On the Transcripts page of my website are the 36 relatively recent interviews I have done with the men and woman who are at least seriously thinking of running for president in 2016.
There are 16 who have been on the other side of the microphone from me at least once — some multiple times — since the New Year. Using last names, in alphabetical order, they are: Bolton, Bush, Carson, Christie, Cruz, Fiorina, Graham, Huckabee, Kasich, Pataki, Paul, Perry, Rubio, Santorum, Trump and Walker.
If Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder jumps in, I will have to corral him or else threaten my perfect game. If “favorite-son-and-daughteritis” breaks out in anticipation of an “open” or “brokered” convention in Cleveland next July, my radio show will be the easiest to book in its now nearly 15 years on the air. As the prospect of a demolition derby on the Lake increases, so do the odds of governors or senators entering their home state contests to carve out a role for themselves and their states in the GOP Rock-and-Roll convention.
Here are my takeaways on the 16 I’ve interviewed to date:
• There has never been as deep a GOP field, full of experienced and able communicators, executives, thinkers and showmen. The debates in which I will get to participate will need stadium seating for the candidates and lots more time than the customary 90 to 120 minutes, if all are to be given a chance to opine on the key issues of the campaign.
• Those key issues include American military strength — especially regarding our Navy and Marine Corps, and most especially the adequacy of our carrier groups’ readiness and the aging of the Ohio Class nuclear submarine fleet and the “missile gap” the latter portends.
• These key issues also include the emerging deal with Iran. The candidates who most ably denounce it in detail and explain with clarity and precision the alternatives to it will be rewarded by a center-right electorate that, while aware of the threat posed by the Islamic State, are much more aware that a nuclear Iran is a disaster not just for the United State, the Middle East and the West, but indeed for human history.
• There are no “gotcha questions” when it comes to issues of same-sex marriage and the integration of sexual-orientation pluralism into American pluralism. But questions about the defense of religious liberty are also legitimate. And there is a ripe field for debate also in the forays by Colorado and Washington State into drug legalization.
• Candidates not named Clinton are very well served by doing as many and more of serious sit-downs in every venue from mine to Chuck Todd’s “Meet The Press” and now Jake Tapper’s “State of the Union,” and of course every Fox News Channel show that will have them. In this crowded field full of this much talent, “earned media” with serious people is a crucial and necessary ingredient to winning.
• Finally, “funny” and “relaxed” are almost the highest compliments that can be earned after “serious and informed.” Most of these candidates are all of those things, and even a few are knowledgeable about sports and pop culture. (Sen. Marco Rubio’s and Gov. Jeb Bush’s Miami-area boosterism regarding all things involving sports may drag them down, having made them insufficiently appreciate of Buckeye State sports, which Texans Ted Cruz and Rick Perry have covered by cheering on the comeback of Johnny Football.)
Touch, timing, charm and charisma — never have such hard-to-define qualities mattered so much. And rarely have they been this abundant.
This column was originally posted on WashingtonExaminer.com