Ever heard of George Pataki? How about Ben Carson? Don't feel bad. Carson, an American neurosurgeon, and Pataki, a former New York governor, are names only political junkies would recognize. What they have in common is that they both want to be the Republican candidate for president in 2016.
Pataki announced his candidacy on Thursday just a few hours after Rick Santorum stepped into the same political spotlight. Santorum is one of the more recognizable names in a conservative primary election that threatens to become hopelessly cluttered.
Santorum, staunchly conservative, has some enlightening views on subjects such as immigration and equality. He rejects both concepts — equality for homosexuals (categorically) and immigration — with few exceptions. Now, Santorum's views come as no surprise since the devout Catholic father of seven already gave Mitt Romney a pretty good fight in 2012 when he actually won a couple of rounds.
But he won't be running on the religious ticket this time. Instead, he will concentrate on the middle class whose only salvation is naturally embodied in a Santorum presidency.
All eight of the Republican candidates who have declared so far are out to rescue their nation, along with about a dozen more politicians and celebrities waiting in the wings, including that tireless real estate tycoon, Donald Trump again. They will potentially declare their ambitions in the next few weeks.
Tea Party Fanatics and Religious Conservatives
A large field of candidates for the White House could be a sign of democratic diversity and offer a genuine chance of real political debate. But in reality, there's a danger that things could become trivialized and absurd with so many hats in the ring. Each candidate will be trying to find his or her own unique selling point while simultaneously taking care to avoid alienating any member of the party's base. That will be extremely dicey in a party composed of ultra-right tea partiers, the super-religious, as well as values and economic conservatives.
Beyond that, they must focus on the actual goal: regaining the White House in 2016. They can't get overly radical against the Democrats nor can they afford to become too boring (See: Romney, Mitt in 2012.)
It's a delicate balancing act made more difficult by a gigantic field of candidates. The Republicans have a rough road to the White House but an entertaining one for political observers. In the end it could be most profitable for the one sitting on the sidelines as a spectator for now: Hillary Clinton.