The GOP presidential field for 2016 may be the largest-ever in either party, with eight formally-declared candidates and another eight widely expected to enter the race in the next few months. Here are seven reasons why there are so many Republicans seeking the White House:
1. The Fame Game
To put it simply, running for president can make a person famous, rich, deeply influential or all three, even if they lose. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was a serious candidate during his 2008 run, winning eight states. It's unlikely he entered the race simply to gain fame.
But his unsuccessful campaign helped him get a show on Fox News. It's hard to imagine he would have received such an opportunity without having run for president and become a favorite of the most conservative Republicans.
After his unsuccessful campaign in 2012, Rick Santorum was tapped to run a company that makes Christian-themed movies. Herman Cain was a virtually unknown former businessman who is now popular among conservative activists after his campaign four years ago.
Sarah Palin didn't actually run for president, but she's perhaps the perfect example of how a national campaign can change a politician's life. Her vice-presidential run turned into a book deal, a tv show and both fame and money that she never could have achieved as governor of Alaska. (Test: Do you know the name of the current governor of Alaska?)
She also, at least for a time, gained major sway within the Republican Party. Candidates wanted her endorsement and for Palin to campaign with them.
It's hard to determine the motives of any individual politician. That said, Ben Carson fits the fame incentives perfectly. He's already drawn a huge amount of attention to himself through his candidacy that could help him sell books and appear on FOX News for years after his 2016 run.
Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump are both already famous and wealthy from their time in the business world. But presidential candidacies give them a chance for influence in a different realm. Fiorina in particular is increasing her chances of being appointed to the Cabinet of the next Republican president.