Michael Barone

And vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's budget deal with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray angered many fiscal conservatives who decried its increase in the airline passenger fee and cuts in inflation adjustments for some military retirees.

There haven't been such nationally visible setbacks for the Republican governors mentioned as possible 2016 nominees -- Wisconsin's Scott Walker, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal and Ohio's John Kasich.

But Jindal's job approval has plunged, and both Walker and Kasich face serious reelection challenges this year.

If potential Republican nominees have had setbacks or made little progress, so have potential Democrats.

Hillary Clinton, leading by a wide margin in primary polls, could -- and should -- face questions on whether she and the State Department failed to take steps that would have prevented the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi.

Joe Biden, praised often by the president, was nonetheless called consistently wrong on foreign policy by his administration colleague, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Martin O'Malley has raised taxes in Maryland -- maybe not a problem in a Democratic primary -- and has seen his Obamacare health exchange collapse.

Andrew Cuomo has suggested that those who oppose abortion, gun control and same-sex marriage have no place in his New York. But he'll need some of their votes to win a general election.

Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer talks a good populist game. But is America ready for another untested leader?

Setbacks can be overcome. But both Republicans and Democrats have a problem if they want to be serious candidates in the 2016 cycle.

Democrats must defend and promise to advance big government programs even in the wake of the Obamacare fiasco.

Republicans must present alternative policies that address today's America and not just rehash the 1980 Reagan platform.

Neither party's potential nominees have made major advances on those fronts. Let's see if they do.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM