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.
Vice President Joe Biden gets some front-page love from the Des Moines Register: “Biden to sit down with Iowans.” He speaks at noon EST on the administration’s economic policies. He then holds a roundtable on college affordability at 4:15 p.m. EST.
A new Christopher Newport University poll shows Hillary Clinton beating any potential Republican opponent in Virginia, but Jeb Bush and Chris Christie would be her strongest competitors.
It’s not just evolution for Scott Walker today. The traveling governor is also seeing headlines about his decision to leave college before he graduated. The Washington Post took a look and asked if a college degree is a presidential prerequisite. The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser took a deep dive into Walker’s college days to find the root of his political ambitions.
Politico headline: “Jeb’s Rocky Tech Debut”.
Bush took an early interest in Marco Rubio’s rise in Florida politics, helping create a mentor/mentee image, but now that both men are trying to fit on the 2016 stage, Rubio is being careful not to overstate their relationship.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich will head to South Carolina next week in what will be his first stop in a major primary state.
Conservative columnist Cal Thomas writes today that Bobby Jindal may be a longshot, but has the makings of a good start as a presidential candidate.
Congressional reaction to the president’s proposed Authorization to Use Military Force is nuanced and still unsure, as Senators Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Deb Fischer, R-Neb., indicated in an interesting NewsHour discussion with Jeffrey Brown last night.
The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake argues both sides of the debate over the president’s proposed Authorization to Use Military Force.
CBS broke into coverage with a special report last night to announce the death of veteran correspondent Bob Simon.
House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland have joined forces on Secret Service scrutiny.
A group of bipartisan senators has rolled out a bill to end mandatory minimums; that’s in addition to the bill from Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., to reform federal prisons.
Two significant bills to fight sex trafficking from some heavyweight Republicans and Democrats go before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
Senate Democrats believe Republicans are purposely delaying the confirmation of Attorney General nominee Lorretta Lynch.
House Republicans are waiting for their Senate colleagues to make the next move on funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Meanwhile, a faction of House and Senate conservatives is willing to let the DHS shut down, as long as they can pin the blame on Democrats for refusing to take up their funding measure.
California, your race for governor is so on. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom posted his official campaign announcement on Facebook, eschewing “pretense” and “procrastination” in the first sentence.
Political junkies, take heart! National Journal’s Almanac of American Politics may not be dead.
— J. Freedom du Lac (@jfdulac) February 12, 2015
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 12, 2015
Speaker Boehner: "The House has done its job, why don't you go ask Senate Dems when they are going to get o… https://t.co/8JPVV7otbT
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorpNBC) February 11, 2015
— Matt Viser (@mviser) February 12, 2015
— Tom Williams (@pennstatetom) February 11, 2015
Jon Stewart's departure raises 2 Qs: 1) Where will I get my news each night? 2) Does this mean he's doing a sequel to Death to Smoochy?
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) February 11, 2015
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.
Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Rachel Wellford at rwellford-at-newshour-dot-org.
Follow the politics team on Twitter: