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There is no next-in-line for the GOP nomination this cycle. We had one of the least-inspiring candidates the last time around — last two times? — while the other candidates all sputtered and fell.
This means the race is wide open, and we’ve already had much better talent announced already than we’ve had in the recent past (admittedly, not the highest bar to clear). But I think the vast majority of people, whether or not Scott Walker is exactly their man, don’t see any of the senators pictured here as having what it takes to make it.
This leads to speculation of what exactly Cruz, Rubio, and Paul are trying to accomplish by running. Sure, it will expand their national profile, and that’s usually a good thing for the narcissists who think they can and should rule others. Maybe they are trying to influence debate and nudge the platform and eventual nominee in their preferred direction.
Or perhaps these talented, but less-than-presidentially-credentialed, men are aiming for something more: they want to be the runner up.
What better spot for an ambitious, younger (Cruz and Rubio are both in the early 40s and Paul is less than ten years older) firebrand then to be the party’s default choice four, eight, twelve years from now? Maybe you’ll be Vice President. Maybe you’ll have a chance to snag a governorship in the state you’ve already represented in the Senate. Maybe lightning will strike and the course of events will leave you with the nomination against a weak, decrepit, corrupt, geriatric of the in-party when people have the 7-year itch.
Either way, the most coveted prize for these individuals isn’t necessarily to catch fire and burn out in this cycle, but rather to become the parties default choice with a little more experience, a few more accomplishments, some more wisdom, and the benefit that comes from having been through the nomination process once before.