America’s political dynasties were on display in Dallas Thursday, but is the country ready for another president named Bush or Clinton?
All week, in a flurry of media appearances, former President George W. Bush enthusiastically encouraged the idea of a future President Bush.
“We’ve been in the wilderness and pretty soon our party will start coalescing around someone to become our leader,” Bush told Fox News about his younger brother and former Florida governor. “I wish his name was Jeb.”
“Big Jeb, you know, he’s got a decision to make,” Bush said to CNN, “and if I could make it for him, it would be run.” And to ABC News, “He doesn’t need my counsel, because he knows what it is, which is run!”
But, candid as always, family matriarch and straight shooter Barbara Bush made the week’s news in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer. “He’s by far the best qualified man but no, I really don’t,” she said when asked whether she’d like to see Jeb Bush run. “I think it’s a great country. There are a lot of great families. It’s not just four families. There are other people out there who are very qualified and we’ve had enough Bushes.”
In a speech Wednesday to the World Affairs Council of Dallas-Fort Worth, Jeb Bush didn’t exactly jump at the opportunity to discuss his presidential ambitions. Asked about the race in 2016, he pointed to his son George P. Bush who is running for statewide office in Texas, saying “To be honest, I’m focused on the land commissioner race in 2014.”
Barbara Bush’s blunt comments aren’t just a dose of tough love for her own family, and perhaps a clue to some of the items on the “con” side of her son’s 2016 ledger, they were also a categorical statement about the other family that has dominated presidential politics for the last two decades: the Clintons. The 2012 presidential campaign was the first campaign since 1976 with no one named Bush or Clinton on the ticket.
On the same day that Jeb Bush plugged his book at the World Affairs Council, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her first paid speech since leaving the administration in Irving, Texas, to the National Multi-Housing Council’s board of directors.
Five House committees released a joint report Wednesday on Benghazi. The takeaway: Republicans are likely to run against Clinton at every opportunity in the lead-up to 2016. The report, which mentions Clinton’s name 30 times, blames her and the highest levels of the State Department for the failures in Libya. The committee chairmen say Clinton didn’t tell the truth about the security situation in Benghazi when she testified before the House Foreign Affairs committee earlier this year, and point to an April 19 cable sent last year that Clinton signed that acknowledges a request from officials in Libya for more security while allowing security reductions.
Two potential candidate spouses joined Twitter this week. Former presidential Bill Clinton replaced the handle @prezbillyjeff, set up by The Colbert Report’s Stephen Colbert with @billclinton, and tweeted a picture of the five living presidents together. The vice president’s office also set up a Twitter account for Dr. Jill Biden. The White House tweeted a picture of Dr. Biden sending her inaugural tweet from an iPad.
The Democrat who may be campaigning most aggressively for president, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, was also on social media, from Israel. Over the past few cycles, stopping in Israel is as important for a presidential candidate as a pancake breakfast in Nashua.
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, whose 2016 prospects have been boosted by his father’s online network, faced a backlash over comments he made on drones. “If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and $50 in cash,” Paul told Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto on Tuesday. “I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.” In one post on “The Daily Paul,” a Ron Paul fan site, “Unmanned killers in our skys O.K.??? Really?….Get away from the Neocons and war mongers Rand, their arrogant and self-righteous air is rotting your brain.”
Iowa Republican heavy hitter Craig Robinson, who served as political director for the state Republican party during the 2008 caucuses, tweeted:
I want 13 hours of my life back…How can you stand with Rand when you don’t know where Rand stands? fb.me/wwX6FRPx
— Craig Robinson (@IowaGOPer) April 24, 2013
Paul did damage control in a Des Moines Register interview, saying a “left wing blog” had manufactured the controversy, “…those who’ve spread this around have not really looked through the issue significantly in order to know that my position is exactly the same.”
Finally—Florida’s Marco Rubio who starred in a new TV ad by GOP supporters of comprehensive immigration reform, is not the only one trying to win over right-wing talk radio with mixed success. After Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., gave a speech touting immigration reform at the City Club of Chicago on Monday, conservative radio host Mark Levin took issue, “I like the man. But he’s creating a record here for himself that makes it very, very hard, in my view, if he chooses to run for president, to vote for him.”