By: Dominic Sanfilippo – Staff Writer
“The deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion.”
This declaration, made at the end of a video montage of a diverse array of American families telling their stories, marked Hillary Rodham Clinton’s foray into the race for the American presidency. Although her announcement April 12 was no big surprise for 2016 watchers, Clinton’s long-awaited announcement shifts the spotlight on her as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
Clinton, a former First Lady, U.S. senator from New York and the Secretary of State during President Barack Obama’s first term, arguably has one of the most diverse political resumes in American history.
If elected, Clinton will be the first female American president and will bring former President Bill Clinton back to the White House as the potential First Gentleman.
“I do not believe that Hillary Clinton is the best choice for this country,” Elaine Laux, president of the University of Dayton College Republicans, said. “The American people have recently seen that she is not a trustworthy public servant, and she will most definitely not be receiving my vote come November 2016, if she is nominated by her party.”
Republicans have already made it well-known that they will fight tooth and nail to dissuade the nation that a second Clinton presidency is a foregone conclusion.
“I think the thing about the Clintons is that there’s a certain sense that they think they’re above the law,” Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky, one of the first Republicans to launch his bid for the presidency, said to “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on Sunday.
Paul is no stranger to family being in the national political spotlight. His father, Ron Paul, was a congressman for decades, thrice a presidential candidate (twice as a Republican contender and once as the nominee of the Libertarian Party), and is widely recognized as a vocal advocate for political liberties and a diminished role for the federal government.
Rand, however, is distancing himself from his father in subtle but crucial ways, such as calling for criminal justice reform, to the extent that Nick Gillespie of the libertarian website Reason.com called the Kentucky senator only “libertarian-ish” in an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon.
Another GOP hopeful who has made his mark early on – with quite a bit less subtlety – is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Through his oratory stamina, fiery rhetoric and burnished academic credentials (a debating champion as a Princeton undergraduate and an editor at the Harvard Law Review), Cruz has captured the imagination of social conservatives and Tea Partiers across the country.
“What is the promise of America?” Cruz said in front of a crowd of students at his launch event at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, according to Fox News. “The idea that, the revolutionary idea that this country was founded upon, which is that our rights, they don’t come from man. They come from God almighty.”
Another Republican presidential hopeful who recently announced his campaign to a crowd in Miami April 13 – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio – represents a hopeful future for those Republicans who wish to match conservatism with a diverse, young background.
“I live in an exceptional country where the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as those who come from power and privilege,” Rubio, a son of Cuban American immigrants said, according to the New York Times.
These early candidates are amongst the large cohort of Republicans that could emerge as contenders for the highest office in the nation. Many politicians wait in the wings, including Govs. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Chris Christie, according to University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball.” One thing is for certain: The next year and a half is going to be quite the tumultuous, draining and costly ride, both for candidates and voters.
The New York Times reported that both Clinton, the likely Democratic candidate, and the Republican presidential candidate are expected to raise and spend several billion dollars on the 2016 campaign in total, breaking financial records from the Obama-Romney race in 2012.
“Look for a large field of Republican contenders seeking to shape the race and the direction of the party,” Daniel Birdsong, a UD political science professor, said. “Of the three Republicans that have officially announced they are candidates, Marco Rubio has the most compelling story. Democrats are left wondering if anyone can challenge Mrs. Clinton.”
Although some progressive Democrats are hoping for a candidate to run to the left of Clinton – such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley – many know that Clinton has the best chance of uniting a majority coalition of voters, according to CBS News.
Zachary Zugelder, a junior and the incoming president of UD College Democrats, is among those who are excited about Clinton’s announcement.
“She is the most qualified candidate of either party to announce so far, and I believe she brings a legitimacy to the race that none of the Republican candidates have brought,” Zugelder said. “I know I speak for nearly all of the Dayton College Democrats when I say we are ready for Hillary in 2016!”