PALM BEACH, Fla. – The next presidential election is still three years away, but top-rated radio host Rush Limbaugh is already making a bold prediction about who will be the likely nominee for the Democratic Party.
"I think it's going to be Chris Christie," Limbaugh said on his national program Tuesday.
"I think the contest in 2016, the Democrat side, is gonna be between Rahm Emanuel and Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie."
What makes the prediction especially noteworthy is that Christie, the governor of New Jersey, is at present a Republican, and he would have to switch parties to be nominated by the Democrats.
On June 5, Limbaugh first brought up the possibility of Christie looking to lead the Democratic ticket, saying at the time: "I'm not predicting it officially here, but I will not be surprised, if when 2016 rolls around and Governor Christie is seeking the presidency, I won't be surprised if he seeks the Democrat Party nomination."
"It's my intelligence guided by experience," he explained, noting Christie's decision to have a special election for the Senate seat left open by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg could be a telling factor.
Last month, the Star-Ledger of New Jersey reported Christie was "cashing in donations from top Democratic fundraisers and other traditionally liberal donors across the country, even nabbing the support of a handful of rainmakers aligned with President Obama and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel."
"While I do not agree with his stance on every issue, he is one of the best political leaders I have talked to in a long time," Ken Rosen, a UC-Berkeley professor who cut a $3,800 check to Christie after chatting with him at two events, told the paper. "He is willing to take on tough issues such as pension reform, education reform, mental-health issues, even if his views are not politically correct."
Meanwhile, a Gallup poll in June found Christie was actually given a higher net favorable rating among Democrats than among Republicans.
Christie "is more liked than disliked by Democrats," Gallup stated, explaining he was the only Republican with a net positive image among Democrats when compared to other top GOP figures such as Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan.
While many have speculated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the likely choice to head the Democrats' presidential ticket in 2016, Limbaugh disagrees.
"I don't think it's gonna be Hillary," Limbaugh stressed.
"I've never thought that, because I've always said she's not this brainiac that her conventional wisdom says. She messed up so much that the Clinton administration gave her. Health care, the bimbo eruptions [during the Monica Lewinsky scandal]. She's not the smartest woman in the world. I have never drank that Kool-Aid on Hillary. I did not think she was gonna be the nominee in 2008, and I didn't think she was gonna be elected president and I was a lone wolf saying so. It was I who did Operation Chaos to keep her candidacy alive in 2008."