Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Struggling Republicans see reasons to stay in 2016 race

WASHINGTON — For months, Republican presidential candidates with dwindling bank accounts and negligible support in polls have been finding reasons to stay in the 2016 race.

Now, a few must weigh whether they can keep competing after being downgraded or excluded from Tuesday's fourth GOP debate. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have been bumped to the undercard debate because of low poll numbers, while South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki didn't qualify for either event.

Each of the candidates has so far vowed to stay in the race, keeping the Republican contest crowded with just under three months until the Iowa caucuses kick off the nominating process. Fifteen Republicans are still running for president, while three Democrats are vying for their party's nomination.

"I'll go there, debate, and as soon as I leave the debate I'll go to Iowa and get back to work," Christie said Friday as he filed his paperwork to run in the New Hampshire primary.

Struggling candidates can see multiple reasons to keep their White House hopes alive. It's relatively inexpensive to campaign in Iowa and they can use television appearances as a way to get free publicity. Running for president can be a stepping stone to high-profile television jobs and other lucrative opportunities. And given that the field remains unsettled, there's always the possibility that an unlikely candidate can make a late surge in one of the early voting states.

Huckabee pulled off a surprise victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum did the same four years later, though neither ultimately secured his party's nomination.

"Candidates never really run out of reasons to run," said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who advised 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. "Many are staying in because the lesson learned from past campaigns is that it's possible to go from 1 percent to winning the caucuses, or at least beat expectations."

Yet some Republicans are concerned, believing that one of the reasons the race remains unsettled is because there are still so many candidates.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker openly worried about that when he abruptly ended his campaign in late September amid a cash shortage. He encouraged other candidates to follow his lead "so voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current front-runner."

The front-runner Walker was referring to was Donald Trump. The billionaire real estate mogul is still atop the GOP field, causing heartburn for establishment Republicans who fear he couldn't win in the general election — or that his controversial statements on immigration and minorities could hurt the party even if he's not the nominee.

In his typical no-holds-barred style, Trump has been calling out rivals who are struggling and pointing them toward the exits.

"There are too many people," Trump said this week. "If a person has been campaigning for four or five months and they're at zero or 1 or 2 percent, they should get out."

Other candidates have avoided assessing when their rivals should end their campaigns, a process that is often emotional and deeply personal.

But for weeks, Jeb Bush supporters have said the crowded field is contributing to the former Florida governor's struggle to gain traction.

"For Jeb, the field's got to get narrowed down a lot to shine," said Philip Taub, a supporter from New Hampshire. Iowa state Rep. Ron Jorgenson said Bush is "suffering just from a lot of fragmentation with so many people in the race."

The New York Times, in a biting editorial, has called for Christie to end his campaign and refocus on his duties as governor. "You are accountable for what happens in New Jersey," the paper wrote last week.

And in Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal's pursuit of the presidency has led both Democrats and Republicans in the state to criticize him for being an absentee state executive. Jindal, whose term as governor ends in January, has spent most of the last several months campaigning across Iowa.

"I think spending time here, working here is paying off," the low-polling Jindal said.

He is facing a major cash crunch, ending the last fundraising quarter with $261,000 on hand. But his financial disclosure forms show he's finding ways to campaign cheaply, bunking at affordable hotel chains. Santorum, who is also low on cash, appears to be looking around for deals on online travel sites, with multiple payments to Expedia and Hotels.com.

Of course, for most candidates, there eventually comes a time where a lack of money and lack of votes becomes too great to overcome.

"They need to recognize that moment and make a move," Madden said.

Struggling Republicans see reasons to stay in 2016 race 11/07/15 [Last modified: Saturday, November 7, 2015 1:55am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida education news: Schools of Hope, substitute pay, testing and more

    Blogs

    SCHOOLS OF HOPE: Hillsborough County school district leaders have expressed their displeasure with portions of Florida's sweeping new education law, HB 7069. But that doesn't mean they're above taking advantage of it where the provisions might help. Officials are now contemplating

  2. St. Pete Beach to hold line on property tax rate

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Property tax rates are slated to remain unchanged here next year, but many residents may see higher tax bills, thanks to a 7.2 percent increase in property values.

    St. Pete Beach City Manager Wayne Saunders.
  3. Rays morning after: How exactly did they let that game slip away

    Blogs

    Rays manager Kevin Cash assumed Thursday's game was over when Gary Sanchez rolled a ground ball toward the shortstop spot with the tying run on third and two outs in the ninth. So did closer Alex Colome. As well as second baseman Tim Beckham.

  4. 5 things to know before Tampa Bay Comic Con this weekend

    Events

    Tampa Bay Comic Con returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, expected to attract more than 55,000 like-minded nerds mingling with cosplayers, celebrities, artists and sellers of comic books and collectibles.

    Surrounded by the bridesmaids dressed as Disney princesses and groomsmen dressed as Marvel superheroes, Gwen Walter of Venice, Fla., kisses her husband, Shawn Walter, also of Venice, after their wedding ceremony on day two of the 2016 Tampa Bay Comic Con in the Tampa Convention Center on August 6, 2016. The pair got engaged at Megacon 2015 and were married wearing "Nightmare Before Christmas"-themed costumes. Two different couples were married in Room 24 on the second day of the Tampa Bay Comic Con 2016. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times
  5. White House tensions catch fire with Scaramucci interviews (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's new communications director exploded the smoldering tensions at the White House into a full-fledged conflagration Thursday, angrily daring Trump's chief of …

    White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci gestures as he answers a question during a press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington on July 21, 2017. Scaramucci offered newsroom leaders a test on Thursday. They needed to decide whether to fully use the obscenities relied on by Scaramucci to describe fellow White House aides or talk around them. [Associated Press]