NBC/WSJ Poll: No Bump for Romney, Jeb Bush After ’16 Hints

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Column: Jeb could ruin Hillary’s political run.

Mitt Romney begins the 2016 Republican presidential primary campaign with significant advantages over Jeb Bush, his chief rival for GOP establishment support, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.WASHINGTON — “Romney Recycled” was the headline atop a Wall Street Journal editorial last week lamenting Mitt Romney’s intimations that he will make a third run at the presidency in 2016.Jeb Bush’s entry into the 2016 presidential race sent ripples throughout the party, forcing Mitt Romney to indicate interest in running, spurring Mike Huckabee to leave Fox News, prompting Wisconsin Gov. More than half (52%) of all Republicans still maintain a positive view of the party’s 2012 nominee, compared to just 37% who said the same about Mr.

Not because Mitt Romney is likely to become the Republican nominee in 2016, but rather because he’ll be competing for the same mainstream primary voters and the same big money that Jeb Bush is chasing. The starting gun was Jeb Bush’s announcement last month that he was “exploring” a race and raising millions of dollars in case his exploration got somewhere.

Among potential GOP candidates he’s currently the only one who could beat her in Florida — and it’s practically impossible to win the White House without winning Florida. With Romney’s entrance into the race, Bush has some space and time to raise funds, build out an organization and reach out to GOP office holders in search of support. If the field develops the way it appears to be, this will be my fourth Clinton campaign, fourth Bush campaign, third Romney campaign, third Paul campaign, second Huckabee campaign and second Santorum campaign. But one sudden entrant startled even some of his own former advisors: Mitt Romney, the GOP’s nominee in 2012, whose last campaign is remembered by many Republicans as a noble but ill-managed failure. “I want to be president,” Romney told a roomful of fundraisers in New York.

Hillary is sharp enough to know that Jeb got to be governor — and was easily re-elected — by drawing thousands of crossover votes from Florida Democrats. The likely slate of candidates will include the son of a governor and presidential candidate, the son of a congressman and presidential candidate, the wife of a president, and the brother of a president, son of a president and grandson of a senator.

But with Romney’s potential entry and the emergence of a group of current governors as new stars of the party, there is no doubt Bush will have to fight for the nomination. It would be ideal for her if the Republicans nominated a tea party hothead, thus alienating millions of American voters except for the cranky old white people who listen to Rush Limbaugh. That is a good thing for his prospects, for unlike Hillary Clinton who will be coasting on her identity with no real rationale for the presidency and no real competition, Bush will need to show his mettle.

He flew to San Diego to give a speech to the Republican National Committee. “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result,” Rand Paul told the New Hampshire Journal. In the absence of ideas and popular passion — the sort of spirit that briefly captured the nation’s imagination in 2008 — winning becomes about name recognition and celebrity. Political insiders, Florida residents and media and many in the national media know he is a different sort of politician in many ways from his father and brother. (Jeb is “a curious study in contrast [with George W. John McCain, who backed Romney in 2012. “It’s a free country. … I thought there was no education in the second kick of a mule.” “There’s not a lot of good precedent for somebody losing the election and coming back four years later,” former Rep. Bush] — in temperament, in style, in the paths they have chosen in life, in the way they think and communicate and lead.”) So far, he is disarming donors when asked about the Bush “problem” with questions of his own: Do you have brothers or sisters?

That is why, if a Clinton or a Bush wins in 2016 and is re-elected in 2020, a member of one of those two families will have been president for 28 of 36 years since 1989. Still, anything can happen in the primaries, especially since these knuckleheads insist on starting in Iowa, which demographically resembles Finland more than it does the United States. Most of the 2016 GOP action was expected to come from hyperactive conservative factions: the insurgent senators (Cruz and Paul), the fiscal-hawk governors (Walker, John Kasich and Mike Pence) and the social conservatives (Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and Huckabee). You had counted on locking up the huge Hispanic vote, yet here’s a Republican who speaks fluent Spanish and openly favors a more compassionate immigration policy than his party espouses. Dynastic politics is nothing new in this ostensibly meritocratic land, going back to John Quincy Adams and continuing through the Roosevelts and Tafts and Kennedys.

A 2009 academic study found that, since the beginning of the republic, 8.7 percent of members of Congress had a relative who previously served in the body. Marco Rubio and other possible GOP candidates are still whining about same-sex marriages, Jeb has wisely thrown in the towel and says it’s time to respect all sides of the debate, wishing the best for the couples now marrying. The percentage has declined over time, but a 2010 article in Legislative Studies Quarterly found that kin of officeholders continue to have large “brand name advantages” allowing them to raise more money and achieve more success with less experience. Some, like Jeb Bush or Hillary Rodham Clinton, run not only because they think they would be good presidents, but also because it’s a role for which they’ve been training all their lives.

With a specific agenda to talk about, he can also shift the conversations from “Is Jeb just like his brother?” to “What’s Jeb offering?” Ed Gillespie’s Senate run in Virginia is a model for running an issues based, spirited campaign in which a guy who could easily have been painted as just a lobbyist or adviser to Bush 43 was able to connect with middle- and working-class voters. On education, Jeb supports the Common Core curriculum in defiance of the GOP’s right wing, eliminating another potential weapon from Hillary’s debate arsenal.

In explaining his record on tax cuts, tort reform, education and a host of other topics, and by spelling out what ideas he has for the country, voters can come to their own conclusions. (“Hey, this guy is pretty conservative after all.”) As for clarifying issues, no candidate likes to dignify misinformation by repeating it but in this case it behooves Bush to point to his record, speeches and book and define for himself his stance on immigration (only legalization, no path to citizenship, voter ID, tough border security, substituting skills for extended family connections for legal immigration, etc.) At least on immigration, he has the opportunity to define himself as a 21st century candidate well aware of the demands of the global economy and let Romney (“self-deport”) play the role of economic Luddite. If you are her, you’re left hoping with all your soul that Romney muddies the center of the Republican Party, and saps prime attention and heavy money away from Jeb. Likewise on Common Core, Bush needs to explain why standards matter, how Common Core got started (a pact among governors) and put himself foursquare against federal manipulation and intrusion. (There is a bill from Sen. And for others, there’s at least the suspicion that they’re running to boost their careers as commentators and book writers (Huckabee). “I have looked at what happens to anybody in this country who loses as the nominee of their party,” Romney said at the end of the 2012 campaign, in a moment captured by the documentary “Mitt.” “They become a loser for life. … We just brutalize whoever loses.” A presidential campaign is an inescapably messy process.

Even better, if you’re Hillary you are hoping that Jeb loses his spine, backpedals from these semi-reasonable positions and soon starts sounding like all his rivals. Being in second place in some polls lets him be the “Avis” (we try harder) candidate, a better role for him than Clinton has as the inevitable and uncontested heir to the nomination. Candidates who aren’t themselves eventually get into trouble, as Romney did in 2008 coming out as a fire-breathing conservative and Paul has done in insisting his foreign policy is Reagan-esque when it is more Kucinich-esque.

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