Walker’s Wins Less Impressive Than They Look

Gov. Scott Walker (R) “is the rare favorite of conservatives who emphasize electability. He won three contests in four years in Wisconsin, which hasn’t voted for the Republican candidate in a presidential election since 1984. He did so without compromising on the Republican Party’s core principles; instead, he prevailed in a high-profile fight with organized labor,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Walker might well prove to be a stronger general election candidate than Mitt Romney. That’s not a very high bar. But his electoral record — three wins in governor’s races in four years in Wisconsin, including a recall election — isn’t as impressive as it looks. It’s not clear that Mr. Walker would have won re-election in November 2012, when he wouldn’t have had the many benefits of running in an off-year election. It’s still less clear that he could have run far ahead of Mr. Romney had he sought federal office; he would have been deprived of the labor and pensions issues that have split Democratic-leaning voters in many parts of the country.”

Is Scott Walker the GOP’s Barack Obama?

Amy Walter: “Scott Walker in 2015 is a lot like Barack Obama circa 2007; he’s relatively unknown and yet well-known at the same time. Obama’s speech at the DNC in 2004 propelled him to rock-star status among the Democratic faithful, while Walker’s victory over the public sector labor unions in 2011 made him a legend among conservatives. The Wisconsin Governor begins this campaign as a vessel into which voters can pour their hopes and aspirations. The question now is whether the idea of Walker can match up with the reality of Walker.”

Rubio Hooks a Big Super PAC Donor

“When former Florida governor Jeb Bush first jumped into the presidential race, the big question facing Sen. Marco Rubio was whether he would have enough money to compete,” the Washington Post reports.

“That’s where Norman Braman comes in. The Miami billionaire auto dealer and longtime Rubio benefactor will put as much as $10 million into a pro-Rubio super PAC if the Florida senator decides to run, according to people familiar with his plans.”

Who Is Eric Hoteham?

“One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the discovery that Hillary Clinton used a personal email account and private server during her time as Secretary of State was the fact that the system was registered to a man that no one had ever heard of,” ABC News reports.

“Who was Eric Hoteham? And why did have at least three different email domains — clintonemail.com, wjcoffice.com and presidentclinton.com — registered in his name even though the domains apparently were based in the former first couple’s home in suburban New York? Efforts to locate public records related to anyone named Eric Hoteham were unsuccessful, in a search that included donor records, birth records or property records.”

The New York Times has more on the history of the Clinton personal email accounts.

Bush Confronts ‘Family Fatigue’ in Iowa

The New York Times notes the paradox of Jeb Bush’s early campaign: “He is well out in front in the race for elite Republican donors and for the support of the party’s establishment. But he is unpopular with many in the rank and file, who can pick from a large crop of younger White House contenders who also pass the conservative litmus tests that Mr. Bush fails.”

“Mr. Bush will have a chance to break through that grass-roots resistance on Friday, when he arrives for his first visit to Iowa in more than three years.”

Ambassador Ousted for Using Private Email in 2012

In 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration abruptly stepped down from his post after “a whithering evaluation from the State Department” which included using his personal email for official business, the Weekly Standard reports.

“In other words, State Department policy was very clear. Using a private email outside the State Department’s secure system was completely unacceptable. If this applied to ambassadors, one would think it was sensible policy for the Secretary of State as well.”

Voters Unlikely to Care About Clinton Email Story

Brendan Nyhan: “The actual public response to the controversy is likely to be a combination of apathy and partisanship. Few Americans are paying attention to any aspect of the campaign at this point. Those who do notice will most likely divide largely along partisan lines, with Democrats interpreting her actions more charitably, especially once they see Republicans attacking Mrs. Clinton on the issue.”

“Any significant political costs are also likely to be fleeting because the revelations came so early in the campaign cycle. It is hard to believe that a lack of transparency in Mrs. Clinton’s use of email will have a significant effect on a general election that will be held some 20 months from now.”

Supreme Court Will Hear Same-Sex Marriage Case in April

“The Supreme Court has set April 28 as the date for historic arguments on gay marriage,” NBC News reports.

“The justices agreed in January to definitively answer whether the Constitution allows states to ban same-sex marriage. A ruling is expected by the end of the term in late June. The court granted cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. It will decide whether states can refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples and whether they can refuse to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere.”

Perry Also Used a Private Email Account

Rick Perry was among the first of GOP presidential hopefuls to criticize Hillary Clinton for using a personal email account for government business, the Texas Tribune reports.

Perry said the findings add to a “pattern of non-transparency… It’s an ethical issue that’s going to have to be addressed.”

“However, Perry is no stranger to using a personal email account to discuss state business, according to two lawmakers familiar with email exchanges involving the governor that surfaced two years ago. The extent to which Perry used his personal account over the years in unclear, but legislators and open-government advocates said it seriously undercuts his criticism of Clinton.”

Why Joe Biden Should Run

Matt Bai: “The accepted wisdom where Biden is concerned is that you can’t have two establishment candidates representing continuity from the same administration, so the best he can do is to wait on the sidelines, keep his options open and hope that maybe Hillary decides to do something else in the twilight of her life…”

“Biden’s instincts have to tell him something different, though. After 40-plus years in Washington, he has to know that no one ever really gets plucked off the sidelines when the opening arrives; you have to create the opening yourself. He has to know, too, that the insiders are almost always wrong, and the further out from an actual election you are, the more wrong they tend to be.”

“Biden is a better candidate than most pundits have ever given him credit for. Yeah, he’s sloppy and meandering and says some nutty stuff. But that’s all part of being genuine and three-dimensional, which may be the most valuable trait in modern politics and not a bad contrast to Clinton’s robotic discipline.”

Bush Is On a Fundraising Tear

Jeb Bush is on “a pace that most of his competitors have neither the network nor the hustle to match. Since jumping into the race in mid-December, Bush has often netted a million bucks a day and sometimes more…. By the time Bush abandons the pretense about exploring a run and officially launches his ­campaign—which could be as soon as mid-April—allies believe his fundraising tally may approach $100 million, smashing the records set by Romney and Barack Obama four years ago,” Time reports.

Said one longtime GOP bundler working for one of Bush’s rivals: “It’s incredible… It’s just an ass kicking.”

What the Clinton Email Flap Tells Us

First Read explains what we’ve learned from this episode so far: “The Clintons and their supporters haven’t changed their ways. In fact, they’ve played into every negative stereotype.”

  • “They will follow the letter of the law but not always its spirit: How do they explain that Clinton was a member of a presidential cabinet where almost everyone else was using government emails to conduct official business?”
  • “They will drag their heels when it comes to transparency: We never would have learned of Clinton’s use of personal emails if not for the Benghazi committee.”
  • “When it doubt, Clinton allies go on the attack: When this email controversy first surfaced, Clinton defenders’ first instinct was to go on the attack — against the personal emails that Scott Walker and Rick Perry have used, or the private email server that Jeb Bush had. But remember this: Jeb has at least RELEASED his emails, while Clinton hadn’t released ANY of hers.”
  • “Clinton’s close aides aren’t doing her any favors: The emails that one of Clinton’s closest aides sent to reporters during this story wasn’t helpful at all. One of the reasons why the Clintons don’t get the benefit of the doubt from reporters is because it takes yelling and screaming to get anything.”