Poor Marco Rubio. He’s spent the past year laying the groundwork for running in 2016 — pushing an anti-poverty program, making the case for interventionism abroad, even undertaking an apology tour for his big amnesty sell-out. And now Jeb’s going to bigfoot him by gobbling up the support from the national and Florida establishments that Rubio craves. It’ll be so tragic when he’s forced to run for run again for Senate in 2016, only to be toppled by a resurgent Charlie Crist. No, no, just kidding. I think.
Here’s Jeb’s son, who’ll be running for governor or senator or president (or all three) himself over the next 25 years, telling ABC it’s more than likely that dad will take the plunge. The main Bush-family catalyst in that, if the NYT is to be believed, is Dubya — which is surprising, given the agonies of his own presidency. Bush 41 was tossed out after one term, Bush 43 left office with an approval rating south of 40 percent, and yet allegedly they’re the two who are most gung ho to see the family dynasty continue. No doubt the many, many, many Bushworld cronies in the GOP establishment, from consultants to fundraisers to pollsters to strategists, are gung ho too. Jeb’s probably more viable than any of us think: Tom Bevan makes the case that between the miss-me-yet effect of Obama’s failing presidency on Dubya’s reputation and the fact that Democrats will be running a legacy candidate of their own, the Bush brand might not be as much of an albatross as it used to be. Once Jeb’s in, Rubio will be out; Christie will still probably get in, but he may alienate Bush-leery centrists enough to help Jeb earn a second look from them. The only real alternative in the center-right might be Scott Walker, who’s clinging today to a — no typo — 0.2 percent lead in his reelection bid in Wisconsin. If Walker ends up losing, it’ll be blue skies and clear sailing for Jeb among the party’s establishment wing.
And as for the non-establishment wing, brace yourselves:
When Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee were asked to deliver dueling speeches at a secret gathering of America’s most influential socialconservatives, both camps knew what the invitation represented: a private audition to be the evangelical movement’s presidential candidate in 2016…
“Ted Cruz is a cage rattler who likes to get out there and talk about limited government and defunding Obamacare and so on. But when it comes to connecting with the faith community nobody does it better than Mike Huckabee,” said Alice Stewart, Huckabee’s spokeswoman and senior adviser. “When it comes to rallying social conservatives, Ted Cruz doesn’t hold a candle to Mike Huckabee.”…
“Huck just connects with that audience better,” said one of the event’s organizers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of its strict off-the-record rules. “Cruz was like a hyper lawyer roaming the stage and making a factual argument to a jury. Huckabee was like a friendly preacher speaking from the pulpit and appealing to emotion. Just two totally different styles.”
If social conservatives line up behind Huckabee, you could have a three-way split on the right — evangelicals for Huck, tea partiers for Cruz, and libertarians for Paul, all of which would be music to Jeb Bush’s ears. The more the base is split, the more likely it is that an establishmentarian who’s consolidated centrists behind him will sneak through in the early states and waltz to the nomination. Huck wins Iowa and South Carolina, Jeb wins New Hampshire and Florida, and suddenly boom — we’ve got our Bush/Huckabee unity ticket for 2016. Get excited.