I agree with Ed Morrissey on this one -- our strength on 2016 is not in Washington, but in the states. The GOP should not be looking to Cruz, Paul, or Rubio at the top of the ticket -- they need more seasoning. Instead, we need someone with a track record of governing successfully.
By the time 2015 rolls around and candidates have to commit to a run, a number of GOP governors will be staking out their ground as well.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will almost certainly use his considerable media presence and blunt style to launch the next phase of his career. Scott Walker has to win a re-election bid in Wisconsin in 2014; a win will re-establish his fighting credentials on budgets and reform.
Mike Pence got some attention early in the 2012 cycle as a potential presidential contender, but decided to go home to Indiana to add executive office to his already-impressive conservative credentials. Susana Martinez, who like Cruz was given a featured-speaker slot at the national GOP convention last year, should sail to a 2014 re-election in New Mexico, with approval ratings that have never dropped below 60%.
There's also Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley to consider as well, each of whom has complied a good record in office.
It isn't that I don't like the three senators I mentioned earlier. I think each is going to be a distinguished Senator who will contend for the presidency in the future -- but that future should be in 2020, 2024, or even 2028 (Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will only be 58 on Inauguration Day in 2029, while Rand Paul will have reached the ripe old age of 65). Let's not rush things with them; I've long argued that Barack Obama's biggest problem as president has been an arrogance born of a rapid rise based upon charisma rather than competence. Do we really want to nominate a candidate with one term or less in the Senate? I say no, despite my respect for Rubio, admiration for Paul, and outright adoration of Cruz. I'd rather they stay in the Senate a few years more and get some more seasoning while racking up records of accomplishment, not rhetoric.