December, 2015

Speaking Fees Create Conflict for Clintons

More than two dozen companies and groups and one foreign government paid former President Bill Clinton a total of more than $8 million to give speeches around the time they also had matters before Hillary Clinton’s State Department, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

Fifteen of them also donated a total of between $5 million and $15 million to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the family’s charity, according to foundation disclosures.

Bush Shifts Most Staff to Early States

Jeb Bush’s campaign “is deploying nearly all of its staff in its Miami headquarters to early states,” Politico reports.

“Top campaign officials informed employees that the deployment would be staggered throughout the month of January, one participant on the call said. The campaign is expected to deploy between 50 and 60 Miami-based staffers, with 20 going to New Hampshire and 10 or more going to Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada.”

New York Times: “The switch comes as Mr. Bush, who is in single digits in the polls and is struggling to revive his presidential bid, is placing an increased emphasis in the first four caucus and primary states, especially New Hampshire.”

Establishment Candidates Begin to Attack Each Other

“With less than five weeks before voters begin weighing in on the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, the establishment contenders — who until now have been relatively restrained — have begun aiming their fire at each other,” the Washington Post reports.

“The tactical shift on the part of the candidates and their allies reflects a long-standing assumption as to how this crowded nomination battle is likely to play out. Many believe the race will come down to a one-on-one contest between an ‘outsider’ who channels the angry Republican base and a candidate more in line with the wishes of the party hierarchy.”

Politico: Establishment rivals rip into Rubio

Trump Suggests He Might Lose Iowa

Donald Trump seems to be coming to terms with the idea he might lose in Iowa, Politico reports.

Said Trump: “If I come in second by 2 points, they’ll say ‘Ooh, this is a terrible defeat.’ It’s not terrible.”

“It seemed like a classic case of expectations-setting common to presidential campaigns, but rarely seen from Trump, who has consistently led both in national and early-state polls.”

New York Times: “He allowed at one point in his speech that he could finish in the top four and be happy, but then quickly said he wants to win Iowa and that the media would say he lost no matter how close to first place he came.”

An End to the Clinton-Trump Friendship

New York Times: “In the past week, any semblance of a friendship between Mr. Trump and Bill Clinton came to an ugly end as the former president and his wife’s presidential campaign found themselves in a muddy battle over sexism with the Republican candidate who has upended this election cycle with his insults and attacks.”

“The criticism of Mr. Clinton’s personal life comes as Mrs. Clinton is increasingly relying on the former president, mentioning him in almost every speech as she praises his economic record. But Mr. Trump’s attacks on him are now rippling through the race, with other candidates and even a prominent newspaper columnist suggesting that Mr. Clinton’s sexual history is fair game.”

Politico: Trump was for the Clintons before he was against them

The Cruz Caucus

“Not a single U.S. senator has endorsed Ted Cruz for president. But over in the House, a dozen activist conservatives are going all out to catapult the first-term Texan into the White House,” Politico reports.

“Lawmakers like Reps. Steve King of Iowa and Mo Brooks of Alabama are attending campaign rallies with Cruz. Others are serving as surrogates at Republican debates, lending their names to fundraising appeals, and taking to conservative radio and cable TV in an effort to burnish Cruz’s credibility with crucial evangelical and conservative primary voters.”

Zhou Enlai May Have Been Gay

A new book, The Secret Emotional Life of Zhou Enlai, claims the first premier of the People’s Republic of China was gay, the New York Times reports.

“That assertion is sure to be contentious in China, where homosexuality is not widely accepted and where many may view it as an attack on Zhou’s character. Indeed, the book is expected to be banned in mainland China, as are other unauthorized biographies of Zhou.”

Bush Has Less Urgency Than Others to Win

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson told U.S. News that Jeb Bush doesn’t have to win one of the early states.

Said Thompson: “He doesn’t have to win until he gets to Nevada and Super Tuesday. He’s the one person with the ties to the establishment and the organization in every state. There are Bush people in every state, whether it be for the father Bush, the younger Bush or Jeb.”

He added: “Other candidates have to start showing victories in Iowa and New Hampshire. Bush doesn’t have to have that. He’s got the luxury he’s got enough money to continue advertising. Jeb doesn’t have to win the first three states.”

Trump Says Personal Life is Fair Game

“If Democratic or Republican opponents want to drag some of the sordid details from Donald Trump’s personal life onto the campaign trail, that’s fine by him,” CNN reports.

“Trump didn’t go into specifics, and reporters didn’t follow up on the question. But his personal life at times has been tabloid fodder, most famously in the early 1990s when his marriage to his first wife, Ivana Trump, fell apart after he had an extramarital affair with model and actress Marla Maples. Trump eventually married Maples in 1993, and the two divorced six years later. Trump married his current wife, Melania, in 2005.”

Money May Matter Less Than We Thought

Wall Street Journal: “The accepted wisdom headed into the 2016 cycle was that the combination of wide-open races and looser campaign finance laws would make the race more expensive than ever—and that, by extension, whoever had the most money would have a big advantage.”

“Not so. The most well-heeled Republican candidate, Mr. Bush, has slowly but surely faded. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, backed by a well-stocked super PAC—one of the unregulated campaign organizations sucking up big donations—was gone before the first frost. Money is nice, but it isn’t nearly enough.”

Clinton Could Survive Loss in New Hampshire

Washington Post: “Clinton has hardly written off the state, but appears to be working on the assumption that a loss here would be only a temporary blow on the way to a relatively easy primary victory. She is likely to defeat Sanders the week before in Iowa, where the first 2016 presidential selection contest will be held, and again in the next two contests in South Carolina and Nevada. She is also favored in the heavy slate of southern and other states that vote in early and mid-March.”

Politico: Clinton fights to reclaim New Hampshire