Top Republicans Describe Their Ideal President: Me

Ask a Republican about the GOP’s perfect 2016 candidate, and they’ll read you their résumé.

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 26: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the podium ahead of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 26, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. The RNC is scheduled to convene on August 27 and will hold its first full-day session on August 28 as Tropical Storm Isaac threatens disruptions due to its proximity to the Florida peninsula.
National Journal
Julie Sobel
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Julie Sobel
Nov. 22, 2013, 10:34 a.m.

Wis­con­sin Re­pub­lic­an Gov. Scott Walk­er dis­missed talk of the 2016 White House race as he pro­moted his new book Fri­day—but de­scribed an ideal can­did­ate that looks just like him: “An ideal can­did­ate to me would be a cur­rent or former gov­ernor,” Walk­er said. “Just be­cause I think gov­ernors have ex­ec­ut­ive ex­per­i­ence and, more im­port­antly, I think there’s a real sense across Amer­ica that people want an out­sider.”

Walk­er is hardly the only one these days deny­ing a fo­cus on the White House race, while at the same time de­scrib­ing the per­fect can­did­ate as someone a lot like him­self. The hope­fuls may be play­ing coy about their own in­ten­tions at this early stage, but they’re cer­tainly will­ing to paint a pic­ture of what the GOP nom­in­ee should look like—and if it comes out as a self-por­trait, then so be it.

A run­down from the past week:

— Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in an in­ter­view on Bloomberg Tele­vi­sion’s Polit­ic­al Cap­it­al With Al Hunt: “What I think the next pres­id­ent should be is someone who’s lead­ing the fight for free-mar­ket prin­ciples and the Con­sti­tu­tion, and someone who’s listen­ing to the Amer­ic­an people—not listen­ing to the es­tab­lished politi­cians.”

— Rep. Paul Ry­an, R-Wis., at The Wall Street Journ­al‘s CEO Coun­cil, after stat­ing that the nom­in­ee did not need to be a gov­ernor: “I would like to make sure we get a per­son who is a stand­ard-bear­er who can go the dis­tance,” Ry­an said. “I am fa­mil­i­ar with what go­ing the dis­tance means, and it means a lot. It is not easy to do.” He ad­ded that the nom­in­ee should “be strong on prin­ciples, in­clus­ive on ideas,” and show people “the full spec­trum of con­ser­vat­ism.”

— New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie, also at The Wall Street Journ­al‘s CEO Coun­cil, said the can­did­ate seek­ing a path to vic­tory in a na­tion­al race must avoid “fo­cus-group-tested” speeches. “You need someone who’s clear, dir­ect, and au­then­t­ic and says what they think,” he said.

— In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence, at the Re­pub­lic­an Gov­ernors As­so­ci­ation meet­ings in Scott­s­dale, Ar­iz.: “When I look at 2016, and I don’t have a can­did­ate that I’m back­ing, I’m go­ing to be look­ing not for some­body that says I want to go to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and run it like I ran where I came from. I want some­body that says I’m go­ing to go to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and make it more pos­sible for the next per­son run­ning where I came from to do it with more free­dom and flex­ib­il­ity.”

— And fi­nally, give Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., some points for be­ing straight­for­ward: On Monday, he bluntly told Fox News that he thinks Amer­ic­ans want someone like him. “I think they want someone out­side of, you know, what’s been go­ing on. For ex­ample, someone like my­self who has been pro­mot­ing term lim­its,” he said. “Someone who says we shouldn’t have, you know, dec­ade after dec­ade longev­ity up here.

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