Hillary Clinton - Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is a woman who needs no lengthy introduction. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, she attended Wellesley College for a degree in Political Science, then went on to Yale Law School. It was during her schooling at Yale that she met her now-current husband and then-future President of the US, Bill Clinton. Although she was raised Republican and held to a right-wing political ideology for most of her academic career, she would ultimately change her views, and today has amassed an impressive resume of political accomplishments as a decidedly leftist liberal Democrat. This history – which includes her passive roles as First Lady of Arkansas and then of the United States, as well as active positions such as her two terms as a Senator for the state of New York and four years as US Secretary of State under President Obama – has led her to the present when, now a declared candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016, she is easily the favorite in her party. Clinton is well-known and generally liked amongst a large percentage of the American citizenry. With a serious chance at becoming the first female President in the nation's history, she has carefully nurtured her image for decades, with some believing she began planning an eventual White House run during her days as her husband's First Lady – if not earlier. Her intense preoccupation with always presenting herself favorably to the public (and, perhaps more cynically, her skill at playing the game of politics) has sometimes led her to bouts of questionable sincerity. For instance, she is known to have claimed that her parents named her in honor of Sir Edmund Hillary, an intrepid mountaineer famous for leading the first expedition to successfully climb Mount Everest. In reality, Edmund's life-defining accomplishment took place in 1953; while alive, he was unknown in 1947, when Hillary Clinton was born and presumably named. In what had come to be regarded by many as a mere – but important – formality, Clinton officially announced her candidacy for President on April 12th, 2015. Now that she has declared, barring some major upset in American politics, she will almost certainly receive the Democratic presidential nomination. With her vast popularity across many sectors of the American electorate, especially among female voters, Clinton promises to be a formidable opponent for any prospective Republican challenger. Though she once enjoyed double-digit leads over some of the GOP's biggest names (numbers which have since ebbed), she still wields even standing to slight advantages over the best the Republican party has to offer. Of course, with a Democratic President on his way out in the 2016 elections and tides favoring Republicans, there are no sure bets, but any serious GOP contender would do well to train for battle against Hillary Clinton.
Joe Biden - It could’ve easily been a completely different tale for Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., in the form of two major events in his life that nearly ended his political career, and life. Barely 41 days after winning a fiercely contested Senate election, the 30-year old Biden was confronted with the shocking news that his wife and one-year-old daughter were tragically killed in an automobile accident just a week before Christmas in 1972. His two sons, who were also in the vehicle at the time, were critically injured and placed under intensive care. Faced with the task of looking after his boys, and the enormous pressure of his new job in Washington, Mr. Biden had to make a backbreaking, daily, 400km, 3 hour roundtrip commute from Dover. More than that, Mr. Biden was facing a serious crisis of faith. “I liked to go at night when I thought there was a better chance of finding a fight. I was always looking for a fight. I had not known I was capable of such rage. I knew I had been cheated of a future, but I felt I'd been cheated of a past, too. The underpinnings of my life had been kicked out from under me... and it wasn't just the loss of Neilia and Naomi. All my life I'd been taught about our benevolent God. This is a forgiving God, a just God, a God who knows people make mistakes. This is a God who is tolerant. This is a God who gave us free will to be able to doubt. This was a loving God, a God of comfort. Well, I didn't want to hear anything about a merciful God. No words, no prayer, no sermon gave me ease. I felt God had played a horrible trick on me, and I was angry. I found no comfort in the Church. So I kept walking the dark streets to try to exhaust the rage.” Rumors were swirling thick and fast that the young Senator was on the verge of resigning. Congressional aides were even placing wagers on the date of his resignation. But one man worked hard to keep Mr. Biden in check - the late Senator Mike Mansfield, who was also the Senate Majority Leader at the time. “Washington & the Senate had no hold on me. I was supposed to be sworn in two weeks, but I could not bear to imagine the scene without Neilia. I told the Senate majority leader, Mike Mansfield, that I wasn’t going to be a Senator. Mansfield was relentless. He called the hospital every day to tell me he needed me in the Senate and to keep me up to date.... It was late and the boys were asleep, so I was mainly listening while the leader told me I owed it to Neilia to become one of the 1,680 men and women who had ever been sworn into the United States Senate ... My wife had worked too hard for me to kick it away. I owed it to her. I owed it to my sons. Give me six months, Joe, Senator Mansfield kept saying... So I agreed. Six months.” The second twist to the Biden story occurred in 1988. Unbeknownst to Mr. Biden and his physicians, there was a time bomb inside his head. For several months since the late 1987, Mr. Biden had been suffering acute neck pains. It became so bad, his physicians, who wrongly diagnosed it as a pinched nerve, ordered the Senator to wear a neck brace. However, the pain persisted, and it began to make him nauseous – so much so, he struggled throughout the hearings for the nomination of future Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in January 1988. He failed to show up for the vote. At the urging of friends and family, he agreed to go for some tests at the Wilmington Memorial Hospital in Delaware, where doctors finally discovered that Biden had a brain aneurysm that was so advanced, the blood vessel was literally moments away from exploding. It was a miracle that he was still alive. He was immediately rushed to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. The situation deteriorated so rapidly, that a priest was called to the hospital to administer the last rites for the then 46-year old (this was recounted by his second wife, Dr. Jill Biden, in an interview with the Washington Post in 2008). The surgeons made a last-ditch attempt, and successfully repaired the aneurism - the tough Irishmen, on his part, pulled through, surviving the night against all odds. A second aneurism (possibly benign) was discovered shortly thereafter, and Biden went under the knife again three months later in May 1988. Fast forward 20-years later, and Mr. Biden made an unsuccessful challenge for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. However, despite some harsh words directed at Senator Barack Obama during the early stage of the contest, he was immediately tapped by the Obama team not long after announcing his withdrawal from the race. Mr. Biden initially rejected the advances, but Obama slowly won him over. On August 22, 2008, Mr. Biden was eventually announced as the running mate for Barack Obama. Observers were almost unanimous in their opinion that his selection was designed to buttress Senator Obama’s weak foreign policy credentials. After all, Mr. Biden was by far the most experienced foreign policy wonk within the Democratic fold. Despite their marked differences, both men had one thing in common – they were phenomenally strong campaigners. Mr. Biden, especially, was in his element among the blue-collar middle class. His gruff, no holds barred styled proved to be popular amongst the masses. Concerns over Mr. Biden’s perceived lack of fit with the cerebral Obama all but dissipated as the two men overcome a rocky beginning to forge a solid partnership. Mr. Biden has proven to be an effective member of the Obama administration. Reports from the White House suggest that Mr. Biden has taken the role of a devil’s advocate within the administration, something that the President apparently values greatly. “The best thing about Joe is that when we get everybody together, he really forces people to think and defend their positions, to look at things from every angle, and that is very valuable for me… I also know, when he gives me his advice, he gives it to me straight.” Mr. Biden’s input on the foreign policy front and his leadership of Congressional Democrats has also proven to be successful. Mr. Biden is credited by many as one of the key players behind the last minute compromise in the 2011 debt-ceiling battle and the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts in 2010. In the penultimate stages of the 2012 presidential election, Mr. Biden once again took on one of the traditional roles of the Vice President – he led the President’s campaign offensive against the opposition, similar to his role against Senator John McCain in 2008.
Elizabeth Warren - After spending time in the financial reform trenches for the better part of the last decade, the progressive icon burst into the national scene when she was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the Congressional Oversight Panel tasked with reviewing “the current state of financial markets and the regulatory system” in the wake of the banking fallout of 2007-08. The former registered Republican would go on to lead the push for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which sought to protect consumers from predatory banking practices. Born into a working-class family in Oklahoma, Senator Warren previously taught law at Harvard, specializing in bankruptcy laws.
Bernie Sanders - Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Bernard “Bernie” Sanders is the son of Polish Jewish immigrants. While his higher education began with the study of psychology in Brooklyn, he soon transferred to the University of Chicago, where he ultimately graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. His political activities during his academic career consisted mostly of contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, as he was a student organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. After college, he moved to Vermont and worked in several fields, including carpentry, film-making, writing, and research. Sanders began a humble political career in 1971, experiencing frustrating results for the following ten years. It was not until 1981, after a brief break from politics, that he found major success in the field by winning election to the office of Mayor in Burlington. He held this role until 1989, when he opted not to seek reelection and began teaching political science at Harvard University. Sanders returned to politics again in 1991 and won the seat for Vermont's at-large congressional district, becoming the first Independent in congress in over 40 years. Although Sanders traditionally runs as an Independent and describes himself as a “Democratic Socialist”, he caucuses with the Democratic party and generally enjoys their support. In 2005, Sanders declared himself a candidate for Senate representing Vermont, following the retirement of Jim Jeffords. Critically, his campaign won the endorsement of New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Schumer's support meant that, although Sanders was as usual running as an Independent, any Democrat attempting to run against him would receive no financial help from the party. He also received endorsements from such notable Democrats as Harry Reid, Howard Dean, and even Barack Obama. Sanders would go on to win this Senate seat, and was reelected in 2012 with an impressive 71% of the vote. Senator Sanders has unambiguously stated that he is “prepared” to run for President of the United States in 2016. His road would be a long and difficult one, not least because he would undoubtedly run as Independent, in addition to facing likely backlash against his decidedly far-left political positions. Nevertheless, he is very well-liked, with 2011 polling finding him to be third among most popular Senators in the country, and making him a political force to be reckoned with.
Jim Webb - Jim Webb is a rare breed in Washington, a politician who has claimed both parties and who believes in bi-partisan solutions. Webb served in the administration of Republican President Ronald Reagan as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and the Secretary of the Navy. Most recently, he served as a Democratic Senator from Virginia from 2007 until 2013. Webb is a native of Missouri and grew up in a military family. This led him to pursue a military career and after a year at the University of Southern California, he earned an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. After graduating from the Naval Academy, Webb served in Vietnam as a Marine Platoon Commander and he received a Navy Cross, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. After Vietnam, Webb pursued a career in law and wrote the first of many books. Webb quickly developed a reputation as a veteran’s advocate and would often represent veterans pro bono. Webb’s tenure in the Reagan Administration allowed him to actively work on behalf of the military and of veterans, and he worked to reverse the low morale that had infiltrated the Marine Corps since the Vietnam War. His tenure as Secretary of the Navy came to an end when he resigned after refusing to support the policy of reducing the size of the US Navy. After leaving official Washington, Webb concentrated on his writing, and he was often consulted for his opinion on current military matters and candidates running for office. Forever the independent-minded individual, Webb would evaluate each situation, primarily on how it would affect the military. He often spoke out against actions he felt were damaging to the military and he endorsed both Republican and Democratic politicians based on their positions vis-à-vis the military. In 2006, in large part because of the situation in Iraq, Webb decided to challenge incumbent Senator George Allen of Virginia, in what many pundits considered a long-shot bid. Under most circumstances, the popular Allen would have easily won re-election, but two factors conspired to see Webb defeat Allen. First, it was anti-GOP year because of the unpopularity of George W. Bush and the Iraq War, and second because Allen was caught on videotape using an ethnic slur against an Indian-American student. Webb served in the Senate from 2007 until 2013. During his tenure, he was a top advocate for the military, serving on the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Relations. He also championed reforms in the Criminal Justice System. Webb decided against running for a second Senate term and announced that he would not run for re-election in February 2011. He cited his frustration with the partisan gridlock that often prevented the Senate from major accomplishments.
Michael Bennet - Senator Bennet was born in New Delhi, while his father, Douglas Bennet, was serving as an aide to the U.S. Ambassador to India. Douglas returned to D.C. several years later, and would go on to achieve a successful public service career culminating with his appointment as the CEO of NPR. Three decades later, the younger Bennet, a Wesleyan and Yale graduate, perhaps suitably inspired by his father and grandfather’s (an adviser to former president Franklin D. Roosevelt) outstanding public service career, left his lucrative position as Managing Director of Anschutz Investment to serve as the Chief of Staff to former Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (now Governor of Colorado). Two years later, Bennet left the relatively high profile position to serve as the Superintendent of Denver Public Schools. In 2009, he was appointed as the interim Senator to fill the seat of the outgoing Ken Salazar, who was named as the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in the new Obama administration. Senator Bennet, the descendant of Edward and Ann Fuller, one of the 102 Puritans onboard the Mayflower, made the position his own less than a year later after defeating Republican challenger Ken Buck in one of the most explosive Senatorial elections in recent years.
Andy Caffrey ◄ DECLARED - Andy Caffrey is a born and raised Californian progressive. He studied chemistry at the University of California, San Diego with Roger Revelle, who is credited for being the first to open an observatory to measure carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere, and who educated Caffrey on the subject of global warming. Caffrey has been a strong environmentalist ever since and has remained politically active, aggressively advocating for recycling initiatives and forest conservation measures. He helped organize the campaign that eventually culminated in the “Whopper Stopper Month” of 1986, when a massive environmentalist boycott of Burger King fast food contributed to an 11% decline in profits and ultimately forced the corporation to cancel contracts with Costa Rican beef suppliers, who were accused of denuding rain forest terrain for the clearing of cattle pastures. Caffrey is also an extremely vocal opponent of Genetically Modified Organisms (or GMOs) and their use in food production. He campaigned strongly against the ice-minus bacteria labeled Frostban, which would have been sprayed on crops to impede the formation of damaging ice if it weren't for the effectiveness of his campaign. His work on this issue brought him to the attention of the BBC, who in 2002 named him a World Historic Figure as “The World's First Trasher of Genetically Engineered Crops”. He is credited with stoking an anti-GMO wave that swept Europe and Asia, prompting some 70 nations to partially or completely ban the use of Genetically Modified Organisms. Marijuana legalization is another issue about which Caffrey feels strongly, and one he has taken to a level of theatrics. While delivering a campaign speech at a rally during his 2012 bid for California's second congressional district, he produced a marijuana cigarette and proceeded to smoke it on the podium, an exploit elevating him to mainstream fame and the brunt of Jay Leno's jokes. As marijuana legalization moved forward in Colorado and Washington, the issue of those imprisoned on marijuana related charges had not been discussed on the national stage. During appearances on MSNBC, Caffrey became the first major politician to call on President Obama to release marijuana related prisoners and show leniency on marijuana dispensaries. Caffrey's initiative may have been instrumental in the unprecedented moves by President Obama and Attorney General Holder to address the drug war and mass incarceration, starting with the end of mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana related charges and a clemency procedure to reduce the sentences of those already with mandatory sentences. He has also pledged that his 2016 Presidential campaign will give out “Caffrey for President” rolling papers. Caffrey's liberal views find their most welcoming audience in strongly left-leaning parts of the country like his native California. Those same proclivities, however, will make him a virtually impossible sell not only to conservatives (whom no liberal seeks to court), but potentially to many moderates whom he risks alienating with his antics. Pro-marijuana sentiment is gradually spreading, but whether the public is ready to accept 'The Smokin' President' remains to be seen. Andy Caffrey will be traveling the entire nation this year with his 'Clear the Coasts' roadshow, an effort to close nuclear power plants and have the climate crisis declared as a national security threat.
Willie Carter ◄ DECLARED - Although probably unknown to an average U.S. voter, Willie Felix Carter definitely has a story to be told and hardly fits into any of the typical-politician molds. This retired aircraft mechanic has 28 years of experience as a member of United States Air Force, both active and reserve. After serving as an active member of USAF from 1961, and being honorably discharged four years later, Carter joined United States Air Force Reserve and remained a member until 1990. During his days of service, he won the Air Force Reserve "Airman of the Year 1978" award, as well as the Air Force Commendation Medal, which he received in 1990. Today, the Texas-born father of nine is a very active member of the Church of God In Christ, where he is serving as a Deacon and at the Revival Center Triedstone in Los Angeles where he serves as General Sunday School Superintendent. Carter also owns "Fantastic Sounds Gospel Recording", a recording studio located in Long Beach, California and is a former Member of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America. As for politics, Willie Felix Carter is member of many organizations, most notably, the Democratic Party of California and the Democratic Party of Texas. He is running for the Presidency in 2016, and since 1988, hasn't missed one single opportunity to do so. This is his eighth consecutive run for the office. As for reasons behind his candidacy, Carter claims that he was “commanded of the Lord to enter the race to become President of the United States of America”, stating that he hopes to “serve as your next President, looking forward to see prosperity reinvigorated, our economy rebounding…”
Lincoln Chafee ◄ EXPLORING - Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Lincoln Davenport Chafee received his education at Philips Academy and Brown University, ultimately graduating with a bachelor's degree in Classics. Originally working as a professional farrier (horse shoer) for seven years, he began a successful and varied political career in 1985. Chafee started out Republican, serving as a GOP Senator for eight years, before leaving that party and becoming an Independent. He was elected Governor of Rhode Island in 2011, the first person without a party affiliation to hold the office since the 18th century. In 2013, with months remaining in his first and only gubernatorial term, he formally switched allegiance and joined the Democratic party. As a Democrat, he is exploring his options for a Presidential run in 2016. Like the list of his past affiliations, Chafee's political leanings borrow from all sides of the spectrum. He has advocated a position of moderation on US foreign policy, along with generally liberal social policy. In 2012, he became involved in a Christmas controversy when he chose to refer to the decorated fir tree in the Rhode Island State House during the Winter season as a “holiday tree”, explaining that as he represented everyone in Rhode Island, he must be sensitive to those who would object to specifying the Christmas observance. Among other colorful epithets, Chafee was called a “grinch” for this attitude. However, during his service in the US Senate, he was generally considered a moderate but definite Republican, and his fiscal policies tend to be conservative. Unfortunately for Chafee, his varied opinions on policy have made him few friends among American voters, and his tendency to alienate both sides of the aisle contributed heavily to his decision not to seek a second term as Governor of Rhode Island (when his approval rating was notably lackluster). This difficulty with establishing a solid constituency could prove a fatal flaw during any potential run for President, should he finally decide to pursue such a venture.
Andrew Cuomo - Howard Dean - Rahm Emanuel - Al Franken - Alan Grayson - Amy Klobuchar - Dan Malloy - Jack Markell - Claire McCaskill - Chris Murphy - Janet Napolitano - Martin O'Malley ◄ EXPLORING - Bernie Sanders - Brian Schweitzer - Doug Shreffler ◄ DECLARED - Michael Steinberg ◄ DECLARED - Mark Warner - Robby Wells ◄ DECLARED -