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Election 2016: Weekly Rundown

February 24, 2015

Audrey Bowler ‘16EI Campus Communications Team

As the modern world of politics and government evolves, campaigning has become a permanent fixture in social and political culture. As potential candidates prepare for the 2016 presidential election, here’s what made headlines this week:

5.) Jeb Bush’s Foreign Policy Debut

This Wednesday, former Florida governor Jeb Bush spoke to a large audience in Chicago during the first significant foreign policy speech of his prospective presidential campaign. The speech offered Bush the chance to establish a potential foreign policy agenda that would separate himself from his father and brother. Bush addressed his family legacy, saying “I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man.”

The former governor’s message was hawkish in nature, and criticized President Obama’s foreign policy decisions in Iran, Russia, and Cuba. “This administration talks, but the words fade,” Bush said. “They draw red lines, and then erase them. With grandiosity they announce resets and then disengage. Hashtag campaigns replace actual diplomacy and engagement.” Bush also stated that the Obama administration’s decision to remove U.S. troops from Iraq created a power “void” that has created opportunity for extremists.

While Jeb Bush will have to continue to declare his independence from both his father and brother’s time in office in order to establish a strong candidacy, Democratic operatives quickly responded to his foreign policy debut with criticism. “Today, Jeb Bush made his first foray into explaining and attempting to recast his foreign policy,” said DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman. “But despite Jeb Bush’s claim that he will be his ‘own man’, there is little evidence that Jeb Bush’s foreign policy agenda is much different compared to his brother’s.”

4.) Swing States Want Change

A recent Quinnipiac poll reveals new data about three key swing states that went blue during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. Voters in Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia say that they want President Obama’s successor to pursue a different policy direction.

In both Colorado and Iowa, 58 percent of voters surveyed want the next president to have different policies, with 34 percent saying they approve of the status quo. The number of dissatisfied voters is higher in Virginia, where 61 percent say the next president should forge a new path.

When asked about the economy, 42 percent of voters in Colorado and Iowa say that Obama’s economic policies have hurt the country, rather than helped; in Virginia, 45 percent responded that the economy has been hurt, compared with 39 percent who say it has made a recovery during Obama’s presidency.

Obama’s overall job approval ratings in those states are slightly higher. In Iowa and Colorado, 43 percent approve and 52 percent disapprove of the President’s performance; in Virginia, 44 percent approve and 53 percent disapprove. Presidential candidates will have to take such polls into account when running for office in 2016 – especially when pursuing swing state votes.

3.) Walker’s Collegiate Controversy

As Wisconsin governor Scott Walker gears up for a potential run for the 2016 Republican nomination, his college years have come back to haunt him. The governor, who dropped out of Marquette University during his senior year, would be the first president (if he runs and wins) in more than 60 years to hold office without a college degree. This fact has become a point of controversy as Walker begins to form a campaign team. Critics have questioned the motives behind his withdrawal from Marquette, while Walker himself has dismissed the concerns, saying, “That’s the kind of elitist, government-knows-best, top-down approach we’ve had for years. I’d rather have a fighter who’s proven he can take on the big government interests and win.”

While facing questions about his education, Walker continues to prepare a team of Capitol Hill veterans for his likely 2016 campaign. The governor recently hired Mike Gallagher, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer to coordinate his international portfolio. Kristin Jackson, an energy and immigration expert, has joined Walker’s team as a domestic policy advisor.

2.) Jeb Backs Hillary?

A conservative political advocacy group has released a video calling Jeb Bush “unelectable.” The nonprofit, ForAmerica, claims that Bush is not a suitable Republican candidate for president, especially if he faces Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

The video argues that the former Florida governor has praised Clinton’s public service too highly in the past, specifically referencing the 2013 Liberty Medal Ceremony, during which Bush spoke in support of the then-Secretary of State’s political career before she was presented with the award. The ceremony took place less than a year after the 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, for which Clinton faced censure and criticism.

ForAmerica argues that Bush’s previous comments on Clinton’s public service will make it impossible for him to evaluate her political experience in a critical matter. According to ForAmerica chairman Brent Bozell, “Jeb has absolutely no credibility to criticize her because he has already anointed her as a great public servant; and he inexplicably did so almost a year to the day of the Benghazi massacre. He will lose, and the public will have to suffer at least another four years of Obama’s policies – and anything worse she has in store for America.”

1.) Biden’s Strategic Tour

This week, Vice President Joe Biden will travel to New Hampshire to advocate for the Obama administration’s economic policies and participate in a discussion on education and community colleges. Although the Vice President says he has not made up his mind as to whether or not he will run for president in 2016, Biden will have visited the first three presidential nominating states in under a month by the end of this week.

Earlier in February, Biden gave a speech on the state of the economy and toured a local community college in Des Moines, Iowa, the state that is home to the earliest-held presidential caucus. Last week, he passed through South Carolina to discuss infrastructure investment – the third state in presidential nomination order.

Biden’s busy travel schedule has encouraged speculation that he will enter the 2016 race, and his visit to New Hampshire is sure to further such rumors. While the Vice President has stated that he has not yet made a final decision on seeking a presidential bid, he mentioned in January that “there’s a chance” that he would challenge Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary when she officially begins her campaign. During his time in Iowa in early February, Biden said that he will announce his decision “sometime in the end of the summer.”

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