By Sean J. Miller -The Hill
The GOP presidential field has weakened in recent weeks as Republicans seem to conclude theyâ€™d stand a better chance of winning the White House in 2016.
Several strategists and observers say the potential candidates are weighing their options and deciding itâ€™s best to wait until the next cycle, when President Obama is ineligible to run and Vice President Biden, who will turn 74 that November, isn’t expected to seek the Democratic nomination.
The downside to waiting, of course, is that the 2016 Republican primary could be more competitive on account of the openness of the race.
â€œItâ€™s tough fighting an incumbent president,â€ said Republican strategist Tyler Harber. â€œThe people who make significant runs for office wait for when itâ€™s an open seat.â€
In recent weeks, several Republicans who were seen as strong presidential contenders have opted not to run in 2012.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have ruled themselves out of the race, citing bad timing, a lack of desire and home-state commitments.
The reluctance of some of these candidates to put themselves forward may stem from having a field thatâ€™s expected to be packed with candidates who ran in 2008.
Former Govs. Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee â€œare so far ahead in organization and ability to raise money,â€ said Harber. He described a potential candidateâ€™s thinking as, â€œWhy get out there and mix it up with these guys who are going to potentially clean my clock?â€
Another consideration: Senators who have unsuccessfully run for the presidency in the past have ended up with tougher-than-usual reelection races in their next cycle. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dick Lugar (R- Ind.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) all made runs for the White House, only to wind up in trouble back home.
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