1. Rand Paul
Paul is not your average conservative. His views lean Libertarian and some neocons aren’t comfortable with his anti-interventionist stance. He's also reaching out and appealing to young people. Paul is considered the early front runner thanks to Chris Christie’s stumbles.
2. Chris Christie
Christie looked like the runaway nominee until “Bridgegate” and the subsequent MSNBC obsession with it. Can he come back? Bill Clinton did but he’s a democrat and there’s seemingly higher standards for republican behavior. His Jersey straight talk resonates with many in the middle so don’t rule him out.
3. Jeb Bush
Are Americans about all “Bushed out”? A few years ago it seemed that way but as President Obama’s approval rating has fallen Jeb’s brother George has gotten less of the blame for the troubles that ail America. Jeb made some controversial comments on immigration recently but they were calculated. He’s seen as having been a good governor but would be a long shot for the nomination.
4. Paul Ryan
Ryan was of course the running mate of Mitt Romney in a losing effort last time so is it “his turn”? Ryan’s angered many conservatives lately with his budget compromises. But he may be trying to navigate a balance of conservative and moderate obstacles. He’s in congress which won’t help him but a strong performance in GOP debates could propel him.
5. Ted Cruz
Cruz is a firebrand and has irked the GOP establishment repeatedly. There are also many progressives on the other side that would like to see him get the nomination so they could “Goldwater” him. But Cruz has avid Tea Party support which he’s earned by unwavering on his conservative positions. That will provide him a loyal base to work from next year.
6. Dr. Ben Carson
Ben Carson has not said he’ll run or is even interested in being president. However, there is a draft Carson movement afoot that could energize him. He’s well liked and as a brain surgeon well respected on healthcare. His soft spoken manner and personal success story would give him at least a fighting chance.
7. Susana Martinez
Martinez is the first Hispanic female governor in American history. She gave an excellent speech at the 2012 GOP convention which helped propel her to the national stage. The Left is already going after her for comments she’s made about her opponents lately. Governor Martinez also won office in a blue state. If she gets in the race, don’t be surprised to see her at least get the “silver” aka be the VP pick.