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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

If you’re Hillary Clinton, you pinched yourself last week to awake from a strange and wondrous dream. Except it wasn’t a dream.

Mitt Romney really has been calling up rich conservative donors to tell them he wants to run for president — again.

If you’re Hillary Clinton, you broke into a wide grin that stayed on your face all day, because the news seemed too good to be true. Mitt Romney is seriously going to try one more time?

“Thank you, God,” is what Hillary was thinking.

Not because Mitt Romney is likely to become the Republican nominee in 2016, but rather because he’ll be competing for the same mainstream primary voters and the same big money that Jeb Bush is chasing.

And anybody who can get in Jeb’s way makes life easier for Hillary.

Jeb is definitely not whom she wants to face in the election. Among potential GOP candidates he’s currently the only one who could beat her in Florida — and it’s practically impossible to win the White House without winning Florida.

Just ask Romney. Or John McCain, John Kerry, Al Gore and Bob Dole.

The last presidential candidate to take the Sunshine State but lose the national election was Jeb Bush’s father back in 1992.

If you’re Hillary, you’re nervous about Jeb because he remains well liked in Florida although he hasn’t campaigned for office in more than a decade.

Hillary is sharp enough to know that Jeb got to be governor — and was easily re-elected — by drawing thousands of crossover votes from Florida Democrats. She would rather not test the durability of his popularity in Florida, or nationally.

It would be ideal for her if the Republicans nominated a Tea Party hothead, thus alienating millions of American voters except for the cranky old white people who listen to Rush Limbaugh.

If that happened, Hillary could put her campaign on autopilot. She’d win in a landslide.

If you are her, you pray for the GOP to completely lose its marbles and choose somebody like Rick Santorum or Ted Cruz. This would be such a slam dunk that Hillary Democrats dare not mention the possibility for fear of jinxing it.

A race against even Romney could also be a breeze, though the odds are slim that the Republicans will give him another shot. Still, anything can happen in the primaries, especially since these knuckleheads insist on starting in Iowa, which demographically resembles Finland more than it does the United States.

If you’re Hillary, things were looking super solid for 2016 until Jeb started making moves like he was going to run. Now what do you do?

You had counted on locking up the huge Hispanic vote, yet here’s a Republican who speaks fluent Spanish and openly favors a more compassionate immigration policy than his party espouses. This will be a problem.

If Jeb were more like Romney, you could depend on him to flip-flop and retreat to an extreme position that would drive away Latino voters in droves. So far, though, Jeb hasn’t backed down.

While Sen. Marco Rubio and other possible GOP candidates are still whining about same-sex marriage, Jeb has wisely thrown in the towel and says it’s time to respect all sides of the debate, wishing the best for the couples now marrying.

If you’re Hillary, you want to pull your hair out. You never planned on running against a Republican who respected gays and lesbians. It’s not fair!

If Jeb sustains this tolerant tone, Hillary will be forced to devise a new attack strategy.

You can’t really slam him just for being another Bush without getting slammed yourself for being another Clinton. The fact that Bill is dear friends with Jeb’s dad, the elder George, also complicates that formula.

Nor can you slop any blame on Jeb for invading Iraq because that was his brother’s call — and you voted for it yourself as a senator. You totally fell for all that crap about weapons of mass destruction.

So scratch Bush fatigue off the list of campaign issues. Ditto for Iraq.

On education, Jeb supports the Common Core curriculum in defiance of the GOP’s right wing, eliminating another potential weapon from Hillary’s debate arsenal.

If you are her, you’re left hoping with all your soul that Romney muddies the center of the Republican Party, and saps prime attention and heavy money away from Jeb.

You can also hope that the Tea Party screamers bash Jeb so relentlessly during the primary season that his momentum is blunted. It’s not impossible for him to be overtaken by a more beatable candidate, which is to say any other candidate.

Even better, if you’re Hillary you are hoping that Jeb loses his spine, backpedals from these semi-reasonable positions and soon starts sounding like all his rivals.

It would be your dream scenario — Jeb morphs into Mitt, and together they morph into the woodwork. Without Jeb topping the GOP ticket, you’re golden in Florida and so is the path to the presidency.

Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for The Miami Herald. Readers may write to him at: 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132.

AFP Photo/Jim Watson

  • Theodora30

    Apparently the donors are shocked by how bad Jeb is polling despite all the favorable press coverage hen hs been getting. That favorable coverage is his best asset. Our MSM loves the Bush family. Remember how many of them fawned over Junior as a regular guy who would be more fun to haven beer with than boring, knowledgeable, experienced Al Gore? Jeb gets those thrills running up their legs even more than his brother did. In fact just today the Kool Kids at Morning Joe were going on about how wonderful the Bush clan is, especially the elder Bush. You kniw, he guy who was up to his eyeballs in the illegal, unconstitutional Iran Contra fiasco but was allowed to get away with lying about being out of the loop and pardoning the guy, Caspar Weiberger, whose trial whose trial would have brought out the truth. The media shrugged that pardon off unlike their reaction to Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich.

    The media will ignore Jeb’s shady business partners like Miguel Recarey who bilked the government out of millions of Medicare $$ and bragged about his ties to mob boss or his willingness to ask his dad to pardon the known terrorist Orlando Bosch. Or his lying about lobbying HHS Secretary Margaret Heckler to allow Recarey an even larger share of Medicare money. Google “Bush Family Values” in Mother Jones or read Kevin Phillips “American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush” for a Republican’s take on this powerful family’s misdeeds and shenanigans.

    If the media had ever bothered to give this kind of info to the public we would not be having this discussion. Come to think of it we would never have had to endure Bush II’s disastrous presidency.

    • latebloomingrandma

      Funny how this story is mostly unknown, yet the Republicans wasted $12 million taxpayer dollars to “investigate” Whitewater, which gave them nothing.

      I can’t get past the Bush family values that brought us Lee Atwater tactics, his spawn Karl Rove and introduced Roger Ailes to the for-front. of politics. The rest, as they say, is history.

      • Eric Lipps

        Try $70 million, when all was said and done (and counting all the ancillary investigations including the Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky flapdoodles).

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Oh really? There isn’t a single thing except the brand of underpants and pantyhose Hillary wears the GOP has not vindictively outed.

    As for John Ellis Bush, he steps in front of an audience and the first question will be for him to answer to his “association” with two Miami crooks, Padrera and Recarey.

    It’s a dynasty if Hillary runs but not if JEB runs? Come off that BS.

  • FireBaron

    If one of the Tea Party types (Rick Santorum, anyone?) wins the Republican Primary, Hillary will be able to run a campaign like William McKinley did in 1896. She can sit on her front porch in Westchester, and let the country come to her – and win.

    If Willard wins the nomination, again, she can still easily beat him. She will just have to travel a bit more.
    If Jeb wins the nomination, she’s gonna have to work her butt off!

    • mike tyson

      Drink much. Jeb Bush hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  • mike tyson

    A family member of 2 of the worst presidents in US history stands 0 chance at beating Hilary. Bush daddy had a horrible economy. He lost the second time around because it was so bad. And baby bush started a war or a lie he made up and started the second great depression. People don’t forget. Specially when a lot of people lost everything. And to top it all off. His name is Jeb. It should just be Jethro. Not happening. I want him to run though there is more room in the clown car.

    • mike tyson

      Drink much. Jeb Bush hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  • FT66

    I disagree Carl Hiaasen. Jeb can’t ruin Hillary’s political run. Here is what Hillary has to do:
    1. She must stick together with Pres. Obama
    2. She must hire mainly those who participated in 2008 & 2012 in Obama Campaign, as they know exactly what they did which produced fruitful results.
    3. She has to have a combined campaign with Pres. Obama. Make a division of labour. Let Pres. Obama deal with: a) African-American voters; b) Millenials c) Hispanics (of whom are aware of what he introduced on Immigration Executive Action which will be passed on to Hillary when she wins).
    4. Hillary must concentrate in getting white voters.
    Let Jeb campaign with his brother “W”, and we can see what team will image as a winner. Team Bush(s) or Team Hillary-Obama.

  • ExRadioGuy15

    I disagree with Hiaasen, as well, but for a different reason….

    You see, as a “Moderate” (and I use the term very loosely), Jeb Bush doesn’t have much of a chance to win the GOP nomination next year. In fact, Jeb will be 2016’s version of Jon Huntsman in 2012, where Huntsman was the most reasonable-sounding candidate but not nearly insane enough to get the rabid GOP primary vote.

    It’s true that Jeb does have the best chance to stay competitive with Hillary, but the insane majority of the party won’t let it happen…oh, the irony! LMAO

  • David L. Allison

    I respectfully disagree with just a bit of the analysis. Part of the problem for HRC vs. Bush is that Democratic and Independent voters have shown repeatedly, most recently in 2014, that if the choice is between a real Republican and a faux Republican, they will either stay home or vote for the real Republican.
    The second point is that, polls aside, Rand Paul may prove to be the most difficult candidate for either Bush or Clinton to defeat, especially if HRC does not move off of her neo-liberal policies on several critical issues for the Democratic wing of the Democratic party..

  • Eric Lipps

    I get the feeling tat this is wishful thinking. Carl Hiaasen doesn’t like Hillary Clinton and is praying that somebody, anybody, knocks her down, but he looks at the clown-car of GOP presidential hopefuls and feels desperate, so it’s back to the old Bush well in hopes of one more gusher.

    Jeb may have signed his political death warrant with his stance on gay marriage; Bush family power or no, the religious nuts, er, the base will have a hard time getting past that, and without them, a GOP’er can’t win.

    Try this statistic on for size. In 2000, Dubya lost the popular vote by half a million ballots, while in ’04 he won by 3.5 million. All of that difference can be attributed to the four million evangelicals who stayed home in 2000 but stampeded to the polls to vote for him four years later. Think the party leadership is going to allow a candidate who’s pissed off those people to win the nomination?

    As for Hillary, it bears noting that she still has not announced her candidacy. Everyone assumes she’s running, but they did in 2000 and 2004, too.

  • BOC

    It wouldn’t matter who jumps in the race for the GOP, they need a ‘A’ candidate which they don’t have.

  • JanNH

    Really???? Bill Clinton beat the nicest Bush of the litter. After W, Republicans are dreaming if they think Bush v Clinton will go better than the last time around.

    2016 Clinton v Bush Campaign Ad #1:
    A CLINTON handed A BUSH 4 balanced budgets.
    That Conservative CEO handed back -8 balanced budgets… Why not +12?

  • paulyz

    So an American State, as as good as Iowa is as part of our nation, isn’t considered good enough for you racist Liberals. Just too White for your OBVIOUS anti-White statement It’s plain to see. Thanks for showing your “true” colors!

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    When people in Iowa get their butts out of bed EVERY day 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, travel by car, bus or train to their jobs and then fork over billions to Iowans who never bother to make progress outside of their cornbelt, let me know..till then, Iowans need to get their noses out of those Bibles, their butts out of those Revivalist tents and get their state moving ahead to hi-tech industries and stop forcing the rest of the states to pay for their Agri-Industries huge $2 billion liability insurance. You want a farm? Pay for it. My Dad did. Why can’t people in red states?

  • Joseph Kelsall

    Is this ‘Jeb arbusto’ the Hispanic?