Fox News Poll: Walker seen as strong leader among GOP, Clinton’s honesty …
2016′s grotesque beginning: How Jeb & Hillary are quietly competing to win Wall Street’s heart.
Overall, there’s general agreement that former Florida Gov. DES MOINES, Iowa — Even before Jeb Bush leaves his first footprint in Iowa on Friday during his debut trip here as a presidential hopeful, some conservative activists seem hardened against him. “It’s hard to reconcile his membership in the Republican Party as anything more than a multigenerational family tradition,” Cary Gordon, a Christian conservative pastor at a Sioux City church, told The Des Moines Register this week. “He appears to be a Republican in name, but not necessarily a Republican in heart and head.An unusual request has gone out to wealthy donors writing large checks to support former Florida governor Jeb Bush: Please don’t give more than $1 million right away. He reminds me of the man who grumbles about his old-fashioned and boring Episcopalian church, but can’t bring himself to leave because his great-grandfather donated the church bell, and his mother was buried in the graveyard.” Comments like that invent a Bush persona that’s wholly unfamiliar to Republican and Democratic politicos in Florida, where he was governor from 1999 to 2007. “He’s regarded as a conservative hero in Florida,” Republican state Rep. Scott Walker’s flip-flop on immigration to Jeb Bush’s establishing a super PAC to the media’s churning out stories that make Hillary Clinton look slippery if not outright corrupt.
The move reflects concerns among Bush advisers that accepting massive sums from a handful of uber-rich supporters could fuel a perception that the former governor is in their debt. Perhaps most tellingly of all, though, is this Tuesday report from Politico on the subterranean fight being waged between Bush and Clinton right now to earn the support of the most important people in American democracy. He’s an ideologue.” Florida leaders said Bush built the GOP almost from scratch in a Democrat-dominated state, then governed sharply to the right, preaching the gospel of fiscal and social conservatism. Bush has yet to officially declare his candidacy, but he is already on track to raise tens of millions of dollars by the end of this month for two political action committees, both named Right to Rise, that were set up in January.
And many more see her as a strong leader than say the same of Obama (-12). “Walker is in a nice position right now,” says Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, who conducts the Fox News Poll along with Republican pollster Daron Shaw. “Republicans who know him overwhelmingly think he is a strong leader, and there are very few in the base who hold negative opinions toward him.” While Clinton performs well on leadership, she’s underwater on honesty (-8 points). Bush created the nation’s first school voucher program, pushed accountability in public schools, chiseled away at taxes, fought to prevent abortions, shored up gun rights, cracked down on armed criminals, reformed Medicaid into a system of private managed-care providers and ended affirmative action in state hiring. “I laugh now about people talking about Governor Bush being a moderate. Yes, according to Politico’s Ben White (who is exceedingly well-sourced on “the Street,” if nothing else), the front-runners for the respective parties are currently jockeying to win the hearts and minds of Goldman’s rank and file as well as its elites. Of course, many donors who give large amounts now are likely to be repeat givers — and write even larger checks — once the campaign starts in earnest.
Bush is planning to make yet another sojourn to New York next week, White reports, and has “a pair of events scheduled … with current and former Goldman executives.” Clinton, for her part, is not quite as far along on the shadow campaign trail as Bush. Bush is entering his third month of an intensive, cross-country fundraising tour that has included stops at lavish Manhattan apartments, premier Washington lobbying shops and luxury hotels in Florida. Sixty-one percent of voters say if recent allegations are true and the foundation accepted contributions from foreign governments while Clinton was secretary of state — it was the wrong thing to do.
Among all voters, Bush does best on “patriotic” and “caring.” His trouble spot is “strong leader,” as he’s underwater on that — albeit by just one point. “It’s interesting and potentially important how well Bush scores on the caring trait,” says Shaw. “Empathy is something recent GOP candidates have not scored well on, and reducing this gap is essential for them to do well in 2016.” Among those familiar with them, Walker does best on “patriotic” and “strong leader” and Rubio’s top traits are “patriotic” and “caring.” Both of these candidates are less well known than either Bush or Clinton. And in marked contrast to the official primary on the Democratic side — and perhaps on the Republican side, too, if Walker keeps saying dumb stuff like this — the one for Goldman is neck-and-neck. The 1,011 registered voters were reached via landline and cell phone numbers randomly selected for inclusion in this nationwide survey from March 1-3, 2015.
Amid the nonstop drive for money, Bush advisers are cautioning fundraisers in conference calls and in-person discussions not to allow a few mega-donors to overwhelm the effort. “It shows they are disciplined and appreciate that the dominance of a few key people early on is not a productive thing for the campaign or for Jeb Bush,” said Rick Hohlt, a longtime Republican fundraiser in Washington who is familiar with the guidance. A narrative has already begun to sink in here that conservatives should be skeptical of him, partly because he embraces academic standards for student achievement and is disinterested in deporting every immigrant living in the country illegally.
Asked if he’s worried that it might already be getting too late to change some Iowa conservatives’ negative opinions about him, Bush told the Register in a telephone interview: “No.” “Look, if I actually go beyond the consideration of running to actually running, then I’ll do it with lots of energy. Dozens of backers have given $100,000 a piece to get into high-end super PAC fundraisers, such as one last month at the Park Avenue home of private-equity titan Henry Kravis.
I’d put my record up against anybody’s, to be honest with you.” Iowa isn’t entirely hostile turf for Bush — 46 percent of Republicans who intend to vote in the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses in 2016 view Bush favorably, according to a late January Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll. The eagerness among political financiers to support Bush is evident in the high goals his team has laid out for donors and fundraisers to reach by March 31, with tiers set at $50,000, $100,000, $250,000 and $500,000, according to people involved in collecting checks. Although he might prefer to stay at home with a book, he has shown an eagerness to get out to meet voters and donors, repeatedly explaining his thinking on immigration and common core education standards and how all that fits in with what he believes the country needs. Instead of trying to persuade the bankers that theirs is the superior policy vision, these crypto-candidates will probably argue that they’re the better spokesperson for winning over the real customer here — you. At the same time Bush was telling them his analysis, he was also typing responses to Floridians, including a woman reporting a problem pothole. “It remains the most fascinating multitasking experience I have ever witnessed,” said Gaetz, who is the finance and tax committee chairman in the Florida House.
And so long as the U.S. is at least a nominal democratic republic, the president of the United States needs to be the candidate who won at least a plurality of the popular vote — although this rule is admittedly not hard-and-fast. Rather than make it easier for Wall Street to go back to its earlier wheeling and dealing, the public strongly supports the so-called Robin Hood tax on financial transactions. Bush’s austere approach to running the state bureaucracies, including his decision to cut 13,000 positions, left Florida hurting when the recession hit after he left office, Gelber said. But Fitzgerald and several other Democrats said Bush made nothing more than mild improvement in education, and his conservative prescription for tax cuts, outsourcing and downsizing did not improve outcomes in other state services.
In the telephone interview with the Register, Bush said: “We worked hard to execute on what the legislature gave us the authority to do, and it did improve outcomes — education outcomes particularly. In K-12, we went from the bottom of the pack to having some of the greatest learning gains over the last decade.” Bush said: “I’ve had a chance to be governor of a complex state, where we fixed a few big things that made it possible for a whole lot of people in our state to benefit. But I wouldn’t worry too much if I were them, because whoever the winner is will be able to draw upon the Goldman Sachs brain trust’s expertise — and nobody but nobody out there knows more than them when it comes to passing off a rotten deal. That life experience that came from business and public leadership — if I go forward and run for president — I think will be a useful part of the story that I’ll tell Iowans.”
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