As the presidential election becomes more and more a topic of conversation, it is abundantly clear that while Democrats are banking on Hillary Clinton to run, Republicans are somewhat more split on the matter. However, that doesn’t mean that the party lacks strong or influential leadership. Let’s take a look at some of the most vital, vocal, and well-known voices of the Republican party.
1. Rush Limbaugh
The conservative talk show host is known as a major voice for the Republican party, one that is known for strong rhetoric and far-right political views. He has been hailed as a passionate speaker who cares about America. He has also been criticized as racist, sexist, and even called a “brainwashed Nazi” by one caller, himself a Republican. Even with all the criticism, there can be no doubt that he influences and drives much of the fiery conversation on major topics, including gun control, unemployment, Liberal’s benefit programs, Obamacare, and much more.
2. Sarah Palin
Some have compared to her to the Republican Hillary Clinton, a few even suggesting that she run against her or in some way get involved in the presidential race of 2016 — a move that looks unlikely, but a sentiment that illustrates the great degree of respect many Republicans have for Palin. As one of the few women with a strong place in the far-right of the political hemisphere, and one of the few women in politics to have the public eye as much as she has, Palin is a major name in the GOP.
She’s been everywhere; in politics — national and Alaskan — books, even TV, with Palin’s new TLC show Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Just recently, she’s been back in the news and public eye after a blazing speech at the NRA’s Stand and Fight rally last month, which incited a fair amount of discussion regarding her position on torture and waterboarding. If nothing else, she knows how to grab people’s attention.
3. Karl Rove
Karl Rove is one of the nation’s most respected Republican political advisors and consultants, with his time in politics dating back to his time as Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to George W. Bush. Eventually, he resigned to later become a political analyst for Fox, Newsweek, and The Wall Street Journal – for which he wrote an article this week that discussed President Barack Obama’s poor polling numbers.
“Republicans will help Mr. Obama if they react to his bad polling numbers by picking the safe path — that of keeping their fire focused on the president’s shortcomings, instead of also offering a popular governing agenda equal to the economic and other challenges faced by millions of Americans, especially those in the middle class,” wrote Rove. Ultimately, he went from advising the President to advising Republicans and Americans more broadly. He also played a strong role in the creation of American Crossroads, a PAC that has been a part of such political fights as Romney’s in the 2012 election.
4. John Boehner
As Speaker of the House, John Boehner’s role in Republican politics is fairly obvious. That said, he has had a particularly interesting career as Speaker, and a particularly divisive one at times for the GOP, especially when it came to far-right Tea Party criticism just after the shutdown. He’s taken a strong stance on immigration reform and a number of other major issues, even if it meant conflicting with his own party. Ultimately, his place at the head of the majority in the House gives him about as much influence as one can have, save with another election.
5. John Roberts
Much like Boehner, John Roberts’ position is by definition one of incredible influence as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. From Roberts have come such statements as “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” as well as the selection of every FISA judge presently working in review of the NSA and FBI. While on many issues, including that of race, Roberts has been to the right, in one key area he set off a storm of Republican backlash still being felt to this day — in finding Obamacare constitutional.
6. Koch Brothers
With number six you get two for the price of one — but it’s one hell of an expensive price when it comes to the oil billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch. The two are praised by Republicans for acting in support of vital conservative interests via support of political elections. They are major business players as well, lauded for creating many jobs for the American economy. In turn, they are criticized by Democrats for buying politicians and elections with major donations, many for negative ad campaigns in key states and for benefiting from business legislation as a result of their involvement in politics.
In response to these accusations, Charles Koch wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, defending his family’s involvement in politics. “Far from trying to rig the system, I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies, and protective tariffs — even when we benefit from them,” he wrote. “If we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for those principles.”
7. Ted Cruz
Popular? Not always. But Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) nevertheless remains an important figure for the GOP, as controversial figures often are. Stubbornly anti-Obamacare and highly aggressive in going after Republican interests, he’s a proud Tea Partyist, and is still being criticized for his filibuster that had Republicans and Democrats alike fuming earlier this year. That anger, plus the suggestions from some that he run for President, clearly elevates him to a strange mixed popularity that is certainly notable.
8. John McCain
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) may have lost the 2008 presidential election, but he still remains a notable Senator in Washington, not hesitant to offend with his positions, and at times doing just that. He most recently criticized Obama for events with Russia, saying that harsher and more specific sanctions are needed, and claiming in an opinion piece with The New York Times that, “Mr. Putin also saw a lack of resolve in President Obama’s actions beyond Europe,” and that Obama is making the U.S. appear weak. With his own personal military record, McCain is known for having a more aggressive foreign policy preference with perhaps the exception of Lebanon.
9. Rand Paul
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is just one of many names being tossed around for 2016 presidential elections, but still, his name is out there. He, like Cruz, is a member of the Tea Party, but has dodged some of the political animosity that Cruz has stored up, though still setting off members of both parties at times. He has encouraged the Republican party to seek out a better relationship with Hispanic and African American demographics in the U.S., while also holding an anti-amnesty view with a careful but conservative stance on immigration.
10. Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R- Ky) is a Republican struggling to make headway, or prevent headway, among enemies. As such, he demands an intense level of loyalty from within the GOP, and tends to be a voice for unity and stubbornness in the face of diversity.
He also veers away from the bipartisan, discouraging across the aisle cooperation at times. “It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out,” he said of health legislation in the past, according to The New York Times.
More from Wall St. Cheat Sheet:
- Accusations of Racism Aren’t Helping GOP Expand Voter Base
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