GOP Presidential Pack at Full Capacity? Rick Perry Joins as Dr. Ben Carson Fading Out
Ben Carson's Presidential Campaign May be Waning
Has 2016 Presidential Campaign Reached "Peak Republican"?
When former Texas governor Rick Perry joined the field of official Republican presidential candidates, he became the tenth big-league conservative to throw his hat into the ring. And there are more lined up behind him to formalize their Oval Office ambitions: Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and former governor Jeb Bush of Florida are likely to run. But is there still space in the crowd? Or, has full capacity been reached? There may only be so many campaign staffers and so many donor dollars to go around, meaning a new candidate can only survive if he "outbids" existing candidates.
While few thought Carson could go the distance, the famous neurosurgeon has been a national political celebrity for years. A conservative African-American doctor who achieved greatness despite a rough and meager upbringing, Carson was an attractive Republican figure. Essentially, he was seen as a conservative mirror-image of Obama, saying what Republicans wanted to say but insulating them from allegations of racism. And, as a non-politician, he could trump private-sector credentials and freely bash a "broken Washington."
Now, however, it looks like Carson's lack of political acumen has done him in. His campaign is hemorrhaging vital staff members and failing to attract donor dollars. While conservative donors were willing to clap at his speeches, it turns out that they are less willing to open their wallets. It makes sense: Carson, despite his impressive personal accomplishments, had no chance of winning the White House. The last non-politician to win the White House was Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, and being the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (followed by being president of Columbia University) does trump being a neurosurgeon, even a world-renowned one, for leadership and organizational skills.
Carson's likely departure from the pre-primaries is not unexpected, but its timing could be important for those who have yet to formalize their presidential campaigns. Given the number of big-name contenders already running, Carson's quick erosion could frighten away prospective presidential candidates. While Jeb Bush could muster a run, does Carson's downfall mean that Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal are risking a dry donor pool?
Or, given that some big names have yet to enter the race, will we see mass defections of staff from weaker Republican candidates like Carly Fiorina and George Pataki? These staffers may be tempted to jump ship to bigger-name candidates who are circling the campaign waters. If the current crop of Republican candidates is serious about going the distance, they will need to be wary in the coming weeks. Headhunters for Bush, Christie, and Jindal will be looking for 2016 staffers with experience.