To: Interested Parties
From: Brad Woodhouse, President, American Bridge 21st Century
Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Re: Floundering Republican Candidates Are Desperate To Right The Ship At CPAC
It’s CPAC time. That means thousands of Republicans are descending on National Harbor over the next few days. And at this rate, it seems that about half of them will run for president. Now all they need is one viable candidate.
The 2016 Republican presidential primary began unexpectedly early, when Jeb Bush made the December declaration that he was “actively exploring” a run at the White House, accelerating his rivals’ timeline in the process. Maybe they shouldn’t have jumped the gun. If the last couple months have shown us anything, it’s how wildly unprepared for primetime this cast of presidential hopefuls truly are.
Bush’s nascent campaign has been marred by one misstep after the next, from abject vetting failures to cringeworthy speeches to revelations about his problematic financial ties. Scott Walker has been getting pounded by the press as “spineless” after a parade of pathetic non-answers on straightforward questions, like whether he believes that evolution is real or the president is Christian. Chris Christie appears to have more supporters in luxury boxes and private jets than he has in New Jersey these days, as the one-time favorite has been relegated to a punchline. The list goes on and on.
And while CPAC offers a potential lifeboat for a slew of floundering candidates, navigating the waters will be dicey. It’s no secret that the Tea Party has dragged the GOP sharply to the right. These days, having appeal with the grassroots Republican base and appeal with the general electorate are mutually exclusive.
Already, many on the right distrust Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio on immigration; for others, it’s Rand Paul‘s isolationism or Chris Christie‘s Medicaid expansion that they find unacceptable. And to further complicate matters, the GOP is locked in an intra-party ideological battle that’s on the verge of shutting down the Department of Homeland Security over opposition to the president’s deportation relief.
So how will these stumbling candidates manage to persuade CPAC’s red meat crowd — and more broadly, Republican primary voters — of their conservative bona fides, without signing their own general election death warrants?
Here’s my simple answer: They can’t.
Washington Post: The lucrative Obamacare connection that Jeb Bush is trying to cut
Bloomberg: Jeb Bush Has a Mitt Romney Problem
Washington Post: Jeb Bush has a serious talk radio problem
Washington Post (Editorial): Scott Walker’s spineless silence
Bloomberg: Scott Walker’s New Specialty: Punting
Politico: Scott Walker’s Unforced Errors
New York Times: In Pre-Primary Pivot to Right, Walker Shifts Tone on Abortion
Washington Post (Dana Milbank Op-ed): Scott Walker’s Cowardice Should Disqualify Him
National Review: Scott Walker’s About-Face on Amnesty
POLITICO: Scott Walker’s immigration problem
Star-Ledger (Editorial): Christie’s dream is dying. It’s time to come home, governor
Washington Examiner: Politico CEO says Chris Christie is politically ‘dead’
New York Times: Pensions Haunt Christie 4 Years After Being ‘Fixed’
Philadelphia Inquirer: Judge rules Christie’s pension cut unconstitutional
Tampa Bay Times: Rubio’s fundraising keeping him away from Senate votes
Miami Herald: Marco Rubio tops list of missed Senate votes
National Review: How Big Is Marco Rubio’s Jeb Bush Problem
The American Conservative: The Rise and Fall of Rubio
Talking Points Memo: Rand Paul Shushes Female CNBC Anchor During Interview (VIDEO)
Washington Post: Rand Paul on vaccines: Do you want to be shushed?
FactCheck.org: Rand Paul Misleads With Statements On NIH, Fruit Flies
FactCheck.org: Rand Paul Exaggerates Tax Credit Fraud
McClatchy: Politifact: Rand Paul disability claim false
Washington Post: Rand Paul’s claim — twice in one day — that he has a biology degree (3 pinocchios)
Bloomberg: Why Rand Paul’s Biology Degree Claim Matters