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U.S. Republican presidential candidates gather before the start of their debate in Ames, Iowa August 11, 2011. They are (from L to R) Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich. REUTER
It might seem early for 2016, but then again, it's never too early to campaign on ideas from 1954
A top Republican official tells Maggie Haberman what his party learned from 2012:
“We have a deep bench of 2016 prospects, and it’s obvious that several of them are already preparing in case they decide to pull the trigger,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee member who backed Rick Perry and then Mitt Romney in 2012. “One of the clear lessons from 2012 is if you want to go the distance, the candidate and the campaign better be ready.”
I'm assuming he doesn't mean that Mitt Romney wasn't ready. Instead, he's saying that none of the not-Romneys were actually ready to to become the GOP nominee, so now that it's 2013, everyone who wants to be president is starting their preparations now so that they will have a better shot of winning the Republican nomination if they end up running.

I guess that's kind of an obvious point if you're trying to explain why Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum failed to topple Willard, but it doesn't really have much to do with winning the White House. Both John McCain and Mitt Romney were obviously well-prepared and ready to run—but both of them lost, largely because they could not escape the dead weight of the Republican Party.

But instead of realizing that the real lesson of 2008 and 2012 is that Republicans need to change, it appears as though the next wave of Republican presidential candidates are mainly interested in learning the lesson of how to outperform Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich in a Republican primary:

“There is no heir apparent inheriting a strong current from the ’12 primary,” said New Hampshire-based Republican strategist Rich Killion. “The president’s shrinking standing fuels not just [a] sense of … angst over [the] ’12 election outcome but also a hunger to win the White House in ’16.”
Apparently the main thing these guys learned from last November is that in order to win the Republican primary, they need to start running now, otherwise they might not be ready. More power to them, because Republicans running for president is the best political entertainment you could ask for. And given that it's going to be one long race to the fringe, it will be nothing but good news for Hillary Clinton or whoever our nominee ends up being.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 09:25 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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