The conservative group For America really doesn’t like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush–and they don’t want him to be the next president. They have two videos thus far labeling the well-known moderate Republican as “unelectable.” The latest salvo in their anti-Jeb campaign is hitting Bush over comments he made about Hillary Clinton; he thanked both Clintons for their service to their country, whereas almost every Republican in the 2016 field has said she would be a disaster as out next president.
Yet, the Bush camp is most likely ignoring these attacks. Like Romney, Bush is playing the long game. He’s banking on the top-tier candidates flaming out when he enters the race, which is reportedly going to be official some time next month. Republican strategist Mike Murphy has called polls showing Bush with less than stellar standings as “noise-makers,” and directed Bush to ignore the “pundits ethos” (via WaPo):
The strategy is being driven by a confident, tightly knit group of Bush advisers who are focused on amassing as much money as possible for his allied super PAC on the theory that a considerable cash advantage will enable Bush to outlast his competitors.
The approach is similar to the tack Mitt Romney took in 2012, when the former Massachusetts governor prevailed at the end of a protracted primary contest in which a half-dozen candidates briefly tasted front-runner status, only to fall. Romney precipitated many of those falls, using his financial edge to relentlessly attack one opponent after another.
But Bush faces a rougher road to the nomination than Romney did. The Republican field is one of the strongest in years and features several candidates who excite various factions within the party. Many of them will also be supported by their own well-funded super PACs, poised to interject unprecedented money into the race.
Bush, meanwhile, has staked out positions on issues such as immigration and education reform at odds with conservative activists, and his most fervent following rests with the party’s donor class. As the son and brother of former presidents, he must also overcome a feeling among many Republicans that it is time for a fresh start.
One of the risks Bush faces in holding back is that he will give a rising star a chance to gain ground — particularly Sen. Marco Rubio, a fellow Floridian.
If Rubio “actually takes hold nationwide, I think Bush is going to have a very difficult time competing with that,” said Saul Anuzis, a former Michigan Republican Party chairman who is backing Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. He said Rubio presents a direct threat to Bush’s status as the “most acceptable establishment, moderate-conservative candidate.”
For now, no GOP contender holds a clear lead in the early nominating states, with Bush, Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and, occasionally, others clustered near the top. A Quinnipiac University poll of Iowa Republican voters released Wednesday showed Bush a distant seventh, behind neurosurgeon Ben Carson and winning just 5 percent of the vote.
Yet, For America probably doesn’t need to have a concerted effort to beat Bush, even though he’s projected to raise an insane amount of money for his expected 2016 run; his bungled answer on the Iraq War is a misstep he cannot afford given the strength of the 2016 field. Moreover, attention to the Iraq War has greatly increased ever since the prohibitive favorite to be Time’s Person of the Year (I kid), Ivy Ziedrich, a 19-year old University of Nevada student and member of the campus’ Young Democrats, confronted Bush by saying “Your brother created ISIS!” at a town hall event.
Ziedrich has emphasized that she wants more accountability from leaders and to get them to interact with a wider range of voters, tweeting that day about the ways “candidates for presidency talk at small ticketed events instead of speaking to university students and getting them involved”.
“It’s frustrating to see politicians ignore the origins of our conflicts abroad and use current foes as excuses for creating new ones,” she added.
“A Bush was trying to blame Isis on Obama’s foreign policy,” Ziedrich told the New York Times. “It was like somebody crashing their car and blaming the passenger.”
“I think it’s important when we have people in positions of authority, we demand a dialogue and accountability.”
No arguments here on the latter statement, but Obama did say that Yemen was a blueprint for future counterterror operations; it has fallen into chaos. This Iran nuclear deal has most people nervous if not outright skeptical–and yes, Obama’s policy in Iraq and Syria have been dotted with incompetence and ineffectiveness. Folks, air strikes didn’t stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and ISIS isn’t retreating–though they reportedly have a nice five-star luxury hotel in Mosul.
I just hope Ziedrich is just as hard on Mrs. Clinton over her failure to disclose donors to her family non-profit, even though she promised in 2008; her vote for the Iraq War when she was in the Senate; and the donations to the Clinton Foundation, which haven’t been the best moments in transparency for a candidate running for president as she was with Bush on ISIS and Iraq. After all, that's just fair.