Iowa governor declines to rank potential 2016 presidential candidates

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad (Iowa) on Monday declined to name potential 2016 presidential candidates who might succeed in his state, but did say he prefers governors.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Branstad was asked whom he would place in the top tier of GOP candidates, but said he’s only focused now on 2014. 

“Way too early to think about 2016. The caucuses will be held in February instead of Jan. 3 this time,” he said. “We think that’s good. We want the candidates to come early and often and spend a lot of time in our state. But it’s too early to handicap the field for 2016.” 

The Iowa caucuses kick off presidential primary season, and are usually considered a major predictor for the rest of the races.

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Branstad expressed his preference for Republican governors as 2016 contenders. Govs. Rick Perry (Texas), Bobby Jindal (La.), Chris Christie (N.J.) and former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.) are among possible candidates.

“I like governors. Republican governors have led the way in terms of economic revitalization, bringing jobs, reducing taxes. I think we’re going to see a lot of governors potentially running,” Branstad said. 

Branstad was then asked to elaborate on a recent interview with The Los Angeles Times in which he called Christie a “good retail politician,” but suggested he needed to be more humble. 

“He’s from New Jersey and he’s kind of got that New Jersey attitude. He’s been very successful. I think he’s been a strong leader for New Jersey,” Branstad said Monday. “In Iowa, we like hard-working and humble politicians.” 

Asked if Christie is too aggressive, Branstad said, “My advice to him is be a good listener, be humble and come to Iowa.”