NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Grover Norquist, the influential conservative who serves as president of Americans for Tax Reform, thinks there are only six Republicans who can win the 2016 Republican nomination for president.
His list, which he told Business Insider in an approximately hour-long interview Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
"There are only six people who can credibly run start-to-finish, and any of them could conceivably win the presidency," Norquist said.
"And the reason is, each of those people could raise the money to run campaign all the way through. Each of those people has some name ID."
Notably, the list leaves out two prominent CPAC speakers — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Norquist and his group have been highly critical of Cruz in the past, especially in the lead-up to the federal government shutdown last September.
Norquist's list only includes one senator — Paul — because he has made "savvy" political moves and has more of a name recognition with the general public. In general, Norquist thinks governors have a better chance of running a successful campaign.
"With Rubio and Cruz, it's hard for them to raise significant amounts of money," Norquist said.
"And it's hard to make news, in general. You can make a speech. But you can't fire somebody. You can't sign a bill. You can't pass legislation. And by the way, if the Senate does something, Cruz and Rubio both voted for it. So who are you supposed to make president? And by the way, 50 other people voted for it, too!"
Norquist said he did not have a favorite among his six candidates. But he was especially impressed with Walker as a potential candidate. Walker, he said, is still gaining momentum after a "fantastic" 2012, when he became the first and only governor to ever stave off a recall.
"When Scott Walker wins re-election in November, it'll be the third time he's won an election in four years," Norquist said.
In the interview, Norquist also said Republicans have a "better than 50-50 chance" of re-taking control of the U.S. Senate. Republicans have seven prime pick-up opportunities — West Virginia, South Dakota, North Carolina, Louisiana, Montana, Arkansas, and Alaska. They only need to swing six seats to take back the Senate.
"They're all states Republicans win overwhelmingly at the presidential level and at a federal level," he said. "All states where we have or will have a solid candidate, and their candidates are carrying the boat anchor of Obamacare."
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