Will Jeb Bush Make His Last Stand in South Carolina?

Jeb Bush could be making his last stand in South Carolina on Saturday.

The Republican desperately needs to do better in the third voting state than he has so far to convince both donors and voters that he is still a viable presidential candidate.

Bush, the brother and son of former presidents, got just 3 percent support in Iowa’s caucuses earlier this month and 11 percent support in the New Hampshire primary.

He is competing with Marco Rubio, a senator, and John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, for the support of moderately conservative voters who need to coalesce around a single candidate to defeat Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Read more “Will Jeb Bush Make His Last Stand in South Carolina?”

Republican Criticism of Obama Foreign Policy Hysterical

Republican presidential candidates kept up their fearmongering in a debate televised by the Fox Business Network on Thursday, accusing Barack Obama, the Democrat they are hoping to replace next year, of deliberately weakening America at a time of global upheaval.

From businessman Donald Trump calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the country for fear of terrorists hiding among refugees to Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, conjuring up an apocalyptic scenario in which terrorists simultaneously deploy cyberattacks and dirty nuclear weapons against America — a kind of “existential threat” Obama would not “recognize,” according to the doctor — the national-security discussion got outright ridiculous at points.

Even candidates who are supposed to be more serious (and less popular) made more than a few incredulous statements. Read more “Republican Criticism of Obama Foreign Policy Hysterical”

Republican Criticism of Islamic State Strategy Feckless

Republican presidential candidates lined up almost unanimously on Tuesday night to condemn Barack Obama’s strategy for defeating the fanatical Islamist group that calls itself the Islamic State.

Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who is ahead in the polls in the first voting state, Iowa, took the Democratic incumbent to task for supposedly letting “political correctness” get in the way of fighting the militants. There is a simple strategy for defeating them, he said during a debate hosted by CNN in Las Vegas: “We win, they lose.”

Which, of course, is not a strategy at all.

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, both from Florida, were more sophisticated in their criticisms, but only a little. Read more “Republican Criticism of Islamic State Strategy Feckless”

Former Defense Secretary Questions Party’s War Planes

Former defense secretary Robert Gates delivers a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington DC, June 24, 2010
Former defense secretary Robert Gates delivers a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington DC, June 24, 2010 (DoD)

Former defense secretary Robert Gates criticized the war plans of his own party’s presidential candidates on Sunday when he argued that putting tens of thousands of American troops in Syria is “not a near-term solution” to defeating the Islamic State militant group there.

“It would take months and months, even if you decided you wanted to do it, to put the logistics in place, get the troops trained and so on,” he told NBC’s Meet the Press.

Gates, a Republican who served under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, did not single out any one candidate for criticism. But nearly all the Republicans seeking to replace Obama in 2016 have called for more expansive military action against the fanatical Islamist group that claimed responsibility for killing more than 130 people in terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month. Read more “Former Defense Secretary Questions Party’s War Planes”

Republicans Wrongly Bet Paris Attacks Will Change Minds

If Republican presidential candidates are betting last Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris will make Americans long for the foreign policies of George W. Bush, they may be making a big mistake.

In recent days, nearly all of the Republicans seeking to succeed Barack Obama, a Democrat, in 2016 have taken the incumbent to task for supposedly faltering in the fight against the Islamic State: a radical Islamist group that claimed responsibility for the attacks in France.

Even the two Floridians considered most worldly and more likely to win the nomination than the bombastic property tycoon Donald Trump — who is currently ahead in the polls — have taken a hard line.

Marco Rubio, a senator, has suggested giving the National Security Agency broader surveillance powers to interdict terror plots. He is also making an issue out of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s refusal to say that the United States are at war with “radical Islam.”

This website previously argued that voters in a general election may well decide that Rubio is too much of a hawk if he must run against Clinton — who is considered a hawk within her own party.

Now Jeb Bush is at it too. Read more “Republicans Wrongly Bet Paris Attacks Will Change Minds”

After Lousy Debate, Time for Bush to Worry

Jeb Bush’s uninspiring performance in Wednesday’s presidential debate is starting to call into question his ability to win the Republican nomination.

It’s not just this one debate. It’s that Bush — the brother and son of two former presidents — has failed to impress in all the televised debates so far. As a result, his poll numbers have barely moved. And as a consequence of that, party actors who are looking for a candidate to beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 are wondering if Jeb really is their man.

This website has argued that the polls don’t matter much at this point and that the thing to watch for is rather what “the” Republican Party — broadly understood at the elected and party officials, donors and political insiders who are most involved in the nominating process — is doing.

Most ordinary voters aren’t paying attention. The ones that are may not be taking the contest to succeed Barack Obama very seriously yet.

In late October 2011, businessman Herman Cain was ahead in the polls. It wasn’t until the end of the year that Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who wound up as the Republican nominee, start pulling ahead of his competitors. And even when the primaries got underway, the staunch social conservative Rick Santorum occasionally outpolled Romney in early 2012.

Party actors are paying attention, though, and judging by the paltry number of endorsements Bush has racked up so far, they haven’t made up their minds either. Read more “After Lousy Debate, Time for Bush to Worry”

Blaming Obama for Islamic State’s Rise is Absurd

Barack Obama
American president Barack Obama observes the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Illinois, May 31, 2010 (White House/Pete Souza)

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who is a candidate to succeed Barack Obama in 2016, reiterated a familiar Republican lament on Tuesday when he suggested that the Democratic incumbent’s withdrawal from Iraq was to blame for the emergence of the self-declared Islamic State in the country.

This is an absurd accusation. Read more “Blaming Obama for Islamic State’s Rise is Absurd”

Some in the Republican Party Are Ready to Move On

Some of the Republicans vying to succeed Barack Obama in 2016 understand they need to do more than outsmart Democrats. But many have yet to come to terms with their last defeat and may forestall the self-reflection and reinvention Republicans need before they can start winning elections again.

Ted Cruz — a firebrand from Texas who, in two years as a senator, appears to have achieved nothing but infuriate serious lawmakers in both parties — is a good example. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry reviewed his election strategy for The Week and found that its fatal conceit reflects a broader Republican misconception: that their only problem winning national elections is tactics and strategy.

After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election against Obama, too many Republicans convinced themselves that the defeat was entirely due to Romney, a bad candidate with a bad operation. The former Massachusetts governor was notorious for changing his positions on issues ranging from abortion to health care while the Democrats conducted a superior voter-outreach effort.

But Gobry points out that Romney nevertheless ran ahead of the generic Republican in many states, suggesting that his loss had more to do with how the party rather than the candidate was perceived.

The fact that Republicans were quick to blame Romney goes to what Daniel Berman, a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics, has called the three cycles of a party’s recovery at his blog, The Restless Realist. Read more “Some in the Republican Party Are Ready to Move On”