Gene Gibbons saw lots of politics during three decades covering the White House. But there’s no predicting who will succeed U.S. President Obama.

“All bets are off this year.”

Gene Gibbons saw lots of politics during his three decades covering the White House. But there’s no predicting who will emerge this year to succeed U.S. President Barack Obama, he said in an interview days before the first primary, in Iowa.

“It’s a whole new ball game this year,” said Gibbons, who covered six presidents, from Richard Nixon through Bill Clinton, for UPI and then for Reuters. A candidate’s ability to organize “ground troops” used to make the difference in primaries but no longer does, he said.

Voter anger explains much of the support this year for non-establishment candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, according to Gibbons. The relatively large number of candidates for the Republican Party nomination has also helped them, he said.

While he thinks Bernie Sanders is unlikely to win the Democratic Party’s nod, Gibbon said the Vermont senator is being helped by some of the same factors aiding Trump and Cruz — including voter anger — and also by what he called “Clinton fatigue”.

“Some people just don’t like dynasty politics,” Gibbons said, noting that Bill Clinton was president for eight years and Hillary Clinton has now been a public figure for many more. The same fatigue could be hurting Jeb Bush, he said.

The first two U.S. primaries are set for February 1 in Iowa and eight days later in New Hampshire.

Recalling past failed candidacies of George H.W. Bush, John Connally, Mike Huckabee and Paul Tsongas, Gibbons said history proves that there is no assurance the winner of either or even both of those early votes will end up claiming their party’s nomination.

This is the second part of News-Decoder’s interview with Gibbons. In the first segment, he discussed the six presidents he covered. The interview with Gibbons is the second in a series of chats with our correspondents.

Gene Gibbons covered U.S. Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton during his career with Reuters and UPI. He was past president of the Radio-Television Correspondents Association and served as a Presidential Debate panelist in 1992 and as a Joan M. Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2010. An ex-U.S. Army officer, he once served as press aide to U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

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