Is Jeb the Anti-Clinton?

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made his presidential bid official Monday, and continued the buzz Tuesday by “slow-jamming” on Jimmy Fallon. Critics speak nothing but doomsday for this campaign, and argue that a third Bush White House in a quarter century is unachievable. I disagree.

Here are my six best reasons Jeb wins the nomination:

1. Jeb is the anti-Clinton.
With Hillary Clinton campaigning fiercely as the presumptive Democrat nominee, Republican voters will look for the best alternative. To this point, the Bush name could be a boost, not a hindrance. It’s the Bushes versus the Clintons, and that’s the Hatfield vs. McCoy rivalry too fun to pass up. The press wants it, and it’s the political dynasty matchup that makes for the juiciest prime time drama. They may not admit it, but these Fox News primary voters like drama.

2. Jeb has staying power in presidential politics.
Most agree that the vast fundraising and political network of the Bush family is the greatest asset Jeb has. With the ridiculous number of GOP candidates in the race, Republicans can expect a lengthy nomination process ahead. There’s something about 10,000 GRPs of advertising and super sophisticated Get Out the Vote methods that can help Jeb eek out victories along the way. It may only require 25 percent to win an early primary state and this is when Bush money can matter the most.

3. Jeb was a successful governor, and a conservative, too.
He has the credentials to match his pedigree. In addition to success as a businessman, Jeb’s policy achievements as Florida governor will appeal to traditional Republicans and conservatives, too. He cut taxes, scaled back the state employee ranks and took stands for the sanctity of life even when it was controversial to do so. He was CEO of one of the largest states in the nation.

4. Jeb has reportedly fixed and retooled the machine.
Jeb was smart to wait before announcing his candidacy. It allowed him to raise substantial sums of dollars, but to also fix and tweak his organization. The Washington Post (surprise, surprise) writes as if the early squabbles and fumbles have caused his campaign to die before it gets started. I take an opposing view. He’s one of the last to announce and may be the last to stumble, especially if he’s truly worked out the clinks and clanks in the campaign engine.

5. Jeb’s family looks like America, and it’s more than skin deep.
This Bush family looks different from the others. Columba, the first-lady-to-be, is a Mexican-American. Look to see her in every single photo op from now on. If she’s not available, there is always George P. Bush, the first-son-to-be, who happens to be more the color of his Mom than his Dad, and is a politician in his own right. After two Obama victories, and now with Democrats poised to nominate its first-ever woman, GOP voters hopefully get it.
America has color; the Republican Party does not.
Plus, the super establishment wealthy guy who marries outside his race and culture, well, it’s the best love story of the Bush dynasty and could make this Soap Opera a Nielsen ratings hit, though not nearly as scandalous as the Clinton’s.

6. Bush bravado will prove how wrong I was “once-upon-a-time”
This is my personal favorite. In my early 20s, George W. Bush stuck his finger toward my chest after I made the mistake of criticizing his father outside a Norman, Okla., event center. I informed W., then known only to be the problem child of the vice president, that his Dad just couldn’t win the White House. I was working as a very low-level staffer for former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, the man who never became president, and that was the company line. Since then, there have been two Bushes in the White House, including the problem child. So why not a third Bush? It sure beats the heck out of a second Clinton. Refer back to Reason #1.

This post was originally published on Fount Holland’s political strategy blog.


Dr. Carson’s ‘W’ in the SRLC Straw Poll

Dr. Ben Carson won the straw poll at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City. The retired neurosurgeon grabbed the spotlight when he was the featured speaker at the Oklahoma Republican Party gala Friday night, and was indeed impressive. Newsweek credited the victory to the retired brain surgeon’s soothing tone and inspiring “rags to riches” story. I agree, in part.

If you heard Carson speak, and there were hundreds at the gala, there is something refreshing about his style. He reminds me of another doctor, retired U.S. Senator Tom Coburn. He’s direct and has a conversational style that appears to come from his own brain instead that of a speech writer.

I suspect there are other factors in his victory:

1. Carson’s campaign reportedly purchased a hefty batch of tickets, and brought their own people to the conference. It may have played a factor, but doubtful it was the only reason he won. While some may criticize straw polls because of how easily manipulated they can be, it can still suggest an enthusiastic campaign’s ability to organize or at least pay for a victory here or there.

2. Carson also benefited when frontrunners U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were unable to attend the conference due to their day jobs. The U.S. Senate was in session, and they dare not miss a vote on a conservative issue. Cruz had been scheduled to be the featured speaker at the gala, and his dad instead filled in with an inspiring speech of his own. Still, for we convention-goers, there’s nothing like meeting and hearing the candidate in the flesh.

3. Most of the presidential campaigns put forth little effort to win the straw poll, saving their resources for later. Carson’s people worked the crowd, encouraging favorable observers such as myself to cast a vote. After I complimented Carson to one of his workers, she begged me to spend $75 to get registered so that I could participate. There’s something to be said for working a crowd when competing in a straw poll.

4. Dr. Carson is different than the other politicians in the race. Carson is a straight-talking doctor who has never held public office, and most likely, is the smartest person in the room when he speaks. It’s refreshing for those of us with lower IQs to hear an intellectual’s endorsement of conservative policies. And, it’s worth noting that the doctor is an African-American in a party that is starved for diversity.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker finished second after an inspiring speech, which I unfortunately missed, earlier during the conference and actually won among Oklahomans. Cruz finished third in spite of his absence.

The Newsweek analysis of Carson and the conference is worth the read. Straw polls taken at a gathering can be fun to watch, and a pageant for those who care the most, or it can help a lower-tier candidate gain a little attention with the prayer of gaining national attention.

But straw polls are seldom a predictor of who wins in the end.

This post was originally published on Fount Holland’s political strategy blog.