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MSNBC host Chris Matthews predicted with confidence on Wednesday that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will be the Republican Party's presidential nominee in 2016.
Arguing that the 2016 GOP primaries will parallel the 2008 Democratic nomination contest, when Barack Obama bested Hillary Clinton because Iraq War opponents were fed up "with the party leaders who played it safe and backed the war," Matthews said Republicans will make a similar choice.
"I believe the Republican base will do the same in 2016," Matthews said. "They put up with George Bush the first, put up with Bob Dole, were deeply disappointed with the big-spending George W and last year, again, by Mitt Romney and are now going to come loaded for bear for the race for 2016. So I predict the hard right is gonna take over the Republican party in 2016 and the nomination is going to Rand Paul."
"You watch," he said in closing. "This is what I do for a living."
Paul has made no mystery of his White House ambitions, and there's growing evidence that he will indeed be a player in 2016. A survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling released late last month found Paul leading the likes of New Jersey Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) among Republicans nationally. A survey released Wednesday found Paul trailing Christie among New Hampshire Republicans. The same poll showed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) — long thought to be a top contender in the 2016 race — suffering a huge drop in the Granite State.
In perhaps a preview of the 2016 race, Paul and Christie recently had a public feud over national security that culminated with the governor declining the Kentucky Republican's invitation to have a beer with him.