Donald Trump for president? Republican insiders are open to it.
Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin are the presidential candidate favorites among adult Republicans, according to a nationwide CNN poll
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While these people certainly have talents, the party's establishment does not see them as the likeliest contenders to defeat Obama. Karl Rove, architect of George W. Bush's two presidential wins, calls Trump "a joke candidate."Skip to next paragraph
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Republicans traditionally pick party veterans who wait their turn and earn their nominations after years spent as governors, senators or vice presidents. But this field lacks a front-runner like Bob Dole in 1996 or George W. Bush in 2000. There's a political vacuum in the Republican Party, insiders say, and it's being filled by an unusually large and diverse number of White House hopefuls.
"It's probably the most wide open field in 50 years," said Stephen Scheffler, a Republican National Committee member and head of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. "I'm not sure anyone has caught fire yet."
South Carolina Republican Party chairwoman Karen Floyd said, "It's any candidate's ballgame right now." Kim Lehman, another Republican National Committee member from Iowa, said voters haven't locked in on any one person. "Everyone is taking their time and seeing who's who, and what's what," she said.
Palin's apparent fade and Trump's rise are arguably the most surprising events in recent weeks, as more establishment-oriented contenders, including former governors Romney of Massachusetts and Pawlenty of Minnesota, took formal steps toward full-fledged candidacies.
A CNN nationwide poll of adult Republicans showed Trump tied for the presidential lead with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, at 19 percent each. Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee, was third at 12 percent.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, conducted before Trump's latest TV blitz, showed Huckabee and Trump tied for second, at 17 percent each. Romney led with 22 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 11 percent, and Palin 10 percent.
This early in the race, polls measure name recognition more than anything else. That may help explain strong showings by Trump and Huckabee.
Huckabee won the 2008 Iowa caucus and hosts a TV show, but has done little to signal he will run again. Trump, meanwhile, is turning heads in early voting states.