The big political news over the weekend is that it looks like Republican Jeb Bush is moving closer and closer to a presidential bid in 2016 -- after announcing he would release 250,000 emails from his days as Florida governor, as well as release a new book. (You’re usually not taking these actions if you’ve decided AGAINST a presidential run, right?) Folks, this isn’t someone simply dipping his toes into the presidential waters; it’s someone who’s bouncing up and down on the diving board. More than anything else, Jeb’s moves are a signal to Republican donors and campaign staffers that he’s going to probably run. (They also help to counter last week’s Bloomberg report that Bush, less than a month ago, filed documents showing him as a chairman and manager of an offshore private equity account.) The local Florida reporter who interviewed Bush about his upcoming email and book releases, said, per the Washington Post: “I think it’s now a question of ‘when’ he runs, rather than ‘if’ he runs.” Oh, and Bush today delivers the winter commencement address at the University of South Carolina -- a state holding one of the earliest GOP presidential primaries.
If Jeb’s a ‘yes’ then that probably freezes out Romney and Rubio
After Jeb Bush’s news this weekend, we received a press release that supporters of Mitt Romney have created a Super PAC urging the 2012 GOP presidential nominee to make a run in ’16. This Super PAC sure feels like a response to Jeb, because if Jeb does get in, there won’t be as much pining for Romney, especially among the Republican Party’s wealthy donors. Here’s one more thing to consider: If Jeb is ultimately a “yes,” that probably also freezes out a bid by Marco Rubio, who’s a political disciple of Bush’s.
2016 -- the year of the political re-run?
Jeb Bush isn’t the only familiar face -- or last name -- who’s more likely to run in ’16. There’s Hillary Clinton, of course (who ran in 2008 and whose husband won the White House in ’92 and ’96). There’s Rand Paul (whose father ran for president three times). There’s Mike Huckabee (’08 run) and Rick Santorum (’12). And there’s still the possibility that Romney could make another run (after his previous bids in ’08 and ’12). So call 2016 the year of the political re-run, or spinoff. The familiar names, however, do make sense in this respect: The country went new in 2008 (with Obama), but the nation doesn’t seem as idealistic as it was back then. Also, familiar names and repeat presidential candidates litter American history -- the Adamses, the Bushes, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan. The question is whether Barbara Bush’s words to NBC’s Matt Lauer in 2013 strike a chord with the American public: “It’s a great country. There are a lot of great families. It’s not just four families or whatever. There are other people out there that are very qualified. We’ve had enough Bushes,” she said back then.
Cheney: “I’d do it again in a minute”
There’s one final point we want to make about Jeb Bush getting closer and closer to a presidential bid: The news comes, of course, just as his brother’s presidency has received new scrutiny after the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture practices in the George W. Bush administration. And here was Vice President Dick Cheney defending those practices on “Meet the Press” yesterday, saying he had no regrets – even when it came to those who turned out to be innocent or who died from the interrogation practices: “I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective. And our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and it is to avoid another attack against the United States. I was prepared and we did. We got authorizing from the president and authorization from the Justice Department to go forward with the program. It worked. It worked now for 13 years.” More Cheney: “We've avoided another mass casualty attack against the United States. And we did capture Bin Laden. We did capture an awful lot of the senior guys at Al Qaeda who were responsible for that attack on 9/11. I'd do it again in a minute.”
The biggest difference between Cruz and Warren
Cruz’s actions have helped the other party: On Friday, we compared Elizabeth Warren to Ted Cruz -- after Warren had rallied many House Republicans (though ultimately not enough) to oppose the $1.1 trillion spending bill. But there is one BIG difference between the two: Warren’s activism hasn’t put her party at a disadvantage the way Cruz’s has. After Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) tried to re-litigate President Obama’s executive action on immigration, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “took advantage of their protest, using the rare Saturday session to advance Obama’s nominees in the confirmation process,” the Washington Post writes. “Beginning Monday, Reid plans to set in motion votes for Vivek Murthy to serve as surgeon general, Daniel Santos to take a seat on the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and Frank Rose to serve as an assistant secretary of state. Then, Reid will set up votes for Antony Blinken to serve as a deputy secretary of state and Sarah Saldaña to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.” Bottom line: Cruz’s actions have only helped in getting votes on some of Obama’s controversial nominations.
How not to win friends and influence people
What was especially striking were the statements fellow GOP senators made criticizing Cruz’s move. Here was Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) calling it “irresponsible”: "While the president's executive actions on immigration are reprehensible and deserve a strong response, I value the oath I took to support and defend the Constitution too much to exploit it for political expediency,” Corker said. “The Constitution gives Congress the power to fund the government so to assert that the House-passed spending bill is unconstitutional is not only inaccurate but irresponsible." Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted: “I haven’t seen Harry Reid smile like this in years. I don’t like it one bit.” Yes, Cruz’s politics help him with one slice of the Republican Party (his action got him 22 GOP votes). But it doesn’t him with the other slices.
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