The Republican field is getting so crowded with hopefuls for the 2016 presidential race, it may be difficult for the latest entrants to attract much notice.

On Monday, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee announced his plans to run, for the second time since 2008. Over the weekend, Ben Carson, the brain surgeon turned politician, announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination. And Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, made it official on Monday that she'd be joining the race.

Neither Huckabee nor Carson has a substantive record with economic or fiscal policy issues that small business owners might embrace, but they're likely to push the Republican party further to the right on social issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, and women's health care rights.

"They will have candidacies based on moving the country backwards on these social issues, and that has a very limited appeal," says Jim Kessler, senior vice president for policy and co-founder of Third Way, a centrist policy think tank in Washington, D.C. "But they will force the other candidates to have more conservative positions than they would have."

While Huckabee has more than a decade of governing under his belt, Carson has no political experience. Carson has, however, struck a nerve with conservatives through his compelling personal narrative--he pulled himself from poverty in Detroit to attain important professional distinction as the youngest director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. In the 1980s, Carson also became the first neurosurgeon to successfully lead a team separating conjoined twins. He became a conservative darling by voicing his opposition to the Affordable Care Act in front of President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013.

For his part, Huckabee, who' s known for his candor and ability to connect with voters in a manner somewhat reminiscent of former president Bill Clinton, was governor of Arkansas from 1996 until 2007. During that time, he took at least one notable non-Republican position by raising sales and property taxes.

He has advocated for something called the Fair Tax, which would essentially eliminate the federal income tax in favor of a 23 percent flat tax on consumer purchases. Additionally, Huckabee has taken hardline positions on immigration, calling for beefed up border security with tougher fences along the boarder and severe penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers.

In 2008, Huckabee won the Iowa Caucus with 34 percent of the vote, beating out Mitt Romney, and that prior success is likely to serve him well, says Bill Whalen, a research fellow at Hoover Institution, specializing in national politics.

"What Huckabee has going for him is an existing network in Iowa he can tap into, and he's been on Fox News for years, building a national audience," Whalen adds. That and his views on abortion and same-sex marriage should bring him additional support from evangelical groups. 

On business, Carson is a bit like Ted Cruz and other Tea Party candidates, political experts say. He supports a flat income tax and favors abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, among other things.

Unfortunately, Carson has also proved to be maladroit in public, in one instance comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia, a position that provoked outrage and forced him to cancel a keynote speech at Johns Hopkins in 2013.

Similarly, he has called the Affordable Care Act the biggest mistake the U.S. has made since slavery and compared progressives to Nazis. He also called delayed medical treatments to war veterans a "gift from God," because they showed the flaws of government bureaucracy in handling patient medical care. 

"Carson has a remarkable story, but he squelches political conversation by patting himself on the back and saying he isn't politically correct," says John Hudak, a fellow in government studies at Brookings Institution, a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C. "Part of being president is saying the right things."

Carson and Huckabee face a growing field of Republican candidates that currently includes Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas; Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky; Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida; and Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard. Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, and Scott Walker, the current governor of Wisconsin, are also likely to make announcements that they are seeking the presidency in the coming weeks.

The Republican field is getting so crowded with hopefuls for the 2016 presidential race, it may be difficult for the latest entrants to attract much notice.

On Monday, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee announced his plans to run, for the second time since 2008. Over the weekend, Ben Carson, the brain surgeon turned politician, announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination. And Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, made it official on Monday that she'd be joining the race.

Neither Huckabee nor Carson has a substantive record with economic or fiscal policy issues that small business owners might embrace, but they're likely to push the Republican party further to the right on social issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, and women's health care rights.

"They will have candidacies based on moving the country backwards on these social issues, and that has a very limited appeal," says Jim Kessler, senior vice president for policy and co-founder of Third Way, a centrist policy think tank in Washington, D.C. "But they will force the other candidates to have more conservative positions than they would have."

While Huckabee has more than a decade of governing under his belt, Carson has no political experience. Carson has, however, struck a nerve with conservatives through his compelling personal narrative--he pulled himself from poverty in Detroit to attain important professional distinction as the youngest director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. In the 1980s, Carson also became the first neurosurgeon to successfully lead a team separating conjoined twins. He became a conservative darling by voicing his opposition to the Affordable Care Act in front of President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013.

For his part, Huckabee, who' s known for his candor and ability to connect with voters in a manner somewhat reminiscent of former president Bill Clinton, was governor of Arkansas from 1996 until 2007. During that time, he took at least one notable non-Republican position by raising sales and property taxes.

He has advocated for something called the Fair Tax, which would essentially eliminate the federal income tax in favor of a 23 percent flat tax on consumer purchases. Additionally, Huckabee has taken hard-line positions on immigration, calling for beefed up border security with tougher fences along the boarder and severe penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers.

In 2008, Huckabee won the Iowa Caucus with 34 percent of the vote, beating out Mitt Romney, and that prior success is likely to serve him well, says Bill Whalen, a research fellow at Hoover Institution, specializing in national politics.

"What Huckabee has going for him is an existing network in Iowa he can tap into, and he's been on Fox News for years, building a national audience," Whalen adds. That and his views on abortion and same-sex marriage should bring him additional support from evangelical groups. 

On business, Carson is a bit like Ted Cruz and other Tea Party candidates, political experts say. He supports a flat income tax and favors abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, among other things.

Unfortunately, Carson has also proved to be maladroit in public, in one instance comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia, a position that provoked outrage and forced him to cancel a keynote speech at Johns Hopkins in 2013.

Similarly, he has called the Affordable Care Act the biggest mistake the U.S. has made since slavery and compared progressives to Nazis. He also called delayed medical treatments to war veterans a "gift from God," because they showed the flaws of government bureaucracy in handling patient medical care. 

"Carson has a remarkable story, but he squelches political conversation by patting himself on the back and saying he isn't politically correct," says John Hudak, a fellow in government studies at Brookings Institution, a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C. "Part of being president is saying the right things."

Carson and Huckabee face a growing field of Republican candidates that currently includes Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas; Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky; Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida; and Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard. Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, and Scott Walker, the current governor of Wisconsin, are also likely to make announcements that they are seeking the presidency in the coming weeks.

By comparison, the Democratic slate is occupied only by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who declared his candidacy on Friday. Other potential Democratic candidates include former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley and Jim Webb, a former senator from Virginia for the Democratic ticket.

The Republican field hasn't been so uncertain since 1964, when Barry Goldwater ran on the Republican ticket against Nelson Rockefeller, political experts says. At the time, Goldwater was beaten overwhelmingly by Lyndon Johnson, but his unsuccessful bid launched the new conservative wing of the Republican party, which resulted in the presidency of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

"The Republican nomination for the first time in 50 years is completely wide open," Kessler says.

 Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who declared his candidacy on Friday. Other potential Democratic candidates include former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley and Jim Webb, a former senator from Virginia for the Democratic ticket.

The Republican field hasn't been so uncertain since 1964, when Barry Goldwater ran on the Republican ticket against Nelson Rockefeller, political experts says. At the time, Goldwater was beaten overwhelmingly by Lyndon Johnson, but his unsuccessful bid launched the new conservative wing of the Republican Party, which resulted in the presidency of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

"The Republican nomination for the first time in 50 years is completely wide open," Kessler says.

Published on: May 4, 2015