The 2014 midterm elections were long expected to go well for Republicans. What was surprising was just how good a night the GOP wound up having, and that is in large part due to the extraordinary success of Chris Christie and the RGA. Long thought to be the Democrats’ silver lining in 2014, the governors races ended up delivering a succession of crippling blows to the President’s party. Holding key states like Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida, while adding blue states like Massachusetts, Maryland, and Illinois, was the unexpected highlight of the election and the crowning achievement of Christie’s record-breaking tenure as RGA chairman. This accomplishment has rightly put Christie back in the frontrunner’s position for 2016.
Naturally, his return to the top has angered some on the far right, as well as some Bush loyalists in the establishment. But despite the naysayers, Christie is still better positioned and better suited to be the party’s standard bearer in 2016 than anyone else. This is due not only to Christie’s strengths, but also the profound weakness of his competition. Here are a few reasons why the 2016 field doesn’t stand much of a chance against the New Jersey governor:
1. Bush Baggage – The notion of Jeb Bush as a frontrunner has been a perplexing one for me. True, his family connections and donor base will give him a early jump on some of the new faces looking at the race, but other than that what does a third Bush run offer? The former Florida governor has been out of office for over a decade, a lifetime in politics. He champions a number of policies despised by the conservative base and attempts to sell these positions with a stage presence and style that would make Al Gore seem exciting. Worst of all, after painstakingly moving the party out of the shadow of George W. Bush, brother Jeb would pull us right back in. In a field of candidates unburdened by votes for the Iraq War or a bailout for the financial industry, Jeb Bush will be made to defend both. He is uniquely positioned to be the only Republican still carrying those albatrosses around his neck. Add that to the fact that the Democrats are relying on a dynastic relic of their own for 2016, and it all seems incredibly stupid for the GOP to do the same. Why would we want to create a contrast between the Clinton economy of the 1990’s and the Bush economic collapse of 2008? Why hinder ourselves with the burden of the Bush family when we can finally run a new generation candidate in a change election? Without question, Jeb Bush is the worst possible option for 2016.
2. Empty Resumes – After two terms of Barack Obama and years of complaining from the GOP faithful about how unqualified and unprepared this half-term senator was for the job, the conservative base seems eager to offer up even less qualified candidates of their own. Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio all have resumes even weaker and devoid of accomplishments than Sen. Obama offered in 2008. While some would argue that Rubio doesn’t belong in this group due to his short time in the Florida legislature, I would argue his flip-flop on immigration reform (a bill he helped write) has damaged his credibility even more so than his unqualified fellow senators. If these three were not unfit enough, conservatives are also pushing Dr. Ben Carson, a man with no political or governing experience whatsoever. None. Zip. Zilch. The shocking lack of qualifications among this group would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic.
3. Untested Governors – The common refrain among Republicans is that the 2016 field is so deep and talented. This notion seems to stem from the accomplished crop of governors that the party has cultivated. At first glance this seems to be the case, but upon further review, this group of big talents appears to be a collection of paper tigers. Take Rick Perry, the outgoing governor of Texas, who humiliated himself in the last presidential race despite his state’s good economic record. There is Bobby Jindal, often cited as a big thinker, who has also made himself a punch-line on the national stage when he wasn’t busy being the South’s most unpopular Republican. Even Mary Landrieu, the about-to-be-ousted senior senator from Louisiana boasts a high approval rating. Gov. Mike Pence checks a lot of boxes for the GOP, but he has a stunning lack of accomplishment for someone who has been in office as long as he has. Compare his record as governor to his predecessor and you will quickly see that Pence is as big a do-nothing governor as he was a do-nothing congressman. He also has no real experience dealing with the opposition, a gaping hole in the resume shared by Perry and Jindal.
4. Retreads – The rest of the field of pretenders is full of candidates who have run and lost before, and in some cases multiple times. Rick Santorum is planning to run again, despite having spent the last 15 years losing elections and saying embarrassing, bigoted nonsense every time he’s on television. Mike Huckabee, a moderately successful television and radio entertainer, is pondering another run to be President of Iowa, but like his previous campaign proved, he has little appeal outside the tiny, caucus electorate. Mitt Romney has seen a bit of a comeback in the media, almost entirely due to the failures of the man who soundly defeated him. While he would have a few “I told you so” points to make in another race with Obama, he has no real appeal in a race against anyone else. Paul Ryan could be considered the “next-in-line” candidate due to his role as Romney’s defeated running mate, but he faces the same daunting realities that plagued other defeated VP nominees. Add in the fact that no member of the House has won the presidency in over a century and his path becomes even more unrealistic.
5. Real competitors – For all the problems the field has, there are a few bright spots who could lead to real challenges for Christie. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio can claim to be just as tested and even more accomplished than the New Jersey governor. True, only Christie has a powerful Democratic legislature to deal with, but Kasich and Walker faced fierce opposition from labor unions, and came out winners. While neither can command a stage or a late night show with Christie’s charisma, their mid-western charms may be compelling to voters in search of candidates to relate to. Most importantly, both men have shown they can win in purple states, which is one of Christie’s biggest assets. Both men have a long way to go to be able to stand toe-to-toe with the New Jersey governor, but they have a better shot than anyone else considering a run.
When you really examine this “deep bench” you begin to see that it doesn’t live up to the hype. Gov. Christie became a national star for a reason; he possesses the intangibles and talent that often accompany successful politicians. He can masterfully play both wrecking ball and common man, someone who can both feel your anger and your pain. He has accomplished a lot in a state long bereft of leadership, and with a mountain of problems thirty years in the making. He showed real leadership during a natural disaster that tore through his state. He demonstrated a level of accountability unseen on the presidential level in years during his marathon Bridgegate press conference. He has withstood a full-court assault from the media in an attempt to destroy his 2016 prospects. Through it all he has shown a remarkable resiliency, even more amazing considering just how blue his home state is. Some will nitpick about New Jersey’s economic numbers, or they’ll attempt to hype non-scandals, but these efforts will likely fail, just as they did when they were used to attack Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.
Gov. Chris Christie is the best chance the GOP has at defeating Hillary Clinton and taking back the White House, and it will take an extraordinary effort by someone far less talented to change that reality.
It looks like John Kasich and Scott Walker had a bit of a set-to at the RGA, with Kasich coming out on top (if this article can be relied upon).
Kasich drew upon his deeper experience in Washington, which will be an asset if he decides to run.
The occasion was a panel discussion at the RGA meeting in Florida featuring five possible presidential contenders – Kasich, Walker, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Mike Pence.
Read the article, it’s not that long, but it will provide plenty of fodder for everyone’s viewpoints in the comments.
The Republican National Committee recently began an on-line straw poll asking its members which candidate they would like to see. The respondents are to circle any three. The list includes:
Write-in votes are allowed.
The results have not been published anywhere that I’ve seen, and I don’t particularly wish to sign up just so they can get my email address to spam me. However, if you are inclined to participate, here is the link.
Things just keep getting worse and worse for Mary Landrieu. Not only have the national Democratic party pulled their financial support for her December runoff election against Bill Cassidy, prominent national Democrats are avoiding her like the plague. Not one potential 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate has stuck their neck out for her.
Hillary Clinton is nowhere to be seen. Who can blame her? She does not want another loss tacked onto her long list of midterm losses. Elizabeth Warren, who expressed support for Mary during the general election, has been strangely silent since then. The only Democrat of national stature who has tossed her any sort of a bone is Harry Reid. He is allowing a bill supporting the Keystone XL pipeline to come up for a vote in the Senate at long last. It is an entirely meaningless gesture though. President Obama has promised to veto it.
Meanwhile her opponent, Bill Cassidy, is enjoying support from several potential 2016 GOP Presidential hopefuls eager to be associated with a winner. Rand Paul has stopped by. Ted Cruz has sent an email endorsing him. Marco Rubio has pledged to help. And of course Bobby Jindal is supporting him, as well.
Sarah Palin is not expected to run yet enjoys a fair amount of clout. She stopped by yesterday to stump for him. Even Mitt Romney can claim a small part in Cassidy’s victory since Mitt flew into Louisiana last month to stump and raise money for Bill.
“One is the loneliest number.”
Since some of the other posters from R4’12 seem to be returning (great to see you, Matt and Mark), I thought I might do the same. A good place to start might be with a very preliminary assessment of the field that is shaping up. In order to do that fairly, however, I think I need to first position myself, so that you know from what perspective I’m coming (or, if you prefer, what my biases are).
In the run-up to ’12, I was an ardent Mitch Daniels supporter. After Daniels withdrew, I never really settled on another candidate, though I tried to get hyped up about several, most notably Tim Pawlenty; hell, I even gave Jon Huntsman a look (and then quickly backed away). Eventually, of course, it became obvious that Romney would get the nomination, but I couldn’t work up enthusiasm about him, either, since I was fairly certain he’d lose (admission: there was a point in October where I came around to thinking he might pull it out – wrong again!). However, I was out of the country by then and unable to do anything other than go to the nearest consulate and vote for him).
Which brings us to 2016. I would still support Daniels in a heartbeat, but he seems perfectly happy at Purdue, and getting him to change his mind about subjecting his family to the ugliness that American politics has become is about as likely as the Romney and Palin supporters of R4’12 organizing a ‘Draft Bob Hovic’ movement.
So I’ll have to find someone who can fill the same slot – reformist, executive experience, competence, able to relate to ordinary people, fiscally conservative, socially conservative, and defense-minded.
On those last three points let me add this: our party (and any party that is going to be more than a splinter movement – I’m looking at you, Libertarians) is a coalition. Any candidate that is going to unite a coalition must be acceptable to all major factions. Not that s/he is the favorite of all of them (or any of them). But s/he must not be obnoxious to any of them.
Matt Coulter listed a number of subgroups in his recent (excellent) post, but I’ll be old-fashioned and go with the old ficons, socons, and defcons. The Republican nominee need not be a hard-core deficit hawk, but must not go far in the opposite direction; need not be a culture warrior but must not be pro-choice (or even weakly pro-life); need not be an interventionist, but must not be isolationist. Which means the candidate must be able to thread needles quite nicely.
Oh – and one more qualification: I refuse to support anyone who can’t win.
For an early choice I’m leaning toward Scott Walker. Walker is identified primarily with fiscal and reform issues (especially reining in public employee unions), but his social policy credentials are sufficient that I think my most ardently socon friends would find no problem accepting him (part of why I think this is because he is well to my right on social issues). I know nothing about his defense views (having held only local and state offices, he has not had occasion to take positions on defense). I’ll look forward to seeing what he has to say about defense and foreign policy.
He also comes from a solidly middle-class background (mom a bookkeeper, dad a Baptist minister) and can relate to the suburban and blue-collar people Republicans must get in order to win. He has that Midwestern Nice thing going for him (though it did nothing for Tim Pawlenty). Coupled with his inoffensive (some say ‘bland’ and/or ‘boring’) manner, he (like Daniels) seems able to take strong positions without being offensive to middle-of-the-roaders.
My early second choice is Bobby Jindal, who shares many of Walker’s qualities – a proven record of reform at the state level (including a successful school voucher program), plus strong ficon and socon credibility. In addition, his grasp of policy is legendary, and to be blunt, his skin color is a positive. As with Walker, I know nothing of his defense views, and I’ll be waiting to learn more.
On the negative side, I have a perception of Jindal as being very outspoken on social issues – to the point that it might create problems for him with social moderates (whether or not strongly-held socon positions are a big political negative in a national race is, in my opinion, dependent on words and tone more than the positions themselves). This is just a perception, I admit, and only time will tell. I also think a Midwesterner would be a better choice than a Southerner.
It’s no accident that my two main choices are both governors. I strongly prefer governors for two reasons: 1) If Obama has proven anything, it is that executive experience matters greatly; and 2) I think the anti-Washington mood will continue into 2016, and these two will have little difficulty painting Hillary as an ‘insider’ and contrasting her to themselves.
These are the two I’m most interested in at this point. There’s a long way to go, obviously (at this point last time, Mark Sanford headed my list – but I’d rather not discuss that, thank you), so I retain my option to change at any time.
As for the others, just a few words on why I choose not (for now) to back them.
Mitt Romney – Obviously meets my executive experience criterion, in spades. He totally fails on appealing to blue-collar types and is past his sell-by date. In any case, I’m inclined to think, for now, that he isn’t running.
Mike Huckabee – Another governor who can sell socon positions with a smile, though I think he is so closely identified with social issues that he comes across as a one-issue candidate. His Arkansas record makes ficons like me uneasy, to put it mildly. I can’t support him for that reason, and I think he will have problems with a big enough bloc of Republicans that he’ll be stymied.
Rand Paul – Certainly a better salesman for libertarianism than his father, though that isn’t saying much. (As a libertarian myself, I prayed nightly for Ron Paul to just go away). Unless he starts quickly to moderate his foreign policy views, however, I think he has zero chance of getting the nomination. Also – no executive experience.
Jeb Bush – If only he had a different last name. By all accounts an excellent governor, but … well, let’s put it this way: We have an opportunity to run against a hard-core insider and we are contemplating nominating a Bush? Really?
Marco Rubio – No executive experience. Shot himself in the foot on comprehensive immigration reform, but probably backed away sufficiently that it will be forgiven/forgotten. Probably hasn’t been in Washington long enough to be perceived as being one of them. My problem with him is that I see no reason to support him other than his ethnicity. (We do owe him thanks for ridding the party of Charlie Crist).
Ted Cruz – Another short-term Senator. In addition to having no executive background, the guy is a loose cannon. Heaven only knows what he’d spout on the campaign trail.
Rick Perry — We’ll see if he learned anything from 2012. If he did, he might be worth giving attention to (though I think he’s damaged goods). If he didn’t, we won’t have to wait long for him to be gone.
Chris Christie – “Shut up and sit down!” might go over big in NY/NJ, but it will get real old real fast in the rest of the country. The guy just lacks the temperament for a long national campaign. I’ll never forgive him for embracing Obama right before election day – that finished the guy for me.
Paul Ryan – A ficon’s wet dream and one of my ABR options late in the 2012 primary season. On sober reflection, I don’t think a Representative can do it – though he has the advantage of having run a national campaign (losing, but still …). My objection is no executive experience, but I certainly wouldn’t be upset if he were the nominee.
Rick Santorum – He apparently hasn’t figured out that the only reason he did so well in ’12 is that he was the final ABR. If Huckabee gets in, Santorum will be eliminated in Ames, otherwise he might make it to New Hampshire.
Ben Carson – Okay, I’m scraping bottom now. Time to quit.
With the midterm elections in the rearview mirror and the Republican Party celebrating greater-than-expected gains across the board (Senate, House, and Gubernatorial races, as well as state houses), the electoral attention of politicos nationwide has now snapped to 2016 and the greatest prize of all: the presidency.
Specifically, who will run? Because of several factors coming to a head at the same time, we anticipate this being one of the largest Republican fields in history. The more interesting question might be: who will decide not to run?
This is where things get incredibly interesting for the Republicans. We are aware of a schism within the Democratic Party between the DLC’ers and the liberal wing of the party (and we will explore that schism, and what it means for their primaries, in a future piece). But we are now seeing a similar schism becoming more well-defined than ever in the Republican Party as well.
The Reagan Coalition which propelled the Gipper to massive victories in the 1980s (and which provided George W. Bush with two narrower victories in the 2000s) – fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and foreign policy hawks — has fractured and faded, despite the dreams of well-meaning conservatives to the contrary. Replacing the now-tired three-legged-stool analogy is a much more greatly splintered party: neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, Paulite libertarians, soft libertarians, the Tea Party, social/religious conservatives, secular moderates, and on and on.
The galvanizing effect of the Obama presidency along with the local nature of midterm elections allowed those various factions to sweep Republicans to victory last Tuesday; however, with the national race for the presidency the factions will almost certainly turn on one another in an attempt to get “their guy” (or girl) into the White House.
Truthfully, though, the chasms of difference between the groups is largely overstated. The true schism in the Republican Party is a much simpler one, and is familiar to armchair pundits: the “establishment” versus the “conservatives.” Nearly every faction of the Republican Party can be placed (sometimes with a little force) into one of those two camps. True, this divide has always existed at some level, but never in the forefront like it’s about to, and never with the practical ramifications it will have for the 2016 race.
On This Side of the Ring…
On the grassroots/conservatives side you have candidates like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Ben Carson (who has said the “likelihood is strong” that he will run, and who is airing what could be considered 2016’s first campaign ads this weekend). On the establishment side, to counter their firebrand version of conservatism, is… well, that is the $25,000 question.
Two big names loom large over the establishment, with a third now gaining traction as well, thanks to the midterm results: Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Scott Walker. The big question for 2016 is this: will Jeb run? He’s given a personal deadline of the end of 2014 to make that decision (not to announce it, but to make it), and that decision will set off a domino effect of sorts which may determine how the 2016 Republican primary plays out.
First, let’s face the facts: none of the candidates on the other side of the equation stand a legitimate chance of winning the nomination. If you support one of these candidates, you are, of course, free to argue and fight against that assertion, but history is not kind to those types of candidates. That does not mean one or two folks out of the Paul/Cruz/Perry/Carson/Santorum group will not win a few primaries, be vocal, and drive some of the agenda during the primary fight. They certainly will do all of the above. But ultimately, they will not be the GOP nominee. How can I say this with such certainty? Two reasons: money and organization (we will explore both of those aspects in a later piece as well).
The establishment, for all its negative stereotypes (milquetoast, squishy, moderate), prevails during GOP primaries election after election after election because they are smarter about how they go about the process. This is the domino effect I spoke of earlier. The establishment is made up of the money men and women of the Republican party as well as the top tier of the campaign staff talent pool. To say the establishment is monolithic would obviously be overstating things; however, they do tend to recognize electoral reality a tad better than the conservative wing of the party.
Here’s what I mean by that: the conservative wing will run as many candidates as they can. All of the candidates mentioned earlier (Paul, Cruz, Perry, Santorum, Carson) will almost certainly run. Other candidates who appeal to the Tea Party, libertarian, or non-interventionist wings of the party will jump in as well. They all believe the splinter of the Republican Party they represent would best represent the American people (or at least best benefit them) in the White House. Meanwhile, the establishment is hanging back, planning and calculating. If Jeb Bush decides to run, they will throw their massive weight behind him. If he doesn’t run, Scott Walker may well be an attractive alternative for their support. Winning three gubernatorial elections in four years in a blue state has a tendency to make everyone sit up and take notice; only Walker’s vanilla personality and extreme stance on abortion might keep the establishment from fully embracing him. If neither of those men choose to run, then the door is flung wide open: Mike Pence, Bobby Jindal, or John Kasich may choose to jump in the race. Or, difficult as it is to believe, Mitt Romney may attempt a third try to win the Oval Office.
Strategy and Collaboration
The establishment of the Republican Party is well aware of this dynamic, and all the money people and staff and campaign talent are talking through 2016 strategy already. This is the benefit the establishment has, for better or worse, over the grassroots/conservative side of the campaign. Where the grassroots splinter among many different choices (think Santorum/Gingrich/Perry/Cain/Bachmann in 2012), the establishment are more determined than ever to win back the presidency in 2016. Their collaboration and strategizing is with the intent to make that happen.
Many in the establishment are urging Romney to run again. Of course, his former advisors and campaign staff are largely behind the push, but the idea garners more support within GOP circles than one might think at first pass. On the record, Romney says no, over and over again — but then notes that circumstances could change. Those circumstances that Romney is watching, according to those inside the proverbial smoke-filled room, all center around who else is running and who else is winning.
If Jeb Bush (and perhaps, to a lesser extent, Scott Walker) decide not to run, or if a candidate on the other side of the equation actually looks like they stand a chance of winning, then, say those with inside information, Romney will likely jump in and run for a third time. Romney has had several meetings with the big-name donors and talent already, and has remarked to them that he is deeply concerned with the possibility of the GOP being represented and defined on a national level by “ideological hardliners” and foreign policy “non-interventionists.” These concerns are shared by the establishment players and will drive them to Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, or Mitt Romney in droves during the primary (or, absent those three, Kasich, Pence, or Jindal).
The one name that hasn’t been mentioned yet is the final piece of the 2016 puzzle: Chris Christie. He is the 900 pound gorilla in the room (no pun intended), because he does not align himself with either side of the schism. He is the wildcard in the 2016 race because he is primarily only concerned with one thing: Chris Christie. He will almost undoubtedly throw his hat in the ring, and when he does, it will be fascinating to see how things shake out. His moderate-to-liberal policy positions align more with the establishment wing of the party, but his blunt demeanor plays better with the grassroots. On the surface, one would expect him to therefore be the perfect candidate to unite the two sides and win the GOP nomination, but the exact opposite is more likely.
Chris Christie has alienated a large portion of the establishment thanks to his actions in the 2012 and 2014 elections. There is certainly no love lost between Mitt Romney and Chris Christie because of the way Christie acted during the VP vetting process (arrogant, above the rules) and the way he acted days before the 2012 general election (embracing President Obama). The relationship between Romney and Christie is cold at best, which is a problem for Christie because most of the establishment are firmly aligned with Mitt. Further exacerbating the issue is Scott Walker’s similar coldness toward the New Jersey Governor. While Christie is being rightly praised for the wins of GOP gubernatorial candidates across the country last Tuesday, Scott Walker publicly feuded with Christie over RGA support in the days leading up to the midterm election, separating himself from Christie and making sure the Wisconsin voters knew he stood on his own and didn’t need Christie. Finally, the relationship between the Jeb Bush camp and Chris Christie is cold as well, stemming from the attacks on not only Jeb Bush but the entire Bush dynasty by Chris Christie aides and supporters earlier this year. Christie has managed to alienate the backers and supporters of the three biggest establishment players, and in so doing has lost his most natural path to the nomination.
The even bigger problem for Christie with the establishment, though, comes in closed-door comments that have been leaked to the press: nobody in the establishment think Christie is capable of winning the election. Coupled with an already cold relationship, that spells doom for Christie among the establishment.
As far as the other side of the schism goes, Christie faces struggles there as well. The fondness the grassroots feels for Christie because of his demeanor and blunt opposition to unions stands to dissipate quickly once they, those of the ideological purity camp, discover Christie’s liberal stances on issues such as illegal immigration (including in state tuition), gun control, and Obamacare. Poll after poll is already showing the conservative wing of the party overwhelmingly rejecting a Christie candidacy. They view him as establishment, and the establishment doesn’t want him either. He is the homeless wildcard.
The Stage is Set
And so the race for 2016 begins. The board has been unfolded. One side is rushing to fill it with pieces and the other side is patiently observing, nervously hoping they can find a winning piece to place on the board. Meanwhile, across the aisle the Democrats are gearing up for their own race — and while it does not appear to contain any of the drama of the GOP race on the surface, there is plenty going on which stands to make it just as interesting, as we will see in the second installment of this series.
- Bobby Jindal (R) 45.0%
- Hillary Clinton (D) 40.4%
- Undecided 14.6%
Please tell me whether you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Bobby Jindal.
- Favorable 45.0%
- Unfavorable 46.7%
Do you approve or disapprove of the job Bobby Jindal is doing as governor?
- Approve 46.7%
- Disapprove 48.5%
Survey of 600 registered voters was conducted March 24-26, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 4.1 percentage points. Party registration: 48% Democrat; 36% Republican; 12% Independent; 4% Other. Political ideology: 51% Conservative; 30% Moderate; 13% Liberal.
-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal
1. Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
Gov. Chris Christie is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination based on everything we know about past nominating trends. He has tremendous establishment support, mega donors already committed to him should he run after having nearly convinced him to jump into the 2012 race, and favorable/unfavorable ratings that would be the envy of every other candidate, including Hillary Clinton. The governor is the most popular Republican in America, and after an easy reelection and a tour as RGA chairman, he will be poised to enter the race with a national base of support and poll numbers that will make even the Clinton machine nervous.
2. Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator from Florida
Despite the setback immigration reform has become for the Florida senator among the conservative base, Marco Rubio is still well positioned to be the party’s standard bearer in 2016. He has picked up tremendous backing in establishment circles for going all-in on immigration, and the donor community will reward his risk. He also remains one of the most gifted speakers in politics and once he’s back on the stump many will remember why they liked him so much the first time around.
3. Rand Paul, U.S. Senator from Kentucky
The junior senator from Kentucky has quickly establishment himself in the early states as the Tea Party candidate, building off of his father’s network of supporters and benefiting from their takeover of a number of local and state GOP parties. Paul has worked to distance himself from his father’s more extreme elements, but he still has some work to do as his recent “southern avenger” staffer problem pointed out.
4. Paul Ryan, U.S. Representative from Wisconsin
If any candidate can claim “next in line” status from the 2012 election, it will be Rep. Paul Ryan, not former Sen. Rick Santorum. Ryan is still a very popular figure in conservative circles, and fears over how his budget would be portrayed never really panned out. Ryan would have the advantage of having been in a national campaign before and would likely have access to Mitt Romney’s formidable donor base.
5. Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida
The scion of the Bush dynasty may finally be ready to jump into the presidential pool. Gov. Bush has been far more open to a run this time than he has the past two cycles, and with his brother’s poll numbers finally on the rise, he may take his shot to become the third President Bush. Still, Bush will find that unlike his brother, he will be unable to clear the field of opposition, and he will come across a Tea Party base more than willing to take on the Bush legacy. Jeb will need every bit of his family’s extensive network to survive the challenge.
6. Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin
The governor of Wisconsin has become a folk hero to many in the conservative base for his heroic stand against public sector unions in his state. The left’s attempt to recall Scott Walker not only backfired, but helped the governor build a national donor base that may be even larger than Chris Christie’s. Walker will have real conservative governance to run on, as well as a record of being battle-tested against the left’s best attacks.
7. Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator from Texas
The junior senator from Texas has quickly made a name for himself after taking office just a few months ago. The Harvard Law graduate and former debating champion is putting his skills to use antagonizing both the Democrats and establishment Republicans, winning plaudits from Tea Party groups and scorn from Beltway elites. Sen. Cruz has the combination of brains and toughness that could make him an ideal Tea Party insurgent in 2016.
8. Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana
The former congressman has quietly gone about his new job, replacing popular Gov. Mitch Daniels, and continuing conservative reforms in the state. While only recently elected governor, Pence has a dozen years in Congress already under his belt and several years more as a talk radio host helped mold him into an excellent communicator. He was nearly recruited to run in 2012, but chose the governorship instead. By 2016, Pence could bridge the divide between fiscal and social conservatives and become a major dark horse candidate.
9. John Kasich, Governor of Ohio
Ohio Gov. John Kasich flirted with a presidential campaign back in 1999, but was quickly overwhelmed by the daunting Bush machine. After twenty years in Congress, Kasich became governor of Ohio, and after initial troubles, has turned both his numbers and the state’s economy around. Should he win reelection in 2014, Kasich could once again look at a presidential run, this time as not only a fiscal hawk, but also the leader of the most important swing state.
10. Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana
The governor of Louisana has seen his star fade somewhat over the past few years. Originally pegged to be the GOP’s counter to Barack Obama, Gov. Jindal flopped in his national debut giving the State of the Union response. Far from being a mortal wound, the governor had plenty of time to rebound from a bad speech. However, a poorly thought out tax reform plan in his state has led to a collapse in his numbers. He still has the brains, talent, and time to rebound, and he will need to in order to launch the national campaign he clearly wants to run.
Honorable Mention: Susana Martinez, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Kelly Ayotte, Nikki Haley
A conversation featuring Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, and Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
The McCloskey Speaker Series is a longstanding summer series of wide-ranging discussions on US public affairs issues such as leadership and decision-making, the strength of the national economy and more. Featuring distinguished speakers who have far-reaching impacts on society, the series is made possible by a generous donation from the McCloskey Family Charitable Foundation.
-Hat-tip: The Argo Journal
Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has an op-ed today on Politico that essentially tells the Republican Party to stop analyzing the 2012 election and start doing…something:
Let’s stop defeating ourselves, get on offense, and go kick the other guys around. If you’ve followed the news over the past month, they are certainly asking for it. We are the conservative party in America — deal with it. We have a lot of dissenting voices. So what? Deal with it. The American public waxes and wanes. Fine. It will wax again soon enough. Deal with it, and start fighting for our principles instead of against them, so we can be in position to create the next wave.
I find this to be an odd piece of advice from the Governor. We Republicans have lost two elections in a row. Yet, the Governor feels that our Party needs to stop looking at what we have done wrong and what we need to do differently and instead get on with implementing a strategy to get back to winning.
This would be great advice, if the Republican Party had unanimity about what to do next. Instead, what we have now is a Party that is divided on strategy, tactics and policy. We can’t move forward with a policy or strategy because the people in the Party don’t agree on the path forward. On issues like immigration, foreign policy, and gay marriage, there are real, passionate opinions on both sides. These opinions can’t be swept under the rug, and in fact should be debated. Moderates, conservatives, libertarians and people who are combinations of all three are in the Republican Party and they aren’t going to agree on everything. Even if there was a unanimous opinion on policy, there are divisions between pragmatists, who think that the Party has to change with the times, and hard-liners who think that the GOP must return to Reaganite conservatism. Again, these are real, passionately held beliefs and they are not likely to give them up anytime soon in order to “move on” or “get over it”.
Governor Jindal himself has, since the November election, offered up his two cents on what the Party needs to do, often in harsh tones. He has called the GOP “the stupid party” and has said that the Party is too obsessed with fiscal issues. Of course, the Governor might want to focus a little closer to home, but I digress.
After two electoral defeats, a Republican post-mortem was inevitable. McCain’s loss could be dismissed. With the financial crisis, the deep unpopularity of the Bush Administration, and the Messianic nonsense of the Obama campaign, victory by November 2008 was virtually impossible. 2012 was different though; given the poor economy, and that the President’s signature legislative accomplishment wildly disliked, defeat was not inevitable. Republicans felt towards the end of the 2012 campaign that we had at least a decent chance of winning. That was shattered on election night. For the Party to simply ignore what happened in 2008 and 2012 would be a folly in the extreme. Governor Jindal might have a lot of good ideas, but simply moving on for the sake of moving on is not one of them.
It might be hard to believe, but in less than a year, the U.S. will already be deeply involved in another national election.
The occupant in the Oval Office will not be running this time, and if history is any guide, he will be a “lame duck” with diminishing influence.
Nor is it likely that control of the U.S. house will be at stake, considering how current reapportionment protects most incumbents, including Democrats in most of the nation’s cities, and a larger number of Republicans in most of the exurban and rural areas.
What will probably be at stake is control of the U.S. senate and a significant number of governorships across the country. In the senate races, many more Democratic incumbents are running for re-election, and are vulnerable. Republicans need to win six Democratic seats to gain control, and 10-12 now seem potentially at play. The advantage in the gubernatorial races, however, is with the Democrats. Not only are there many more GOP incumbent races, many more Republican governors (or their successor candidates if they are term-limited or retire) potentially have close races next year.
A sub-theme of these elections will also be the 2016 presidential election, like it or not. The presidential nominations for both major parties will be open that year, and likely very competitive. Nominees usually emerge from the U.S. senate and the nation’s governors, either current or former. Current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, former New York Senator Hillary Clinton, current Virginia Senator Mark Warner are among many names already seriously being circulated and promoted on the Democratic side; current Florida Senator Marco Rubio, current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and current Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal are among many names being put forward for the Republicans.
It is very, very early in the 2016 race, of course, but it is nevertheless likely that the 2014 elections will set the stage for the direction the nation will go after the two Obama administration terms.
The prospect for the duration of 2013 is for political stalemate on most issues, especially economic ones. There is a lot of scrambling for political “position” and ‘branding” going on in the nation’s capital, and an obsessive preoccupation with public relations aimed at short-term leverage and advantage, but it is not at all clear whether Obamanomics and Obamacare will work or not. Much of the “action” for some time has been in the states where conservative governors (and legislatures) have attempted to innovate and program alternative and competitive solutions to the problems facing U.S. society in the prolonged economic downturn.
Democrats are hoping that recent stock market gains correctly anticipate a rebound of the U.S. economy and predict an end to the current prolonged unemployment. Republicans continue to point out that higher taxes and continued federal deficits make the goal shared by all problematic. The next 9-12 months should reveal which side of this debate is more accurate than the other.
The 2014 national elections will therefore be only an interim decision, albeit an important one. If by 2014, the protracted economic problems persist, an impatient electorate might well signal a new and longer-term political direction.
Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.
I’m going to read you a list of names and for each one I’d like you to please tell me if you think that person would make a good president or not. If you have never heard of a person, please just say so.
- Yes 55%
- No 42%
- Yes 43%
- No 43%
- Yes 37%
- No 33%
- Yes 37%
- No 46%
- Yes 35%
- No 59%
- Yes 26%
- No 56%
- Yes 25%
- No 29%
- Yes 16%
- No 25%
- Yes 16%
- No 39%
- Yes 6%
- No 19%
- Yes 6%
- No 22%
- Yes 5%
- No 18%
Survey of 1,010 registered voters was conducted by Anderson Robbins Research (D)/Shaw & Company Research (R) February 4-6, 2013. The margin of error is ± 3 percentage points. Party ID: 39% Democrat; 35% Republican; 24% Independent/Other.
Inside the numbers:
Clinton (62 percent) and Rice (44 percent) capture more support among women voters than any of the other figures tested.
They are also the top picks among men voters: 47 percent think Clinton would make a good president and 42 percent feel that way about Rice. Ryan (40 percent), Christie (39 percent) and Biden (35 percent) are close behind among men.
Clinton is also the candidate who receives the highest level of support from his or her own party. She would be a good president in the eyes of 83 percent of self-identified Democrats, while with 62 percent support Ryan receives the most backing among self-described Republicans.
Among Democrats, Clinton is followed by Biden (60 percent), Cuomo (25 percent), Patrick (8 percent) and O’Malley (6 percent).
Among Republicans, Rice comes in second to Ryan at 54 percent. She’s followed closely by Bush at 47 percent, Christie at 43 percent and Rubio at 41 percent. Jindal is the only other Republican to receive double-digit support (24 percent).
Ryan (59 percent) and Rice (55 percent) both receive majority backing among self-described very conservative voters.
-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal
Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) is throwing down a tax reform gauntlet, proposing the complete elimination of state income and corporate taxes. Here’s more from the Times-Picayune out of New Orleans:
Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to eliminate Louisiana’s income and corporate taxes and pay for those cuts with increased sales taxes, the governor’s office confirmed Thursday. The governor’s office has not yet provided the details of the plan.
“The bottom line is that for too long, Louisiana’s workers and small businesses have suffered from having a state tax structure that is too complex and that holds back economic prosperity,” Jindal said in a statement released by his office. “It’s time to change that so people can keep more of their own money and foster an environment where businesses want to invest and create good-paying jobs.”
Jindal said the plan would be revenue-neutral and that the goal would be to keep sales taxes “aslow and flat as possible.”
The governor’s office has not yet confirmed or denied an article in The Monroe News-Star that reports eliminating the state income tax could require increasing the state sales tax from 4 percent to 7 percent.
The governor’s full statement on the tax overhaul plan:
“We are meeting with every legislator over the coming weeks to discuss the details of the tax reform plan. Our goal is to eliminate all personal income tax and all corporate income tax in a revenue neutral manner. We want to keep the sales tax as low and flat as possible.
“Eliminating personal income taxes will put more money back into the pockets of Louisiana families and will change a complex tax code into a more simple system that will make Louisiana more attractive to companies who want to invest here and create jobs.
“Tax reform will remove administrative burdens from families and small businesses and improve Louisiana’s business prospects; create more business investment opportunities with increased job growth; and raise the state’s profile in national business rankings.
“The bottom line is that for too long, Louisiana’s workers and small businesses have suffered from having a state tax structure that is too complex and that holds back economic prosperity. It’s time to change that so people can keep more of their own money and foster an environment where businesses want to invest and create good-paying jobs.”
Gov. Bobby Jindal is quickly becoming one of my favorite presidential aspirants for 2016 as he continues to attempt to find ways to diffuse the various cultural “wedge issues” that the Left has successfully used to divide the nation’s former center-right coalition that ruled the country from 1968-2008. Jindal’s issue du jour is making birth control an issue that can truly be left up to the conscience of the individual by taking insurers out of the equation:
(CNN) – The political battle earlier this year over health insurance coverage for contraception wouldn’t be repeated if women could buy birth control without a prescription, Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal wrote in an op-ed Friday.
Jindal was advocating a recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who took the stance in November that birth control pills should be sold over-the-counter in drugstores. Currently contraception pills require a prescription from a doctor, many of whom are represented by the ACOG.
Jindal made the case Friday in the Wall Street Journal that such a shift in policy would eliminate the political back-and-forth over contraception policy, which divided many Americans in early last year.
“As a conservative Republican, I believe that we have been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health-care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control. It’s a disingenuous political argument they make,” Jindal wrote.
This is a brilliant maneuver, in my view, that allows devout Roman Catholic employers to continue to abide by the teachings of the Holy See when it comes to contraception without leaving female employees sans contraception coverage, thus decreasing support for government mandates and subsidies when it comes to health care, which, of course, is the Left’s true goal. It also removes the need for the Right to maintain an official policy position on contraception other than “freedom to choose,” which puts the Right back in the position of being the party of personal liberty, and prevents the Left from suggesting that conservatives are simply using the contraception issue as a back door for a government takeover of individuals’ sex lives or reproductive decisions.
Finally, Jindal, as a devout Catholic himself and a favorite of social conservatives, is able to make such a suggestion without stoking fears on the Right that he himself is a progressive who is trying to use the government to encourage lower fertility rates, contraceptive use, or specific sexual lifestyles. The takeaway message is that the GOP is promoting a policy that enhances liberty, broadens consumer choice, and allows freedom of conscience for everyone, while removing burdensome regulations. That seems to be the sort of tack that Republicans will need to take on issues across the policy spectrum if they want to start rebuilding a party that seems to be on the verge of death by demographics.
As often happens after an electoral defeat, the losing side is going through a period of soul-searching. Right now a whole variety of figures on the right are proposing their own remedies and solutions to help the Republicans out of our current rut. Some are suggesting changes in policy, others in style, and others are for hunkering down. Regardless of what prescription is the way the party will go forward, I feel that any sort of trashing of the GOP brand is the absolute wrong way to go.
By trashing the brand I am referring mostly right now to Governor Bobby Jindal who is calling on the Republicans to stop being the “stupid party”. Not only is this offensive to millions of Republican voters, activists and candidates but it is also very unhelpful to both the Party and to Governor Jindal himself. Firstly, by having a Republican refer to the GOP as the “stupid party”, it is giving the media further license to do so. We Republicans can be furious at the overt bias in the media, but it does exist and we have to adapt to dealing with it. Now the media can turn to every other Republican politician and ask “do you think the Republicans are the stupid party?” or “what is it about the GOP that makes it the stupid party?” It puts other Republicans in a very awkward spot and gives the left and the media (but I repeat myself) a new cudgel to whack the Republicans in the head with.
More important than just causing headaches, the big problem with trashing the Republican brand is that the public will start to hear it and believe it. A Republican politician denouncing the Republican Party is one of the things that can get into the public consciousness. That means that the next time we present a policy, the damage done to the Republican brand by Republican politicians will make it that much harder for Republicans to persuade the public on that policy.
If this is not enough to persuade politicians to stop tarnishing the Republican brand, then one thing above all should; self-interest. After all, attacking the Republican Party is very likely to alienate Republican voters who’ll decide who leads the party in 2016. Look at Jon Huntsman’s bid in 2012. The Ambassador’s disdain for his own party was extremely self-evident during his run for the nomination and Republican voters rewarded him for it by making him place third in the one state he competed in.
So, you may ask, how do we change without going after the Republican brand? It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but a skillful politician can do it. British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Bill Clinton are two examples of politicians who changed the image of their party without directly trashing their own parties. It caused some headaches and it was definitely a bumpy road, but the Democrats in 1992 and the Conservative Party in 2010 managed to persuade enough voters that their parties had changed to propel both back into power after long droughts.
With our defeat in 2012 the Republican Party does need to do some soul-searching. It’s the healthy and right thing to do as we look towards the future. But the idea that the only way we can move forward is by telling everyone how awful Republicans are is not the way to go. All the self-loathing will do is give more ammunition to those who have no interest in helping the Republican Party.
Hat-Tip: The Argo Journal
Gov. Jindal provides his vision for a winning Republican coalition going forward:
In the aftermath of the presidential election, Republicans have been inundated with advice to moderate, equivocate, and even abandon their core principles as a necessary prerequisite for winning future elections.
That is absurd. America already has one liberal political party; there is no need for another one.
Make no mistake: Despite losing an election, conservative ideals still hold true.
Government spending still does not grow our economy. American weakness on the world stage still does not lead to peace. Higher taxes still does not create prosperity for all. And, more government still does not grow jobs.
The Republican party does have a lot of work to do. But changing our principles is not a winning strategy. We need to modernize, not moderate. Here are seven lessons Republicans should learn in order to move forward.
1. Stop looking backward. We have to boldly show what the future can look like with the free market policies that we believe in. Conservative ideals are aspirational, and our country is aspirational.
2. Compete for every single vote. The 47% and the 53%. And any other combination of numbers that adds up to 100 percent. President Barack Obama and the Democrats can continue trying to divide America into groups of warring communities with competing interests, but we will have none of it. We are going after every vote as we try to unite all Americans.
3. Reject identity politics. The old notion that ours should be a colorblind society is the right one, and we should pursue that with vigor. Identity politics is corrosive to the great American melting pot and we reject it. We will treat all people as individuals rather than as members of special interest groups.
4. Stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican party that talks like adults. It’s time for us to articulate our plans and visions for America in real terms. We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. Enough of that.
5. Stop insulting the intelligence of voters. We need to trust the smarts of the American people. We have to stop dumbing down our ideas and stop reducing everything to mindless slogans and tag lines for 30-second ads. We must be willing to provide details in describing our views.
6. Quit “big.” We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, or big anything. We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive. We are the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class. We are a populist party and need to make that clear.
7. Focus on people, not government. We must stop competing with Democrats for the job of “Government Manager,” and come up with ideas that can unleash the dynamic abilities of the American people. We need to lead the way with policies that can create prosperity. We believe in organic solutions, not big government solutions. We need a bottom-up government that fits the digital age. Right now we have an outdated centralized government trying to manage a decentralized economy.
There are many challenges facing our country. For example, our education system seems to be in the Stone Age and miserably outdated. It’s time to update traditional public schools, charter schools, home schools, online schools and parochial schools. Let the dollars follow the child instead of forcing the child to follow the dollars, so that every child has the opportunity to attain an education.
Our energy policy is outdated as well, stuck in old ideological arguments which harm our ability to create a more sustainable future where energy independence can actually be achieved. We have to change that.
We need an equal opportunity society, one in which government does not see its job as picking winners and losers. Where do you go if you want special favors? Government. Where do you go if you want a tax break? Government. Where do you go if you want a handout? Government. This must stop. Our government must pursue a level playing field. At present, government is the un-leveler of the playing field.
This is a pathway forward for the Republican party, one that honors our principles, the American people, and also, will help us win elections.
And as always, have at it in the comments!
Politico has the story:
“No, I think that’s absolutely wrong,” he said at a press conference that opened the RGA’s post-election meeting here. “Two points on that: One, we have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote.
“And, secondly, we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American Dream, which is to be in the middle class, which is to be able to give their children an opportunity to be able to get a great education. … So, I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that’s absolutely wrong.”
He reiterated the points for emphasis.
“I don’t think that represents where we are as a party and where we’re going as a party,” he said. “That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election: If we’re going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly: One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes, and secondly, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream. Period. No exceptions.”
Then, without prompting, Jindal circled back to the topic as the press conference wrapped up.
Considered a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, he blamed Romney’s defeat last week on his failure to outline a vision for where he wanted to take the country.
“Gov. Romney’s an honorable person that needs to be thanked for his many years of public service, but his campaign was largely about his biography and his experience,” he said. “And it’s a very impressive biography and very impressive set of experiences. But time and time again, biography and experience is not enough to win an election. You have to have a vision. You have to connect your policies to the aspirations of the American people. I don’t think the campaign did that, and as a result this became a contest between personalities. And you know what? Chicago won that.”
Be sure to read the full story here.
Hat-tip: The Argo Journal
It’s a real shame Bobby Jindal isn’t from a swing-state- if he was, he’d be as ubiquitous a surrogate as Rob Portman and deservedly so. Here are three excellent appearances post-debate.
First, in the CNN spin room:
On Fox and Friends:
Then finally on Morning Joe:
Here’s to hoping the final three weeks feature extensive Jindal surrogacy work. No one- not even Romney or Ryan- has a better command of the facts. Exit question: Is Secretary of HHS or Education a waste of Jindal’s talents? I’ve been bearish on the usefulness of Jindal taking Landrieu’s seat, if only because the Senate isn’t the ideal place from which to pursue high office, but maybe adding some foreign policy to his portfolio will make Jindal Ryan’s natural running-mate in 2020.
Is the race for 2016 already underway? If it’s not, Iowa is certainly becoming a popular hub for potential Republican presidential contenders these days. First, a certain New Jersey governor seems to have found his way to Sioux City:
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie officially endorsed Iowa Congressman Steve King today, at an appearance in Sioux City as keynote speaker for King’s 5th Annual Defenders of Freedom fundraiser.
King, however, wasn’t at his own event! According to his campaign, King flew to Washington D.C. yesterday to continue fighting for the passage of the Farm Bill.
That didn’t stop Governor Christie from coming out and supporting King, and the Romney campaign.
Christie campaigning for Romney and for down-ballot Republicans may just be the governor displaying his creds as a good party man, but still, the choice of venue seems…interesting.
And who could miss Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal, riding the So-Con Express to the Hawkeye State!
Former Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum heads to Iowa next week to join a bus tour led by the social conservative group the Family Leader, furthering speculation that he’s looking ahead to another presidential run in 2016 if President Barack Obama defeats challenger Mitt Romney in November.
The bus tour, which takes place Sept. 24 to Sept. 27, will take Santorum to Des Moines, Pella and Ottumwa on Monday the 24th. It’s intended to protest retaining Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins, who joined the 2009 ruling that made same-sex marriage legal in Iowa.
The Family Leader endorsed Santorum for president in 2011.
Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal will also join the tour and is scheduled to travel to Mason City, Marshalltown, Fort Dodge and Carroll on Wednesday the 26th.
More than once I’ve suggested that the race for 2016 would begin on the morning of November 7th. I was wrong. It’s already here.
Exceedingly odd. He gets into the Veep stuff at about 1:35.
Ok, does this happen unless Jindal’s already been told he’s not the guy? I don’t see how.
It’s not every day that the Republican Party gets some positive mainstream media coverage about minority inclusion, but we’ll take it when we can get it, especially from the Washington Post:
Ted Cruz’s come-from-behind victory in the Texas GOP Senate runoff on Tuesday — and the near-certainty that he will cruise to a general election win in November — ensures he will immediately join a rapidly growing group of rising national Republican stars that have one big thing in common: None of them are white.
…For a party that has struggled in recent years to escape the caricature that it is dominated by old, white men, the spate of minority faces rising to statewide office is a welcome development.
Since elected officials obviously serve as the most public faces of a party, this definitely represents a positive for the GOP. After all, in politics, perception is everything.
Jonathan Karl reports that two of the potential Veeps have been put on “standby” for an announcement. I’m assuming standby means “don’t plan anything else”. Given that, who seems to be otherwise occupied? Well, the Republican Governor’s Association has meetings all this week and Jindal, McDonnell, and Christie are attending. So they’re out, I suppose? Curiously, the buzz around Ryan seems to be heating up and Karl reports that Ryan makes the final three (with Portman and Pawlenty). It seems like we will indeed get our launch prior to the swing-state tour. Who will it be?
Update: It appears that Romney will be making an appearance at one of these meetings, so perhaps the attendees aren’t quite out of consideration.
Political Ticker reveals some details about an upcoming multi-state bus tour which are being leaked out by the Romney camp — and quotes the source of the leak as saying, “Sounds like VP week…”
On August 11, Romney (and his VP?) will be campaigning in the three largest media markets in Virginia – metro D.C., Richmond, and Norfolk. August 12 takes him through the media markets in North Carolina. August 13 finds him doing a Florida swing through Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miami. And tour dates are being added in Ohio – and potentially other states – for the end of the tour.
It sure sounds like a VP rollout to me, as well, and the timing really makes perfect sense. It gives Mitt and his VP two weeks to campaign together, building momentum up to the RNC on August 27. The Romney campaign, for what it’s worth, have confirmed that the leaked schedule is accurate, but are saying only that Romney will be discussing his vision for the economy during the bus tour.
I thought it’d be interesting, while Romney’s away, to rate the potential VP’s in terms of how well they fit into Romney’s agenda. Since Romney himself has placed an overwhelmingly emphasis on the economy, we have a handy method of making this assessment: rate the Veeps in each category of Romney’s oft-stated 5-point economic plan. Here’s how Romney described this plan in last night’s Brian Williams interview:
Well, let me describe– actually, there are five things that I believe are necessary to get this economy going. One, take advantage of our energy resources, particularly natural gas, but also coal, oil, nuclear, renewables. That’s number one. A huge opportunity for us, and doing so is gonna bring manufacturing back, because low-cost, plentiful energy is key to manufacturing, in many industries.
Number two, trade. I want tre– to dramatically increase trade and particularly with– with Latin America.Number three, take action to get America on track to have a balanced budget. Now those three things, by the way, are things which we have not been doing over the last few years, which I think are essential to getting this economy going again.
Number four, we’ve got to show better training and education opportunities for our current re– workers and for coming workers. And then finally what I call restoring economic freedom. That means keep our taxes as low as possible, have regulations modern and up to date, get health care costs down. These things will restore economic freedom.
My rating system is pretty simple. I’ll rate each potential VP on a scale of 1-5 in each category. A rating of 1 means the VP will hurt the Romney narrative in this category; a rating of 2 means the VP will neither hurt nor help, etc.
Now how am I determining what constitutes a 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5? Roughly but, I think, reasonably. A rating of 3 indicates the VP has meaningfully dealt with this issue but it hasn’t been a focus of his career. So, for instance, a generic governor would receive a 3 for the “balanced budget” issue. All governors balance budgets, but most are constitutionally required to do so, diminishing the accomplishment. A rating of 4 indicates the VP has made the issue a key goal in his career but hasn’t necessarily accomplished much of significance. Someone like Chris Christie might receive a 4 for the “economic freedom” plank, due to his prominent- but somewhat unsuccessful- push to lower NJ taxes. A rating of 5 indicates the VP has made the issue a key goal in his career and has major accomplishments towards that goal. A Condoleeza Rice might warrant a 5 in the “trade” plank, due to her work as Secretary of State.
To the ratings. First up:
Energy (2)- Looking through the 103 bills Portman has sponsored, I find no hint of an interest in energy. The words “energy”, “coal”, “oil”, and “gas” are nowhere to be found in the titles. Portman is from a state which produces coal but he seems remarkably unconcerned with the resource.
Trade (4)- As the former US Trade Rep, Portman’s experience here is substantial and unquestioned. That said, he convince Bush to oppose a potentially popular tariff on Chinese steel. This could potentially complicate Romney’s efforts in the rust belt (hat tip: Mass Con).
Balanced Budget (4)- On the one hand, Portman was the director of OMB for a year; a substantial bit of experience. On the other, unlike a trade Rep, which feels something like a diplomat, the head of OMB is closely associated with his President and his President’s policies. Bush’s budget policies complicate any effort to make this experience an unalloyed positive.
Education/Workforce Training (2)- Again, a close look at the list of Portman sponsored bills yields no sense of emphasis on this issue. Education shows up nowhere in the bill titles and the only bills dealing with work seem to be workers benefits bills.
Economic Freedom (4)- I find 11 bills Portman bills dealing with minor tax credits, 3 bills dealing with regulations and 1 bill dealing with health-care. Nothing major, but a sign that Portman is well-versed on these issues and has a story to tell.
Total Score: 16/25
Energy (5)- As a governor of a gulf state, and one who dealt with energy related issues in the aftermath of the BP Oil spill, Jindal has significant experience on energy-related matters. Additionally, he has taken to the national stage to criticize the President’s energy policy.
Trade (1)- Jindal has conducted no trade missions and, while in Congress, had a record as something of a protectionist (he voted against CAFTA). That said, he shares Romney’s belligerent attitude towards China’s currency manipulation. Ultimately though, he might complicate Romney’s message of expanding trade.
Balanced Budget (3)- Jindal has balanced his budget and stands in for a generic Governor here. While I can find plenty of instances of Jindal calling for a national balanced budget amendment, he doesn’t seem to have been a particular leader in this regard.
Education/Workforce training (5)- Earlier this year, Jindal passed the most sweeping education reforms in the country. Additionally, Jindal has focused specifically on workforce training, implementing reforms in ’08 which have led to write-ups in the Economist and to 3 consecutive years at #1 in Business Facilities’ state rankings of workforce training programs.
Economic Freedom (5)- Between Jindal’s passage of the largest income tax cut in Louisiana history, his various reforms designed to boost the state’s business climate (reforms which have shot Louisiana up several spots in various “business friendly” rankings), and his health-care experiences in the late 90s, Jindal is very well positioned to further Romney’s message of economic freedom.
Total Score: 19/25
I’ll rate the next batch of Veeps either later today or on Sunday night.
Yesterday, National Review conducted a VP poll of the four men who most frequently turn up on alleged Veep shortlists: Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, Bobby Jindal, and Paul Ryan. They had nearly 16k respondents. The results?
Paul Ryan: 54%
Bobby Jindal: 28%
Rob Portman: 10%
Tim Pawlenty: 7%
Now, obviously this excluded at least one very popular potential Veep (Rubio). Still, it’s another data point.
The Hill reports that Tim Pawlenty and Bobby Jindal will be stumping for Romney in Pennsylvania and Ohio as a counterweight to Obama’s bus tour:
The two Romney surrogates will hit the battleground states on the same days that Obama launches his first campaign bus tour of the year through those swing states…
A Romney campaign official said Jindal and Pawlenty would be in “several of the same areas” as the president “to make sure the Romney message gets out.”
What to make of this pairing of Pawlenty and Jindal? Pawlenty is practically Romney’s most frequent surrogate; Jindal has never appeared with Romney anywhere. Pawlenty has obvious appeal in Rust Belt states; Jindal’s appeal is less obvious. It seems strange to pair the two for anything, at this stage, let alone a major campaign swing. I haven’t put much stock in the Eagle’s rumblings but this seems awfully coincidental. If Pawlenty and Jindal are the finalists, it makes sense to have them “squaring off” and a busy 4th of July weekend would camouflage the significance.
Although I’m happy to finally see some sign that Team Romney is aware of Jindal’s existence, I’m not sure how I feel about this theory. Jindal has never stumped for Romney before. It would be more than passing strange to expect him to engage in a high-stakes tryout now. It’d be like giving a great minor league prospect his first at-bat in game seven of the World Series. At any rate, it may be worth watching some of these events. Oh, and Happy Independence Day!
Chris Moody of Yahoo helpfully digs up the ideological rankings of some of Romney’s top potential running-mates. You should read the whole thing but I’m going to highlight two rankings- National Journal’s and the Club for Growth’s- and list each person’s standing within the caucus (those with higher percentiles are more conservative). Note: these are last year’s rankings.
Kelly Ayotte: 17th most conservative Senator (64th percentile within caucus)
Rob Portman: 35th most conservative Senator (25th percentile within caucus)
Marco Rubio: 13th most conservative Senator (72nd percentile within caucus)
Paul Ryan: 150th most conservative House member (38th percentile within caucus)
John Thune: 24th most conservative Senator (49th percentile within caucus)
Kelly Ayotte: 8th most conservative Senator (17th percentile within caucus)
Rob Portman: 29th most conservative Senator (38th percentile within caucus)
Marco Rubio: 10th most conservative Senator (79th percentile within caucus)
Paul Ryan: 101st most conservative House member (58th percentile within caucus)
John Thune: 20th most conservative Senator (57th percentile within caucus)
There’s also a little bit of info about the Governor’s under consideration- Jindal and Pawlenty primarily- but, generally, Governor’s receive fewer grades: basically, CATO is the only game in town. Jindal and Pawlenty scored 2nd and 3rd in the last CATO rankings, both receiving A’s.