Ambitious politicians never openly root for their party’s presidential nominee to lose. Even if that’s what they probably secretly want.
When Republican standard-bearer Bob Dole (predictably) came up short against President Bill Clinton in 1996, Texas Gov. George W. Bush had the most to gain. While publicly behind the Bobster, Bush — son of the most recent Republican president — benefited from Dole’s loss because it opened up the 2000 GOP field.
Twenty years later Republicans may face a similar scenario. Two Republican senators, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Cory Gardner from Colorado, will be finishing up their first-terms as the 2020 election cycle rolls around. Should Democratic-nominee-in-waiting Hillary Clinton win the presidency in 2016, young-ish, dynamic GOP senators like Sasse and Gardner would both be well positioned to challenge her.
Granted, there are a lot of ifs in that scenario. But their political chops to this point suggest each is potential White House candidate material.