By John David Dyche
In her 2005 bestseller Team of Rivals, popular historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told how Abraham Lincoln brilliantly brought into his administration the men he beat for the 1860 Republican nomination. The GOP would be smart to do something similar now.
Here is what a 2016 Republican team of rivals could look like. It would maximize the chances of both being elected and governing well.
For President, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. He represents an important electoral state, Florida, and an important electoral constituency, Hispanics, Latinos, and Spanish speakers. He is the best in the GOP field on foreign policy and national security. Rubio has issued good plans for reforming taxes and higher education. He is articulate and optimistic with an appealing theme of a New American Century.
For Vice President, John Kasich. He also represents an important electoral state, Ohio, and is likewise positive and upbeat. Kasich doesn’t shine in debate, but boasts a solid record of accomplishment in both Congress and as a governor, which would be a plus if paired with the youthful Rubio. He is a proven budget balancer and national security conservative. Kasich is more moderate than many Republicans on some issues, but that is a general election asset. He is not as clear and effective a communicator as Rubio is, but the VP need not be.
For Secretary of State, Mitt Romney. Barack Obama ridiculed him at the time, but Romney was right in 2012 when he named Russia as America's biggest geopolitical threat. He is a classy, smart person with a diverse background of business and public service successes. Romney would represent our country well on the world stage.
For Secretary of Defense, Carly Fiorina. Fiorina would be a great fit for reforming and strengthening our military. She has managed a huge corporate bureaucracy before and knows high tech, an increasingly important part of defense issues. Fiorina is a forceful communicator, which would help her in dealing with Congress, military chiefs, and world leaders. It would also be OK to flip-flop her with Kasich, especially since she would bring the electoral asset of being female and an "outsider" and he has congressional experience on military issues.
For Attorney General, Chris Christie. The pugnacious New Jersey governor has been a federal prosecutor. Homeland security is one of his best issues. He has the courage and independence an attorney general needs. His experience in heavily Democratic New Jersey would be good preparation for running the Justice Department bureaucracy.
For Secretary of Labor, Scott Walker. The Wisconsin governor successfully took on labor unions in his state and could do the same thing nationally. He has proven he can take the heat that comes from standing up for workers against the influence and power of the bosses and special interests.
For Secretary of Education, Jeb Bush. As the son of one president and brother of another, the former Florida governor with the famous name might consider this post beneath him. But if you have heard him speak about education issues, it is clear that he has a passion for them. He built a fine education record in the Sunshine State. He backs the controversial Common Core standards, but makes clear that his real priority is having high and rigorous standards that produce results.
For Secretary of Health and Human Services, Bobby Jindal. The Louisiana governor already has experience in the bloated HHS bureaucracy and in Congress. He has issued a good plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, a top Republican priority, but a tough political challenge. Nobody doubts his intellect, and his Indian heritage would add more diversity to the administration.
For Supreme Court, Ted Cruz. The Texas senator and brilliant lawyer speaks powerfully about the serial disappointments Republicans have experienced from their Supreme Court appointees from Earl Warren in the 1960s to John Roberts now. So put him on the court as a dependable conservative. It would have the added benefit of getting him out of the Senate where he stages self-promotional, but ill-conceived crusades at the expense of GOP leadership.
For Homeland Security, Rick Perry. The former Texas governor has valuable experience in dealing with border issues. If given a mandate he might actually and finally secure it.
For United Nations Ambassador, Lindsey Graham. The South Carolina senator puts top priority on American national security, knows who our enemies are, and is not afraid to speak the truth about them. His strong Southern accent would fit right in with the foreign tongues spoken by the global diplomats in midtown Manhattan.
For Secretary of the Treasury, Donald Trump. He is, as he regularly reminds us, really, really rich.
The idea of a 2016 Republican team of rivals is not original to me. Other commentators have offered different line-ups and reasoning. The main thing is to win the election and make the most of the GOP’s deep, talented political bench.
(John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.)
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