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Why Hillary Clinton Needs Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush viewed as less of a change candidate than Hillary Clinton, and that's why Bush winning the nomination would be good for Clinton's prospects.
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Why Hillary needs Jeb: He’s viewed as less of a change candidate than Clinton is, per our new NBC/WSJ poll… Majorities of GOP voters opposed to Common Core, immigration reform… Walker and Rubio: The GOP candidates with room to grow in the NBC/WSJ poll… Hillary’s almost-universal support among Democrats… GOP’s letter to Iran blows up into a big political fight… Why it’s surprising that Rand Paul signed the letter… Obama issues statement hitting the right-to-work bill Walker signed into law… And Hillary doesn’t need to just answer questions; she needs to take action.

Why Hillary needs Jeb: Our new NBC/WSJ poll is the latest evidence to show that the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email isn’t going to keep her from winning the Democratic nomination. A whopping 86% of potential Democratic primary voters say that they could see themselves supporting her, versus just 13% who couldn’t, per poll that was conducted during the time the story began to grab headlines. Her overall fav/unfav hasn’t changed, either -- 44% positive, 36% negative, compared with 45%-37% in January. But if there’s a vulnerability for Clinton in our new poll, it’s this: The country is clamoring for “change” in 2016, even more so than it was in 2008. In the poll, 59% prefer a candidate who will bring greater changes to current policies, even if he or she is less experienced and tested. That’s up from the 55% who said this in July 2008 during the general-election contest between Barack Obama and John McCain. Given this desire for change, you can make the case why Hillary wants to run against -- and maybe even needs to face -- Jeb Bush.

Jeb’s viewed as less of a change candidate than Clinton is: The reason: Jeb is viewed as less of a change candidate than Clinton is, especially within his/her own party. Per the poll, 60% of all registered voters (including 42% of Republican voters) say that Bush represents a return to the policies of the past, versus 27% (and 49% of GOP voters) who say he will provide new ideas and a vision for the future. By comparison, 51% of all voters (but just 24% of Democrats) think Clinton represents a return to the policies of the past, and 44% (including 73% of Democrats) say she’ll provide new ideas for the future. What’s more, in a contest reduced to the popularity of last names, the Clintons are going to win: Bill Clinton has a 56%-26% fav/unfav in the NBC/WSJ poll, versus 35%-39% for Jeb’s brother, former President George W. Bush. Bottom line: Both Hillary and Jeb have a problem -- this is a change election, and neither are really viewed as “change” candidates. But one is seen as representing LESS change than the other. We know that the Clinton folks view Jeb as their strongest opponent. But is that right from this poll?

Majorities of GOP voters opposed to Common Core, immigration reform: Meanwhile, being viewed as less of a change candidate isn’t Jeb’s only problem in the survey. He also finds himself swimming upstream on the issues of Common Core and immigration reform. In the poll, 52% of potential GOP primary voters unfavorably view a candidate who supports the Common Core education standards – as Bush does. And 62% of them are opposed to a candidate who supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. (On the early campaign trail, Bush says he backs a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, but has supported citizenship in the past.) What’s more here, a plurality of Republican primary voters -- 46% -- say that a candidate coming closest to their views on the issues is more important than being the best chance to defeat the Democratic nominee (19%) or having the right personal style and leadership qualities (33%). You add all of those things up, and you see how big of a challenge Jeb has in winning the GOP nomination. He can DEFINITELY win it, but it’s going to have to be a hard slog.

Walker and Rubio: The GOP candidates with room to grow: with Instead of a trial heat as most other polls do, our NBC/WSJ asked GOP voters a simple question: Could you see yourself supporting this candidate or not? The results:

Scott Walker 53%-17% (+36)

Marco Rubio 56%-26% (+30)

Ben Carson 41%-18% (+23)

Mike Huckabee 52%-40% (+12)

Bobby Jindal 36%-25% (+11)

Rand Paul 49%-40% (+9)

Jeb Bush 49%-42% (+7)

Rick Perry 45%-40% (+5)

Ted Cruz 40%-38% (+2)

Rick Santorum 40%-40% (even)

Carly Fiorina 18%-25% (-7)

Chris Christie 32%-57% (-25)

Lindsey Graham 20%-51% (-31)

Donald Trump 23%-74% (-51)

But Walker and Rubio aren’t the only “winners” here on the GOP side; Huckabee is too. He’s the “Rodney Dangerfield” in the GOP race.

Hillary’s almost-universal support among Democrats: As for the Democratic race using the same scale, here are the numbers:

Hillary Clinton 86%-13% (+73)

Elizabeth Warren 51%-17% (+34)

Joe Biden 54%-40% (+14)

Bernie Sanders 21%-21% (even)

Jim Webb 15%-24% (-9)

Martin O’Malley 11%-20% (-9)

The bad news for Biden here, if he somehow runs: He’s pretty defined and doesn’t have a lot of upside. The good news for him: His numbers are better than Jeb’s.

GOP’s letter to Iran blows up into big political fight: Yesterday, we wrote about that letter 47 GOP senators sent to Iran’s leaders, warning that it could undo any nuclear agreement that foreign country reaches with the United States (along with Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia). Well, this story has now exploded. Vice President Biden fired back: “The letter sent on March 9th by forty-seven Republican Senators to the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressly designed to undercut a sitting President in the midst of sensitive international negotiations, is beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.” Sen. Tom Cotton, who organized the letter, responded to Biden on “Morning Joe.” And now the liberal-leaning New York Daily News has this headline on the GOP letter: “TRAITORS.” But here’s what we don’t understand: Why do Republicans want to own scuttling the talks? Sure, you can agree or disagree on the merits. But why work to be the side that blows up the diplomatic talks? The GOP could be as effective in criticizing the deal (and have more Democrats on their side) after the negotiations.

It’s surprising that Paul signed the letter: By the way, all three GOP Senate presidentials -- Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul -- signed the Cotton-led letter. And upon reflection, it’s shocking to see Paul signing such a letter, because it runs counter to his political identity of someone who ISN’T a GOP hawk. But as we wrote yesterday, when you’re supposed to be an unconventional candidate -- but when you do CONVENTIONAL things -- it hurts your image. In our eyes, Paul hasn’t quite figured out how to run in the Age of ISIS. He knows being tagged as an isolationist makes it unlikely to win the GOP nomination. So he’s trying to appease the hawks. But it all looks haphazard.

Obama issues statement hitting the right-to-work bill Walker signed into law: Speaking of the presidentials, guess who President Obama elevated late last night: Scott Walker. The White House released this statement from the president, “I’m deeply disappointed that a new anti-worker law in Wisconsin will weaken, rather than strengthen workers in the new economy. Wisconsin is a state built by labor, with a proud pro-worker past. So even as its governor claims victory over working Americans, I’d encourage him to try and score a victory for working Americans – by taking meaningful action to raise their wages and offer them the security of paid leave. That’s how you give hardworking middle-class families a fair shot in the new economy – not by stripping their rights in the workplace, but by offering them all the tools they need to get ahead.”

Hillary doesn’t need to just answer questions; she needs to take action: Lastly, Hillary today is expected to take questions on her controversial use of personal emails. But Hillary needs to do something more than answer questions; she needs to take action (like give the State Department full control over her email server). No matter what she says, she’s not going to please Republicans and many members of the political press corps. But WHO she needs to satisfy are Democrats -- and give them something they can use. And action could go a long way on that front.

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