Monday, April 7, 2014

2016 GOP Hopefuls Tap Think Tanks

As jockeying begins for the 2016 US presidential race, potential Republican candidates are quietly meeting with think tank experts to tap their knowledge, acquire future policy advisors, and gain an edge over their competitors.

Today, The Washington Post  details how a variety of Republican hopefuls are cozying up to think tanks.  Here is a look at which think tank experts potential candidates are talking to:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) met Stephen Moore, Chief Economist at the Heritage Foundation, last Monday night at Washington's Capital Grille for a dinner that lasted four hours.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently invited former Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Holtz-Eaken, President of American Action Forum, to his office.  Sen. Rubio regularly solicits advice from scholars at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  Rubio says that AEI is the "primary organization" that he turns to.  He reportedly confers with AEI President Arthur Brooks and AEI columnist/blogger James Pethokoukis.  Heritage Foundation's Stephen Moore has also advised Rubio.  Yuval Levin, a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has apparently become friendly with Rubio.
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been consulting with Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) President Richard Haass.
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker met in California last year with scholars at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, including former White House economic adviser John B. Taylor and former Romney policy director Lanhee Chen.  Gov. Walker has also developed a bond with AEI Fellow Marc Thiessen.
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is close to Hudson Institute social policy analyst William Schambra.  In March, Rep. Ryan had dinner with Douglas Holtz-Eaken, President of American Action Forum.
  • Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has received feedback about his health care plan from AEI Visiting Fellow Ramesh Ponnuru and Yuval Levin, Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.  Gov. Jindal also has been courting Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint.
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry has been getting briefings from think tank experts.
  • Heritage scholars, including national security specialist James Carafano and former Sen. Jim Talent have become a "faculty of sorts" for potential Republican candidates.

The Washington Post article does not mention it, but AEI President Arthur Brooks has a close relationship with Rep. Paul Ryan, as noted in a recent Think Tank Watch post.