen as a referendum on his time in office. Mr O’Malley will need to shore up support quickly to be seen as a serious contender.

Jim Webb
The former senator from Virginia is an extreme long shot, but his backers believe that there is room for a candidate with independent views. Like Elizabeth Warren, the Vietnam veteran’s message of economic fairness resonates with working class voters.

Elizabeth Warren
The darling of the party’s progressive wing, the first term senator from Massachusetts has become known as the scourge of Wall Street. While she has repeatedly said that she is not running, many see Ms Warren as the only credible challenger to Mrs Clinton.


Jeb Bush
The former Florida governor’s early declaration that he is “actively exploring” a presidential run will expose him to attacks for his reformist stance on issues such as immigration and education, where he is out of step with the rest of the party. Mr Bush will attract plenty of financial support, but he has failed to energise the base.

Mitt Romney
Is Mr Romney seriously considering a third bid for the White House? He has been forthright with his views that the country would be in better shape had he defeated Mr Obama in 2012 and believes that US voters are suffering from buyer’s remorse. Many of his former advisers and donors are pushing him to get back in.

Chris Christie
The New Jersey governor’s aggressive approach to governing and his centrist stance on social issues have created a big fan base and he would compete with Mr Bush for many of the party’s deep-pocketed donors. Many senior Republicans, however, fear his candidacy would bring with it too much political baggage, after the so-called “Bridgegate” traffic scandal and his ties to Mr Obama.

Ted Cruz
The firebrand senator from Texas has positioned himself as one of the field’s true conservatives, urging the party to learn from the defeats of past centrist candidates like Mitt Romney. Among a large swath of the party’s base, the Princeton educated debate champion has an almost rock star like following. But he has infuriated his own party’s leadership for his hardline stance on issues such as the president’s healthcare reforms, which led to a damaging government shutdown in 2013.

Rand Paul
The Kentucky senator may once have been considered a long shot, but his anti-interventionist foreign policy and libertarian views have struck a chord with the party’s grassroots, who believe above all that the federal government must be reined in. He has actively courted groups that the Republicans have not prioritised, such as black voters, and has worked to build a ground game to compete with establishment candidates.

Scott Walker
The Wisconsin governor has survived a recall and a tough re-election battle in his own state to keep his presidential hopes afloat but he is little known on a national scale. He has used his state as a Petri dish for policies that the party would like to roll out across the country, including scaling back the rights of organised labour and cutting taxes. His social conservatism also appeals to the party’s base. One to watch.

Marco Rubio
The Florida senator was given the perfect opportunity to re-energise his presidential ambitions this week, after the president announced moves to normalise relations with Cuba. The son of Cuban immigrants, Mr Rubio denounced Mr Obama’s decision in lurid terms. But whether he can mobilise a campaign around an issue that few voters are as passionate about remains to be seen.

Rick Perry
Should departing Texas governor Mr Perry decide to run, it will be difficult for him to suppress voters’ memories of his gaffe-strewn campaign in 2012. Among other blunders Mr Perry struggled to remember the name of a third federal agency that he would eliminate if he became president. But he remains hugely popular in his home state and has access to an extensive donor list. .

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