The GOP Wants to Know: Do You Want Herman Cain in 2016?

A Republican National Committee straw poll reveals possible presidential candidates you surely aren’t even thinking about.

Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks during an American For Prosperity rally on July 23, 2012 in Reno, Nevada.
National Journal
Matt Berman
Jan. 14, 2014, 1:03 p.m.

The GOP has cre­ated a di­git­al menu of 2016 pres­id­en­tial op­tions. And it’s full of people you prob­ably nev­er even thought of.

The list in­cludes plenty of ob­vi­ous con­tenders: New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Paul Ry­an, Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, and so on. But it also digs deep­er in polit­ic­al his­tory, stretch­ing back to Her­man Cain and Newt Gin­grich, and floats names like Sen. Kelly Ayotte and the al­ways-rumored former Sec­ret­ary of State Con­doleezza Rice.

There are some not­able names not on the list, like celebrity mil­lion­aire Don­ald Trump and one-time can­did­ate Mitt Rom­ney. But right now, the GOP is cast­ing an al­most com­ic­ally large net in its hunt for a 2016 can­did­ate.

At the same time, Demo­crats would prob­ably love to be able to put out a list like this. Once you toss out those who don’t stand a chance (sorry, John Bolton), the massive shop­ping list still shows how deep the GOP bench is right now. And once Re­pub­lic­ans set their mind on a can­did­ate, they will have to con­vince every­one with­in their splintered party to sup­port him or her.

Maybe this ex­tremely early, free-flow­ing straw poll isn’t the worst idea.

Of course, to fill out the poll, you have to give the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee your info — there is a broad­er point in this for the party, after all. Here’s the full list:

  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte, New Hamp­shire
  • Former Gov. Haley Bar­bour, Mis­sis­sippi
  • John Bolton, former U.S. am­bas­sad­or to the United Na­tions, mus­ta­chioed
  • Former Gov. Jeb Bush, Flor­ida
  • Her­man Cain, pizza
  • Ben Car­son, neurosur­geon
  • Gov. Chris Christie, New Jer­sey
  • Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas
  • Former Gov. Mitch Daniels, In­di­ana
  • Newt Gin­grich, former Newt Gin­grich
  • Gov. Nikki Haley, South Car­o­lina
  • Mike Hucka­bee, tele­vi­sion host
  • Gov. Bobby Jin­dal, Louisi­ana
  • Gov. John Kasich, Ohio
  • Rep. Peter King, New York
  • Gov. Susana Mar­tinez, New Mex­ico
  • Former Gov. Sarah Pal­in, Sarah Pal­in’s Alaska
  • Sen. Rand Paul, Ken­tucky
  • Former Rep. Ron Paul, Google Ron Paul
  • Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Min­nesota
  • Gov. Mike Pence, In­di­ana
  • Gov. Rick Perry, Texas (lis­ted on the poll as former gov­ernor, which he will be by then)
  • Sen. Rob Port­man, Ohio
  • Former Sec­ret­ary of State Con­doleezza Rice
  • Sen. Marco Ru­bio, Flor­ida
  • Rep. Paul Ry­an, Wis­con­sin
  • Gov. Bri­an San­dov­al, Nevada
  • Former Sen. Rick San­tor­um, Pennsylvania
  • Sen. Tim Scott, South Car­o­lina
  • Sen. John Thune, South Dakota
  • Gov. Scott Walk­er, Wis­con­sin
  • Al­len West, Al­len West Inc.

And, if that’s not enough for you, there’s al­ways a write-in.

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