November 16th , 2012 9:59 am Leave a comment

Already? GOP leaders positioning for 2016

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal is urging the Republican Party to rethink its pitch to voters. Bob McDonnell of Virginia says Republicans should look to outsiders to fix partisan gridlock in Washington. Their fellow governor, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, says the next GOP leader must do a better job explaining why the party’s policies will help ordinary Americans.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is holding court with admirers — and ignoring reporters as he ducks into nominally private meetings. And Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is packing his bags for a very public trip to Iowa.

Yes, the jockeying for 2016 has already begun.

Less than two weeks after Republican nominee Mitt Romney came up short in his bid to unseat President Barack Obama, the next class of potential GOP presidential hopefuls is laying the groundwork for bids of their own. Some subtle and some overt, the maneuvering by would-be-candidates runs along a sometimes perilous path marked by donors, operatives and party elders.

“Everybody who is already thinking about the 2016 presidential race need to have their head examined,” Jindal said in an interview on the sidelines of the Republican Governors Association meeting on the Las Vegas Strip. “Anybody thinking about 2016 is absolutely ridiculous.”

Yet, here’s Jindal, providing a stinging criticism of Romney’s campaign and offering an alternative. He urged his party to work for middle-class voters and to shed the label of a party for “big business and big banks.” The party needs to retool its entire messaging — not just “minor cosmetic changes” — and go after every voter, he said, not just those who are white.

“There’s a lot of important work that needs to be done over the next several months and years,” the 41-year-old Louisiana governor said, positioning himself as a pragmatic candidate in a party that lacks a standard-bearer.

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