Friday, February 11, 2011

Rubio Makes First Moves towards 2016 Presidential Run

When Senator Marco Rubio hired Terry Sullivan to be his deputy chief of staff, he also made his first move towards securing the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

Terry Sullivan is not a big name in Florida politics. He is not particularly known as being big on "the Hill." He is a political strategist, pure and simple. More to the point, he is a South Carolina political strategist. Even better (for Rubio's political ambitions), he is very closely tied to Tea Party favorite, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint (whose early endorsement of Rubio helped him gain the necessary traction to pull away from Charlie Crist).

What does this have to do with running for president? Easy, after the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary is the South Carolina primary. It's one of the traditional early primary states. And one that might, under normal circumstances, have trouble voting for a latino, especially one whose parents were born in another country.

The Iowa caucuses are all about organization. If Rubio struggles there, it will be because of the influence of evangelical protestants (though he has been working to shore up that side of things, as well - suggesting to evangelicals that he is protestant, while assuring Catholics that he is not apostate and has not left the church).

New Hampshire very well might appreciate a fresh, charismatic face, like Rubio. They like fiscal conservatives, and though Rubio's actual history of being a profligate spender (in both his legislative career and personal life), he has successfully re-cast himself as a fiscal conservative.

This leaves South Carolina as an unanswered question/problem for a Rubio candidacy.

Make no mistake - Terry Sullivan wasn't hired to serve the people of Florida. He exists to serve Rubio's political ambitions.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Jeb 2012

I have been thinking a lot about Rich Lowry's National Review piece about Jeb Bush's chances if waits to run for president in 2016, instead of 2012. I cheerfully admit that I have bought into the conventional wisdom that Jeb is making the right choice in keeping his powder dry for 2016 - Obama is a heavy favorite for re-election, so 2016 will represent an open seat, plus the bad memories of his brother's failed presidency will have all but completely faded away.

Normally, I find Rich Lowry to be an unctuous and embarrassingly groveling sort of guy. And I think that National Review has fallen on hard times, intellectually speaking, since the late, great William F. Buckley left the scene. While I might have been on the other side of many issues from Buckley, but especially since rising above the racism and anti-semitism of his early career, I almost always respected his mind. None of his successors have been worthy to even shine his shoes.


Lowry struck a chord with me. Since accepting that 2012 was a bad idea for any Bush to run for president, I have not bothered to delve below the surface of that assertion. But maybe I - and maybe we all - were wrong (except for Lowry - which might be a sign of the apocalypse).

Would Rubio really step aside for Jeb if he saw an opening? Will Bush really be a better name than Christie or Jindal or Pence (who will probably be running from a perch as governor of Indiana, instead of just being a Congressman, by then). Now that the questions have been raised, the answers don't seem to clear.

If this is so, and since Jeb seems committed to skipping out on 2012, the question now becomes whether the man who once ruled Florida with a near iron fist will swiftly become an irrelevant afterthought. He will still be a factor as an endorser in GOP primaries in Florida, but his time as a major player, across the board in Florida and nationwide, might be coming to end. In which case, perhaps Lowry's assertion struck a chord because I hope that he's right (after eight years of running Florida's budget and economy into the ground and creating long-term, structural crises for us and his successors to clean up, I'm ready to see him become a non-factor).