May 20, 2015

How liberal opposition research groups target GOP presidential hopefuls

via @lesleyclark

WASHINGTON -- Jeb Bush was in New Hampshire, talking to voters about the education standards called Common Core.

Back in Washington, ears perked up on a team that spends all day, every day, scouring television and the Internet for appearances by Republican presidential candidates. A check of the team’s vast video archive unearthed a 2011 clip of Bush seemingly saying something different.

Days later, a 30-second video of the clips appeared on a political blog under the headline: “Jeb Bush’s shifting words on Common Core.”

The quick hit by the Democratic political action committee American Bridge was the latest shot from an opposition war room in the digital age. As their counterparts do on the other side, liberal and Democratic groups such as American Bridge are working to turn every move and utterance by a burgeoning field of Republican presidential hopefuls into a viral tweet, a damaging video or a scathing TV or newspaper story.

Their monitors track every move by the Republicans, research public records and record the hopefuls at campaign events – all in a quest to define the Republican field in a way to make them look bad.

“We constantly are digging,” said American Bridge’s research director, Steven D’Amico. “You don’t always find the silver bullet every day, but the truth is we find much smaller things that push a narrative.”

More here.

May 18, 2015

After tough week, a warm Miami embrace for Jeb Bush

Bub19 JBush NEW PPP


Jeb Bush felt the welcoming embrace of Miami on Monday as he tried to put behind him a difficult week of campaigning without yet being a presidential candidate.

His political action committee, Right to Rise, held a political fund-raiser in the overwhelmingly Hispanic, working-class suburb of Sweetwater, where the former Florida Republican governor was greeted as a old friend in need of a little TLC. 

"Aquí está la vieja guardia -- no tan vieja," Bush joked in Spanish after being introduced by former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart. The old guard is here -- not that old. (Not all of it was there: The two other co-hosts, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, were stuck on Capitol Hill. More than 500 people RSVP'ed for the event, according to a Bush spokeswoman.)

Last week, Bush took heat for repeatedly bumbling a response to a question about the 2003 Iraq invasion authorized by his brother, former President George W. Bush.

There was no mention of the incident Monday from Jeb Bush during his brief speech to the crowd, who had paid $25 each to attend -- a pittance compared to receptions that have asked donors for six-figure checks.


Continue reading "After tough week, a warm Miami embrace for Jeb Bush" »

Jeb Bush's claim about leaving 10,000 troops in Iraq under Obama

During a tough campaign week focused on the Iraq War, former Gov. Jeb Bush shifted blame for problems there to President Barack Obama, saying that Obama’s actions helped hand the country over to Islamic State.

A University of Nevada student attending a town hall-style meeting in Reno asked Bush why he was placing the burden on Obama, at one point telling Bush, "Your brother created ISIS." Bush countered that the Obama administration hadn’t followed through on proper planning.

"We had an agreement that the president could have signed that would have kept 10,000 troops, less than we have in Korea, that could have created the stability that would have allowed for Iraq to progress," Bush said. (Watch video of the exchange above.)

The claim came in the middle of a rough few days for Bush, who was being criticized for his changing answers on whether he would have invaded Iraq. We wondered if it was true that Obama could have signed a deal to leave 10,000 U.S. troops in the country after the war’s end.

Turn to Joshua Gillin's fact-check from PolitiFact Florida and here is PolitiFact's story about what Bush said over several days about the war in Iraq and Hillary Clinton.

Jeb Bush on same-sex marriage: 'This has been accelerated at a warp pace'


Same-sex marriage is not a constitutional right, Jeb Bush said in an interview over the weekend in which he spoke about the issue in moralistic terms.

Bush, a devout Roman Catholic, told the Christian Broadcasting Network that "traditional marriage is a sacrament" and that society has moved too quickly to abandon that view.

"Do you believe there should be a constitutional right to same-sex marriage?" host David Brody asked. "Because that's the argument in front of the Supreme Court."

"I don't, but I'm not a lawyer, and clearly this has been accelerated at a warp pace," Bush said. "What's interesting is four years ago Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had the same view that I just expressed to you. It's thousands of years of culture and history is just being changed at warps speed. It's hard to fathom why it is this way."

Bush has said in the past that legalizing same-sex marriages should be decided on a state-by-state basis.

Last month in New Hampshire, a college Republican told Bush he is worried the GOP is losing younger voters by opposing same-sex marriages.

"I have no animus in my heart," Bush said at the time. "I have no hatred or bitterness in my heart for people that have a different view."

"I think that we need to be finding ways to unite behind broader issues where there's broader support."


May 16, 2015

Jeb Bush's Iraq stumbles set off GOP alarms

@lesleyclark @PatriciaMazzei

WASHINGTON -- Jeb Bush is suddenly prompting questions among Republicans about the suitability of one of their top tier prospects for the 2016 presidential nomination.

Insiders were alarmed by his stumbling and bumbling this week to answer a seemingly obvious question about the most controversial element of his brother's legacy, the Iraq war. They warned at week’s end that his loyalty to his family limited his flexibility as a candidate and perhaps as president and risked reinforcing a damning narrative that he would merely offer a third term of his brother.

“The big challenge now is, you don’t want to start your campaign with a re-litigation of the past,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who says that Republicans knew Bush’s challenge would be to clearly distinguish himself from his father and brother’s administrations. “Elections are inherently a contest about the future.”

Supporters privately expressed puzzlement at his performance and worried it might not be a one-time incident if the former two-term Florida governor, never one to submit to coaching or handling by aides and advisers, fails to adequately adapt for the brewing Republican primary fight.

More here.

May 15, 2015

Columba Bush enters the social media fray


In case you were not yet convinced that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is (almost) running for president: His famously private wife, Columba, joined Twitter and Instragram on Friday.

She will travel Saturday with her husband to Iowa, and then attend a Miami fund-raiser with him Monday.

A Bush spokeswoman said Columba Bush will "post photos, stories, and recipes in English and Spanish. Mrs. Bush will also be focusing on the issues that are of great importance to her: domestic violence, mental health and drug prevention, the arts and education."

Here's her first tweet:

WSJ: Jeb Bush taps family money machine for likely 2016 run

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Wall Street Journal identified 326 donors who hosted fundraisers this year for Mr. Bush’s super PAC, based on invitations and news reports compiled by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan government watchdog.

One in five were either members of the “Team 100,” those who raised at least $100,000 for the Republican National Committee during George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign—or “Pioneers” or “Rangers,” who collected at least $100,000 or $200,000 for George W. Bush’s national campaigns.

Nearly a quarter worked in at least one of the Bush White Houses or received a presidential appointment; 24 were tapped by Mr. Bush’s father or brother to serve as ambassadors; 46 worked in Mr. Bush’s administration in Florida or were appointed to advisory boards. A number of donors belong to more than one of these categories.

Mr. Bush’s top allies include 11 billionaires, six former and current owners of professional sports teams and former Vice President Dan Quayle. There is an internationally competitive sailor, a former chairman of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, as well as the author of “Nice Guys Finish Rich: The Secrets of a Super Salesman.”

More here (subscription required).

May 14, 2015

Jeb Bush finally says, in hindsight, he wouldn't have invaded Iraq


Jeb Bush on Thursday tried, finally, to exorcise the ghost of the Iraq war that has haunted him politically for most of the week. Speaking at a small brewery in Arizona, Bush said, “Knowing what we know now, I would have not engaged, I would not have gone into Iraq.”

He made the declaration without any prompting — a sign that Bush knew he had to clean up the muddled responses that began in a Fox News interview taped Saturday. His shakiness was the first significant misstep in his early campaign, and it gave an opening to his likely 2016 Republican presidential rivals to pounce, with one after the other clearly stating they would not have authorized the invasion.

Bush’s trouble began when anchor Megyn Kelly asked him the most obvious of questions about his brother’s scarred Iraq legacy: “Knowing what we know, would you have authorized the invasion?”

“I would have,” Bush said, “and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.”

Kelly pressed Bush on whether the war was a mistake, and he conceded the intelligence was “faulty.” She later opined he had misheard her question. But the damage had been done by the time her interview aired Monday.

“If we knew then what we know now, and I were the President of the United States, I wouldn’t have gone to war,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a likely Bush rival, told CNN on Tuesday.

Bush said on the radio that afternoon that he had, in fact, misunderstood Kelly. But when host Sean Hannity asked it again, Bush said, “I don’t know.” He called the query a “hypothetical.” That only further emboldened his critics, who pointed out that most of a presidential campaign (or soon-to-be campaign, in Bush’s case) involves discussing hypotheticals.

By the time Bush arrived in Nevada on Wednesday, he was repeatedly getting asked about Iraq. “I respect the question, but it does a disservice to a lot of people who sacrificed a lot,” Bush said in Reno.

By Thursday, he had had enough. He took Kelly’s original question head on.

This time, on his fourth try, Bush didn’t hesitate.

More here.

This post has been updated.

May 13, 2015

Jeb Bush: 'I'm running for president in 2016...if I run'


Jeb Bush briefly forgot his usual I'm-not-a-candidate-yet disclaimer in Nevada on Wednesday when he began answering a Washington Post reporter's question. The former Florida governor, however, quickly corrected himself.

"I'm running for president in 2016, and the focus is going to be about how we -- if I run -- how do you create high-sustained economic growth where more people have chance at earned success. I will apply my record  and the ideas that are relevant to all of this," he said.

The answer was part of a longer press gaggle where Bush made clear he is not yet formally running. The session began with a reporter asking, "Are you officially running?"

"No, no, I'm not an official candidate," Bush said. "I've been traveling the country for the last three months and making up my mind, trying to determine the support I may have should I go forward." He later said he would make up his mind "soon."

Bush remains an unannounced Republican candidate, which allows him to ask major donors for political contributions at events organized by Right to Rise, his super political action committee. Once he declares his candidacy, he will no longer be allowed to coordinate with the super PAC.

But in practical terms, he's already running. His staff has even moved into a future campaign headquarters in Miami.

This post has been updated.

Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton and authorizing the war in Iraq

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s comments on Fox News about the Iraq War brought up more questions than answers.

Did Bush fully understood the question posed by Megyn Kelly on May 10? We’ll go straight to the transcript.

Kelly: "On the subject of Iraq, very controversial, knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?"

Bush: "I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got."

Kelly: "You don't think it was a mistake?"

Bush: "In retrospect, the intelligence that everybody saw, that the world saw, not just the United States, was faulty. And in retrospect, once we invaded and took out Saddam Hussein, we didn't focus on security first, and the Iraqis in this incredibly insecure environment turned on the United States military because there was no security for themselves and their families. By the way, guess who thinks that those mistakes took place as well? George W. Bush."

His remarks drew considerable attention: Was Bush saying that even knowing the intelligence was faulty, even he and Clinton would have gone to war anyway?

See what PolitiFact found and here are the Truth-O-Meter records for Bush and Clinton.