White House

Democrats keeping close eye on ‘16 GOP White House hopefuls

Democrats are already watching, tracking and researching potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, the party’s executive committee was told Saturday.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic National Committee chairwoman, offered a somber yet upbeat assessment of what lies ahead for the party, urging the committee to look ahead to 2016.

In 2012, she noted, the party was “was successful in defining Mitt Romney early,” she recalled. Romney, the Republicans’ 2012 presidential nominee, was frequently portrayed as a wealthy, out of touch businessman.

Wasserman Schultz explained how party staff have identified potential 2016 presidential candidates and are keeping an eye on them. Neither she nor DNC staff would name the potential candidates.

Though Democrats suffered big defeats last month, Wasserman Schultz said, “We need to put past elections behind us and look forward. We really do need to take a close look at last elections and learn from them...but then we need to turn our eyes forward and make sure we focus on what’s in front of us.”

She has appointed a task force of insiders and outsiders to assess the party’s past and future. Its preliminary report is due at the DNC’s winter meeting in February, and final findings are expected in mid-2015.