What’s behind Jeb Bush’s orchestrated rollout

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Behind Bush’s rollout strategy
  • The advantages of trying to frame thorny issues
  • Scott Walker struggles with question about evolution
  • The one Republican who voted against Keystone

Jeb’s strategy: For someone who is supposedly not running yet for president, Jeb Bush is running what is pretty close to a full-on presidential campaign. There have been bumps on the road — his digital chief who quit before barely starting because of misogynistic (and more) tweets. And his email dump — meant to pre-butt criticism — that was unredacted and included some sensitive constituent information. But when you step back, you can see his campaign is trying to orchestrate a careful message rollout, complete with a string of policy speeches meant to frame thorny issues — as well as media pushback and outreach through his PAC, Right to Rise, that looks more like the rapid response during a presidential than any other campaign yet.

Choosing the framework: Bush laid out his overarching theme for his candidacy with his speech in Detroit — a campaign against liberal economic theory as a way to thread the needle in a conservative primary. Whether that will work or not in a GOP primary is an open question. That was followed by a policy speech on the subject he knows best — education. That policy speech rollout continues Wednesday in Chicago. That speech will be on foreign policy, which will be followed by his talk at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in Washington the following week. This is a way for Bush to address early on and frame two of his potential potential shortcomings — Common Core and how he would conduct a foreign policy different from his brother, George W. Bush. With these “major addresses,” he will get lots of media attention, and later in the campaign, when reporters ask questions on these issues, (1) he would have already articulated the message the way he wants, and (2) he can point back to that speech. It’s a good warm up, but the real tests will come in the throes of the campaign when the attacks will come from his rivals.

There’s something about those foreign trips: Speaking of thorny issues … Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — the man of the moment on the GOP side — is in the U.K., but, like Chris Christie before him, he’s landed in some unforeseen controversy. New Jersey’s Christie stumbled overseas when talking about vaccines. Walker is now facing a tempest of his own — on evolution. Asked Wednesday if he believes in it, he said it wasn’t his place to say. “I’m going to punt on that one as well. That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other.” In a statement released later in the day, Walker said, “Both science and my faith dictate my belief that we are created by God. I believe faith and science are compatible, and go hand in hand.” He also took to Twitter and blasted “the media”: “It’s unfortunate the media chose to politicize this issue during our trade mission to foster investment in WI.”

If you can’t handle the (lukewarm) heat…: These early portions of campaigns really can be a revealing test of candidates. Asking whether Walker believes in evolution is no hardball question. Voters are going to want to know MUCH more than that. Walker is going to have to show he can take the scrutiny with clearer answers than what he gave. There are a lot of headstones in the graveyard of presidential campaigns with candidates who let it get under the skin. Blaming the media is a tried and true strategy, especially in Republican primaries. It can work for a while and to fire up the base, but, remember, the candidate blaming the media, is usually the one on the losing side.

A quick word on the Keystone XL Pipeline: A bill approving the pipeline is now in President Obama’s hands after the House gave it final passage yesterday 270-152. The president has promised to veto the measure, setting up the first of what could be many veto battles to come. Twenty-nine Democrats voted yes, but what we find interesting this morning is the single Republican who voted no. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., tweeted that he could not support the bill because it combines the “the cronyism of previous bills—specially exempting one private company from the laws and regulations that apply to all other companies—with new, unrelated sections empowering the EPA and the federal government with respect to local energy efficiency.”

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge made the first presidential political speech over the radio. Which president installed a radio in the White House? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Joni Johnson ‏(@celeste1958) and Claire M. Steen (@BearLoves14) for guessing Wednesday’s trivia: Who was the first woman to hold a cabinet-level position? The answer: Frances Perkins, who served as FDR’s Secretary of Labor.




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