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Can We Even Be Sure That 'Draft De Blasio' Is A Real Thing Or Not?

Jason Linkins   |   April 20, 2015    5:06 PM ET

horse


Editor: Have you seen the "Draft de Blasio" thing, where the New York mayor is allegedly going to run for president?

Me: I don't think it's real! It can't be a real thing.

Editor: It got a big old article in the New York Post.

Me: You realize of course that the fact that there is a "big old article in the New York Post" does not, in and of itself, serve as an endorsement of its realness.

Editor: I'm not saying it does. I'm saying this is where you'll find this story, such as it is.

Me: All right, let me go look at it.

Despite repeated claims to the contrary, Mayor Bill de Blasio is positioning himself to be the leftist “progressive” alternative to Wall Street-friendly Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democratic candidate for president, a national party operative told The Post.

De Blasio’s hope, the operative said, is a “Draft de Blasio’’ movement will develop among progressive activists over the next several months that will lead to the mayor being able to defeat Clinton in the primary elections next year in much the same way leftist Sen. George McGovern successfully challenged the initially front-running establishment Democratic candidate, Sen. Edmund Muskie, more than 40 years ago.

--The New York Post, "de Blasio in secret bid to be Dems’ 2016 pick," April 20, 2015

Me: As I suspected, this insistence that "Draft de Blasio" is a thing fails to convince me of its essential thingness. The New York Post has a single "operative" willing to compare de Blasio to George McGovern. This sort of reads like an April Fools' Day prank that got published on the wrong day. Maybe this is what 2016 is going to be like -- a series of tricks.

eyesEditor: Yes.

Me: How are we going to stay sane? What are our strategies for coping with this?

Editor: These are the questions you could pose and answer.

Me: What if we all agreed to just not have a presidential election until, like, June of next year? Just everyone go home and wait until then?

Editor: Put this into writing!

Me: Wait, though! You do not actually believe that de Blasio is going to run for president though, right?

Editor: Right. I do not believe it.

Me: Why is this a story, though? What happened?

Editor: "@DraftDeblasio" is a twitter account someone made. So I suppose that's the reason? Everyone freaking out over a Twitter account, basically?

Me: OMG so this is why? There is a Twitter account?

Editor: Yeah, basically.

Me: You know in the movie "Inception" they had to spend, like, millions of dollars and invent crazy machines and then a team of people had to all almost get killed to make ONE person think ONE thing. They should have just used Twitter and then the whole movie would have been six minutes long.

Editor: Ha, ha, yes, I know it.

inceptiononeMe: Have you considered the possibility that NONE OF THIS IS HAPPENING, and it's actually still 2007 and I am alone at our old office and some chemical fumes from the construction down the hall have knocked me unconscious and I need someone to come help me!? Or maybe I am in the "Inception" world? Maybe you are just a figment of my imagination -- a literary device that I constructed with whom I'm now trapped in a conversation -- and what I think of as "the real world" is just a gossamer web of half forgotten memories.

Editor: Maybe! I'm sorry that if you are, in fact, in the "Inception" world, it's lacking some quality Joseph Gordon-Levitt for you.

Me: I'm more of a Tom Hardy man but I appreciate the sentiment, even if you are just a dollop of pixellated memory dust that's here to implant the notion that this crazy world, in which "Draft de Blasio" is a thing, is actually the real world and I'm not in a coma somewhere.

vanishing

Editor: Oooh, I'm gonna put "dollop of pixellated memory dust" on my business cards now. So really this "Draft de Blasio" thing was not for nothing! I got a cool new biz card out of it.

Me: Well damn, I didn't get anything out of it!

Editor: :(

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2016ers Are Launching Campaigns Left And Right, And Political Reporters Are On It

Jason Linkins   |   April 8, 2015    6:43 PM ET

It's campaign-launch season, and our country's political reporters are on the scene, giving you the analysis you need. "Hey, a thing seems to be happening!" they are saying. "We should find out some stuff, about this thing," they add. And so we now have, not one, but two lengthy explorations of Presidential Candidates Giving Speeches And Stuff, in The Washington Post and Politico.

In The Washington Post, Robert Costa and Philip Rucker take on the heady matter of "how presidential hopefuls try to create magic with campaign launch events." The short answer is, they do it the same way you would throw a surprise birthday party for your great-aunt Marjorie, except at the end of it, secretive donors nod and give you dark money. Basically, hired guns choose a date and a venue, and then add what brand marketers call "zazz." So I think we can all agree that this is magical.

This is all stuff you could have surmised simply by being alive, though, so the bulk of Costa and Rucker's article is spent demonstrating just how many campaign events the two men can remember, and who they can get on the phone to talk about those events. The answer, it turns out, is: a lot! Obscure names, too -- we're talking B-sides, not just hit singles. Why, they even get former John Edwards aide John Davis into the piece to suggest that Hillary Clinton "launch" her campaign at a diner. "That could serve as an anchor to reintroduce herself yet again," Davis says. And let's be honest, it would probably be a lot easier to reintroduce Clinton to America than it would be to reintroduce Edwards.

Eventually, Costa and Rucker grow confident enough in their knowledge that they get into the game themselves:

Could New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie begin his bid this summer on a Jersey Shore boardwalk rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy?

Might former Texas governor Rick Perry stage an announcement in his childhood home of Paint Creek, highlighting his rural, impoverished roots, or in a military setting as an homage to his time in the Air Force?

Will Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, campaigning as a suburban Midwestern everyman, wear one of his treasured Kohl’s shirts or ride in on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle?

Could they? Might they? Will they? The answer is probably: Yes, unless no. At any rate, Costa and Rucker's spitballing sure gives the impression that anyone could be in charge of this campaign-launching stuff if they really wanted to.

But Politico's Todd Purdum would probably disagree, at least judging by his recent story, whose headline asks a question -- "Do splashy campaign kickoffs matter?" -- that the sub-hed then answers: "Yes, say the experts." ("You only get one chance to make a first impression," the sub-hed continues, in what I'll guess is an unintentional echo of an old shampoo commercial. Fun fact -- Politico could also have gone with "Because you're worth it.")

Purdum explains that a successful campaign event involves a lot more than picking a scenic locale and sticking your candidate on a motorcycle. There's actually a deeper, hidden set of signs and signals that are handpicked to evoke very specific ideas and put the launch in a larger thematic context.

Purdum supplies plenty of examples. He notes that Ted Cruz's decision to begin his campaign at Liberty University served as "an outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual campaign he will wage for the conservative soul of the GOP." Rand Paul's launch event, meanwhile, featured an "intergenerational audience and notable black figures on the stage," a sign of the Kentucky senator's intent to build a newer, more inclusive base than other candidates'. And Clinton, Purdum suggests, will have to put an important thematic stamp on her own launch event, one that demonstrates "that the most familiar analog figure in either party still has some fresh digital moves to bust." (The concept of "busting a move," by the way, was at its funky freshest in the late spring of 1989, so this might not be as heavy a lift for Clinton as many are making it out to be.)

So who, then, are the "experts" Purdum speaks with to convince us of the theory that these events "matter?" Well, they are:

1. "Carter Eskew, a veteran Democratic media strategist."

2. "Bill Carrick, a longtime Democratic strategist in Los Angeles."

3. Ted Van Dyk, a former aide to Hubert Humphrey.

So, if you were hoping that "experts" meant, say, some political scientists like Lynn Vavreck or Brendan Nyhan, doing a deep, scholarly analysis of how voters have responded, over time, to campaign pageantry, I'm afraid you are bereft. Instead, you get a former Humphrey adviser and two guys whose lives depend on convincing would-be electoral candidates to give them large sums of money for their secret guru knowledge. What would you expect them to say about this? Surely not Oh, you know, these things are all mostly ephemeral nonsense!

Actually, Van Dyk's involvement in this piece is my favorite thing about it. Per Purdum:

The most chaotic announcement season in modern times was probably 1968. President Lyndon B. Johnson did not drop out of the race until March 31, and the April 4 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King froze other prospective candidates in place. Vice President Hubert Humphrey finally declared on April 27, in a luncheon speech at Washington’s Shoreham Hotel written largely by Labor Secretary Willard Wirtz and edited by Humphrey aide Ted Van Dyk. [...]

But Humphrey could not manage to extricate himself from Johnson’s unpopular Vietnam policy -- or even win the unstinting support of the president himself. The traumas of that year -- Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated after winning the California primary in June -- and his own sense of loyalty kept Humphrey from doing what today’s candidates take such pains to do: Stake out his own identity and claim to his party’s support early enough to make a difference. He won the nomination but lost the White House to Richard M. Nixon.

“These many years later,” Van Dyk added, “it still hurts to recall the events of 1968.”

It's sort of hilarious that in the same piece that stresses the need for Hillary Clinton to scrape off the barnacles of a long career in order to show that she's still got some cutting-edge, modern "moves" to "bust," you get some walking historical relic's dusty observation: 1968 -- wow, man... I don't know.

In the end, we may not have answered the question "Do campaign kickoffs matter?" But the answer to a different question -- do articles like these matter? -- is, I feel, just about within our reach.

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20 Campaign Reporters Wasted A Year Trying To Make A Useless Prediction About Hillary Clinton

Jason Linkins   |   April 8, 2015    1:51 PM ET

Sometimes it's almost possible to feel sorry for campaign reporters during a presidential election cycle. Take, for example, this report in Politico about the staggering waste of a score of people's short time on this earth:

In the past year, at least 20 journalists from as many news organizations have tried to put a date, rough or specific, on when the former secretary of state would announce her highly anticipated presidential bid. That guessing game came to an end last week when the Clinton team signed a lease on campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, all but guaranteeing an announcement within the next two weeks, in compliance with federal law.

The shifting timeline, which ranged at times from January to October, was almost certainly the result of changing plans within the nascent Clinton campaign, as well as the conflicting interests of various Clinton confidants and sources. Nevertheless, the changes likely left readers doing a double take.

Twenty news organizations essentially spent a year attempting to guess when Hillary Clinton would announce her intentions to run for president, an exercise that is pointless for two reasons:

1. Clinton has obviously been a candidate during that entire time.
2. It's actually not a public service to guess an announcement date. If any "readers" were doing a "double take," it was probably because they kept wondering, "Why does this reporter seem to think I give a fig about any of this?" It's like 20 reporters were competing to become the next "Ed Glosser: Trivial Psychic."

No one who managed to guess the answer to the question of "What time is Hillary Clinton?" will be remembered for this feat of journalistic derring-do. In fact, the only thing you get for having spent a year on obtaining this unnecessary information is the knowledge, in the hour of your death, that you wasted a substantial portion of your life and will now die alone and unremarked upon.

Meanwhile, Clinton will probably announce in a couple of weeks or whatever, unless she doesn't. It doesn't matter. When it happens, you'll know it.

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Ted Cruz Signs Up For Obamacare Is Your Short-Sighted Media Fixation Of The Week

Jason Linkins   |   March 29, 2015    7:30 AM ET

Every election cycle can be considered, first and foremost, a monument to hype. With every passing week, the political world is a blizzard of brash predictions, bold pronouncements, and bad advice. This year, your Speculatroners shall convene every Sunday and attempt to decode and defang in a way that will hopefully leave you feeling unharmed and less confused. We hope this helps, but as always, we make no guarantees!

***
ted cruz act

As you may have heard, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this week officially joined the 2016 GOP primary scrum (or, if you've a yen for parsing narrow legal definitions, leaped past that scrum), in a fancy to-do at Liberty University -- a fitting venue for Cruz to lay down the foundation of his pitch to the conservative base, in which he adopts the persona of Jesus H. Reagan. Or, if you prefer, Ronald H. Christ -- it's essentially the same concept, and I am not a picky man.

But what Cruz did next was very puzzling: He signed up for Obamacare. A loud chorus of "Duh fuh?" ensued.

It couldn't go unnoticed that Congress' leading antagonist of the Affordable Care Act had gone out and voluntarily enmeshed himself and his family in Obamacare's loving graces. And don't worry -- it didn't. The political press got right to work, etching the narrative -- the tale of a man who'd gone out and faffed something up, produced a wincing gaffe in the hours after his much-hyped announcement.

The headlines tell the tale. ABC News went with "Ted Cruz Will Sign Up For Obamacare, the Law He Hates." Politico made sure to mention that Cruz was "one of the Affordable Care Act's harshest critics" in a report headlined, "Ted Cruz says he's going on Obamacare." The Washington Post's James Downie penned a piece titled, "Yes, Ted Cruz is a hypocrite for going on Obamacare." Slate's Jamelle Bouie disagreed, writing, "Cruz slipping on a political banana peel doesn’t make him a hypocrite," in a piece titled, "It’s Hilarious That Ted Cruz Is Signing Up for Obamacare." Vox took Cruz on a shopping trip for an Affordable Care Act plan. Life was full of laughs. (Or, if you prefer, laffs.)

Though the gaffe-chorale was loud, there was little thought to what Ted Cruz might do next. One of those things being: maybe not signing up for Obamacare after all. Or, decline to take a subsidy. That is, an additional subsidy -- as a sitting member of the Senate, it's subsidized anyway, which is something that Cruz himself alluded to at the time:

"We'll be getting new health insurance and we'll presumably do it through my job with the Senate, and so we'll be on the federal exchange with millions of others on the federal exchange," Cruz said.

Asked whether he would accept the government contribution available to lawmakers and congressional staffers for their health care coverage through the ACA, Cruz said he will "follow the text of the law."

But as ThinkProgress' Igor Volsky pointed out, even though Cruz "framed the decision" to join Obamacare "as one of inevitability," this wasn't actually the case:

The Affordable Care Act does not compel members of Congress to enroll in DC’s health care exchange; it simply cuts off the government contribution to their insurance plans if they buy their policies elsewhere. “The final rule extends a Government contribution towards health benefits plans for Members of Congress and designated congressional staff so long as the health benefits plans are purchased via the appropriate SHOP as determined by the Director,” a summary of the final rule says. “Nothing in the final rule or the law prevents a Member of Congress or designated congressional staff from declining a Government contribution for him or herself by choosing a different option for their health insurance coverage.”

In other words, Cruz “could purchase coverage in the outside market but would get no subsidy from the FEHBP program,” Tim Jost clarified for ThinkProgress, referring to the acronym for the federal health care program. “It seems like the primary other option he would have is to take advantage of COBRA through his wife, though he’d be forgoing the employer contribution. He could also buy non-group coverage,” Larry Levitt, Senior Vice President at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said. Cruz could also potentially purchased insurance through his presidential campaign’s presumptive health care insurance. In those instances, however, he would have had to give up his employer’s contribution and likely pay more for insurance than he is now being charged under Obamacare.

So, why then, would a guy with options that he could easily afford -- and that weren't the hated Obamacare: a) not take those options, and b) open himself to this dose of ridicule? Is Cruz unwittingly setting himself up for some Saul-like conversion, if the Affordable Care Act ends up working to his benefit? No, readers, banish that thought. I would submit to you that, far from a gaffe, this is actually a fairly shrewd gambit from Cruz. The part where Cruz likens himself to the "millions of others on the federal exchange," is a key tell. Cruz, having firmly established himself as Obamacare's most ardent philosophical opponent, will now have the chance to oppose the law as a participant.

There are some fundamentals involved that Cruz is no doubt intelligent enough to understand. One of those fundamentals is a structural conundrum that the Affordable Care Act has always faced: The universe of people participating in the law is several orders of magnitude smaller than the universe of people who have opinions about the law. This has bedeviled the law's supporters since its conception -- as poll after poll shows the public does not care for the law. However, it's also proved to be a problem for the law's opponents, whose fishing expeditions for Obamacare horror stories have tended not to yield the desired result. But Cruz will be able to present himself, rhetorically at least (you know: "optics"), as the living embodiment of the thing that squares that circle.

It also assists him in his mission to cut a contrast with other members of the GOP's 2016 field -- like, say, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who had a direct hand in preventing Obamacare's Medicaid expansion from coming to his state, while Cruz was leading unsuccessful efforts to destroy the law in Congress. Cruz will now be able to say, "I'm in this system, I hate it, and this is why I was leading the way in Congress so that Scott Walker wouldn't have to worry about it." That's what our blinkered Beltway touts refer to as "leadership," in their pundit coloring-books.

And as Dave Weigel points out, Cruz is borrowing a strategy that's already proven successful:

Cruz is deftly using the oddly-enough angle of this news -- Obamacare-hating senator forced into Obamacare -- for a populist cause. He's not the first Republican to do so. In his successful 2014 campaign for Senate, Colorado Representative Cory Gardner repeatedly talked about the family plan he'd held onto until it was scrapped for not meeting the ACA's standards.

"I got a letter saying that my family's plan was canceled," said Gardner in a TV spot. "Three hundred and thirty-five thousand Coloradans had their plans canceled, too."

"At personal cost," Weigel writes, "[Gardner] took a decision that made him more relatable and vulnerable to the insurance market. And now Cruz has done the same." That's likely Cruz's gambit here. Going "on Obamacare" will allow him to deepen his relationship with the people who hate the law out of suspicion, while simultaneously allowing him to claim himself as one of those aforementioned, non-elite Americans "on the federal exchange." That's no mean feat, considering that the only reason he's forced to make a choice in health insurance at all is because his wife is taking a leave of absence from her job at Goldman Sachs.

So Cruz, with the added enhancements of insider credibility and common-folk fealty, will go on excoriating Obamacare with his typical fervor. Naturally, I don't expect any of these criticisms to be non-disingenuous, but remember, this is a "political campaign," not a "be relentlessly honest and have perfect grasp of the facts contest."

_____________________________

Meme of the week.

What's one thing that unites many of the high-profile characters running for president, from top-tier contenders like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, to dark horses like Ben Carson and Martin O'Malley? As Daily Intelligencer's Jaime Fuller points out, it's a lack of expertise. And that's not a criticism or an opinion of the field -- that's the self-professed accounting of the candidates themselves. Per Fuller:

Jeb Bush is not an expert. Last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the former Florida governor even confessed that he wasn't an expert in Washington politics -- though he sure seems eager to take part in them.

Bush is not alone in not being an expert. As you can see below, other 2016 presidential possibilities have invoked this necessary caveat when seeking to comment on things they have no business talking about -- or when trying to avoid subjects they'd rather not comment on.

It might be fun if some reporter asked the candidates, "Is there any field of human endeavor or study that you can, in fact, plausibly claim to be an expert?" Give credit to Carson: He can at least say "neurosurgery," which is an actual thing.

"Draft Warren" winds brow increasingly stale

run warren run

For as long as mankind has known of Elizabeth Warren, a sizable portion has wanted Warren to seek a political office. So, she did. And nearly as soon as she arrived in the Senate, many of those same people have wanted Warren to run for president. Warren has deftly resisted the siren song emanating from those who would unwittingly have her embark on a life-ruining career path, but it is nevertheless a flame that always burns, a desire that remains unquenched, a boundless amount of energy that really could be put to more productive purposes.

Last Sunday, The Boston Globe ran the latest entreaty from Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, whose members launched "Run Warren Run, a major effort to highlight the immense grass-roots support that exists for Senator Warren's vision," and who must, in all honesty, be deemed successful in demonstrating the truth of this claim. But when I heard about this, I immediately thought of so many thus far unsuccessful attempts to convince Warren to run, and I wondered: Is there anything original that can be said at this point that might tip the balance?

The answer is: "LOL, no." Let's take a look.

GALLARD: "Senator Elizabeth Warren has established herself as the country’s leading advocate for working and middle-class families. The Democrat has proven equally adept behind the scenes and in the media spotlight, and has stood up to Wall Street banks and other powerful interests to win changes that are improving millions of Americans’ lives."

WARREN HEARD IT ALREADY FROM: Bill Lipton, of New York's Working Familes Party: “We know a champion for working families when we see one ... The only thing better than watching Elizabeth Warren take Wall Street to task from the Senate would be helping her bring our issues to the center of the national debate.”

GALLARD: "Put simply, this moment was made for Elizabeth Warren. With income inequality at its highest level on record, and corporations and lobbyists wielding enormous power in Washington and state capitals around the country, we need a president who is firmly grounded in making government work for regular people."

WARREN HEARD IT ALREADY FROM: Gallard's first paragraph.

GALLARD: "And Senator Warren hasn’t just studied the struggles of America’s working families -- she has lived them, having been born and raised in a family she describes as being 'on the ragged edge of the middle class.'”

WARREN HEARD IT ALREADY FROM: Uhm, Warren herself? Who is Gallard trying to convince here?

GALLARD: "Regardless of which candidate they favor, most Americans agree that it’s important to have a vigorous contest for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. The New York Times’s David Leonhardt recently wrote that without a slate of strong candidates, Democrats 'may conduct one of the least competitive nominating contests in modern political history.'”

WARREN HEARD IT ALREADY FROM: The New York Times' David Leonhardt.

GALLARD: "It would be unprecedented for a candidate -- Hillary Clinton -- to march to the nomination largely unopposed, as many observers predict could happen if Warren doesn’t run. Such a scenario would be bad for both the party and for our country. A strong competitive primary campaign gives candidates a running start in the general election by giving them experience in articulating a clear vision and responding to crucial issues. Winning a competitive primary prepares the eventual nominee to face a battle-tested Republican candidate."

WARREN HEARD IT ALREADY FROM: Literally tens of political pundits and reporters who have questioned whether Hillary running unopposed would be a bad thing for Hillary Clinton. (Also, are we drafting Warren to win this race, or are we drafting Warren to enter the race and make Hillary Clinton doubleplusawesome?)

GALLARD: "Poll after poll has shown that her message of economic justice and standing up to Wall Street resonates not just with liberal Democrats, but across the spectrum of potential voters. In fact, large majorities of likely voters who identify as independent and Republican in battleground states support Warren’s agenda, according to a recent poll commissioned by Run Warren Run."

WARREN HEARD IT ALREADY FROM: That time people reported on that poll.

GALLARD: "Some continue to argue that Senator Warren would be more effective in the Senate than in the Oval Office. That’s just not true ... And those calling for her to stay in the Senate would do well to remember that she doesn’t have to make the choice between running for president and being a senator — she can run for higher office while remaining in the Senate ... If Senator Warren does run, she’ll either become President Warren or continue being Massachusetts’ senior senator. It’s a win-win."

WARREN HEARD IT ALREADY FROM: Never mind that. Pick an argument. How is it a "win-win" if Warren loses and remains in the Senate, from which position she would be less effective, as you argue? It sounds more like a "win-consolation prize," except that Warren returns to the Senate having damaged her brand and with scads of campaign debt.

"To be clear," Gallard writes, "Senator Warren has said she's not running for president, and we take her for her word. But we also believe she's open to persuasion." That is, indeed, plausible. But you're not going to persuade her with the same arguments that have, thus far, proven themselves to be stupendously unpersuasive.

All I ask, at this point, is that somebody who wants this to happen to come up with even one new argument, for funsies. Please, please.

The Week In Predictions

Jeb Bush: Bush is going to fail in Florida. And also in South Carolina. Or neither of those things. But he will have a talk-radio problem. But that's okay, Cruz's entry into the race will be a good thing for him.

Ted Cruz: Cruz is going to be a long shot. Unless he isn't. He could siphon support from Bush. Unless he doesn't.

Joe Biden: Biden will be "waiting in the wings" to swoop into the race if Hillary Clinton "falters." It's all part of his "long game."

Bobby Jindal: Jindal will wait until June to make his own announcement for president, because of "the state of his state." Per Charlie Cook: "“I think he could make a judgment that he needs to tend some fences back home ... It sure wouldn’t look good to jump in a race when your job-approval rating back home is 27 or 28 percent.” Sure! By June, I'm sure all of that will be fixed.

Lindsey Graham: Graham "may be the only politician who can stop global warming," so ... sorry about that, Planet Earth!

All The Advice That's Fit To Aggregate

Rand Paul advises Hillary Clinton to return the money Saudi Arabia gave to the Clinton Foundation, because Saudi Arabia has reprehensible policies toward women. Which is true! But surely that makes the case for taking the money, not giving it back, to fund more anti-woman stuff. Hillary Clinton should also get a "
sparring partner
" in the form of a competitive primary.

Mike Huckabee should stop giving Hillary Clinton a hard time about that whole email thing. Chris Christie should be more like Bill Clinton. Rick Perry should get way, way into looking at "data."

Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Scott Walker "should stop comparing themselves to Reagan: it makes them look like a bunch of kids." (Bush, Rubio, Perry, and Huckabee, on the other hand, are in the clear!)

And Bobby Jindal has some advice of his own: The GOP should nominate, you know, a conservative governor, probably. Just spitballing!

We'll Leave You With This, Whatever This Is

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'Rise Of Super PACs' Set To Ruin The RNC's Plan To Avoid A Brutal Primary Season

Jason Linkins   |   March 27, 2015    1:47 PM ET

As I've had the opportunity to write about before, the Republican National Committee emerged from the 2012 election bent on making a series of dramatic changes in the hopes of achieving better results. One major area that the RNC examined was the length of the 2012 primary season itself, which to their mind had become a debate-happy horrorshow that ended up playing a role in imperiling their chances. As The Washington Post's Aaron Blake noted in the wake of the RNC voting to "significantly compress its presidential nominating calendar," the big takeaway from the 2012 contest was that it had become "a long, sometimes nasty primary process that Republicans think hurt their chances of winning the presidency."

So, how are things looking, now that they've made major reforms to the primary calendar and limited the number of debates? Take it away, Patrick O'Connor of The Wall Street Journal!

The race for the Republican presidential nomination is shaping up to be one of the most drawn-out in a generation.

The candidate field looks unusually crowded, with more than a dozen contenders appealing to different slices of the GOP. The rise of super PACs allows candidates to stay in the race longer than before. And nominating rules meant to compress the process may complicate a front-runner’s ability to amass the delegates necessary to win.

The result, some GOP strategists say, is that next year’s contest has the ingredients to be the longest since then-President Gerald Ford prevailed over Ronald Reagan at the 1976 convention.

The most eye-catching thing about this? That whole part about "the rise of super PACs," which threaten to artificially keep primary bids aloft long past their sell-by date. Republican pollster Bill McInturff shows up in O'Connor's report, emphasizing this:

This cycle, because of all these structural rules changes and the advent of super PACs, people are not going to drop out,” predicted Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who advised Arizona Sen. John McCain in both of his presidential bids.

Candidates abandon their bids and unify behind the front-runner when either they run out of money or a rival has gathered a majority of delegates, conditions that won’t materialize quickly this time around, he said. “Republicans have created a system where, because of super PACs, it is hard to project someone winning until late May or early June.”

So, it's our wonderfully new and corrupt system of financing elections that's going to ruin it for everyone? I have to say, that's as deliciously ironic as it was predictable.

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62 Takeaways From CPAC 2015, Ranked

Jason Linkins   |   March 2, 2015    4:37 PM ET

Any time a thing happens in politics, the media has "Takeaways" about that thing. And whenever the media has a bunch of Takeaways, Eat The Press gathers all of those Takeaways in one place, so that you can sate your yawning hunger for Takeaways. This past weekend, the Beltway played host to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which, by Eat the Press' count, resulted in 62 hot, delicious Takeaways. Here is a definitive ranking of all of them.

Before we get into the rankings, here's how the GOP's likely 2016 presidential contenders fared in terms of who got the most Takeaways. Jeb Bush got the most Takeaways, with 8. He was closely followed by Carly Fiorina and Scott Walker -- each of whom got 7 Takeaways -- and Chris Christie, who had 6. Rand Paul received a respectable 4 Takeaways, followed by Ted Cruz with 3. Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum got 2 Takeaways each. Ben Carson and Rick Perry brought up the rear, with only one Takeaway each to their name.

So congratulations to Jeb Bush, King of Takeaways!

***

1. The "hawks" are back.

2. In fact, the "hawks" are so "back" that "non-interventionism" is so yesterday, man.

3. That could be bad for Rand Paul.

4. John Bolton is hoping that Rand Paul will come around on foreign policy and be more like John Bolton.

5. Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal demonstrated that they think "the best way to reach the top tier of the GOP field is to climb over the backs of their rivals."

6. The RNC's plans to have ideological allies moderate their primary debates came into question after some CPAC interviewers proved to be a bit too softball.

7. "Rick Santorum is the Republican Rodney Dangerfield."

8. Carly Fiorina could be the next "breakout star."

9. Carly Fiorina could be "a serious VP contender."

10. Carly Fiorina "could be an early VP favorite."

11. Carly Fiorina emerged as a "dark horse" candidate for president.

12. Marco Rubio's comeback didn't happen.

13. Reince Preibus thinks Hillary Clinton is "disqualified" because of foreign donations to the Clinton Global Initiative.

14. Ted Cruz proved that he can be "a force in Iowa," but he still needs to demonstrate "how a zealous base will give him the math needed to win the nomination."

15. Ben Carson doesn't want to end welfare programs; he just wants to end "dependency."

16. Republicans haven't quite "figured out how to prosecute ... Hillary Clinton's economic priorities."

17. Scott Walker has momentum.

18. Scott Walker has momentum.

19. Scott Walker has momentum.

20. Scott Walker has momentum.

21. Scott Walker has momentum (but stumbled a bit).

22. No one was the "clear rising star," but "Walker came closest."

23. Scott Walker "cast himself" as a "champion" of "hard working taxpayers."

24. Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) wants to know if government employees will be punished if they fail to follow President Barack Obama's executive actions.

25. Jeb Bush faced a lot of critics.

26. Many of Jeb Bush's critics are members of the conservative media.

27. Jeb Bush talked about immigration and Common Core.

28. People at CPAC were "skeptical" about Jeb Bush.

29. Jeb Bush "found his footing after an uneven start and managed to escape unscathed."

30. Jeb Bush "beat expectations."

31. People walked out of the room when Jeb Bush started talking.

32. But Jeb Bush "isn't backing down."

33. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) is against the "clean" deal to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

34. Senators are so hot right now.

35. Rand Paul wants to "defend the whole Bill of Rights."

36. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have "passion."

37. Ted Cruz was upset at GOP leadership for "cutting a deal" on immigration.

38. Chris Christie faced tough questions.

39. Chris Christie "is still struggling to find his footing."

40. Chris Christie: People laughed and cheered.

41. Chris Christie "convinced" people that he was "still alive."

42. Chris Christie "came up short."

43. Mia Love doesn't want the GOP to "yield the moral high ground."

44. People at CPAC really like Israel.

45. "Few were talking about potentials" like Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Donald Trump.

46. Carly Fiorina was, like, really yelling at Hillary Clinton.

47. People really noticed how Carly Fiorina was yelling at Hillary Clinton.

48. "Ferguson is not an epidemic," said this one guy.

49. Rick Perry is against President Barack Obama.

50. Carly Fiorina thinks that Hillary Clinton is "beatable."

51. Bobby Jindal is against ISIS.

52. Marco Rubio has a book out that he is promoting.

53. Phyllis Schlafly: still a thing.

54. "I want to do it so badly," said a thirsty Donald Trump.

55. Joe Scarborough was there, for some reason.

56. Sarah Palin did a pretty good job!

57. "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson speech was not good.

58. Republicans are way into selfies now.

59. People were tweeting stuff.

60. Other people "analyzed" those tweets.

61. While CPAC was a thing that happened, other things -- things that aren't CPAC -- are also going to happen at some point.

62. Newt Gingrich explained how he would win the votes of blacks and Hispanics if he were running, which he's not, and didn't really do a great job when he did. I guess sometimes it gets to be a long day at CPAC and people just start indulging in Socratic exercises.

Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?

Your 2016 Candidates Have A Secret Weapon, According To The Media

Jason Linkins   |   February 15, 2015    7:30 AM ET

Every election cycle can be considered, first and foremost, a monument to hype. With every passing week, the political world is a blizzard of brash predictions, bold pronouncements, and bad advice. This year, your Speculatroners shall attempt to decode and defang this world with a regular dispatch that we're calling "This Week In Coulda Shoulda Maybe." We hope this helps, but as always, we make no guarantees!

ray gun

Sometimes, in life, you succeed on your own merits. But other times, you need a little something extra. And when the media thinks that they've caught on to that "something extra," they've got a term for it: the secret weapon.

If you look long enough, secret weapons abound. If you're in the National Hockey League, your secret weapon is the female figure skater. If you're the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots, it's Tom Brady's patience. If you're producing the Grammys, then what you find in your "in case of emergency break glass" box is a gospel choir.

Kanye West has a secret weapon. So does Beyonce. Both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have them. Elon Musk has a secret weapon that he apparently won't tell anyone about. What if his secret weapon was "a small firearm, secreted on his person?" That would sure be a surprise to find out!

There comes a time in the coverage of any election that you start to hear about the candidates and their "secret weapons." And nearly 100 percent of the time, the secret weapon is the same thing: the candidate's spouse. This is a thing that's said about nearly every candidate. Barack Obama's secret weapon is Michelle Obama. Mitt Romney's secret weapon is Ann Romney. The same is true for Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum and Ron Paul and Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty.

Senators got 'em. Governors got 'em. Even our favorite politicians from across the pond have got 'em. Sometimes it's awkward, like when you cheat on your secret weapon and father a son with your household staff. Sometimes it's a little bit weird, like when your predecessor's spouse becomes your secret weapon.

Once campaigns end, with the winners in ascension and the losers in absentia, there is precious little discussion as to whether any of these spouses-as-secret-weapons actually worked or not. And why would there be? The brilliance of the "spouse as secret weapon" story is that it's a trope disguised as a scoop -- a tired exercise handed down from editor to reporter to blandly pass the time.

There is not a person, in the history of the news, who has ever assigned this "spouse as secret weapon" story who would dare step forward in public and demand that we heed his case for having assigned it. And there's not a reporter in the world with the balls to tell you, truthfully, that the assignment was anything but bogus. (I dearly want someone -- anyone! -- to take on this task and present it literally. That is: a real, earnest accounting of how a candidate's spouse could potentially hurt another human being.)

Already, this year, we've crossed the threshold, with Columba Bush getting a write-up in The Hill, depicting her as Jeb Bush's secret weapon. ("Don't publicly release a bunch of random people's Social Security numbers," is the sort of thing you'd kind of like your secret weapon to advise, but, alas!) He'll join a handful of other potential 2016ers who have already notched their spouses-as-secret-weapons stories. At some point, this story will be written about each of the remaining candidates.

And so, with that in mind, we'd like to pay tribute to all the candidates who possess secret weapons that aren't their wives or husbands, and the reporters who dared to delve a little further to expose these armaments to their readers.

Hillary Clinton's Secret Weapons: Eyewear. Grandchildren. Huma Abedin. Praise from Republicans. "African-American voters and America's withdrawal from Iraq." (Well, maybe not anymore on the latter. Perhaps America's intervention in Iraq can finally be her secret weapon!)

Rand Paul's Secret Weapon: Hillary Clinton.

Mike Huckabee's Secret Weapon: Also, Hillary Clinton. (I guess Rand gets her Monday-Wednesday-Friday and Huck gets her on Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday, and they alternate Sundays.)

Ted Cruz's Secret Weapons: Iowa Rep. Steve King and "Republican despair." (Sort of the same concept, actually.)

Rick Santorum's Secret Weapon: The churches of America. His movie studio.

Scott Walker's Secret Weapon: Vanilla. (What else?)

Joe Biden's Secret Weapon: Laughter. (What else?)

___________________________

So what is the 2016 election about this week?

Vaccines! From NPR's Mara Liasson: "Think vaccine politics are a very good mirror of the current dynamics in the 2016 presidential field. On the Republican side, the two candidates who've been doing really well lately, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, managed to navigate the crosscurrents of vaccine politics really well. The two candidates who've been floundering a bit couldn't. It's a hot potato for Republicans because even though there are plenty of rich, liberal, whole-food parents who don't vaccinate, it's a much more burning issue for the Republican grassroots. They're more likely to see it as an issue of individual freedom and liberty. "

Continuing The Obama Administration! Joe Biden: “That is what the next presidential election will be about. Do we continue on the path we are on or do we go back to the policies of the past?”

Whether people like senators or like governors! The Hill: "The Republican presidential primary is shaping up to be a battle between the statehouse and the statesmen."

elizabeth warren

Getting Drafty In Here

For as long as the 2016 campaign cycle and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have been things existing simultaneously, there has been an effort to bring about the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup-ization of the two. "Oh, what? You got Elizabeth Warren in my 2016 election!" And so, we have a long-standing "Draft Elizabeth Warren" campaign, which has bred an endless array of "Is Elizabeth Warren going to finally jump into the race" stories.

But this may be the week when the "Are The Draft Elizabeth Warren People Going To Get A New Hobby" stories begin to flow. This week, one of the nascent "convince Elizabeth Warren to launch a foolhardy campaign for the White House" efforts, in concert with MoveOn, commissioned a push-poll, and Salon's Jim Newell utterly demolished it, saying, "Credit to MoveOn for being transparent and sharing its methodology. On the other hand: oh my god, this is hilarious. We can’t believe they would share this! It’s the fluffiest poll since whatever the last really fluffy poll was."

Indeed, many of the poll questions make the typical push-poll look downright shy. Do you agree that Elizabeth Warren really wants to take it to big Wall Street interests? Isn't her middle-class backstory interesting? How about this report from Time magazine, which discusses her zealous defense of consumers? Isn't it a great thing to protect consumers? It all basically reads as, "People have said Elizabeth Warren is amazing. Do you think America would benefit from an amazing president?"

Per Newell:

There’s a scientific term for this type of survey, can’t quite think of it now, but it’s not a kind one. The gist of it is “when your survey spends 11 questions puffing up someone into a quasi-deity and then immediately asks if people like that person, it’s not a very useful survey.” This isn’t how an election plays out. When New Hampshire Democrats enter the polling station on primary day, the voting machine will not read them a glowing profile of Elizabeth Warren before displaying the ballot. (Although who knows; these machines sometimes go on the fritz.)

Elsewhere in Salon, Joan Walsh absorbs the news that New York's Working Families Party joined the Draft Warren movement, and gives it the side-eye it deserves:

I admire WFP; I think they’re doing exactly what progressives should be doing: Working within the Democratic Party and pulling it to the left, not standing outside the party and declaring it no better than the GOP.

But it was hard not to contrast their “Draft Warren” move, which looks symbolic at best, and contains an implicit challenge to Hillary Clinton, with their cave-in to Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year -- which was not merely symbolic but had real ramifications. At that time, they had a terrific progressive female candidate, Zephyr Teachout, ready to challenge Cuomo -– and they backed Cuomo. So to recap: With a willing progressive woman challenging a politically centrist Democratic man -– the progressive didn’t get the WFP endorsement. But now, with a centrist but more liberal (than Cuomo) Democratic woman, Hillary Clinton, (probably) running for president, WFP is courting a challenger -- who (probably) isn’t running anyway.

Lots of people admire the effort that Elizabeth Warren undertakes to see to it that a basic level of fairness for normal human Americans is restored as we climb out of the post-crash wreckage. It's something that she works at very hard, on a daily basis. Maybe it's time for everyone working in the Draft Warren world to start doing the same.

hillary clinton

The Week In Predictions

Hillary Clinton: One peril of Clinton taking her time to enter the race is that she will have to endure the periodic repetition of the "all the advantages that Hillary Clinton enjoys may turn out to be impediments," as if the best possible way to run for office is to be burdened with disadvantages. This week, it's The Washington Post: "But the luxury of front-runner status could easily become a liability as Clinton attempts the historically difficult feat of leading her party to a third consecutive term in the White House." We are subsequently told that "her advisers are working hard to fashion ways to make her seem hungrier, scrappier and less like the inheritor of Obama’s mantle." Sure, but she'll still take being up 40 points on Joe Biden eight days a week!

Rand Paul: The National Journal's Lauren Fox opines that the "debate about defeating ISIS" could become "perilous" for the Kentucky senator. Probably not as perilous as actually fighting ISIS though!

Elizabeth Warren: The Hill's Judy Kurtz: "A battle between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren could easily divide entertainers, creating a showdown that might split Hollywood and force A-list stars to choose sides." Good thing that Warren isn't running, I guess, though even if she did, at least Amy Pascal can't lose her job a second time.

Joe Biden: He could win the Iowa Caucus, unless someone else does.


All The Advice That's Fit To Aggregate

Hillary Clinton should have her campaign headquarters in the Bronx. Or in Queens. (There's space available in Staten Island, too.) Hillary should jump into the race right now, and start doing some Teddy Roosevelt stuff. Also, David Axelrod has advice.

Jeb Bush "should think twice about playing to the Iowa GOP." Rand Paul should "come clean about libertarianism." Chris Christie should "stop telling the Sicilian mother story" and get a makeover -- there are five to choose from. Bobby Jindal "should salvage his legacy by giving up his presidential ambitions and focus on solving Louisiana's fiscal crisis," but where's the fun in that?

This week, Jennifer Rubin says that Rick Perry's "biggest problem may be [Scott] Walker, whom Perry will need to show is less prepared on foreign policy and less accomplished than he is." That means next week, Rubin can flip the names and write the same sentence.

We'll Leave You With This, Whatever This Is

Via Bloomberg's Ben Brody:

“If Jeb Bush loses New Hampshire, they'll get Mitt Romney back in the race,” said Carville, who managed Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign. Clinton that year became the first modern president not to win the Granite State primary.

"Mitt Romney will jump back into the race" is the new "Elizabeth Warren will challenge Hillary Clinton."

The Great Mitt-Stakes: Who 'Wins' Now That Romney Has Quit The Race?

Jason Linkins   |   February 8, 2015   10:13 AM ET

Every election cycle can be considered, first and foremost, a monument to hype. With every passing week, the political world is a blizzard of brash predictions, bold pronouncements, and bad advice. This year, your Speculatroners shall attempt to decode and defang this world with a regular dispatch that we're calling "This Week In Coulda Shoulda Maybe." We hope this helps, but as always, we make no guarantees!

mitt romney bye bye

Mitt's Out And Everyone's A Winner!

Last week, the former Massachusetts governor and two-time presidential aspirant decided to quit the race he'd only just begun. Hmmm, does that mean he was actually a three-time presidential aspirant? Was he in long enough to qualify? We'll wait for someone else to make a ruling on that. The important thing, at least as far as the media was concerned, was clearly identifying who stood to gain the most from Mitt's departure, otherwise known as "the big winner." On this matter, the elite consensus was, as always, a model of consistency.

The Big Winner Is Jeb Bush: According to Fox News, Romney's departure meant that Jeb Bush would be "positioned" as "the establishment favorite," which would help the former Florida governor to "assemble a campaign team in key early-voting states." What's more, "veteran operatives who were torn between Bush and Romney will be free to put their energies into the Bush camp," and "former Romney donors were moving toward Bush."

Yep, Totally Jeb Bush: CNN concurs: "Mitt Romney's decision to pass on 2016 anoints Jeb Bush as the clear establishment favorite." South Carolina's GOP state party chair Matt Moore shows up in the piece, remarking, "I think it is hard to argue that today's news did not help Gov. Bush."

Unless, Of Course, Jeb Bush Ends Up Being The Big Loser: The Federalist's Ben Domenech: "So who benefits from this, and who is harmed? Somewhat ironically, it may be Jeb himself who takes a small hit over this. Bear with me here: with Romney in the race, Jeb would’ve had an opportunity to contrast himself as a fresh face, a break with the past of the GOP in a healthy way ... Romney would not have been able to win the nomination this time around, and he actually could’ve proven to be a useful foil for Jeb."

Well, In That Case, It's Gotta Be Scott Walker: "This news is especially helpful to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who was already the thinking man's choice for a dark horse," writes Vox's Andrew Prokop, in a piece titled, "Mitt Romney's exit is great news for Scott Walker, not Jeb Bush."

Definitely Walker!: Headline at Hugh Hewitt's site: "Chuck Todd: Scott Walker the Other Big Winner Of Romney's Decision To Bow Out."

Not So Fast! Don't Forget About Chris Christie!: Meanwhile, Business Insider is pretty sure that Bush and Christie are the big Mitt-stakes winners: "Romney, the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nominee, suddenly announced Friday morning that he would not launch another White House bid in 2016. His exit opens up more space for establishment-oriented contenders with similar constituencies to Romney's -- particularly Christie and Bush."

It Could Also Be Rubio! (And Walker.): The Hill's Jonathan Easley: "Walker and Rubio could also see a political windfall, building on what has been a big month for both potential candidates." The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin: "Aside from Christie, Romney’s exit helps Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) the most. Both can appeal to the donor community and win over a chunk of Romney backers. They will need to build out their organization swiftly and show they have the gravitas to run and win a national campaign."

Anyone Got Kasich? Yes. "Ohio governor John Kasich may also benefit somewhat from Romney’s exit."

The National Journal's Charlie Cook Makes A Bold Prediction: "Several 2016 candidates could benefit from the 2012 GOP nominee's decision not to run." Okay, thanks!

What Do "Not Very Well-Informed" Millennials Think? According to Fusion's polling of "not very well-informed" millennials, "With Romney out of the mix, former Florida Jeb Bush benefitted the most: He could be the frontrunner with Romney out of the way. In a Romney-less field, Bush leads the pack at 16 percent, jumping 4 percentage points from a field that included Romney."

Okay, Surely There's A "Big Loser," Right? What About Rand Paul? I Don't See Him On This List: Per KSNV My News 3, "Rand Paul could pick up Mitt Romney's fan base in Nevada."

The Real Winner, Of Course: Is anyone who got to monetize this media trope this week!

_______________________

So what is the 2016 election about this week?

Effective governing! The Editors of the Dispatch-Argus, of Moline, Illinois: "What it is and should be about is effective governing. And while we don’t expect, or even want, Congress to morph into a giant drum circle with members joining hands and singing Kumbaya, we do want them to work together, to be more than a fundraising machine for the next election."

Equality and responsibility! Andrew Beatty, Agence-France Presse: "While Obama's budget has no chance of being written into the statute books, it will frame arguments about equality and responsibility that are likely to dominate the 2016 race to succeed him as president."

The wealth gap! David Shribman, The Detroit News: "Indeed, there are two principal unspokens in the run-up to the next presidential campaign. The first is the quiet Republican hope that maverick Sen. Elizabeth Warren will challenge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the left in the Democratic primaries. The second is the anguish Republican candidates are having in trying to figure out how to address economic issues. ... At the heart of both of these unspokens is the increasingly apparent wealth gap."

hillary clinton what time

What Time Is Hillary: An Update

Last week, we parsed the news, looking for signs that pointed to when, exactly, Hillary Clinton might formally announce that she is running for president, as opposed to just persisting under the assumption that a Clinton candidacy was a fait accompli. Our findings? Hillary is definitely running, unless she isn't, and we will definitely know for sure in July and there is absolutely no rush because she is, in the words of an adviser, "better off as a non-candidate." Also we learned that "July" could mean "April," because words have no meaning and time is relative.

So is the matter settled? Of course it isn't. It seems that "Clinton's advisers are split on when Hillary Clinton should launch her campaign." You know, almost as if one adviser thinks "she's better off as a non-candidate" and a bunch of other advisers contend, "Dude, why on earth did you say that to Politico?" As CNN's Brianna Keilar reports:

There could be 10 or more Republican candidates by this summer. That might be when Hillary Clinton gets around to officially moving toward a campaign, if she heeds some confidantes, who are privately arguing for an announcement in July to coincide with the start of the third fundraising quarter. Delaying until the summer is an idea that is said to be gaining momentum against those who want to stick to the plan for an April start date.

The possibility of the delay is very real but still unsettled.

"I would say it's 40 percent," in the direction of those arguing for a delay, said one Democrat who supports a spring debut for Clinton's presidential campaign. Another Democrat who saw merits in both time lines put the odds of a delay at 50 percent.

The best part of this report is the part where Keilar writes: "Democrats on both sides of the debate spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity so they could make their case without upsetting Clinton or those close to her for talking openly about internal deliberations." I mean, if you're worried about the consequences of "talking openly about internal deliberations," it seems to me that the best thing, for all involved, is to definitely return Brianna Keilar's phone calls. That's just common sense.

rand paul predictions

The Week In Predictions

Rand Paul: The National Journal's Josh Kraushaar says that Paul's has a "getting elected" problem, in that he "can't" get elected, because his "heterodox views on foreign policy" are at odds with his party, and more specifically, Iowa voters: "Even in Iowa, a dovish state where Paul holds strong favorability ratings, the appetite for increased military interventionism against ISIS is high. In a new Bloomberg survey, nearly half of Republicans ranked 'more aggressively pursuing terrorists' as a leading issue out of 10 tested, ranking a close second behind repealing Obamacare." Also hampering Paul's chances is one of his campaign organizers, A.J. Spiker, is apparently despised by Iowans. According to one Iowa GOP activist, Andy Cable, Spiker is "toxic" and Paul "will get little or no exposure in the rural counties around Iowa, and most of that will be directly related to having A.J. Spiker as his front man."

Jeb Bush: More Iowa problems! Jeb Bush won't win Iowa. But it gets worse! According to Gary Gross, "It's one thing for Gov. Bush to lose Iowa. There isn't a pundit that's giving him much of a chance of winning Iowa. It's another thing to finish a distant fifth." It won't be great for the person who finishes fourth, either. (Who will presumably be Rand Paul?)

Elizabeth Warren: The Hill contributor John LeBoutillier just lets it all hang out, predicting that Warren "will run against Clinton in 2016." He gives 20 reasons for his prediction, some of which are not actual reasons. (Example: "14. So here is the big question: Will Elizabeth Warren run -- after repeatedly saying she is not running?")

Martin O'Malley: "Martin O’Malley to rock New Hampshire this St. Patrick’s Day." We are told that O'Malley's closest advisers are already downplaying the extent to which O'Malley will "rock" New Hampshire, in an effort to win "the expectations game."

Hillary Clinton: Interesting and substantive prediction from Iowa-based Democratic organizer John Deeth: "If Hillary Clinton is elected president, this will be the last Iowa Caucus." Bold and weird prediction from MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "I think she should go for a 55 percent victory, 54 percent victory because then she could bring the House in, she could bring the Senate in, and she could really rule this country. This country needs somebody to get control of it." Bold and weirdly specific prediction from these people who have started some sort of online petition: "Hillary Clinton will Announce in New York City on Saturday, July 4, 2015 in Central Park."

Prediction of Doom! Wrongest pundit alive Dick Morris says that "Scott Walker could win," in a devastating blow to Walker's chances of winning.

All The Advice That's Fit To Aggregate

Jeb Bush should "rethink his approach to marijuana policy." He should also "leave the race with dignity." Scott Walker should not let Democrats define him. Marco Rubio should either run for president, or run for the Senate again, or run for governor. Chris Christie needs to watch out for the things that will hurt him, unless they help him -- specifically his vaccine comments (which "may hurt as much as help in the Iowa 2016 race"), and his "brash style" (which may "be a boon or a bust in 2016").

We'll Leave You With This, Whatever This Is

This Week In 2016 Speculation: What Time Is Hillary Clinton?

Jason Linkins   |   February 1, 2015    7:30 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- Every election cycle can be considered, first and foremost, a monument to hype. With every passing week, the political world is a blizzard of brash predictions, bold pronouncements, and bad advice. This year, your Speculatroners shall attempt to decode and defang this world with a regular dispatch that we're calling "This Week In Coulda Shoulda Maybe." We hope this helps, but as always, we make no guarantees!

hillary clinton what time

Hillary Clinton: Any Minute Now ... Or Then

It's a mystery of the age: When is Hillary Clinton going to announce her candidacy for president? And the answer is: Hillary Clinton exists in a perpetual meta-state between "always running" and "never not running." Hillary Clinton is the astronaut in the "Interstellar" fourth-dimensional book room, forever warning herself about the dangers of embarking on the journey to the White House. But if she never embarks, how will she end up in the Place Between Time And Space, to warn herself? This is an unresolvable conundrum, until it isn't. But here's what we don't not know about her intentions.

Jan. 26: It's all happening, according to a deeply reported Politico piece from Mike Allen, who writes, "Not only is she running, but we have a very good idea of what her campaign will look like":

Hillary Clinton is in the final stages of planning a presidential campaign that will most likely be launched in early April and has made decisions on most top posts, according to numerous Democrats in close contact with the Clintons and their aides.

Campaign advisers say the likelihood of a campaign, long at 98 percent (she never really hesitated, according to one person close to her), went to 100 percent right after Christmas, when Clinton approved a preliminary budget and several key hires.

Perhaps the most significant detail in the whole report, however, was this: "Most of the top slots have been decided, with one notable exception, communications director." This would prove to be a little prophetic days later, when, in another deeply reported piece from Mike Allen, communications seem to have broken down:

Hillary Clinton, expecting no major challenge for the Democratic nomination, is strongly considering delaying the formal launch of her presidential campaign until July, three months later than originally planned, top Democrats tell Politico.

The delay from the original April target would give her more time to develop her message, policy and organization, without the chaos and spotlight of a public campaign.

That report contained this instant classic of campaign messaging, from "one adviser": "She's better off as a non-candidate. Why not wait?"

But later in the same piece, we learn that the real question might be, "Why not not wait, why not?"

One option being considered would be to announce an exploratory committee earlier -- perhaps in April, at the beginning of a new fundraising quarter, in the time frame when insiders originally expected her to launch her campaign.

Then the actual kickoff would be in July, near the start of the next quarter. By launching at the beginning of a quarter, supporters would have the maximum amount of time to generate a blockbuster total for their first report.

Time, flat circle, et cetera.

rand paul ted cruz

So what is the 2016 election about this week?

The economy! The Los Angeles Daily News: Not yet in the presidential race, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mitt Romney already are previewing the likely focus of the 2016 campaign, a competition over who’s better able to boost paychecks for working Americans.

The great wage slowdown! Greg Sargent, The Washington Post: "Democratic strategists believe the party got shellacked in the last elections in part because Dems failed to persuade voters they had a comprehensive agenda to address stagnating wages and move the country towards broadly shared prosperity. They think addressing this problem is particularly urgent, because the 2016 elections may turn on which party more convincingly offers answers to the deep, long-term structural problems plaguing the economy."

Marriage equality! Ginger Gibson, The International Business Times: "The Supreme Court could hand Republicans a ruling that takes gay marriage out of the political debate for 2016 and eliminates an issue that has hurt them in general elections. The court announced Friday that it will hear a challenge to bans on same-sex marriage in April and will likely make a ruling in June, months before the 2016 campaigns really get rolling."

What it will actually be about. If this week is any guide, the election will be about whatever the Koch Brothers' $889 million says it will be about.

whispery

The week in "hints at."

Joe Biden: "Hints at 2016 bid."
Mike Huckabee: "Hints at running for president."
John Kasich: "Hints at 2016 campaign."
Sarah Palin: "Hints at 2016 run for president."
George Pataki: "...hinted he’d be proud to run against [Rick Perry] for the White House."

George Pataki knows that he'd have to run against a whole bunch of other people, right? Like these people? Hints a go-go!

mitt romney blorp

Hello, Goodbye: Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney 2016: The flame that burns twice as bright lasts maybe three weeks. Let's relive the magic!

Jan. 26:

"Romney To Decide About Presidential Run Within Next 2 Weeks, Report Says"

Jan. 27:

"If he runs again in 2016, Romney is determined to rebrand himself as authentic, warts and all, and central to that mission is making public what for so long he kept private."

"Romney, whose last presidential bid was hampered by his image of excessive privilege and insensitivity, may recognize the trouble his real estate holdings could cause in another campaign."

"In the delicate and unseen campaign underway for [Rupert] Murdoch’s affections in the next presidential campaign, this much is clear: Romney is out of the running, a reality that has pained and angered his allies."

Jan. 28:

"Mitt Romney is renewing his pledge to fight for the poor and middle class in a speech that questions Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton's foreign policy and economic credentials."

Jan. 29:

Washington Post headline: "Mitt Romney’s people insist he’s not ‘rebranding.’ Sorry, but he most definitely is."

"Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has scheduled a call with staff members and supporters Friday morning, two weeks after he publicly announced his interest in launching a third presidential campaign. The topic of the call was not specified in an email to his allies -- other than its description as an "update call" -- but it will occur within the window that Romney had set for deciding whether to run."

"Closing in on a decision about whether to again run for president, Mitt Romney is finding that several past major fundraisers and donors in key states have defected to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush."

Jan. 30:

"Mitt Romney will call senior donors at 11 a.m. ET Friday to give them “an update” on his campaign plans. Sources have told The Daily Beast that the former Massachusetts governor will announce his intention to explore a third run for the White House. Romney and his senior aides believe he is the best placed candidate to defeat Hillary Clinton."

A few hours later...

"Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he will not run for president in 2016."

One thing you have to give Romney: He handles everything with brutal technocratic efficiency.

marco rubio

The Week In Predictions

Marco Rubio: The boldest prediction of the week comes from Gary Stein at the South Florida Sun Sentinel, who says, in a 17-line tone-poem, "Marco Rubio will get the Republican nomination. You read it here first." We read this here, at The New York Times, next: "Marco Rubio could end up being the G.O.P.’s Tim Pawlenty."

Hillary Clinton: Her campaign might be a "white dude fest." She will "distance herself from Obama." She "could play a pivotal role" in the ongoing controversy over Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's address to Congress.

Jeb Bush: On the one hand, the "lack of name recognition is not a problem Jeb Bush will suffer." On the other hand, "Jeb Bush will have to run against your name." Sorry, Jeb. This week, the oracle says "¯\_(ツ)_/¯."

Rand Paul: Paul "will need to broaden his appeal far beyond his father’s hard-core supporters if he hopes to win the GOP nomination his father never could." Alternatively, Paul "could be 2016's Howard Dean."

Scott Walker: Will either be Jeb Bush's "most formidable opponent," or he "will be the logical selection for Bush's vice-presidential running mate."

Finally, there's this: "Why Mike Huckabee will lose the war on Beyoncé"

All The Advice That's Fit To Aggregate

"Hillary Clinton should be worried about Elizabeth Warren! Jeb Bush should be worried about Scott Walker! He also needs a "better answer on immigration ASAP," or else Chris Cillizza will unleash one of his devastating "call your office" jokes on Twitter. Using Carly Fiorina to shout at Hillary Clinton might not be the best idea, you guys. And finally, George Pataki, your campaign is making everyone around you feel sad and you need to say you're sorry and stop doing it right now."

We'll Leave You With This, Whatever This Is

Former President Bill Clinton has had plenty of nicknames, but if his wife becomes president, he’ll need another one -- and he already has an idea for what it could be.

“Let’s say, if a woman became president, we could, I could be called Adam,” Clinton said in an interview with the “Rachael Ray Show” airing Thursday, referring to the first man of Judeo-Christian scripture.

Hot Hot 2016 Scoop: Hillary Clinton Might Wait To Do Some Stuff, Say Random People

Jason Linkins   |   January 29, 2015    3:47 PM ET

Good morning, everyone, I come before you today bearing a distant early warning of incoming 2016 speculation and hype. Secure your stocks of bread and toilet paper right now, because a blizzard of breathlessness may be moving into your area.

Today's campaign susurrations involve former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom I'm contractually obligated to remind you is the presumed Democratic frontrunner in the upcoming Democratic primary. Via Politico's Mike Allen (courtesy of a "Democrat familiar with Clinton's thinking" and "one adviser") comes the news that Clinton is "strongly considering delaying the formal launch of her presidential campaign until July." Unless she doesn't! (More on that in a moment.)

A Democrat familiar with Clinton's thinking said: "She doesn't feel under any pressure, and they see no primary challenge on the horizon. If you have the luxury of time, you take it."

[...]

"She doesn't want to feel pressured by the press to do something before she's ready," one adviser said. "She's better off as a non-candidate. Why not wait?"

The argument for waiting, apparently, is that by doing so, Clinton has time to avoid the spotlight and stay out of the fray. "Polling by both Democrats and Republicans," writes Allen, "shows that one of her biggest vulnerabilities is looking political." Which is kind of a problem, since no one in the recent history of America has quite managed the trick of running for political office without looking political. (Though virtually every person elected to any office erroneously believes that they have done exactly that.)

What's more, the apparent danger in waiting is that she could "fuel complaints that Clinton sees the nomination fight as a coronation." Though it should be noted, the only people making such "complaints" would be her opposition, in an effort to generate "optics" on the basis of which political reporters and pundits could use their ersatz eyeballs to make broad assumptions about public opinion as a substitute for actually engaging with the public and its collective opinion.

Still, it's worth noting the tendency among purported "political experts" to say hilariously vacuous things, such as, "She's better off as a non-candidate." If we presume that this person plans to support her candidacy in some material way, this is a deeply strange thing to say! (Which makes me think this source has no such plan, to be honest.) Every so often you get a hot campaign story that features people who do not talk as if they are actual human beings with a meaningful connection to our shared tradition of spoken language.

We can, however, ferret out a few grains of real significance. For instance, this is a good occasion to re-familiarize yourself with our new, byzantine campaign finance laws and recall that as long as you have not declared yourself a candidate, you can coordinate with whatever super PACs you want, in any way you please. For more on this, please see Mother Jones' Patrick Caldwell's explanation of this teensy little loophole in the alleged "firewall" between candidates and super PACs.

Another impact of Clinton delaying her announcement, to which Allen never really alludes, is that the Democrats will field a nominee in any event, whether or not Clinton runs. But Clinton's leviathan presence, lurking outside the universe of "candidates who have announced their intentions," casts a shadow over any other would-be nominee's ability to run a credible campaign of his or her own. This is the whole "freezing the field" phenomenon -- in which Clinton's potential candidacy keeps other campaigns from attracting top talent and the tallest dollars, because those resources presumably want to wind up with the candidate who has the most advantages.

People first started talking about Clinton's field-freezing back in January 2013. That was way too early to have that discussion, but now that we've really officially entered that time period when would-be Democratic contenders really are competing for the best staffers and top donors, this matters. Should July roll around and Clinton decide not to run, all the other Democratic hopefuls will have to scramble to ramp up their campaigns, starting the race many months behind the GOP field in a multitude of ways.

That is: if Clinton waits until July. Remember when I said, "Unless she doesn't?" Let's circle back to that part. Allen reports, "One option being considered would be to announce an exploratory committee earlier -- perhaps in April, at the beginning of a new fundraising quarter, in the timeframe when insiders originally expected her to launch her campaign."

So one of the options being considered is to get Clinton into the campaign while leaving her with an escape hatch. In this way, Clinton is no different than, say, Jeb Bush. The thing is, once she forms an exploratory committee, all that talk about remaining a "non-candidate" and avoiding "looking political" goes right in the bin, because like it or not, she'd look political and effectively be a candidate.

As if she isn't those things already. I mean, come on, now.

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Here Are The 55 People That Pollsters Have Included In 2016 Polls (So Far)

Jason Linkins   |   September 3, 2014    5:34 PM ET

We've gone back over all of the 2016 presidential polls that have been conducted so far and discovered that as of this moment, pollsters have already included 55 people in various and sundry polls, for some reason.

Who are these people?

People Who Can Reasonably Be Said To Be 2016 Presidential Contenders:
1. Joe Biden
2. Jeb Bush
3. Chris Christie
4. Hillary Clinton
5. Bobby Jindal
6. John Kasich
7. Martin O'Malley
8. Rand Paul
9. Marco Rubio
10. Paul Ryan
11. Scott Walker

People Who Are Maybe A Tiny Bit Of A Stretch To Think Of As Running In 2016, But Who Knows?:
12. Ted Cruz
13. Andrew Cuomo
14. Peter King
15. Rob Portman
16. Bernie Sanders
17. Rick Santorum
18. Brian Schweitzer

Time Is A Flat Circle Where These People Are Always Running For President:
19. Michele Bachmann
20. Herman Cain
21. Howard Dean
22. Mike Huckabee
23. Jon Huntsman
24. John Kerry
25. Tim Pawlenty
26. Rick Perry
27. Mitt Romney

These People Are Not Running For President, But We'll Show Them By Putting Them In Polls, Anyway:
28. Cory Booker
29. Julian Castro
30. Kirsten Gillibrand
31. Deval Patrick
32. Elizabeth Warren

Pollsters Remember These People's Names Because They Did A Thing That One Time, Remember That Thing They Did?:
33. Kelly Ayotte
34. Tammy Baldwin
35. Evan Bayh
36. John Bolton
37. Jan Brewer
38. Ben Carson
39. Mitch Daniels
40. Rahm Emanuel
41. Nikki Haley
42. John Hickenlooper
43. Amy Klobuchar
44. Susana Martinez
45. Condoleezza Rice
46. Michael Steele
47. John Thune
48. Antonio Villaraigosa
49. Mark Warner
50. Jim Webb

LOL, Pollsters Are Straight Up Trolling You:
51. Scott Brown
52. Bob McDonnell
53. Sarah Palin
54. Joe Scarborough
55. Donald Trump

Most of these people, if history and common sense are any guide, will not come remotely close to running for president, let alone being elected. By our count, in 2008 -- the last presidential election without an incumbent -- 55 politicians were also mentioned in at least one poll. Of those, just under half ended up even briefly becoming candidates, while fewer than a third made it to the Iowa caucuses.

That list includes some less-than-serious options, from Bill Clinton (who was term-limited) to Arnold Schwarzenegger (who was born in Austria) and Stephen Colbert (who already had a better job). This serves as a reminder of the futility of trying to predict the winners of a contest before knowing who the contestants actually are.

FUN FACT: If you stacked all of these people end to end, the middle class would still have no future in America.

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Media People: Polls Say It's Throwback Thursday To That Time Romney Ran For President

Jason Linkins   |   August 28, 2014    3:37 PM ET

A few days ago, former Massachusetts governor and two-time presidential aspirant Mitt Romney told Hugh Hewitt that he was not going to run for president in 2016. What everyone seems to have heard, however, is that he might run for president in 2016. And so, Mitt Romney 2016 is now a thing. It's August. This is what happens in August.

The words that everyone is citing to suggest that Romney is "leaving the door open," as they say, to a run, are "circumstances can change." Go ahead and Google "Mitt Romney circumstances can change" and you'll see what I mean. (The Huffington Post is quoting those words, too, though we are at least really clear about Romney's stated intentions.) It's worth taking a look at the relevant transcript (emphasis mine):

HEWITT: Now I'm pressing, and I'm pressing an advantage of long acquaintance, and so forgive me for this, but that's subject to change, right? People's candidacies implode, circumstances change. People who organized campaigns approach you. And so I'm not asking you to -- I wouldn't presume to ask you to say, "Yeah, I'm in the race." But circumstances change. And if you thought that in fact it were not that way, that you thought you were the only one who could do this, you'd change your mind, wouldn't you?

ROMNEY: I'm not going there, Hugh. I know you're going to press, but you know, this is something we gave a lot of thought to when, early on, I decided we're not going to be running this time. And again, we said, "Look, I had the chance of running. I didn't win. Someone else has a better chance than I do." And that's what we believe, and that's why I'm not running. And you know, circumstances can change, but I'm just not going to let my head go there. I remember that great line from "Dumb and Dumber," where the...

HEWITT: "So you're telling me I have a chance?"

ROMNEY: There you go, you remember. You're telling me I have a chance? That's one of a million.

So all those headline writers probably should have attributed the "circumstances change" language to Hugh Hewitt, with whom Romney was politely playing along.

Or they could have gone with, "Romney: 'If Everyone Else's Candidacies Implode And A Well-Organized Campaign Comes To Me, Maybe I'll Run,'" as an alternative. Because those are the conditions to which Romney is agreeing here: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, and whoever else suffers an "implosion," and then a bunch of people who are well-positioned to support a campaign -- financially and infrastructurally -- but who have not joined a campaign in the meantime suddenly decide to approach Romney.

I mean, it could happen. Giraffes from space could cure leukemia. The Detroit Lions could go to the Superbowl. Tupac could be alive. The world is full of possibilities. But likelihoods are more scant, by comparison. This is really just Romney funnin' around with Hewitt, who -- back when it was chic in establishment conservative circles to beg any Republican with a pulse to jump into the 2012 GOP primary and prevent Romney from winning it -- stuck by Romney. (He is, after all, Romney's biographer.)

But, remember, it's August! And someone -- specifically, USA Today/Suffolk University -- polled Iowans, and this is what they found:

According to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Wednesday, 35 percent of likely GOP caucus voters would vote for the 2012 GOP nominee in 2016. When Romney's name was added to the pool, no other candidate received double-digit votes.

The survey comes as rumors have begun to swirl about a potential Romney bid for president in 2016. After months of insisting that he will not run again, the former Massachusetts governor on Tuesday acknowledged that "circumstances can change."

(In the second paragraph, a copyeditor should have changed "The survey comes as rumors have begun to swirl about a potential Romney bid for president in 2016" to "The survey comes at a time when we're desperate to find something to write about, got any ideas?")

Back in January, Ariel Edwards-Levy and I came up with a system of shorthand symbols that could be deployed for polls conducted well before anyone has any business conducting polls. In our system, this USA Today/Suffolk University poll would get the "ℑ" for "It's way too early to write about 2016, but here we are doing it anyway, like idiots" and the "Ñ" for "No, [name of candidate] is not running/cannot run/will not run, but what if [name of candidate] did/could/would run? Huh?! What then!?” We created a symbol for polls in which Public Policy Polling is just trolling people, as is their wont, but since PPP isn't implicated here we wouldn't do that. Same spirit, though!

Ariel and I failed to come up with a symbol for "absurdly teensy sample size," because we didn't think a poll with an absurdly teensy sample size would touch off a cuckoo-bird media frenzy. We forgot about what happens in August, and we apologize. More to the point, though, this poll has an absurdly teensy sample size! "How many Iowans actually support Romney for 2016?" asks Dave Weigel, "One hundred seventy Republicans were polled, and 60 chose Romney."

Why would 60 people do this? Well, if you recall, a bunch of Republican voters in Iowa voted for Mitt Romney not so long ago. That was a discrete, concrete decision that they made. If Romney had said to Hugh Hewitt, "YOLO, cuz, I am gonna go for it one more time in '16," it's very possible that Romney would bring many of them along again. In the meantime, however, we have Republican voters who, when presented with a hypothetical question about an imagined set of circumstances that won't take place for another year, retreat to the least abstract position: a decision they already made before about which they are probably still quite happy.

This would be a good time to point out that one thing Mitt Romney has never actually done, technically speaking, is win an Iowa Caucus.

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Relax Everybody, Nobody Is A '2016 Frontrunner' Yet

Jason Linkins   |   March 3, 2014    2:51 PM ET

I don't know if it was the anticipation of being snowed in today, or the zany highs of award season reaching their peak with last night's Academy Awards ceremony, but this past weekend was a looney-tune time for Washington's professional 2016 Speculasturbators. Did you know that we already have "frontrunners" for 2016? As in more than one? Ninnyhammers, away!

Hey, I just double-checked, but it's apparently only March in the year 2014, so everyone can feel free to just chill, for God's sake.

Look, y'all. I ain't even trying to put the kibosh on discussing the relative strengths and weaknesses of potential 2016 candidates. I'm even OK with making comparisons. But we have to stop abusing this poor word, "frontrunner," before the English-language's version of Sarah MacLachlan starts making sad teevee commercials about it. There is no "frontrunner" at this point. There isn't even a race.

But once the race is enjoined, we'll still really need some new rules governing the use of this word. As things are, we deploy the word "frontrunner" way too readily, using it to describe everybody from candidates who are clearly dominating a race, to candidates who have snagged a slight lead over a pack of contenders, to -- as in the above cases -- candidates who aren't even candidates. It's important to remember that when Chris Cillizza or Conn Carroll declare a frontrunner, they've not taken the pulse of America or done anything quantitative to make that determination. They approach it with this kind of thinking: "Which prospective candidate, if I named them the 'frontrunner,' would give my personal #brandz #moar #klout and #zazz."

But look, I'm trimming my own excesses and taking responsibility for my own abuses, as well. Back in the 2012 GOP primary, as the fortunes of the various candidates waxed and waned over the months, I passed around the term "frontrunner" a little too promiscuously. So, now, I'm taking up the cause of HuffPost Pollster's own Mark Blumenthal, who wants this term to be used more realistically, so we stop hurting this poor word "frontrunner" so much! Here are some rules, from Mark Blumenthal:

1. "First, to be a frontrunner you need to at least have a real lead, which means statistical significance in some form. But again that’s the easy part."

2. "Second, we really need a different term to distinguish the true, dominant, likely-to-win frontrunner from a candidate that enjoys an early lead that’s quite possibly temporary."

My advice is to consider using terms like "ahead of the pack" or "so hot right now" or "I get sprung when I think of [NAME OF CANDIDATE]," and let the truly dominant candidates take "frontrunner." Because, honey, you do not want to have headlines like, "Newt Gingrich, frontrunner" on your permanent record. Oof.

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]

And Now Joe Scarborough Would Like Some Attention From The 2016 Speculation Mongers

Jason Linkins   |   February 13, 2014   12:21 PM ET

Back in 2010, MSNBC presenter and "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough told his television colleagues that he was "irritated" at a Huffington Post story that suggested he might undertake a 2012 campaign as the bottom part of a Mike Bloomberg presidential ticket. (This would have been on the ballot line of the "Polite Centrists For Unregulated Derivatives Trading And Gutting The New Deal Party" or something.) Per Scarborough:

"There is nothing to this. They say somebody very close to they mayor says I want to be vice president. That's a joke. Nobody that has worked with me who is a lawyer, nobody that's worked with me in media, nobody that's worked with me in Congress would ever say, 'You know who I think would make a great vice president? Joe Scarborough.' Seriously? Seriously? ... I could not have been more unequivocal."

Flash forward to today, and things are getting a little more ambitious and a little less unequivocal. Per Politico:

Asked by radio host Hugh Hewitt if he had ruled out running for president, Scarborough said he "won't rule anything out" and later added, "we'll see what happens."

"No, I won't rule anything out. I've always said and I've always been open about the fact that the greatest job I ever had and the greatest honor I've ever had was being in the House of Representatives," the former Florida congressman said. "It was an absolute thrill and I had to get out because I had young children to raise and I wanted to be back home in Pensacola. No, I've always said I wanted to get back in. It's just a matter of time. We'll see what happens."

Here's what's going to happen: Joe Scarborough will not run for president, the end. Sure, there may have been a time when Scarborough could be tempted into doing all the work needed to set up a presidential campaign, but he's been moving in an entirely different career direction for years -- away from electoral politics and toward Thought Leadership.

Which is in many ways too bad. Americans have a lot of means at their disposal to shoot down someone's presidential ambitions, but Thought Leaders are like black mold -- we'll be stuck with them until we burn the whole house down.

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