While the GOP lead Congress rumbles forward set on passing meaningless bills which the leadership contends will appeal to “its base”, a quiet intrigue is developing on the 2016 GOP Presidential hopeful stage. What is going on?
GOP 2016 prospects bounce between “no way Jose” to “it just might be possible to win” depending upon the likely nominee. The going assumption is that Hillary Clinton will become the Democrat standard bearer and the presumptive Presidential winner, “if”…
If the GOP runs a 2012-like nominating process and builds a platform with 2012 features, Hillary will win easily. Cooler GOP heads are determined to not let this happen. Witness the 2014 midterms where GOP leaders committed to constraint over divisive issues leading up to the 2014 midterms. And the GOP was rewarded with sweeping wins.
But who does this suggest will get the 2016 GOP nod?
Rick Santorum would love the chance. Marco Rubio sees Pennsylvania Avenue in his future. Rand Paul thinks his chances are more than even. Mike Huckabee sees no downside, if he gets the nomination great, if he doesn’t he will have increased the value of his TV image. Ted Cruz… hmmm… lets get real. Paul Ryan who could be a serious challenger will have to run away from his infamous budget and his numerous incorrect negative predictions on the nation’s economic future… Ryan may be doable but he is not in the best position for a GOP candidate.
Behind the sense intrigue may be why Jeb Bush has gotten so much national attention since he began to act like a candidate. Jeb has a very conservative track record and would appeal to the conservative side of the GOP. He also has a number of thoughtful moderate (read logical) positions. Immigration and education policy are most often mentioned as Bush’s appeal to America’s middle. More recently Jeb Bush has also broken from the past with his public statements on gays. Just another step that makes him appear seasoned and capable of governing all Americans.
Hillary, on the other hand, is a centrist who should appeal to women, immigrants, gays, and center/center left voters. (Extreme progressives are unlikely to have a candidate this year they like, and will be put in the position of needing to select the lesser of two evils.)
So if one was a GOP strategist, the 2016 election game is destined to be played in the political middle. The GOP will need to paint Hillary as far more liberal than she is and as such a threat to a rational middle ground. If the GOP can keep its dysfunctional, bible thumping, pro-life, and anti-science right wing quiet, the GOP will have a solid basis to elect the next President. Hence, it will be Bush and not the other six.
But wait, what about there last standard bearer, Mitt Romney, who rightly saw the largest international threat as Russia, not the Middle East, and who came close to winning in 2012 after having run one of the most hypocritical primary campaigns?
Romney, however, has on many occasions said he would not run a third time. And he may not run in 2016 either. The reality is for all the candidates that the financial train wants to leave the station and “big money” is looking for a candidate who is dependable and can win. It may no longer be feasible for Romney to demure.
There still will be a primary process and anyone could still emerge form this process. Odds, however, are tilted towards “big money’s” choice. The GOP has seen what happens when its “grass roots” has it chance to shine.
GOP leadership will do their utmost to keep primary debate around national security and economic growth with moderate social issues as bookends. A Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio just do not bring much to that type of platform. Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney do.
Accordingly, Mitt has found it necessary to abandon the strategy of waiting for a divided GOP to come and ask him to run. He has instead met with a host of big money donors and expressed interest in a third nomination.
There is no intrigue that Romney’s timing is deliberate and selected to keep big money from jumping on Jeb Bush’s wagon. The intrigue is why now is Romney considering a run after having repeatedly rejected the notion? Are back room sources encouraging him, or are they trying to block Jeb Bush?
In 2012, a lot of Republicans reluctantly supported Romney and feared he was a moderate masquerading as a conservative. Romney’s 2012 positions just may feel a little more comfortable than some of Jeb Bush’s. And Jeb’s brother former President George W Bush is not the party’s favorite.
Romney has running for President experience under his belt. This could be seen as a big plus. So maybe big money is just looking for other options than Bush.
My guess is that in the cold light of reason, there is not much difference between Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. There are a lot of differences between them and the other six. The GOP leaders recognize that defeating Hillary will require a disciplined campaign, vigorously conducted where fear is likely to determine how the publics votes.
If the GOP can create enough fear over “who Hillary really is” and comfort around the GOP selection, they see an elephant in the White House come 2017. Hmmm.