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Bachmann And Santorum 2016? Dusting Off The GOP Nomination Clown Car

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One of the hallmarks of the 2012 Republican Presidential field was the way it seemed to attract what can only be called fringe candidates to an even greater extent than in previous election cycles. There was Herman Cain, a former pizza magnate with no political experience whose claim to fame was a tax plan that boiled down to a simple phrase but made no economic sense whatsoever. From the world of politics, there was Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a woman with a history of making bizarre public statements and accomplishing nothing of note in Congress who made a name for herself by claiming that the HPV vaccine caused mental retardation. And from the world of former politicians seeking to revive their political careers, there was former Senator Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose campaigns were both kept alive by well-funded SuperPACs, but who never actually had a chance of being serious contenders to Mitt Romney. For pundits and bloggers, it was a treasure trove of entertainment. For the Republican Party, it was largely an utter embarrassment.

As we approach the 2016 race, we’re already getting signs that the GOP field will also be filled with candidates who have no actual chance of winning, but who will quite obviously draw a lot of media attention if they run because of the things that they’ll say. Yesterday, for example, Bachmann, who will be leaving Congress at the end of the year, hinted that she was considering running again:

Though set to retire from the U.S. House after her term expires at the end of this year, Michele Bachmann may not be done with electoral politics.

The Minnesota congresswoman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate told RealClearPolitics on Tuesday that she is considering a second White House run.

Bachmann made the revelation during an interview, in which she was asked for her view on whether any Republican women might seek the Oval Office in 2016.

“The only thing that the media has speculated on is that it’s going to be various men that are running,” she replied. “They haven’t speculated, for instance, that I’m going to run. What if I decide to run? And there’s a chance I could run.”

Bachmann entered the last presidential race in June 2011 as a long-shot contender but was able to use her sway with elements of the Tea Party and an effective media campaign to rise temporarily toward the front of the Republican pack in a deeply fluid race.

The high point of her candidacy came in August 2011 when she won the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa.

But Bachmann’s campaign soon withered amid a string of gaffes and controversial claims, staff defections, and a rise in the fortunes of other candidates in the race.

She ended up finishing in sixth place in the Iowa caucuses less than five months after her Ames triumph, earning just 5 percent of the vote and dropping out the next day.

The four-term congresswoman that she would “certainly” reap the benefits of having run once before, if she were to launch a second White House bid.

“Like with anything else, practice makes perfect,” she said. “And I think if a person has gone through the process — for instance, I had gone through 15 presidential debates — it’s easy to see a person’s improvement going through that.”

As if the return of Michele Bachmann enough to bring joy to the hearts of pundits, comedians, and political bloggers everywhere, yesterday also saw Rick Santorum hint that he’s looking at running again:

He was an unexpected runner-up in the 2012 Republican presidential primary and now it looks as though Rick Santorum is gearing up for another run at the party ticket in 2016. During an interview with Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg Tuesday, the former senator all but confirmed that he would be throwing his sweater vest in the ring.

Asked casually how things are looking for 2016, Santorun replied simply, “Well, I’ll be in Iowa in two weeks.” Does that mean he’s leaning towards running?

“Right now, we’re doing everything consistent with taking the shot at 2016,” Santorum said, “But we’re not going to make any decisions until next year.” He started to explain his concerns about “where this country’s going” when Malzberg had to cut him off and end the interview.

To be fair to Santorum, he at least theoretically has a better to make in favor of running a second time than Bachmann does. He did, after all, come in second place to Romney in the race in terms of total popular votes, states won, and also came in second place in a large number of states. Granted, he garnered some 4,000,000 votes less than Romney did by the time the race was over, and was really only marginally head of both Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. However, he did come in second place much like Romney came in second place, by a wide margin, to John McCain in the 2008 race for the Republican nomination. In that sense, I suppose, Santorum has some claim to be the “next in line” in the GOP in the sense that Romney was in 2012. The difference, of course, is that Romney in 2012 had the backing of the Republican establishment and the business community, and a large number of politicians. If Santorum runs again, he’s still going to be drawing from the same limited social conservative base that he has always appealed to, and there is a good case to be made that this part of the Republican Party may not be quite as relevant in 2016, especially since its likely that Santorum would find himself competing with other candidates for those same voters. For that reason, if Santorum does run again he’s likely to be as much a fringe candidate as Bachmann would be unless he finds a way to appeal to something outside of the base that backed him two years ago.

Bachmann and Santorum aren’t the only potential fringe candidates that we could see in the Republican field, of course. Herman Cain has hinted that he might run again in two years, although that would require him to leave his radio talk show gig in Atlanta. Other names mentioned as possible candidates in 2016 have included Dr. Ben Carson, former Congressman Allan West, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, and New York Congressman Peter King. None of these people will be serious contenders to win the nomination, of course, but they would all be quite entertaining for all the bizarre statements they would be making throughout the course of the campaign. Of course, you could say the same thing about some of the potential candidates that would be considered more mainstream. And that, in the end, is a big part of the problem that the GOP is likely to face in 2016.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. beth says:

    Oh yes! And do lots and lots of debates again too! Please?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  2. Jim R says:

    Sounds depressing, yet hilarious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  3. stonetools says:

    Yeah, but BENGHAZI!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. Mu says:

    I need to change my registration so I get to vote for Allan West!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  5. Gustopher says:

    As we approach the 2016 race, we’re already getting signs that the GOP field will also be filled with candidates who have no actual chance of winning, but who will quite obviously draw a lot of media attention if they run because of the things that they’ll say.

    It’s kind of adorable that you think they have no chance of winning. You really do live in your own little world, cut off from reality, don’t you?

    Had Romney had a scandal, the Republicans would have nominated Santorum last time out. Santorum. Rick “Man On Dog” Santorum.

    And Romney had to pretend to be insane (or a “severe conservative”) to get through the process — no one really believed him, they just wanted to make him say it so he would always know where his electoral votes came from.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  6. J-Dub says:

    Can you imagine Bob Dole or George H. Bush sharing a debate stage with these lunatics?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  7. gVOR08 says:

    I’ve been expecting some of these people to run. A few are delusional enough to think they have a shot, but mostly it’s grifters gotta grift. What I haven’t been able to figure out is who’s going to be the establishment candidate. Rubio seems fatally damaged by having danced with immigration reform. Bridgegate still seems to have let a lot of gas out of Christie. Ryan failed as veep. I don’t think Jeb is dumb enough to run against Hillary with his brother’s memory still fresh. Maybe Walker can get enough Koch money to get some name recognition. Pence, Portman, Kasich? I’m from Ohio. Does anyone else even know who these guys are?

    Seriously, who’s the establishment candidate?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. J-Dub says:

    @Gustopher:

    Rick “Man On Dog” Santorum

    I thought it was Rick “Frothy Mixture” Santorum? I just hope if he runs that he brings back the Conservatives Unite Moneybomb donation site. I look forward to him receiving CUM donations again, as long as I don’t have to witness it personally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  9. C. Clavin says:

    Think how brilliant the NJ Bridge-Tender will look next to those two.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  10. John says:

    @Gustopher:

    Your last point is very pertinent. The more clownish the clown car, the more clownish the platform the eventual nominee will run on and, if elected, try to enact.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. Joe says:

    Santorum and Bachmann may be crazy but they do bring issues that aren’t addressed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

  12. KansasMom says:

    I’m not sure what makes any of these people nuttier than Rand Paul or Ted Cruz. Had Michele Bachmann been from Texas or Kentucky she too could have been elected Senator. The fact that the people of Minnesota are wiser than the people of Texas or Kentucky in no way reflects positively on Paul or Cruz.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @Joe:
    Yes… Like man on dog sex and Medicare payments going to “gay therapy” con-artists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  14. MikeSJ says:

    @gVOR08:

    I wonder the same thing – who’s the establishment going to pick? My bet amongst all the various sober candidates is Kasich followed by Pence.

    Why? I’m think Kasich is pretty tall but Pence looks like he has good hair.

    Yep, that’s American politics for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  15. Scott O says:

    Rick, Michele, the band’s getting back together. Are you in? It’ll go better this time, weed should be legal in lots of states.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  16. gVOR08 says:

    @J-Dub: I usually call him Richard Cardinal Santorum since he seems to think he’s more Catholic than the Pope.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. Pinky says:

    I’m not sure Bolton will run – he’s definitely not a contender – but I wouldn’t call him a clown.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 17

  18. superdestroyer says:

    Who cares? Does anyone really believe that the Republicans have more than a 1% change of winning the election? How soon will the quants like Silver be giving Hillary Clinton a 90% or more chance of winning. When will the quants move states like Colorado and Virginia from the swing column to the deep blue column?

    The only question for 2016, as it was in 2012 is whether the Democrats can regain control of the House. Every other talking point about the election is irrelevant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 14

  19. KansasMom says:

    @Pinky: The man actually looks like a clown. His political views needn’t enter into the discussion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  20. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Joe:

    Santorum and Bachmann may be crazy but they do bring issues that aren’t addressed.

    Such as…?

    @ C. Claven: Thanks! I see his point much better now!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. jd says:

    @Joe: “Santorum and Bachmann
    may be crazy but they do
    bring issues that aren’t
    addressed.”

    Isn’t that redundant?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  22. ringhals says:

    @jd: LOL! Yes, they do seem to have “unaddressed issues”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  23. CB says:

    @Pinky:

    I’m not sure Bolton will run – he’s definitely not a contender – but I wouldn’t call him a clown.

    More of a court jester.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  24. Ron Beasley says:

    Please pass the popcorn.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  25. Dave D says:

    @KansasMom: Even worse if you actually do consider his political views. He was a key feature of us disregarding the UN weapons inspectors to get into Iraq. He was a recess appointment who never could’ve gotten a senate confirmation. He is the face of failed neocon policy since GWB can’t become president once again. Jeb gets a far worse shake since he has some normal ideas about issues(immigration) but Bolton should be the face of every failed foreign policy. He is the classic chickenhawk who would have us engaged in every possible conflict the world over while having avoiding serving in the only war of his generation. Looks aside it is amazing anyone would consider him credible or electable.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Joe:

    Santorum and Bachmann may be crazy but they do bring issues that aren’t addressed.

    Yes, like the currently deplorable state of mental health care in the US.

    Also, I want to see a Bolton/West, West/Bolton ticket. Just think of it…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  27. CSK says:

    Will Santorum be delivering his long-threatened address to the American people on why birth control isn’t okay for married Christian couples??????

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Dave D: I don’t know why Bolton couldn’t be electable. There must be a salon somewhere that can dye his mustache to match his hair dye.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  29. al-Ameda says:

    @Joe:

    Santorum and Bachmann may be crazy but they do bring issues that aren’t addressed.

    Yes definitely, however one issue that I’m sure will NOT be addressed is: how is it that Rick Santorum’s wife had to have a late term abortion, yet Rick continues to strongly oppose abortion under any circumstances. I wonder how Michele feels about that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  30. mantis says:

    Have we heard from Herman Cain yet? Run Cain run!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  31. CSK says:

    @mantis:

    Last May, Cain suggested/hinted to the HuffPo that he might run again in 2016. I doubt he will, but this is a way of keeping his brand fresh. The only reason he ran last time was to market his motivational speaking business.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  32. Pinky says:

    @al-Ameda: Dude, Salon didn’t even fall for that one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  33. Phillip says:

    @KansasMom:

    The man actually looks like a clown

    Whenever I see him, I always think of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  34. Matt Bernius says:

    To @Pink’sy point:
    http://www.salon.com/2012/01/06/karen_santorum_did_not_have_an_abortion/

    Key summary from the article:

    “Based on what is presented here in these couple of pages, it looks to me as if there’s confusion with some people about what the word ‘abortion’ means,” the doctor told me today. “The word ‘abortion’ probably shouldn’t even be used in this context.” (It is technically correct to say that Karen Santorum had a septic spontaneous abortion, but that’s a medical term for an involuntary event that is different from “induced abortion,” which describes a willful termination.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  35. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:
    @Matt Bernius:

    (It is technically correct to say that Karen Santorum had a septic spontaneous abortion, but that’s a medical term for an involuntary event that is different from “induced abortion,” which describes a willful termination.)

    okay

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Matt Bernius: God has been aborting babies for millions of years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  37. C. Clavin says:

    @Matt Bernius:
    But if that fetus was a person, as Santorum believes, then his wife is guilty of involuntary manslaughter…negligent homicide.
    Ridiculous, yes. But so is the idea that a fetus is a person.
    Far more tragic is that Santorum apparently was unable to learn anything from the experience.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  38. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    An interesting sidelight to this is that the Santorums badgered the hospital into recording the death as that of a five-month-old baby rather than a five-month-old fetus, which strictly speaking would mean that the child was born, lived for five months, and then died. I’m not sure when “fetus” became a dirty word.

    And I found it creepy beyond words that the Santorums spent a night in bed with the corpse, and then brought it home to introduce to their children.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  39. Pinky says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    God has been aborting babies for millions of years.

    God’s been killing people with cancer for millions of years too, but funny thing, if you expose someone to toxic levels of radiation and it kills them, you’re still responsible for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  40. Matt Bernius says:

    @CSK:

    the Santorums badgered the hospital into recording the death as that of a five-month-old baby rather than a five-month-old fetus, which strictly speaking would mean that the child was born, lived for five months, and then died.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but fetus has a pretty specific definition — a unborn/developing child. As I understand it when a child is delivered it is no longer considered to be a fetus. To that point, if the Santorum child was not delivered stillborn (i.e. died in the womb), even if it died shortly after delivery, it wasn’t a fetus.

    To that point the Santorum’s child survived for 2 hours after its birth, making it a (premature) baby and not a fetus.

    Admittedly, the five-month-old thing is weird, but I’m frankly not sure what typically practice is in these sorts of situations.

    There’s a lot to go after Santorum about, but that’s not one of the better points.

    For more on the complexities of the issue of stillbirth and infants that die soon after birth, I suggest this NY Times article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/22/us/22stillbirth.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. CSK says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Interesting point, and thanks for the citation. But it is true that the hospital wanted to put “fetus” on the death certificate, so they must had some reason for doing so. Perhaps–and I’m drawing a fine distinction here–they adjudged the fetus to be the remains of an induced miscarriage rather than a premature child.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  42. Matt Bernius says:

    Do you have a citation for the fetus thing? I did a quick internet search and couldn’t find anything about it. But my Google-fu might just be particularly weak today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. CSK says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Yes, it was an article by Mark Leibovich in the April 18, 2005 Washington Post that was later fairly widely quoted. Rick Santorum said he was appalled that the fetus was described on the death certificate as “a twenty-week-old fetus.” This particular article says that the Santorums themselves changed the word fetus to baby.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  44. JohnMcC says:

    @Matt Bernius: During the last election one issue that I steadfastly turned away from was that ?miscarriage/?abortion and the — frankly — weird post-mortem family rituals. It was a family tragedy that they appear to have navigated their own way which is their right. I still will not look into the cited newspaper articles. None of my business — particularly since it is less likely that Mr Santorum will be President than — say — Kermit the Frog.

    So it was news to me that the cause was a septic pregnancy. This is a horrible situation in which the best outcomes seem to be that 15% of the mothers die. The treatment is rapid (stabilize the patient first) therapeutic abortion. By letting nature (or God or whatever) take it’s course, Mrs Santorum was placed at terrible risk of septic shock which has mortality rates up to 80%.

    A very strange religion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  45. Pinky says:

    @JohnMcC: I’d forgotten all about it, but like you, I didn’t feel comfortable looking at it in the first place. I’m glad to see that al-Ameda got a couple of down-votes for bringing it up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  46. beth says:

    @JohnMcC: And people like Rick Santorum feel perfectly comfortable making laws deciding what a woman should do in this instance. I’m certainly glad he and his wife had the option of making a choice about treatment but if it was up to him and the Catholic Church, that option would not exist for other women.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  47. george says:

    @Pinky:

    I hate his views on war (for the most part I doubt he’s ever seen one he didn’t want to get the US involved in), but I agree, he’s no clown. Few could take Bachman or Santorum seriously (I’m not sure if they even take themselves seriously). Bolton’s different.

    That said, he has no chance of winning; maybe that’s what people mean by clown in this context.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Pinky: Yep. But God gets a pass. What does that tell you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  49. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: God gets a pass for murdering the whole human race.

    “Yeah, I created this whole planet full of sentient beings, but they’re kind of pissing me off, so I’m going to drown them all. Well, except for this Noah dude, he’s pretty chill. Too bad he can’t get all the animals on this boat I had him build, I guess we’ll just have to take two of each and drown the other few billion of them, too.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  50. Pinky says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    God gets a pass

    Yeah, right. No one ever bellyaches about God.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  51. stonetools says:

    @Pinky:

    The point there is that the Santorum family and their doctors could make a decision, without refererence to any anti-abortion law banning “partial birth abortions”. No government official and no hospital administrator intervened to put in their oar as to whether the procedure was “medically necessary” or whether the pregnancy should be prolonged so as to “save the life of the unborn child”.

    If it were up to Santorum and his allies, that governmental official and hospital administrator would be there. The Salon article conclusion:

    As the doctor put it, “One takes from this that pregnancies can go very, very wrong, very quickly.” Moreover, the kinds of legislative hurdles Santorum wants — or hospital administrative committees that seek to supersede the family’s decision-making — can certainly slow down the process and endanger women’s lives in the process.

    But it’s important to stick to the facts as we can access them when it comes to the Santorums personal history, which they have frequently cited and even published a book about. Do you feel uncomfortable about having gone this far up Karen Santorum’s womb? Me too — which is another reason to vigorously oppose her husband’s policies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  52. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:

    God’s been killing people with cancer for millions of years too, but funny thing, if you expose someone to toxic levels of radiation and it kills them, you’re still responsible for it.

    Not only that, God is, apparently, somewhat detached and/or apathetic.

    God was either busy or did not care to act when Stalin was murdering tens of million Russians, Hitler was annihilating millions of Jews, Pol Pot was slaughtering millions of Cambodians, and Mao was “re-educating” millions of Chinese.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  53. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools: I hadn’t thought about it that way, but yes, if Santorum had his way, there would have to be death panels for these situations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  54. Pinky says:

    @al-Ameda: There are basically four common answers to the question of how God can allow suffering.

    1) He’s not in complete control / there are multiple gods with different wills
    2) He’s a jerk
    3) We deserve it / we’re not flattering Him enough
    4) There’s an answer but we don’t know it

    There are two other common answers, that there is no God or that there is no suffering. (I’m sure, though, that a lot of people who say that there is no God really just don’t like Him.) Considering that saints and philosophers and farmers have debated this stuff as long as we have had records, it just seems a little silly for you and Ozark to make it sound like you’re breaking new ground. Like gosh, I’d never thought about the fact that Stalin was mean?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  55. stonetools says:

    Just a suggestion, but maybe we want to get back on topic and postpone the 2000 year old question of theodicy for another day-either that , or take it to Internet Infidels, where you can join one of 500 ongoing threads on the issue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  56. Mikey says:

    @stonetools: We are on topic. It’s just gone meta. ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  57. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:

    There are basically four common answers to the question of how God can allow suffering.

    1) He’s not in complete control / there are multiple gods with different wills
    2) He’s a jerk
    3) We deserve it / we’re not flattering Him enough
    4) There’s an answer but we don’t know it

    Or, (5) God is somewhat intimidated when it comes to dealing with murderous tyrants.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  58. Moosebreath says:

    @al-Ameda:

    “Or, (5) God is somewhat intimidated when it comes to dealing with murderous tyrants.”

    And that’s different than (1) because…?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  59. Pinky says:

    @stonetools: Wow, stone, I’m glad we got this conversation back on track. It’s roaring now. (You realize, of course, that there is no shortage of marginal-Republican-candidate-bashing threads on this site?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0