LIVEPost-election bloodletting begins within Republican ranks as talk of a Jeb Bush versus Hillary Clinton race in 2016 emerges
2016: Clinton v Bush redux?
The Washington political media abhors a news vacuum – and so it is that a dream contest between Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Jeb Bush for the Republicans steps into the breach.
The ever-breathless Politico is the first to go large on the subject, with a banner headline of “2016 election: Hillary Clinton v Jeb Bush?” – with the question mark as the only hint of reticence.
“What’s certain,” Politico’s reporters declared, “is that Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush loom the largest over their respective parties as the long road toward 2016 begins.”
That may be true in the case of Hillary Clinton, for two reasons. One is that she is most obviously next in line, given here finger-tip loss to Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008 and her subsequent performance as secretary of state. The other is that – to be honest – the democratic bench is thin otherwise, meaning that there are no obvious Obama-like candidates to compete against.
There is of course Joe Biden, but the biggest barrier at this point to a Clinton nomination is herself: whether or not she wants to run, and it’s not clear that she does.
Besides Biden the candidates being chatted about include New York governor Andrew Cuomo and even Ohio’s blue-collar senator Sherrod Brown. Some tout newly-elected senator Elizabeth Warren. But none of these have the attractions of a Clinton candidacy.
For Jeb Bush the outlook is less certain because of the array of candidates waiting on the GOP sidelines. In the red corner there are a binder-full of plausible candidates of all ideological shapes and sizes.
Chris Christie may have made his chances a lot more difficult with his public embrace of Obama after Sandy – but that had more to do with him winning re-election next year, a necessary condition for a tilt at the GOP nomination in 2016. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin’s superstar governor Scott Walker, VP candidate Paul Ryan all stand out as strong contenders whether or not Jeb Bush runs. And that’s not including some attractive long-shots, such as New Mexico governor Suzanna Martinez and even the newly elected senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.
But make no mistake: with his name and track record, Jeb Bush would be a leading contender. As governor of Florida he championed education reform, and had a record of support from Hispanic voters that the GOP desperately needs to emulate. By 2016, his brother’s time as president would have taken on a sepia-tinge, as Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina and Lehmann Brothers all disappeared from America’s rear-view mirror.
So yes, America could well be in for a repeat of 1992 – and a country that spurned aristocracy 240 years ago could have created one by default.