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May 2015

Jeb Bush ducks Iowa straw poll but not because he opposes straw polls

Somewhat dismissively,  presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush told folks in Iowa that he is skipping the largely worthless straw poll there because - "I just don't do straw polls."

Bush made the statement as if straw polls were the silliest thing he ever heard. 

But he didn't feel that way in 1995. That year, shortly after losing his 1994 bid for governor, Bush led the most successful Florida straw poll in the state's history. there were more than 3,300 delegates. Hundreds of reporters from across the nation attended. Nearly every major candidate participated.

Held in Orlando, the November contest ended with Kansas Senator Bob Dole, getting 1,104 votes, or 33 percent. Texas Senator Phil Gramm got 869 votes and Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander got 749 votes.  Five other candidates, including Pat Buchanan and Alan Keyes, stayed in single digits.

The candidates campaigned heavily for months before the straw poll, spending a small fortune wooing delegates. Jeb Bush told the delegates: "You can get to choose who the next President of the United States may very well be."

By 1999, Bush was Florida's governor and his big brother was running for president. There seemed no point in attempting a straw poll that would appear rigged for George W.  It effectively put an end to Florida straw polls.

And apparently now, Jeb Bush just doesn't do straw polls.


Florida's Hispanic voters may not be what you think and someone is scared of Marco Rubio

Democratic political operative Steve Schale has taken an interesting look at Florida's Hispanic voters and questions some of politics assumptions about this strategic group of voters.

Some excerpts shared with his permission:

Here are some key toplines:

  • When the books closed on 2008, Hispanics added up to about 1.35 million registered voters.  This was just over 12% of the electorate.  Again, remember the caveat above – this under represents the total Hispanic vote in Florida, which I think was 14-15% of the total electorate in 2008.
  • When the books closed on 2014, Hispanics had risen to 14.5% of the state’s registered voters, or just under 1.75 million voters.
  • The total increase in active registered voters – that is all voters of all races and ethnicities --between 2008 and 2014 was just under 700,000 voters, from roughly 11.2 million voters to 11.9 million.  Of the increase in the election pool, about 400,000, or 56% can be attributed to Hispanics.
  • In 2008, Democrats held a 67,000 voter registration advantage over Republicans among Hispanics.  Six years later, it had risen to over 191,000.  If you go back to book closing 2006, the GOP in those days held a 40,000 voter advantage over Democrats.  Any way you cut it, that is a remarkable shift among a group that makes up less than 15% of the total registered voters.

Two other noteworthy things happened over that same time:

  • Self-identified Hispanics now outnumber self-identified Black voters (African American and Caribbean American) by over 120,000 voters.  In 2008, Black voters had a 100,000 vote edge over Hispanics.
  • Further, non-Hispanic white voters only made up 13.5% of the change in voter registration between 2008 and 2014.  Put it another way, 86.5% of the change in voter registration can be attributed to racial and ethnic minority groups.  Granted, a lot of this was due to the global economic meltdown which significantly slowed the migration of whites to Florida from other states, however, this trend lines up with what we are seeing in census numbers too.  The population growth in Florida is being driven by racial and ethnic minorities.

If you are Democrat, this next bit should worry you and if you are a Republican you should love it:

Continue reading "Florida's Hispanic voters may not be what you think and someone is scared of Marco Rubio" »

Jeb Bush and his big brother problem



Does Jeb Bush like being compared to his brother, former President George W. Bush? That is the central question in an interesting piece written by Politico Florida reporter Marc  Caputo.

For much of his political career, Jeb Bush has performed a delicate balancing act when it came to his family. The Bush name effectively made him, opening doors in politics and business and producing in him a fierce family loyalty. At the same time, with two Bush presidencies and a life of patrician privilege to live down, Jeb has felt obligated to insist to the world, “I am my own man.”

This week, Bush took a serious tumble from that high wire, botching a simple question about the Iraq War that his brother George W. Bush launched and which most surveys now show a majority of Americans believe was a disastrous mistake. “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?” Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked him. “I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody,” Bush confidently replied. “And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.”

But Jeb wasn’t finished with his show of family loyalty, the polls be damned. “Just for the news flash to the world: If they’re trying to find places where there’s big space between me and my brother, this might not be one of those,” he declared, just as defiantly. Bush also surprised some donors at a recent closed-door meeting by saying that his brother, whom many Americans believe mishandled the post-9/11 challenge in Iraq, was his top foreign policy adviser on the Mideast, according to the Washington Post.

All in all, it was a disastrous couple of days for the Bush campaign.

Now this analysis by Caputo is just the kind of thing that irritates the hell out of the Bush world.

As Caputo aptly points out, Bush may not like it but he's stuck with comparison's to his brother. And those comparison are not going to stop anytime soon.

Caputo, a former colleague, also interviewed Crowley Political Report for the story. Here's what we had to say:

For some of those who have covered Jeb Bush and worked for him, the incident exposes his testy media management style, one in which he grows especially defensive about his older brother, who unexpectedly got his shot at the White House before he did.

So Bush—his guard up and his talking points at the ready (Hillary voted for the Iraq War)—answered the question he wanted, not the question asked. And his response persuaded almost no one.

 “That was the kind of ‘I’m going to dismiss the reporter, I’m going to dismiss the question’ response but it’s also a sign of a testiness that can cause him some trouble,” said Brian Crowley, the former political editor of the Palm Beach Post who covered Bush’s unsuccessful race for governor in 1994 and his subsequent blowout wins in 1998 and 2002.

Even before Bush’s first run for office, Crowley said, he pushed back against the notion that his family ties gave him special privileges. Still, after his father won the vice presidency, Bush was a “regular correspondent” with the White House and used his connection to advocate for everything from airport issues to Motorola to a businesswoman seeking federal help to increase the sales of rabbit meat, according to a recent New York Times report. In Miami, Bush became a rich man after his partnership with real-estate developer Armando Codina. “Jeb didn’t get that job with Codina because he was John Ellis. He got it because he’s John Ellis Bush,” Crowley said, referring to the initials that have become Jeb’s de facto first name.

Continue reading "Jeb Bush and his big brother problem" »

Text of Marco Rubio's Foreign Policy speech

Here is the text of Florida Senator Marco Rubio's speech to the Council on Foreign Affairs. 

The Rubio Doctrine

Strength, globalization and core values should guide American foreign policy

 I’d like to begin my remarks today by quoting from the closing of another set of remarks — from a speech that echoes across history due to its proximity to tragedy, but that stands more importantly, more powerfully, as a testament to the bipartisan tradition of strong American leadership.

On the morning of November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy spoke at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce on the need for a strong and active America, and he ended with this:

“I am confident, as I look to the future, that our chances for security, our chances for peace, are better than they have been in the past. And the reason is because we are stronger. And with that strength is a determination to not only maintain the peace, but also the vital interests of the United States. To that great cause, Texas and the United States are committed.”

These were the final words of the final speech President Kennedy ever delivered. But the commitment to American Strength he spoke of lived on long after him — across decades, across both parties — eventually bringing about the conclusion of the Cold War and the emergence of America as the world’s only superpower.

President Kennedy, like most presidents before and since, understood what our current president does not: that American Strength is a means of preventing war, not promoting it. And that weakness, on the other hand, is the friend of danger and the enemy of peace.

Since the end of the Cold War, the threats facing America have changed, but the need for American Strength has not. It has only grown more pressing as the world has grown more interconnected.

In recent decades, technology has demolished barriers of travel and trade, transforming our national economy into a global one. The prosperity of our people now depends on their ability to interact freely and safely in the international marketplace. Turmoil across the world can impact American families almost as much as turmoil across town. It can cause the cost of living to rise, or entire industries to shed jobs and crumble.

Today, as never before, foreign policy is domestic policy.

Sadly, President Obama disagrees with that simple truth. He entered office believing America was too hard on our adversaries, too engaged in too many places, and that if we just took a step back, did some “nation building at home” — ceding leadership to other countries — America would be better liked and the world better off.

Continue reading "Text of Marco Rubio's Foreign Policy speech" »

Marco Rubio video of speech to Council on Foreign Relations

Below is the speech Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave today to the Council on Foreign Relations. The speech is followed with the 2016 Republican presidential candidate answering questions from Charlie Rose. 

It is a wide ranging speech and interview with comments about Rubio's view of foreign policy and America's role in the world - from the Middle East to China and, of course, Cuba.


New Jeb Bush video suggests polls are hurting his presidential campaign

American Bridge, a Democratic video specialist, has come out with a dandy look at recent polls showing former Florida Governor Jeb Bush struggling in the polls. The video snaps back and forth among various talking heads grimly suggesting Bush is in trouble.

The video also includes comments from Bush including his suggestion that everyone "take a chill pill" rather than get worked up about the polls.

Bush is right about one thing - most of these polls, particularly national polls - are silly and meaningless. Many news organizations commit journalistic malfeasance by blowing these polls all out of proportion. 

But Bush knows better than to completely dismiss the polls. While many of them are silly, the constant chatter causes anxiety among active Republicans who take the polls all too seriously. Then, there is a risk that the polls become self-fulfilling causing both potential supporters and donors to have doubts.

If Bush were a lesser known figure, even the national political press corps might have started treating him like his last name was Perry,  Huckabee or Santorum. 

Whatever you think about the polls, this is an entertaining video.


Jeb Bush defends religion and opposes abortion at Liberty University

Jeb bush liberty u


Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush gave the commencement address today at Liberty University, the Virginia institution founded by the late Jerry Falwell.

The all-but 2016 presidential candidate gave a spirited defense of Christianity.

How strange, in our own time, to hear Christianity spoken of as some sort of backward and oppressive force.  Outside these seven thousand acres of shared conviction, it’s a depressing fact that when some people think of Christianity and of Judeo-Christian values, they think of something static, narrow, and outdated.  We can take this as unfair criticism, as it typically is, or we can take it as further challenge to show in our lives the most dynamic, inclusive, and joyful message that ever came into the world. 

The text of his speech is below:

“Thank you very much, President Falwell.  Trustees, faculty and staff, distinguished guests, parents and friends:  I appreciate your kind hospitality.  And to all the graduates: Thank you for letting me share in this wonderful day, as you become proud alumni of Liberty University.


“It’s so good to be here, and especially to visit with the Falwell family.  My Dad thought very highly of your father, President Falwell, and knew him as a loyal friend.  Jerry Falwell had a gift for friendship, spoke to everyone, and turned his back on no one.  His legacy endures, and it only begins with this great American university.


“My Dad received an honorary degree here 25 years ago, and so many of you have asked this morning how he’s doing, just a month shy of his 91st birthday.  I’m happy to say he’s in pretty good shape.  And it’ll stay that way, if we can just keep his mind off that parachute.


“Today was also my first chance to meet Pastor Jonathan Falwell. Jonathan has a unique place at Liberty, among other reasons because, here at this university, his father used to be president, and then his brother became president.  Somehow – I don’t know what it was – we really hit it off.  I’m not sure what’s in store for you next, Jonathan, but I’m pulling for you.


“The proudest people here won’t be collecting degrees.  And maybe the parents of this class are thinking of another time, when your milestones in life were, well, a little less ceremonious than today.  Things like standing up that first time, or starting to read books, instead of just chewing on them, or performing little miracles, like blowing your own nose or sitting still in church.


“It doesn’t always feel that way to parents, but they must have done a lot of things right.  Today, by the thousands, Liberty is sending forth across America civilized, confident, true-hearted men and women – which happens to be just what America needs.


“When the rest of the world hardly knew of you, you were all the world to your Mom and Dad.  And by the way you still are – so how about we all show our gratitude to the parents of the Class of 2015.  


“I might add that if you have earned a Liberty degree while on active duty in the United States military, that is a special distinction.  You’re a credit to this university and to your country, and we thank you.


“Whether you’re in this stadium or an online student receiving a degree, as of today, Liberty University is in your past.  But this school, and the values that it stands for, will always be part of who you are.


“And if there is any useful role I can perform here, maybe it’s just to offer one last word of encouragement in the vocation you have freely taken up.  It’s the same one, of course, whatever degree you have earned, whatever work you will do, however life unfolds.  It is the greatest of all callings – to know, love, and serve the Lord – and it’s yours by choice.


“You know how to choose a path and stay on it.  That’s useful knowledge when life can present more choices than we sometimes know what to do with.  Especially if you’re young and trying to live out the message of the Gospels, the world will never run short of competing offers.  You’ve heard them all, you’re not impressed, and that wisdom alone will carry you a long way.


“The faith that you brought here, the faith that matured here, doesn’t give every answer to every question.  Nor, of course, does it promise anyone a life spared from doubt or difficulty.  But in the way of life’s advantages, each one of you already has the best there is – an awakened conscience.  When you’ve got that going for you, there’s no end to the good you can do, or the wrongs you can help overcome, or the hope you can bring into the lives of others.  This doesn’t always come as a welcome reminder in some quarters, but it is true all the same:  Whatever the need, the affliction, or the injustice, there is no more powerful or liberating influence on this earth than the Christian conscience in action.


“How strange, in our own time, to hear Christianity spoken of as some sort of backward and oppressive force.  Outside these seven thousand acres of shared conviction, it’s a depressing fact that when some people think of Christianity and of Judeo-Christian values, they think of something static, narrow, and outdated.  We can take this as unfair criticism, as it typically is, or we can take it as further challenge to show in our lives the most dynamic, inclusive, and joyful message that ever came into the world. 


Continue reading "Jeb Bush defends religion and opposes abortion at Liberty University" »

Is Marco Rubio taking a slap at Jeb Bush


 Moments ago, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio tweeted the above photo with this text:

Rubio text


The link takes you to Rubio's website where a bold headline states: 

"We Can't Turn to the Leaders of Yesterday."

We understand this has been part of his campaign theme since Rubio announced but perhaps it is time to call it what it is - a direct slap at Jeb Bush.

There is no question that Rubio's biggest roadblock to the GOP nomination is Bush. And there is no question that Bush is considered a "leader of yesterday." 

After all, Bush's last political campaign was 2002 - not far removed from cell phone in that picture.

Of course there is nothing in the text of this Rubio page - which asks for money - that directly speaks about Bush. In fact, it gently touches on issues before ending with, "it's time to leave yesterday behind."

It seems clear that Rubio's campaign is convinced that the only way Rubio can defeat Bush - and the other GOP candidates - is by presenting himself as the new guy with fresh ideas - the leader of "A New American Century."

For now, Bush seems to be rolling with it. But if Rubio starts to become a real threat, Bush's team will start treating Rubio like an ill-informed school boy.




Marco Rubio offers a view of New Hampshire campaign

 Florida Senator Marco Rubio's campaign put together a New Hampshire video featuring the Republican making appearances across the Granite State. 

The campaign is using the video to raise money.

The video opens with an image of the state Capitol in Concord, the video zips through other familiar New Hampshire images while a voice is heard introducing Rubio to an audience in Manchester. In the largely blue collar state, Rubio talks about graduating students from high school who are ready to take on skilled jobs.

Rubio tells a house party that running in New Hampshire is similar to his first race for a commission seat in West Miami - "the way you get elected there is you just knock on people' doors, you do parties like this. The only thing missing is Cuban coffee."

Watch below.