U.S. Republican presidential candidates: Who's in so far

The 2016 U.S. presidential election is still more than a year away, but the race is already heating up. Here's a roundup of the big-name Republicans who have declared their intentions to run — all 16 of them.

Field is filling out quickly as confirmed participants hit double digits

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      The 2016 U.S. presidential election is still more than a year away, but the race is already heating up.

      Ted Cruz was the first to make it official, announcing his candidacy in late March. Since then, former candidates, newer names and long-established politicians have entered the fray. 

      The Republican Party has scheduled nine debates this year, with the first hosted by Fox News in August. Who exactly will appear on stage is not yet clear, but the party says both Fox and CNN, which will hold the second debate, have laid out their criteria.

      Fox said its debate will feature candidates who meet several administrative tests and place "in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls, as recognized by FOX News."

      Here's a roundup of the 17 Republicans who have declared they're running:

      Jeb Bush

      Jeb Bush served two terms as governor of Florida and, on the campaign trail, has touted his record on the economy and immigration. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

      Part of the Bush political dynasty and a former Florida governor, Jeb Bush entered the race on June 15, describing himself as a reformer while vowing to change Washington's direction on issues including foreign policy, the economy and the military.

      But, notably, the 62-year-old son of former president George H.W. Bush and younger brother of George W. Bush left the family name out of his early campaign materials, going instead with a logo that simply said "Jeb!" in red letters. The nickname stems from the initials of his full name, John Ellis Bush. 

      Bush speaks Spanish and converted to Catholicism after meeting his Mexican-born wife, Columba. He served two terms as governor of Florida, leaving office in 2007. 

      His campaign stresses his record on the Florida economy, disaster response, education and immigration, though on some of those issues he parts company with the Republican conservative base.

      Bush has also made overtures to liberal voters, softening some of his more socially conservative positions on same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization.

      Ben Carson

      Ben Carson, a 63-year-old retired neurosurgeon, announced his candidacy for president in Detroit on May 4. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

      Ben Carson, a retired doctor who had a long career as director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, kicked off his campaign to a cheering hometown crowd in Detroit in early May. With his wife, Candy, at his side, Carson introduced his family and talked about his mother's efforts to raise her kids as a single working parent.

      Carson, who has drawn some support from the Tea Party movement, told the crowd he thinks that government has expanded past its constitutional powers.

      He told supporters he doesn't want to get rid of safety nets "for people who need them," but that he does have "a strong desire to get rid of programs that create dependency in able-bodied people."

      Carson is one of the most recent additions to the campaign, but he's already sparked controversy with remarks he made in the past, including comments about homosexuality being a choice, saying Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery and for a comment he made in an interview comparing the U.S. government to Nazi Germany.

      Chris Christie

      New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the last of the big-name candidates to enter the race for the Republican nomination, bringing the number of presidential hopefuls to 14. (Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

      New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came to the race later than many of his competitors, saying at his announcement,"I mean what I say and I say what I mean, and that's what America needs right now."

      Christie, a 52-year-old second term governor known for being outspoken, has taken some flak from Republicans for working with Democrats in New Jersey. He's also faced controversy over the politically motivated 2013 lane closures on the busiest bridge in America, which connects New York City and New Jersey. Christie has said he had no knowledge of the closures.

      Ted Cruz

      Texas Senator Ted Cruz rose to prominence in the Tea Party movement. He said he will abolish the Internal Revenue Service if elected president. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

      Described by one of his Harvard law professors as "off-the-charts brilliant," junior Texas Senator Ted Cruz rocketed from the fringes of the Republicans' Tea Party wing to a legitimate (albeit long-shot) candidate in a few short years. Born in Calgary (although he very publicly renounced his Canadian citizenship last year), Cruz was the first to announce his intentions to run for president on March 23 at Virginia's evangelical Liberty University, a nod to his Christian values.

      Cruz has studied the U.S. Constitution extensively, and argues it should remain unchanged.

      "From the founding of our country, America has enjoyed God's providential blessing at every stage," he once told televangelist James Robertson. "When the declaration and constitution were drafted, they were drafted on the knees of the founding fathers through prayer."

      Cruz was a policy adviser to former president George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential election before going on to serve as Texas's youngest and first Hispanic solicitor general. He is among the most outspoken opponents of Obama's health-care reforms, claiming they have resulted in massive job losses. Cruz is also highly critical of establishment Republicans, whom he has repeatedly called the "mushy middle."

      A potential problem for Cruz during the nomination race could be his highly vocal father, Pastor Rafael Cruz, who has a habit of making outlandish statements, such as calling Obama a "tyrant" who should "go back to Kenya" and repeatedly referring to gay people as "sexual deviants."

      Carly Fiorina

      If former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina wins the Republican nomination and 2016 presidential vote, it will be her first election to public office. (Jim Cole/Associated Press)

      Carly Fiorina, best-known for a job she was fired from in 2005 — CEO of the Palo Alto-based computer maker Hewlett-Packard — is seeking the nomination because, she says, the U.S. needs "to return to a citizen government."

      She is trying to follow her father, Joseph Tyree Sneed III, into politics. He was Richard Nixon's deputy attorney general.

      After she was fired from Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina didn't take another private-sector job. Instead, she ran for a U.S. Senate seat in California in 2010. She lost by 10 points to Democratic opponent Barbara Boxer. Others in the Republican race are likely to point out she has not held elected office.

      Fiorina just published her second book, Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey. Her first book, Tough Choices, came out in 2006.

      Fiorina calls herself a social conservative, except on the issue of constitutionally banning gay marriage. She's for smaller government and less regulation, and opposes government action on climate change.

      She has called for the U.S. to arm Ukraine in its war with Russia-backed rebels. "I understand the world, who's in it, how the world works," she said on ABC's Good Morning America, when she declared her candidacy.

      Jim Gilmore

      Jim Gilmore, former governor of Virginia, became the 17th Republican presidential candidate on July 30. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

      The former Virginia governor announced his bid for the White House on July 30, saying no other candidate had adequately addressed issues of national security and the economy.

      Having grown up in a working-class household in Richmond, Va., Gilmore paints himself as a regular guy taking on established Washington elites. In a 1999 Washington Post profile, he touted his love for Pizza Hut and Miller Genuine Draft. 

      "I'm not a billionaire, the son of a former president, or a member of the Washington establishment. My dad worked at Safeway as a meat cutter. My mother was a church secretary," he said upon announcing his candidacy.

      Gilmore, who briefly sought the 2008 Republican nomination before dropping out, served one term as Virginia's governor, from 1998 to 2002, and was the chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2001. Before that, he was the state's attorney general.

      He is currently CEO of the conservative think-tank the Free Congress Foundation.

      Lindsey Graham

      South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is known for being an interventionist and has served in the U.S. Senate since 2003. (Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters)

      South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has been a mainstay of U.S. politics, serving in his current role since 2003. He was a U.S. air force reservist for 33 years and spent six years on active duty. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 after serving one term in his state's House.

      The conservative is an interventionist who leads the charge for strong national defence and has been a vocal critic of the current president's foreign policy decisions. "Iran with a nuclear capability is the greatest threat the world will know in my lifetime," Graham told radio host Hugh Hewitt in February.

      Graham has supported immigration reform that allows immigrants a pathway to citizenship and he says climate change is an issue that needs addressing. Former Republican presidential nominee John McCain said of Graham: "I think Lindsey has vast and deep experience on these issues that very few others have," the Weekly Standard reported.

      Mike Huckabee 

      Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee made his announcement in his hometown of Hope, saying, 'I was raised to believe where a person started didn't mean that's where he had to stop.' (Danny Johnston/Associated Press)

      Another candidate we've seen before in the Republican field is Mike Huckabee. The 59-year-old former governor of Arkansas, who is making his second bid for the nomination, has been outspoken about his opposition to abortion and his support for traditional marriage.

      "I will never apologize for my faith, my convictions or my values. Period," the former Fox News host and Baptist minister says on his campaign website

      Huckabee is also promising a "tax revolution" for Americans that "eliminates the IRS once and for all."

      "With your help and God's, we will make that journey from Hope to higher ground," he told supporters in his hometown of Hope, Ark., which he shares with former president Bill Clinton.

      Bobby Jindal 

      The launch of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's presidential bid included a series of short, casual online videos that featured his family talking about his decision to run. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

      Bobby Jindal, the 44-year-old governor of Louisiana, was raised Hindu but converted to Catholicism as a teenager. His parents emigrated from the Punjab in India to Louisiana six months before he was born. Jindal was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford.

      He served in the House of Representatives from 2004 until becoming governor in 2008.

      Jindal is expected to make religious beliefs and freedoms a focus of his campaign, The Associated Press reports. 

      John Kasich

      Ohio Gov. John Kasich is the 16th candidate to enter the race for the Republican Party's presidential nomination. He announced his run July 21. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)
      The 63-year-old governor of Ohio declared his candidacy on July 21. The second-term governor and former congressman is known for his plainspeaking manner and unscripted personality. A fixture on Sunday talk shows and a one-time Fox News commentator, Kasich (pronounced KAY'-sik) ran for the presidential nomination once before in 2000.

      Born in McKees Rocks, Pa., the son of a mail carrier and grandchild of Hungarian, Czech and Croatian immigrants, Kasich launched his political career in 1978 by defeating an incumbent Democrat to become the youngest person elected to the Ohio Senate, at age 26. He later served eight terms in Congress, and after a nearly decade-long interval working as an investment executive and TV host, he was elected governor of Ohio in 2010, where he earned a reputation for being strong-willed and often abrasive. 

      The man who once figuratively told lobbyists to get on his bus or he'd run them over and who called a police officer an "idiot" helped erase a budget deficit projected at nearly $8 billion US when he entered office, boosted Ohio's rainy-day fund to a historic high and saw private-sector employment rebound to its post-recession level — through a combination of budget cutting, privatization of parts of Ohio's government and other, often business-style innovations. He was re-elected in 2014 by a wide margin over his Democratic opponent.

      The seeds of his political career, however, predate his time in Congress and the governor's office, having been planted during his freshman year as a political science major at Ohio State University in 1970, when he audaciously wrote a letter that landed him a 20-minute audience with President Richard Nixon.

      George Pataki

      Former New York governor George Pataki, 69, supports pro-choice and gay rights but insists these issues are a distraction for his party and should be decisions left for individual states. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

      Another long-shot candidate is the three-term governor of New York, George Pataki. The 69-year-old has also served as mayor of his hometown of Peekskill, N.Y., as a state assemblyman and as a state senator. He officially declared his candidacy on May 28.

      Pataki holds more progressive views on social issues compared to his competitors. He is pro-choice on abortion and supportive of gay rights. He has said these issues are "a distraction" for his party and should be decided by individual states.

      The former New York governor has voiced his support for sending ground troops to fight the Islamic State. "Send in troops, destroy their training centres, destroy their recruitment centres, destroy the area where they are looking to plan to attack us here and then get out," he told CNN.

      Rand Paul

      Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, the only self-identifying libertarian in the race, has vocalized his disdain for the media on a number of occasions. (Jim Cole/Associated Press)

      Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is a wild card in the Republican nomination race. Like his father, former Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, he is a staunch libertarian. More recently, he has distanced himself from the uncompromising views of his father, who, for example, has advocated for the legalization of all drugs and abolishing the U.S. Federal Reserve.

      Rand Paul's brand of libertarianism has led to policy positions that could appeal to voters across the spectrum. Paul says he would dismantle Social Security, but also wants to legalize some drugs and revamp the criminal justice system. He would repeal Obamacare, but also claw back defence spending.

      Much like the elder Paul did, he is campaigning on an anti-establishment bent. His campaign slogan is "Stand with Rand, Defeat the Washington Machine." According to an ad Paul released before Hillary Clinton announced her intention to run, she represents "the worst" of D.C.'s elite. 

      Marco Rubio

      Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a rising star on Capitol Hill, is just 43 years old. He could wait another four years, even eight, and still be a relatively young candidate. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

      Florida Senator Marco Rubio has positioned his candidacy as one for a new generation of the American right. Though he often aligns with the Republican base, the hawkish Cuban-American is fluent in Spanish and has deep connections among Florida Latinos, which could attract voters who have traditionally resisted his party.

      Only 43 years old, Rubio previously served in the Florida House of Representatives and is considered a protegé of former Florida governor Jeb Bush. He was among the most influential senators to take part in a failed bipartisan effort to craft a far-reaching immigration reform bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Rubio has since distanced himself from the bill.

      Nonetheless, his political narrative is largely driven by his family's immigrant story — his recent memoir is called American Dreams — and he's likely to present himself as the alternative to candidates deeply entrenched in the Washington establishment.

      "I live in an exceptional country where the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as those who come from power and privilege," he said during his announcement speech in Miami on April 13. 

      Rick Santorum

      Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is expected to struggle in a field already filled with socially conservative candidates. (Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters)

      ​The socially conservative former Pennsylvania senator is making his second run for the White House. Santorum scored a surprising second-place finish for the presidential nomination during the 2012 Republican primaries, beating heavyweights like Newt Gringrich and overall winner Mitt Romney in 11 states. 

      The 52-year-old's 2012 successes were largely considered a result of having little competition for evangelical votes in early primary states like Iowa, where he toured all 99 counties in a pickup truck.

      The 2016 Republican field is already filled with socially conservative candidates, however, and Santorum is expected to struggle to retain his place as the go-to candidate for so-called "family values" voters. 

      Some observers believe Santorum's long-shot status may keep him out of the Republican debates entirely this time around. Only those who place in the top 10 of national polls will be allowed to participate in the first Republican presidential debate in August, and Santorum is on the bubble. 

      Donald Trump

      Developer Donald Trump told people at his campaign launch that the 'middle class, which has been totally forgotten, will thrive once again under President Trump.' (Richard Drew/Associated Press)

      Real estate mogul Donald Trump jumped into the fray on June 16, saying in a statement that he can't "sit back and watch this incompetence any longer."

      Trump, who made the announcement in the Trump Tower in New York, touted his wealth and success in business and blasted politicians.

      "They are almost completely controlled by lobbyists, donors and the special interests — they do not have the best interests of our people at heart," he said.

      Scott Walker

      Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker became the 15th Republican presidential candidate after he confirmed his intentions on July 13, 2015. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

      Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's national profile is largely due to his clashes with labour unions. He enacted policies weakening their collective bargaining rights and their political power, then he became the first governor in U.S. history to defeat a recall election.

      Possessing an extensive donor database following three governor's races since 2010, Walker is said to have a $20-million US war chest built up for his presidential bid.

      Walker's also known for tax-cutting, opposing abortion and gun control and dodging a question about evolution. On the foreign policy front, he says his battles with labour unions have prepared him to take on Islamic State.

      Who's out

      Rick Perry

      Republican Rick Perry ran for president in 2012 and was the longest-serving governor for his state of Texas. He dropped out of the 2016 presidential race on Sept. 11 after lacklustre support. (Chris Keane/Reuters)

      On Sept. 11, Perry became the first candidate to drop out of the field of Republicans vying to become the next U.S. president in 2016. 

      The former Texas governor launched his presidential bid on June 4. The 65-year-old ran in 2012 and was an early favourite for the nomination but eventually dropped out due to low support during the primaries.

      He began the longest-serving term as governor of Texas when he replaced George W. Bush in 2000, according to his official website. He's also served as lieutenant-governor, agriculture commissioner and in the state's House of Representatives.

      He has repeatedly boasted about Texas's jobs growth record after he took over as governor, claiming on his website that his state has since created a third of all new private sector positions in the U.S.

      Perry also attracted some unflattering attention when he wasn't able to recall the details of his plan during a debate in 2011.



      • An earlier version of this story said the Republican Party has scheduled five debates this year. In fact, it has scheduled nine.
        Aug 04, 2015 7:09 PM ET

      With files from The Associated Press


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