A New ‘Team of Rivals’


Once again this week the field of contenders for the 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination continued to grow. There is great diversity in what is shaping up to be a historically large field of would-be presidents.  Diverse not just by gender, race and ethnicity, but collectively the candidates bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the contest.

A few years back the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin penned a book entitled Team of Rivals which went into great detail as to how President Abraham Lincoln brought those who competed against him during the nomination process into his cabinet.  President Lincoln was both secure enough in his own abilities, and wise enough to recognize his erstwhile opponents had talents the country sorely needed.

If Republicans reclaim the White House, the large field of contenders will give the new president a deep pool of qualified individuals from which to pick his, or her, cabinet.   Just for fun, let’s take a look at the Republican presidential contenders and see how they might fit into a new administration:

The big four cabinet posts are State, Defense, Treasury and Justice.  U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has emerged as one of the leading voices on foreign affairs making him well qualified to become the next Secretary of State.  Both the current Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton had competed for their party’s presidential nomination and served in the U.S. Senate prior to becoming the nation’s top diplomat, so Rubio would be following a well-worn path.

For Secretary of Defense U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham would be a perfect fit.  He, along with Senator John McCain, for a decade now have traveled extensively to the mid-east and other areas of global conflict.  He would be well positioned to begin restoring the confidence in America’s resolve which has been lost over the past six years.  And George Pataki, the former New York governor who led his state in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, would be an excellent fit for Secretary of Homeland Security.

Nobody on the campaign trail speaks as well or argues as effectively as the U.S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.  His passionate defense of conservative principles and strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution would make him an ideal candidate to become the next Attorney General of the United States.  And, who better to be Secretary of the Treasury than the man who has made an $8 billion personal fortune – The Donald, Donald Trump?

As we continue to build the ideal GOP presidential cabinet let’s put the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum in as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.   Santorum cares passionately for families and could walk in the innovative footsteps of another conservative icon, Jack Kemp, who proved that housing policy could be compassionate and realistic at the same time.  Along those lines, Dr. Ben Carson – a highly respected neurosurgeon, would be an ideal fit as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

For Secretary of the Interior, former Texas Governor Rick Perry would be ideal. Western states need an Interior secretary who will fight for their interests. Perry is steeped in the issues, a passionate and effective advocate for his causes, and as a westerner would be widely acceptable in that role.  Alternately, he would fit well as Secretary of Energy.

Conservatives would applaud the appointment of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as Secretary of Labor.  Walker has successfully battled the labor unions in Wisconsin and intrinsically understands how the nation’s current labor policy environment is hindering the economic recovery.  Pair him with Carly Fiorina as Commerce Secretary and they could put the nation’s economy back on the right track.

His support for Common Core standards aside, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was an innovator and strong supporter of school choice making him a good pick for Secretary of Education.  Ohio Governor John Kasich would be effective as White House Chief of Staff.  And, to really make liberal heads spin, let’s put Senator Rand Paul on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Finally let’s appoint New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as Secretary of Transportation.  Who better to rebuild our nation’s roads and bridges . . . OK, well, maybe not.

Those are my presidential cabinet picks.  Of course, one of these folks would have to end up as president, and another likely vice president, but the bottom line is the GOP has a wealth of talent which could be called into service if the party prevails in November of 2016.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address islhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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