August, 2015

The Latest on Wonk Wire

Here’s what’s trending on Wonk Wire today:

Jeb Bush Has a Foot-In-Mouth Problem

Dana Millbank: “Jeb Bush established his inheritance of the family trait earlier this year, with his kick-off foreign policy speech. He confused Iraq for Iran, said Islamic State had 200,000 fighters instead of 20,000, and referred to the Islamic State leader as ‘the guy that’s the supreme leader, whatever his new title is, head of the caliphate.’ He said immigration should be ‘a catalytic converter for sustained economic growth.'”

“But Jeb Bush’s slips tend to be different from those of his kin. His are more Freudian, involving accidental truths.”

Cruz’s Embrace of Trump Is Key to His Strategy

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is stalking Donald Trump — “if not geographically (the Alabama trips were coincidence) then ideologically and rhetorically, making sure the two stay in lockstep on issues of the day so that voters who are energized by Trump’s message but looking for a more polished messenger discover a natural transition to Cruz,” National Journal reports.

Trump Explains Why He’s Attacking Bush

Donald Trump explained his attacks toward Jeb Bush, saying that he had taken for granted that the former governor of Florida was going to be his chief rival, Politico reports.

Said Trump: “Well I don’t want to be nasty, and I don’t want to say that. But I will tell you that if you look at the polls, he isn’t really second anymore. He’s fourth and fifth in a lot of the polls. And I have, you know, I’ve always assumed that he was going to be a primary competitor, and I guess that’s why I’m hitting him harder than others.”

Does Biden Have an Opening?

Rick Klein: “It’s a version of speed dating, except one party is already sort of engaged. And it wouldn’t take Ashley Madison to find another just-maybe willing prospect outside the room. The Democratic National Committee is converging in Minneapolis just in time to take some private frustrations over Hillary Clinton’s candidacy public. But as Clinton herself and her announced rivals zip through the room, making condensed versions of their pitches, all eyes of course remain on Vice President Joe Biden and a team that’s actively drumming up interest in that third Biden run.”

“The challenge for them is to be clear about the circumstances: disappointment and even anger at Camp Clinton is not necessarily the same as a groundswell for the vice president. Biden insiders think they’ve gotten President Obama’s go-ahead this week, yet that’s not an endorsement. It’s also not a replacement for the grassroots eruption Biden would have to position himself to tap into if a late-starting candidacy will go anywhere. Clinton may well be vulnerable, and those in the room in Minneapolis may want her to face a more substantial challenge. That’s not the same, though, as wanting to break up with Clinton in favor of Biden.”

Trump May Soon Rule Out Third Party Bid

Donald Trump told the New York Times that he “would soon decide whether to sign a pledge to support the ultimate Republican presidential nominee, something the South Carolina Republican Party is requiring to compete in the state’s critical primary.”

Trump said that he expected his showing in polls to “go up 10 or 15 percent” if he signs the pledge. He added that if he did sign but lost the nomination, he would not run as an independent, a concern among many Republicans.

Said Trump: “I don’t make commitments and break them.”

Pollsters Dumbfounded by Trump

“Polling experts agree on one thing when it comes to Donald Trump’s presidential run: They’ve never seen anything like it. The billionaire businessman’s dominance of the Republican presidential race is forcing experienced political hands to question whether everything they know about winning the White House is wrong,” The Hill reports.

“The shocks have come in quick succession, with Trump first rocketing to the top of national polls, and then taking double-digit leads in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.”

“In another act of political magic, Trump managed to flip his favorability rating from negative to positive in one poll during the span of a month — a feat that Monmouth University’s Patrick Murray called ‘astounding.’ Trump’s favorability rose from 20 percent to 52 percent among Republican voters between July and August, Monmouth found.”

Kasich Is Bigger Threat to Bush Than Trump

Caitlin Huey-Burns: “Over the past month, John Kasich has been moving in on Bush’s turf, gaining ground in the must-win state of New Hampshire. The Ohio governor is positioning himself as moderate Republicans’ viable alternative to Bush, with a more current resume and less baggage, while refraining from going after his Florida rival.”

“Bush and Trump aren’t really going after the same voters, but he and Kasich are definitely doing so.  In a field this crowded, the true threat comes not from the polar opposite candidate, but the one trying to be most like you.”

Fiorina Fights for Place in 2nd GOP Debate

Carly Fiorina “is waging a public war with both CNN, which is hosting the debate, and the Republican National Committee, which her campaign accused on Wednesday of ‘rigging the game’ to keep her out of the prime-time event,” the New York Times reports.

“Recognizing that Mrs. Fiorina may be excluded from the debate, costing her crucial exposure and dampening fund-raising efforts, her campaign has sought to turn the likely snub into a public relations victory in an effort to win her sympathy and attract support from anti-establishment Republicans.”

Democratic Insiders Grow Concerned About Clinton

“As Democratic Party insiders gather for their summer meeting, there is a growing undercurrent of concern whether Hillary Clinton would be the party’s strongest candidate to keep the White House next year,” McClatchy reports.

“They still like and mostly support her. But many are increasingly questioning her handling of official emails while Secretary of State and her response to the furor over it. Some worry about her ability to connect with voters. And all this is aggravated by Vice President Joe Biden and his supporters stepping up their soundings on whether to mount a challenge.”