Enjoy the Show

Posted: Jun 04, 2015 12:01 AM

School is out, Memorial Day is past and summer stretches in front of us. Maybe it's because I live in the South, but summer seems to be a time when everything slows down, as if to pay homage to the heat and humidity that abound. Without the invention of air conditioning, there is not doubt there would be few who would choose to live in the deep South today, at least during the summer.

The one pastime that we can all enjoy this summer will be the unfolding of the presidential primaries. It, like summer in the South, is always a slow-moving event. But, by this time next year, both parties will likely have narrowed their candidates down to one.

Who's in for sure? On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State and former Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, (who was a Republican until September 2007). Who else will probably run? Former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia.

This Democratic primary will be exciting only if, unlike what has happened over the past three decades, the questions and scandals that surround the Clintons stick. If that happens, the entry of unlikely candidate Vice President Joe Biden could turn this into a real race.

Republicans so far? Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Dr. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Who will probably run? Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (we all thought he was officially running -- but not quite yet), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

You might wonder -- with so many in the field -- what would motivate someone to join the fray. There are many reasons to run that go beyond the possibility one could actually win and become the most powerful person on earth (don't tell Putin).

They are: increasing name identification (and thereby personal brand power); changing the national debate on a particular issue; setting up the long game to run again for president at another time (for those candidates who are younger); and believing that running is one's destiny, regardless of the outcome.

Between now and the end of the summer, current candidates and future candidates will be raising money, raising money, raising money, locking up bundlers, locking up key staff, and attempting to burnish credentials in areas where they may be lacking (upcoming European trip for Bush for national security credentials, recent filibuster on Senate floor for Paul's Libertarian credentials). The one thing that all candidates will be attempting to avoid is a gaffe. Or, as it was termed in 2012, "stepping in it."

What makes candidates more prepared for a presidential run? Experience -- if they have run before on a national stage, then they are better prepared for the exhausting schedule, intense media focus and intense pressure. This puts Clinton in a league of her own. No one else has endured anywhere near the fire she has in her 30-plus years in the public eye. Hardened steel.

On the Republican side, Santorum, Huckabee and Perry have all run before. Paul and Bush have had fathers who have run -- and have been close to the fire. Kasich was part of the Republican Revolution of 1984 and was in the middle of the fire as the chairman of the House Budget Committee that balanced the budget in 1997. Christie and Walker have endured intense state fire as governors, but as the stage grows larger, the heat grows in intensity.

What can we look forward to? The candidates' cattle call at the Iowa State Fair, which starts August 13. Just wait till they tweet pictures of themselves next to the infamous butter cow, which includes 600 pounds of butter that is reused for up to 10 years -- (the butter stays fresh longer than do most presidential candidates). What else can we look forward to at the Iowa State fair? Pork chops on a stick, fried Oreos and deep-fried butter. It's time to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.