New Iowa caucus thread: Jeb Bush exploring and a "Run Warren Run" event in Des Moines

Who's up for a new thread on possible presidential candidates? The big news on the Republican side today was former Florida Governor Jeb Bush announcing that he will "actively explore" a presidential bid. Bush is forming a leadership PAC to raise huge piles of money "help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation."

I can't see Bush winning the GOP nomination, given his past support for immigration reform including a path to citizenship. Among Iowa conservatives, his support for "Common Core" educational standards will be a deal-breaker too. On the other hand, Bush poses an immediate threat to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The two would be competing for many of the same donors and Republican moderate voters.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio's staff says Bush's decision won't influence Rubio's plans for 2016. I am 100 percent convinced that Florida's junior senator will run for re-election. He has pretty good odds of winning a second term but would be a long-shot to win the presidential nomination.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (technically an independent) was in central Iowa today. I've posted excerpts from news coverage after the jump. It's Sanders' fourth Iowa visit this year, but he told a supportive Ames crowd he hasn't decided whether to run for president.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren continues to repeat that she is not running for president in 2016. But MoveOn.Org's "Run Warren Run" project is organizing an event at Java Joe's coffee house in downtown Des Moines. Some central Iowa Democrats received phone calls from MoveOn today inviting them to the pro-Warren event, which is set for 5:30 pm on Wednesday, December 17.

I still think the draft Warren effort is a waste of time and energy. Apparently, so does progressive hero Al Franken. Minnesota's junior U.S. senator is "ready for Hillary" Clinton:

"I mean, I think that we've not had someone this experienced, this tough, and she's very, very impressive. People have asked me about Elizabeth Warren. She is great, but she's not running. She says she's not running. So I don't-I think Hillary would be great."

Any comments about the next presidential campaign are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Democracy for America announced on December 17 that it will invest $250,000 in the Draft Warren effort. I've added the group's press release at the end of this post. Run Warren Run ran a full-page ad in the Des Moines Register on December 17, featuring hundreds of Iowans who are urging the Massachusetts senator to run for president.

Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum attended the "Run Warren Run" event in Des Moines and called Warren "brilliant" and "courageous." But Jochum is not endorsing Warren over Hillary Clinton and hopes the Democratic field will include both women, as well as Vice President Joe Biden and others.

Jennifer Jacobs covered Bernie Sanders' latest Iowa visit for the Des Moines Register:

"There's no way we are going to address the problems facing this country without a political revolution," Sanders, an independent U.S. senator from Vermont told an audience of 200-plus in a church basement in Ames.

"I have not yet decided whether I'm going to run or not," he said after someone in the audience yelled "Run Bernie!" and others applauded.

Sanders said it's extremely difficult to take on "the oligarchy" - the Koch brothers, who are worth $85 billion and are building the most powerful political organization in the country, Wall Street, drug companies, and other economic entities that spend unlimited money in politics to "literally buy candidates."

"When you take these guys on - if you're going to take them on - you have to know that you're going to have the kind of grassroots support necessary to run that campaign. And that's what I'm trying to ascertain," Sanders said.

He said he needs to see a mass mobilization of millions of people willing to engage in "a real struggle against the billionaire class."

Democracy for America press release, December 17:

Democracy for America officially joins Run Warren Run campaign, invests $250,000

Partnering with MoveOn, national progressive org will focus on activist training, 50-state strategy after 87.6% of members approve plan to join Draft Warren campaign

DES MOINES, IA -- Tonight, at the campaign's Iowa kickoff, Democracy for America announced that it is going "all-in" with its allies at MoveOn and investing an initial $250,000 to the Run Warren Run campaign to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the 2016 presidential race.

The decision to partner with MoveOn on the Run Warren Run campaign comes after a stunning 87.6% of the group's members voted to approve DFA's plans to join the emerging Draft Warren effort.

The collaboration between Democracy for America and MoveOn on the Run Warren Run campaign will include:

Offices and staff in early primary and caucus states like Iowa and New Hampshire,

The assembly of a national volunteer army ready to work for Senator Warren if she enters the race,

The recruitment of small-dollar donors who pledge their support,

And ads, videos, and cultural interventions that tell the story of how Senator Warren has stood up and fought for the middle class and her powerful vision for our country's future.

As a partner on the Run Warren Run campaign, DFA in particular will:

Train and support volunteers and campaign staff working to build the broad, powerful movement Senator Warren will need to get in the 2016 race.

Execute a 50-State Strategy that will build momentum behind a potential Senator Warren presidential campaign by drafting and supporting a broad coalition of candidates -- for Senate, U.S. House, and state and local office -- who will stand with her in the fight against income inequality

Statement from Charles Chamberlain, Democracy for America's Executive Director, on the final results of DFA's member vote and plans to join the Run Warren Run campaign:

"After the clear mandate we've received from our members, Democracy for America is all-in on drafting Senator Warren and joining the Run Warren Run campaign.  

"The battle against income inequality is a defining issue of the 2016 race. Senator Warren is Democrats' most powerful voice in the fight against income inequality, capable of rallying our country to take aggressive action to protect struggling working families, hold powerful special interests accountable, and end the wealthy's grip on government.  

"America needs Senator Warren's leadership, this is her moment, and we're committed to building the powerful, grassroots movement that will inspire her to seize it." -- Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director, Democracy for America

Statement from Annie Weinberg, DFA Electoral Director, who joined DFA and MoveOn members at the Iowa launch of the Run Warren Run campaign this evening in Des Moines:

"Democracy for America members aren't under the delusion that it is going to be easy to prove the Beltway pundits wrong and encourage Senator Warren to enter the 2016 race. If Senator Warren, were already running, there'd be no reason to launch a draft campaign in the first place.

"Democracy for America members right here in Iowa and all across the country want us to draft Senator Warren because our country needs her voice in the 2016 presidential race.

"Iowa, our job is to make the grassroots Run Warren Run movement so loud that Sen. Warren hears us, so powerful that she sees this excellent opportunity to place income inequality at the very center of the 2016 debate, and so driven that she feels the need to answer her nation's call to serve. And that's exactly what we're going to do together." -- Annie Weinberg, Electoral Director, Democracy for America

Since DFA's 2004 founding by Gov. Howard Dean, DFA members have injected more than $32.7 million into progressive electoral campaigns and made more than 10.1 million volunteer calls to help successfully elect 806 progressive candidates across the country.

Facts about Democracy for America and the 2016 presidential election:

Last week, DFA announced its decision to join the emerging Draft Warren effort, pending a ratification vote of its members. Today's 87.6% response is the result of that vote.

Conducted immediately following the 2014 mid-term election, Elizabeth Warren placed first by nearly 20 points in DFA's 2016 Presidential Pulse Poll of its membership -- with 42.6% of the vote. Bernie Sanders placed second with 24% and Hillary Clinton placed third with 23%.

Democracy for America has 1 million members nationwide and 10,309 members in Iowa.

  • Jim Webb

    I hope Hillary offers Jim Webb a cabinet post.  I know Webb speaks with candor and is very independent, but in my view his vast knowledge on so many subjects is hard to ignore.

    I suspect the Clintons will freeze Webb out if he tries to levy any relevant criticism against her, even if it just meant to make her a better candidate.  I'm not an anti-Clinton person, but many powerful figures do try to call the shots in a rather callous and unfair way.  

    We also need to ease ballot access barriers so some serious independent could move the conversation in a better direction during a general election.  That won't happen though.  

  • money?

    A presidential candidate raising "huge piles of money?" Shocking. Thank goodness Mrs. Clinton wouldn't taint the process by going near PACs and their cash. We right-wingers are pleased you're picking her cabinet and selecting the color of the Oval Office drapes. But in case she passes on the coronation, some of us are sending appropriately small donations to Sen. Warren. We're all for "Run Warren, Run."  

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