By Victoria Craw & Wires

Sorry Obama, the United States is moving on. With the midterms out of the way and the President officially a lame duck, for others the race is only just beginning.

The end of the midterms signals game on for the 2016 presidential race, with the next few months expected to be a flurry of activity as candidates mobilise powerful allies and tap the millions of dollars it takes to make a President before the next election in November 2016.

While no-one has officially declared their intention to run, speculation is reaching fever pitch on both sides of politics. Here’s a look at the main contenders.


Hillary Clinton

She’s been the subject of endless speculation for months, with many saying the former Senator, first lady, Secretary of State, grandmother and self-described “hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker,” is a shoe-in for the democratic nomination.

Even her Twitter profile mysteriously says “TBD ...” at the end of her bio.

With a strong background on education, healthcare and foreign affairs, Hillary is seen as a solid contender with the practicality to work with Republicans as well as strong support from the Obama base.

Her recent book tour and campaigning on behalf of Democratic candidates have put her in the political spotlight — to the point that the Republican National Committee admitted to having 8–10 staff working full time on taking her down.

But while she’s well-known and renowned for her middle-American values, she’s also a polarising figure with a recent poll saying 51 per cent thought she would make a good president while 41 per cent said she would not.

If she does run, we can expect to see a lot more of Bill who recently described himself as an “old racehorse” wheeled out every election for one more time around the track.

“They come in and give me an extra bale of hay, somebody comes in and brushes my coat, then they drag me out to the track and they slap me on the rear to see if I can get around that track just one more time,” he said. Giddy up, Bill.

Joe Biden

The hardworking everyman VP is the other strong contender in the Democratic field but is yet to fully declare his intentions.

As Obama’s second-in-charge Biden has proved himself strong on economic issues and worked to jump start the beleaguered economy.

The Delaware native has a reputation as a hardworking champion of the people having suffered an early tragedy which killed his first wife and young daughter and left his two young sons hospitalised.

In the midterms he earned himself the reputation as the “patron saint of the embattled House Democrat” for putting in more than 114 campaign appearances for over 60 candidates, committees and parties.

If he does run it won’t be the first time. Biden was forced to withdraw in 1988 after accusations of plagiarising a speech and exaggerated his college record, while in 2008 he was outgunned for the Democratic nomination by Obama and Clinton.

Elizabeth Warren

The first-term senator has said she’s not interested in running but that hasn’t stopped a whirlwind of speculation around Elizabeth Warren, with plenty of people who think her stand on income inequality and championing of workers and families put her right in the sweet spot of the US political mood.

The former lawyer is popular with the liberal wing of the Democractic party and worked to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

Even Hillary has called her a “passionate champion” for workers and families and there’s a committee mobilising for her campagin. Whether Warren herself is on board remains to be seen.


Chris Christie

Unlike the Democrats, the Republican field is much more crowded with no clear frontrunner.

A much talked about option is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a former political fundraiser for George W Bush and US attorney for the state of New Jersey who gained national attention for his strong response to Superstorm Sandy which battered the state.

He’s a moderate Republican seen as a bullish and practical leader with a reputation for getting things done. One black mark on his record is the “Bridgegate” scandal in which two lanes of the George Washington Bridge were closed in an alleged revenge attack on the Fort Lee mayor for failing to support him. Christie denies any involvement.

He’s weighing up whether to enter the race and told CNN this week he wouldn’t rush the decision and would have to see if the timing is right for his family.

“I’ve said it all along. There’s three questions I’ll ask myself: Is it right for me? Is it right for my family? Is it right for my country? And if I don’t answer yes to all three, I won’t run, and if I do answer yes to all three, then I will.”

Jeb Bush

Yep, that Jeb Bush. The son of George Bush and brother of George W. is also thought to be considering a crack at the Presidency, with even his son — another Bush in politics — saying this week he is mulling it over.

He’s best known for his two terms as Governor of Florida where he served until 2007 including during the 2000 election controversy that ended up installing his brother in the White House.

He’s a centrist Republican who speaks Spanish with a lot of political capital who is popular in the key state. He’s also the strongest contender in the diverse Republican field with 15 per cent of those polled by the Washington Post saying they thought he would be the best option.

Even so, it’s not certain he can count on his mum. Barbara Bush said in an interview that while he might be the most qualified for the job, there have been “enough Bushes” in the White House and she doesn’t think we need another.

Ted Cruz

The Tea Party Texan shot to national attention after just 10 months in office during the October 2013 government shutdown where he spearheaded the charge to hold up the Affordable Care Act — better known as Obamacare.

It’s a tactic the hardline conservative hasn’t ruled out again on immigration and he also has a take no prisoners stance on abortion, gun control and energy, with the aim of repealing Obamacare as fast as possible.

While he has support for his hardline views, including a national petition “drafting” him to run for President with nearly 18,000 signatures, it’s likely the nomination will go to a more moderate Republican.

Cruz himself has said he thinks the numbers should do the talking and expects the Republican field to be crowded which is a “good and healthy thing”.

“The test that I think Republican primary voters should apply is who is standing up and leading,” he said.

Rand Paul

The ultra-conservative son of Texas congressman and former presidential hopeful Ron Paul is considering a run of his own.

Rand Paul has already been getting early shots in at Hillary Clinton after the midterm results with the hashtag #Hillaryslosers to highlight those she campaigned with that didn’t win.

The Kentucky Senator is well known within the Tea Party for his views on taxation, government spending and libertarian leanings.

This week he called the midterm results a “referendum on the Clintons” and seems to be laying the groundwork for a campaign with his social media jibes.

Other options

Other names in the Republican mix include Texas Governor Rick Perry, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

Former Arkansas Governor Mick Huckabee and Mitt Romney, who lost the 2008 primary to John McCain is also an option, as is Paul Ryan who ran as Romney’s running mate.

Don’t forget Sarah Palin and Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann, then there is also Florida’s Marco Rubio and Michigan Governor John Snyder who could declare their intentions over the next few months.

United States Studies Centre visiting scholar Adam Lockyer said there's no doubt vying for resources begins now, but it means a delicate position for Republicans who will need to balance their attacks on Democrats with good governance.

“What they really want is a Republican President, Senate and House [but] to get a clean sweep they have to be governing well otherwise the whole thing could blow up in their hands,’’ he said.

“They want to improve conditions of many Americans so they feel they are better off than they are now. To do that they need to compromise to get bills past, on the other hand the Presidential elections for 2016 starts today.

“We’re in a whole different political cycle now, that means they want to be pointing fingers at not only Democrats but rivals.”

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