It’s been a while since we had a new thread for discussing the next Iowa caucus campaign. Most of the action lately has been on the Republican side, but any comments about the presidential race are welcome in this thread. Here are some links to get the conversation started.
Mitt Romney confirmed last week that he may launch a third campaign for the presidency, even though he had previously ruled out another bid on many occasions. He leads some early polls of Republicans, but with 20 percent support or less—not impressive for someone with his level of name recognition. I can’t imagine why Republicans would ever nominate him again, or how anyone in his inner circle can believe he has a chance. Maggie Haberman and James Hohmann shed some light on that subject in “The selling of Mitt 3.0,” which you should read in full. After the jump I’ve enclosed a few excerpts from that piece and from John Dickerson’s report for Slate. Apparently some people believe that with better messaging and no incumbent president to face, Romney has a decent shot. Sounds delusional to me. Romney still has all the baggage from his last campaign. His dire predictions about the economy have proven false. Surely many of his donors and grassroots supporters will be looking for a new candidate, such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush or even former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Maybe The Onion was right after all in this 2012 report: “Mitt Romney Terrified What Will Happen If He Ever Stops Running for President.”
Also on the establishment wing of the GOP, Jeb Bush has stepped down from various corporate and non-profit boards and started raising money for his new leadership PAC. Bush will have a well-funded campaign and is more electable than many of the other potential candidates, but I don’t see him as a strong contender for the Iowa caucuses. The four issues Eric Pianin identified here (Common Core, immigration, taxes, and Obamacare) will all be deal-breakers for the conservative activists who tend to show up on caucus night.
Seeking to cash in early on anti-Jeb sentiment, some conservatives have formed a PAC and created an “EndJeb2016” website. Sounds like a fundraising and list-building scheme to me (a la Ready for Hillary), as opposed to an effort to run a real campaign against Bush in the GOP primaries.
Romney’s 2012 running mate Paul Ryan, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said this week that he will not seek the presidency in 2016. He would be a fool to try when the field is already crowded, and he can afford to wait another four or eight years.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee quit hosting his weekly show on Fox News, saying he can’t rule out another presidential bid and will make a final decision this spring. Huckabee has a huge grassroots following in Iowa, and his entry to the race would greatly complicate matters for the likes of former Senator Rick Santorum or Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Santorum is promising to run “a very, very different candidacy than the last time around,” but for quite some time, many of his Iowa supporters have been looking at fresher faces like Ted Cruz or Ben Carson. Craig Robinson described Huckabee as the “first love” of Iowa social conservatives. Jamie Johnson, who worked on Santorum’s 2012 campaign here, told David Weigel last week,
“I can tell you, I took Rick Santorum across the state three years ago,” Johnson says. “People loved Huckabee. They liked Santorum. There was never a heart connection between them and Santorum the way there’d been for Huckabee.”
Jindal was just in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids to meet privately with pastors. I can’t see him putting together a winning campaign in Iowa or anywhere else. Why should people support him when he’s not even popular in his (conservative) home state?
Ben Carson was caught plagiarizing part of his book America the Beautiful. He is working to “rectify the situation.” My guess is that few Iowa Republicans will care about this ethical lapse.
My pick to win the Iowa caucuses, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, has selected a likely campaign manager and will soon launch some kind of PAC. GOP activists here will appreciate that Walker took on public sector unions, refused to expand Medicaid, and doesn’t support comprehensive immigration reform. But they won’t react well if they learn that he put the brakes on efforts to pass a “right to work” law.
UPDATE: Forgot to mention that Senator Rand Paul hired a presidential campaign manager this week. I still think he will bail out of the race in time to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2016. Kentucky law doesn’t allow him to be on the ballot for two offices in the same primary election.