Walker Shines in Iowa

Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) “stock is soaring after a triumphant return to Iowa,” The Hill reports.

“The Wisconsin Republican governor delivered a pitch-perfect speech to a room packed with influential Hawkeye State conservatives on Saturday, walking them through his robust resume and ideology with a passion that surprised many. Activists say Walker came out on top after 10 hours of candidate speeches.”

The Des Moines Register says Walker “was the center of buzz after his speech.”

Biden Has No Organization

Wall Street Journal: “Potential presidential candidates — top-tier contenders and long-shots alike — have already spent years quietly laying groundwork, building email lists, recruiting staff, and generally doing the scut work of building an organization on which to call if they flip the switch and launch a 2016 campaign Mr. Biden, who said this week that he is still weighing a presidential run, is one of the few potential candidates with no political organization, nonprofit, foundation, or campaign staff-in-waiting.”

GOP Gathering in Iowa Highlights Divided Party

Rick Klein says Saturday’s Iowa Freedom Summit “quickly and frequently got sidetracked. There were familiar diversions, even more familiar intra-party battles, brief heckling episodes, and a few famous faces who are only tangentially involved with national politics these days.”

“The result was that at a showcase moment for an energized Republican Party, with a deep bench of talented presidential aspirants, the fault lines of policy and personality that have defined the GOP during the Obama era made themselves known yet again. The clear signal was that they’re unlikely recede amid the most wide-open field in modern history.”

Bush Says He and Romney Avoided Talking Politics

Jeb Bush told the Washington Post that when he met with Mitt Romney earlier this week they mostly avoided talk about the 2016 presidential campaign.

Said Bush: “We talked about the Patriots. We talked a little bit about politics, not as much as you might imagine. We talked about the future of the country. We talked about the need for a more engaged foreign policy.. . .The awkward side of this, about running and such, we put aside.”

Why Christie Has a Better Shot Than Many Think

Byron York: “Chris Christie is in better shape than you think. There was a widely-held assumption that Christie’s Jersey Guy persona wouldn’t play well in Iowa — that he is just too hot and too confrontational to get along with a bunch of nice Midwesterners. But it turns out a lot of Iowa Republicans actually like Christie, even if they’re not quite ready to support him. Christie connects with audiences in Iowa just like elsewhere in the country, and more importantly, Iowa Republicans really want someone to fight for them in the next campaign. Most felt Romney just wouldn’t take it to President Obama in 2012, so now Christie is OK with them as long as they believe he will give Democrats hell.”

Bush Says Republicans Must Be Upbeat to Win in 2016

“Sketching the broad outlines of a presidential campaign that is undeclared but well underway, Jeb Bush on Friday mixed familiar calls for lower taxes and less regulation with an admonishment to fellow Republicans to stay upbeat and offer hope as their central message in 2016,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Said Bush: “We’re not going to win votes as Republicans unless we can lay out a hopeful, optimistic message that’s based in reality, that’s grounded in a set of policies that are real, that people believe can actually happen. Hope and a positive agenda wins out over anger and reaction every day of the week.”

GOP May Kill Filibuster for Supreme Court Nominees

“Top Senate Republicans are considering gutting the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees — a move that could yield big rewards for whichever party controls the White House and Senate after 2016,” Politico reports.

“The move, still in its early stages, reflects growing GOP confidence in its electoral prospects next year. But it could also have a major immediate impact if a justice such as 81-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg steps down, making it far easier for President Barack Obama to get a replacement confirmed.”

Trump Says He Would Have Beaten Obama

Donald Trump told the Des Moines Register that the two presumed Republican presidential frontrunners, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, “are doomed to lose — and he expressed regret that he hadn’t run himself in 2012.

Said Trump: “I was leading in every poll. … I regret that I didn’t stay in. I would’ve won the race against Obama. He would’ve been easy. Hillary is tougher to beat than Obama, but Hillary is very beatable.”

Trump also dropped hints (again) that he might run in 2016: “It’s too early for me to say. I’ll may make a decision to run before June. But I’m strongly inclined to do so.”

Tensions Grow Over Obama Email List

“New tensions are emerging in the relationship between allies of President Obama and Hillary Clinton,” The Hill reports.

“At issue is the fate of the political equivalent of gold dust — the enormous email list, comprised of many millions of supporters and donors, that the Obama team has compiled over the course of his two presidential campaigns. The Clinton camp would dearly love to get its hands on the list, but there is no promise as yet that the president’s aides will comply.”

Bush Gives Donors a Price List

“As he lines up support for a likely presidential bid, Republican Jeb Bush is offering donors the chance to join his ‘national executive committee’ – if they raise $500,000 by March 31,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“A pledge form for Mr. Bush’s newly formed Right to Rise political committee offers other levels of membership: donors who collect $250,000 by March 31 can join the ‘national committee,’ $100,000 to join the ‘state executive committee’ and $50,000 for the ‘state committee.'”

A Massive Wave of Secret Money Is Coming

National Journal: “The coming presidential contest is ushering in an epochal shift: the arrival of candidate-specific nonprofits, personalized vehicles for a politician’s supporters to raise and spend unlimited cash—completely clandestinely. It is poised to yield a campaign season more dominated by secret money than any election since Watergate, according to more than two dozen campaign strategists, election lawyers, donors, and worried watchdogs.”

“Already, at least four Republicans—Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, and John Kasich—are linked to nonprofits staffed by allies helping to promote their vision for America. They have used these nonprofits to poll and formulate policy, to hire operatives and travel the country, to build national networks and keep themselves in the spotlight. Such activities were once the province of campaign committees, where donors are named and expenses are tallied. But by raising money through ‘social welfare’ nonprofits, these not-yet-candidates are avoiding disclosure of both their financiers and what, exactly, they are financing.”

Christie Has Been Given 77 Diet Books

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) office “has kept track of more than 1,100 gifts he’s received in his official capacity since taking office. The records show that gift-givers have seen fit to shower the governor with virtually every diet book, CD, DVD and weight loss kit available. Of about 600 books presented to Christie as gifts, 77 were about the topics of diet, exercise, bariatric surgery or self-help weight loss,” the Newark Star Ledger reports.

Clinton Plans Massive Fundraising Blitz

“Major donors are ready to announce huge financial commitments to Hillary Clinton as soon as she announces a second run for the White House, according to Clinton allies and Democratic fundraisers,” The Hill reports.

“The Clinton team wants to build excitement about her campaign launch, which is expected in March or April. The money blitz would be a show of Clinton’s strength meant to scare away potential primary rivals.”

Said one top Democratic donor: “It’s going to be like nothing you’ve seen. The numbers will be astounding.”