If the GOP establishment was actually getting in line and preparing to endorse a single presidential candidate we’d probably be seeing signs of it by now. But in the Senate, at least, it’s just not happening. At one time we might have assumed that they would get on board with Jeb Bush since that’s where the “smart money” was back in the late spring and early summer. Yet, as The Hill reported this weekend, people seem to be hesitant to back Jeb! thus far as Marco Rubio’s numbers have strengthened, and some even seem to be edging toward the exits.
Republican senators are coming around to the view that Jeb Bush is unlikely to win the party’s nomination for president and that freshman Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) is the most viable prospect for the general election.
Rubio has had plenty of support among Beltway pundits since the outset of his campaign but Bush’s poor performance in the last Republican debate, together with his declining poll numbers, have begun to shift sentiment in even the upper echelons of the GOP’s establishment.
“Marco’s in the driver’s seat. There’s a lot of disappointment in Bush’s performance,” said one Republican senator, who requested anonymity to discuss the race candidly.
It’s not as if this is some mass defection, because the members of the upper chamber tend to hedge their bets on these things every election cycle. In terms of endorsements, there have only been five GOP senators who have taken a firm stand so far. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) jumped on the Bush train early, but now Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) have signed on with Rubio. But in 2011 there were already signs by this point that the Senators were resigned to the tide of “destiny” and they’d begun lining up behind Romney. Not so this time.
The lack of faith in Bush’s ability to win may be trickling down from the Senate to the Florida GOP donors both men have relied on. In fact, a fair amount of money has been coming from people who donated to both of them. (Miami Herald)
In Florida’s political tug-of-war between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, some fans quietly chose to help both sides.
At least 45 people in the state have made financial donations to Miami’s two presidential candidates, totaling nearly $221,000 between both campaigns as of the end of October, a Miami Herald analysis found. Some intended to back Bush all along but gave to Rubio’s Senate reelection effort and let him keep the money after he switched to run for president. Others refused to pick between a pair of Republicans they know and like.
As I implied above, the news out of the Senate really shouldn’t be as shocking as some are making it out to be. The Senators would like to have a cordial relationship with the next president (assuming it’s a Republican) and you’re not exactly getting off on the right foot if you endorsed the other guy. (Or girl.) But at the same time you’d expect most of them to eventually get on board with somebody from the D.C. inner circle. The problem here is that everyone is expecting some sort of final showdown between one of the typical political figures and the eventual “outsider” in the race, whether that turns out to be Trump, Carson or – to a lesser extent – Fiorina. But that’s simply not happening yet and we’re down to the final stretch. Three months from today both Iowa and New Hampshire will have already voted. When Perry and Walker dropped out, both Bush and Rubio were probably thinking that everyone else would be following suit and clearing the field for one of them to take on the non-political figures, but the field is still just as large.
If we get into the actual voting and none of the other main stage candidates have packed it in, Trump is going to walk away with this thing barring some serious tidal change in Carson’s favor. In that scenario, why would anyone else in the Senate start tossing out endorsements? Or if they did, the unthinkable might happen and some of the Senators might start endorsing Trump. (That’s going to be a bitter pill to swallow, though, considering the “entertainer” comments many of them made during the summer.)
The clock is ticking. At this point, if Jeb’s last name were Chasinski or anything other than Bush, we wouldn’t even be talking about him based on his poll numbers. Who else in the Senate is going to be crazy enough to endorse him now?