Former Republican Politicians
Former U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a blistering rebuke of 2016 Republican front-runner Donald Drumpf on Thursday, leading an attempt by the party establishment to halt the rise of the outspoken New York billionaire. Romney, a Republican elder statesman and the nominee four years ago, urged Republicans in states that have not yet held nominating contests to back Drumpf's opponents to stop his march to the nomination for the Nov. 8 election to succeed President Barack Obama.
No matter what happens on Super Tuesday, it’s clear who the real losers will be on election night: The Democratic and Republican parties. An election season that began as a presumptive showdown between two inevitable dynastic front-runners—Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton—has now devolved into an electoral dumpster fire. And it’s time to name the culprit: The dynasties themselves.
Jeb Bush, the Republican establishment’s last, best hope, began his 2016 campaign rationally enough, with a painstakingly collated operational blueprint his team called, with NFL swagger, “The Playbook.” On page after page kept safe in a binder, the playbook laid out a strategy for a race his advisers were certain would be played on Bush’s terms — an updated, if familiar version of previous Bush family campaigns where cash, organization and a Republican electorate ultimately committed to an electable center-right candidate would prevail. Story Continued Below
Jeb Bush banned me from the bus. It was October 2014, two months before Jeb would announce he was exploring a run for president, and I had come to west Texas as an Associated Press reporter to ask about his plans. The former Florida governor had taken a day off from campaigning for midterm candidates to enjoy a victory lap with his son, George P. Bush, who was cruising to election as Texas land commissioner.
In jujutsu, one uses an opponent’s weight against him. And, in the version most often seen in politics, a candidate turns his opponent’s strength into a weakness. In political jujutsu, assets can become liabilities. In 1992, Bill Clinton faced off against George H.W. Bush. The latter had been a congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, special envoy to China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Vice President of the United States. By contrast, Clinton was governor of the 32nd-largest state—Arkansas.
Give Donald Trump this: He has taught Americans something about the candidates he’s running against. He has exposed many of them as political cowards. In August, after Trump called undocumented Mexican immigrants “rapists” and vowed to build a wall along America’s southern border, Jeb Bush traveled to South Texas to respond. Bush’s wife is Mexican American; he has said he’s “immersed in the immigrant experience”; he has even claimed to be Hispanic himself. Yet he didn’t call Trump’s proposals immoral or bigoted, since that might offend Trump’s nativist base. Instead, Bush declared: “Mr. Trump’s plans are not grounded in conservative principles. His proposal is unrealistic. It would cost hundreds of billions of dollars.
In the middle of October I was sitting on my couch in Washington and heard a familiar name come up on CNN: Dennis Hastert. “Prosecutors have charged Hastert with lying to the FBI about $3.5 million he agreed to pay to… a former student to keep quiet about allegations of sexual abuse dating back to Hastert's time as a high school teacher.” On October 28, after striking a deal with prosecutors, the former speaker of the House pleaded guilty.
Jeb Bush's presidential run is going so badly that people don't even know if he's running. At least that's what the Google data says: With the fourth Republican debate tonight, the top Googled question about Bush is whether he's still running for president.
For months, Republican presidential candidates with dwindling bank accounts and negligible support in polls have been finding reasons to stay in the 2016 race. Now, a few must weigh whether they can keep competing after being downgraded or excluded from Tuesday's fourth GOP debate. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have been bumped to the undercard debate because of low poll numbers, while South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki didn't qualify for either event.
If Jeb Bush hasn't hit rock bottom, he's close — or at least as close as a son and brother of presidents and keeper of a $100 million war chest can get. His campaign has been forced to scale back its free-spending ways, he's fallen short in recent debate performances, he trails badly in polls of his home state, and now, a Quinnipiac Poll out Wednesday morning suggests the former Florida governor is stuck in the basement with the other longshots and bit-players.
“He needed a moment to assuage donor fears and it backfired. As much as people may say the Bush name is a hindrance, the reality is that his last name is the only thing keeping him in the conversation right now.” — A South Carolina Republican operative Ouch. That pretty much sums up all the reviews of Jeb Bush’s performance in last night’s CNBC debate. What was billed as a make-or-break night for him didn’t turn out very well. He appeared listless and dull on stage and afterwards snapped at a reporter who asked him what he thought of his performance saying: “It’s not a performance. I’m running for president of the United States.” It was not the night he needed to stem the bleeding of his wounded campaign.
We can't know what would have become of Jeb Bush’s presidential candidacy if Donald Trump had never entered the race, or if Bush's campaign could have avoided the damage it's incurred if it had awakened to Trump's durability sooner than it did. What we do know is that the events that actually transpired have left the former Florida governor, ahead of the third primary debate, at an existential crossroad. At this juncture, Bush's vision for his party probably won't survive unless he and the rest of the party establishment can accept three things:
The Bushes are burning as they consume the news. Bush family patriarch George H.W. Bush is alarmed, bewildered and irritated, the New York Times reported over the weekend, that his son Jeb is doing so poorly in a Republican presidential primary battle dominated by Donald Trump. The 41st president summoned his son George W., the 43rd president, Jeb and Bush money men to Houston for meetings Sunday and Monday to sort out what has gone so wrong that Jeb is now cutting staff.
This wasn't how it was supposed to go for Jeb Bush. When he entered the race, the former Florida governor was the establishment front-runner, bursting with big bucks from his own campaign and superPACs.
Jeb, this just isn’t going to work. After all that money spent, you’re still sagging nationally and in fourth place in New Hampshire, a state you need to win. You’ve had nearly a year to make your case. It isn’t working. You should pack it in.
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has no idea why the 14th Amendment happened. Huckabee told radio host Michael Medved that the Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision, which denied citizenship to black Americans, is still the "law of the land" — in an attempt to show that it's okay for people to ignore Supreme Court rulings (particularly the June marriage equality decision) that they disagree with. "Michael, the Dred Scott decision of 1857 still remains to this day the law of the land, which says that black people aren't fully human," he said. "Does anybody still follow the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision?"
Has anyone noticed that the further right Republican conservatives move, the further left their rhetoric becomes? Consider the way current Republican contenders for president have reacted to the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who spent Labor Day weekend in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. “This,” Mike Huckabee told ABC’s “This Week,” “is what [President Thomas] Jefferson warned us about. That’s judicial tyranny.”
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell offered a measured defense of the Iran nuclear deal on Sunday, saying it would "stop this highway race they were going down" toward Iran building a nuclear weapon. "People are saying, 'No, you can't trust them,'" Powll said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I don't trust them. I say, 'We have a deal, let's see how they implement the deal. If they don't implement it, bail out.' None of our options are gone."
Just after launching his bid for president earlier this year, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush struggled to answer questions about whether he — like his brother George W. Bush — would have invaded Iraq in 2003. A few days later, he flipped, saying: “Knowing what we know now, I would have not engaged.” But this week, a speech at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, Bush flipped yet again, calling the Iraq War a mere “miscalculation” and arguing that the true mistake was withdrawing U.S. troops in 2011.
It was August 7, 2012, and I was standing in my hotel room in Kansas City about to shotgun a beer for the first time in my life. I had just made the biggest gamble of my political career—a $1.7 million gamble—and it had paid off. Running for reelection to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat from Missouri, I had successfully manipulated the Republican primary so that in the general election I would face the candidate I was most likely to beat. And this is how I had promised my daughters we would celebrate.