The four real battles, what we call the quarterfinals, are:
1. Jeb Bush v. Rubio to be the Latino/Florida-base candidate.
2. Bush v. Christie for the establishment money haul.
3. Paul v. Cruz for the conservative senator crown.
4. Walker v. Perry (Kasich, Jindal) for the insurgent governor crown.
Let’s examine the first quarterfinal: Bush v. Rubio.
Rubio is going around the country--including to all early primary states--promoting his new book (see insert). Here’s the latest on Rubio’s potential presidential campaign from ABC’s Jon Karl:
Sen. Marco Rubio has begun taking concrete steps toward launching a presidential bid, asking his top advisors to prepare for a campaign, signing on a leading Republican fundraiser, and planning extensive travel to early-voting states in the coming weeks. . . "He has told us to proceed as if he is running for president," a senior Rubio advisor tells ABC News.
Leading the effort to raise the $50 million or more he’ll need to run in the Republican primaries will be Anna Rogers, currently the finance director for American Crossroads, the conservative group started by Karl Rove that raised more than $200 million to help elect Republicans over the past two elections. Rogers will begin working at Rubio’s political action committee on February 1 and would become the finance director of Rubio’s presidential campaign.And Zogby has a shocking poll just out that screams “Rubio must run!”:
Mitt Romney* 16%
Jeb Bush 13%
Marco Rubio 13%
Chris Christie 11%
Mike Huckabee* 9%
Scott Walker 6%
* = “can’t win” candidates
Rubio is receiving 22% support among women to only 4% of men and does equally well (16% each) among both self-identified Republicans and conservatives. . . Rubio has entered the first tier, especially among GOP women and is able to do well among both establishment and conservative voters. He has gained 6 points just in the last month. He will definitely receive more scrutiny and we will see if he can emerge as the frontrunner. [emphasis added]Zogby also notes how far Rand Paul has slipped; dropping from 10% last month to just 3%. Zogby speculates Paul may have lost his appeal to young people that had been based upon his authenticity and his non-interventionist foreign policy, having recently backed a war on Muslim immigration.
Caitlin Huey-Burns of “RealClearPolitics”--in analyzing Rubio’s prospects--recently asked if
with a big-name Floridian [Bush] already moving toward a run—a seasoned governor with an extensive financial and political network and the presidency in his blood—is there room for Rubio?In Rubio’s favor, Huey-Burns wrote:
The young Republican Latino with a gift for oration is finding his window, positioning himself as the 21st century candidate, a fresh face that comes with ideas—ideas about economic mobility, foreign policy, and yes, even immigration. “The future is now. It’s here. It has arrived. And we need new ideas and new thinking, and quite frankly a new generation of leadership," he told CBS News. In an interview with Charlie Rose, when asked who in the GOP was presenting “21st century ideas,” Rubio joked, “Other than me? No one yet. That’s the challenge before us. That’s what the campaign will be about.”Yet on the other hand, she reported:
One of the many criticisms Republicans lodge against Barack Obama, a freshman senator with no executive experience, is that his inexperience shows. Republicans often pine for governors, or former governors. Washington has an unsavory smell to it. “The GOP hasn’t been wild about the first-term senator we have in the White House,” says Mac Stipanovich, a Florida Republican attorney who advised Jeb Bush’s gubernatorial run. “When you look at executive experience, governors are much more attractive, having run something more than a committee staff.”Huey-Burns acknowledged that the freshman senator argument also applies to Ted Cruz of Texas and to Paul, with Cruz only a year older than than Rubio, 43. Paul is 52.
Huey-Burns hints that Rubio's moving toward a run, quoting him saying Republicans
want someone who understands what the threats are and how to fix it, and I think that’s going to matter more at this point than how many times you ran before (Romney) or what your last name is (Jeb Bush) or how well known you are (Romney and Bush). I think this is going to be an ideas primary.She also quotes Rubio’s former chief of staff, Cesar Conda, stating:
If [Rubio] decided that the Senate was the best place to advance his policy ideas, then he would consider staying. It's hard for senators to accomplish anything in the Senate if they are running full time for president. Just look at Senator Obama as an example.That’s telling us Rubio is running, for how could the Senate be “the best place to advance his policy ideas”? So Rubio's likely in, and it’s going to be up to Rubio--plus Christie (see quarterfinal #2, above)--to take Bush down.