Evaluating Presidential Candidates

16572095095_52ba79bf7e_z
Image by Donkey Hotey

Eight years ago with two crowded presidential primaries I did a long series evaluating each presidential candidate. I evaluated every candidate I could find, not just those in the two major parties. It was an interesting exercise although I opted not to do it again in 2012. I wasn’t planning to do it for 2016 either because I had expected Hillary Clinton and the following GOP candidates (in no particular order) to be the focus of the race: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, and possibly Bobby Jindal. With the way the race has been shaped by other candidates I’ve decided to do it again – specifically, I decided to do this after watching both Scott Walker and Rick Perry have the life sucked from their campaigns by Donald Trump who is a vastly inferior candidate to either of them (having tipped my hand on Trump I should probably do my write-up of him first). Last time I evaluated 38 candidates, this time I will only do candidates from the major parties.

Barring any surprise entries or early exits I anticipate evaluating the following candidates (in alphabetical order, not necessarily the order I will evaluate them): Joe Biden (anticipating he will enter), Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump. (Yes, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Mike Huckabee will each get a fresh evaluation even though I looked at allĀ of them in 2008.)

Eight years ago I offered the following disclaimer:

At these early stages of campaigning, my endorsements have the possibility of changing as a result of new information. That being said, I am not at all opposed to getting through the primaries with candidates in each party that I endorse. In fact, I hope that the candidates who win the primaries from each party are candidates whom I can endorse.

One final caveat, when I endorse someone it should not be construed as an endorsement of a party. I never vote for a presidential party, I vote for a president. If I endorse Governor Vilsack it says nothing about the Democratic Party. If I endorse Governor Bush it is an endorsement for Bush, not for the Republican Party.

That disclaimer still applies but this time I add the following caveat: My endorsements are anything but foolproof as proven by Barack Obama. In 2008 I endorsed him as a decent presidential prospect because “He is secure in his ideals, but he is not locked into a partisan mindset.” The last eight years have shown how faulty my perception was. Obama campaigned with post-partisan rhetoric but his administration has been the most partisan I’ve ever seen. I still like the image of candidate Obama even though there’s virtually nothing I have found likable about Obama as president. Hopefully that experience will make me more discerning this time around.