Saturday, April 11, 2015

Race for the White House 2016 Volume 15

At the moment of this writing, the current President is speaking to reporters in Panama and I am trying to remain as calm as possible in regards to the display. Whomever the next President is, it is hard to see how anybody could be worse for America or the world than Barack Obama. That person will hopefully realize that the opposition party in Congress (no matter what party that is) belongs higher on the pecking order than dictators in Iran and Cuba as far as legitimacy. It would also help if we once again have a President who does not go out of their way to be hostile to Israel, the staunchest ally America has.

Anyways, the race is certainly ramping up this spring. Tomorrow, the overwhelming favorite for the Democrat nomination will announce her candidacy via social media and then will travel to the key state of Iowa to presumably meet with voters, who are not all pre-selected by the campaign. After her 2008 loss, Hillary Clinton said she would not run for President again, but even before 2012, Democrats were looking towards her as a likely nominee. There will be ample time in the weeks and months ahead to assess the Clinton candidacy. She is apparently planning a rollout where small events will take precedent over big reallies. In any case, there will be a tremendous amount of media attention and political expectations in regards to how Clinton comes across on the trail, the message her of candidacy, as well as fundraising and organizational issues. To many, the former First Lady and Secretary of State remains "inevitable" but her trustworthiness and overall political standing have indeed taken at least a bit of a hit in recent weeks according to some polls, in the light of the email scandal. That is clearly a chapter that is not going to automatically disappear for her. It is also true that many believe that the more that Clinton is exposed as an active political candidate, the more apt she will be to harm her campaign via gaffes and overall tenor.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley seems to be moving forward as the candidate in the Democrat Party most likely to challenge Clinton's "inevitability", and at least one other candidate, former Senator Jim Webb from Virginia also is running, but this past week saw a complete surprise entrant on the Democrat side. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island served as the most liberal Republican in Congress during a bit over more than one term in the Senate. Despite voting against the Iraq War and against George W. Bush's 2004 reelection, he lost in his strongly Democrat state in 2006. He made a comeback in 2010, as a liberal Independent candidate for Governor, who ran with Obama's endorsement, despite the fact there was a formal Democrat nominee, who was backed by the Clintons. His tenure as Governor was somewhat rocky, and while he formally became a Democrat in the advance of a reelection campaign, he ultimately declined to seek a second term. Now, Chafee has formed a Committee to run for President as a member of his newly adopted party, citing that Webb used to be a Republican and Clinton was once a Goldwater Girl. In regards to Hillary Clinton, he is already bringing up her vote in favor of the War in Iraq, while she was a Senator, and saying that such a vote disqualifies her from being President or from representing the Democrat Party. This should be an interesting debate to come. A lot of Democrats agree with that sentiment, but seem resigned to Clinton and hoping that the historical aspect of a gender based campaign is the key to the party winning four more years in the White House.

On the Republican side, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul entered the race this past week, with a formal campaign kickoff that pleased his supporters, many of whom had backed his father Ron Paul, in past campaigns. While some former establishment GOP types, such as ex Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts have signed on with Rand Paul, it remains to be seen if Paul can expand his political base beyond libertarian minded voters. I do not think he should be underestimated as a political force, but I believe recent foreign policy events have made it much more unlikely for someone with the foreign policy views of Paul to be a strong force in the Presidential primaries. Already, a conservative SuperPAC has produced ads attacking Paul on the issue of Iran.

After his announcement, much of the discussion involving Paul this week involved a contentious interview he had with Savannah Guthrie on NBC's Today Show. His supporters may like the way he stood his ground and took issue with the way the interview was being conducted, but to many others, it did not exactly generate the kind of favorable comparisons to a past George Bush- Dan Rather dust-up in Presidential campaigns past. Paul certainly has gained a reputation as being prickly, especially with female reporters. Whether Paul is truly sexist or not is fairly irrelevant because the perception of him is now part of the narrative. That is going to be a problem for him in my view winning over new voters. Perhaps, he will impress some during the debates, but he probably is not going to come across as likable enough for many voters to consider.

Needless to say, scores of other Republicans continue to plot and plan entries into the race, but Florida Senator Marco Rubio is expected to become the third major Republican to make an official announcement, this coming Monday. Unlike Paul, Rubio is expected to forgo a reelection bid for a second U.S. Senate term while also running for President. Like Texas Senator and fellow candidate Ted Cruz, Rubio is a Cuban-American. Cruz has raised a large amount of money since formally kicking off his campaign, and Rubio will hope to do the same.

It is also worth nothing that Rubio is expected to be in the field with another GOP candidate who literally lives a couple miles away in the Miami area. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had to explain this past week that he made a mistake a couple years back by checking a box on a voter registration form that said he was Hispanic. Obviously, Bush, the son of a former President and First Lady is white, but most people on all sides of the political spectrum seemed willing to give him the benefit of the doubt of just checking the wrong box. However, the fact that Bush has been so engrained with Latin American culture for his entire adult life, and is indeed married to an Hispanic woman and has Hispanic kids with her, might on some subconscious level have had him thinking like he was Hispanic when he accidentally checked that box. His subconscious cultural identification may be a political minus or a plus as we move forward.

Going back though, it is fair to say that Rubio (who is indeed Hispanic) was considered a political protege of Bush while in Florida, and served as Speaker of the House during Jeb's Governorship. He also had expressed willingness to stand aside for his 2010 Senate race had Bush wanted to run. That is clearly not the case for President six years later though, as it will be the "teacher vs. the student" in some regards. Hopefully, the two men will manage to campaign for the same nomination without unnecessary personal attacks. I truly do have a high regard for Rubio's political skills and potential, but I wish he were not making this race, this year. Perhaps, he will prove to indeed be the strongest potential Republican candidate, and will earn my support down the line, but for now, I think his political mentor has the better experience to be President. The primaries are going to be very tough though for all these Republican candidates.

Many Democrats (and the media) have been "Ready for Hillary" for quite some time, and by this time tomorrow, it will officially be on. There is a long way to go before either party's nominee is determined, but Republicans better be "Ready for Hillary" in regards to putting aside ideological purity to pick the candidate who best matches up against her. 


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