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Election 2016: Weekly Rundown

March 23, 2015

Audrey Bowler ‘16 – EI 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:

4.) Team Graham Expands

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s prospective presidential campaign is picking up speed as both a new communications director and senior advisor were hired by Graham’s team this week.

Jon Seaton, a Republican operative who worked for Tim Pawlenty’s campaign in 2012, will serve as a senior political advisor for Security Through Strength, the PAC backing Graham’s potential 2016 bid. Brittany Bramell, who previously served as a spokeswoman for House Speaker John Boehner, will take over the group’s communications operations.

Coming just a week after Security Through Strength brought an Iowa advisor, Tracie Gibler, on board, all signs indicate that Sen. Graham is rapidly building a campaign team – although he is currently trailing other members of the GOP in early polls. Graham is likely to make a final decision by mid-May.

According to Christian Ferry, one of the senator’s senior advisors and Graham’s likely campaign manager, “He’s been traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire recently, talking to voters, talking to activists about keeping them safe and secure, evaluating how important that is in voters’ calculations,” Ferry added that if Graham were to run for president, “He’ll run to win, not to make a point.”

3. Homecoming Rally for Rand

This week, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s team revealed that he will be making an important announcement in Louisville in early April.

Multiple sources have confirmed that the potential Republican candidate will hold an event at the historic Galt House Hotel on April 7. While it appears as though Paul has been preparing for a presidential run for months, sources have not confirmed that he will be announcing a campaign launch on the 7th.

An early April announcement would certainly be convenient for the senator. The event would fall during the Senate’s March recess, and would not require fundraising reports to be released until after June.

During the week after the Louisville event is held, Paul is scheduled to tour Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina – all key swing states that presidential candidates will have to focus on as 2016 draws closer. Sen. Paul is also scheduled to visit New Hampshire this week for two days, his second trip to the first-in-the-nation primary state this year.

2.) NH Push for Bush

While critics have doubted his chances for success on the campaign trail, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appears to be feeling increasingly comfortable with the pace and media attention of a budding presidential campaign.

During his trip to New Hampshire this week, Bush, who hasn’t run for office since 2002, chatted with voters on a tour to local businesses and during a party hosted by donors. The likely GOP candidate appeared more relaxed than he had been during previous appearances, making light-hearted jokes aimed at the large press group following him from event to event.

The former Florida governor is completing the second half of a trip through the early-voting states this month. Two weeks ago, Bush was in Iowa, and next week he plans to swing through South Carolina – home of the nation’s earliest Southern primary election.

Historically, the Bush family has had tough luck with the state of New Hampshire. In 2000, Jeb’s brother, George W. Bush, lost the New Hampshire primary after winning the caucus in Iowa. In 1980, his father, George H.W. Bush, also lost the New Hampshire primary to Ronald Reagan.

1.) A Second Trump Run?

On Wednesday, real estate tycoon Donald Trump revealed that he plans to form a presidential exploratory committee as the 2016 election approaches.

“I have a great love for our country, but it is a country that is in serious trouble. We have lost the respect of the entire world,” Trump said in a statement. “Americans deserve better than what they get from their politicians — who are all talk and no action!”

While the exploratory committee takes shape, Trump has also recently hired staffers with connections in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire.  This is not the first time that Trump has announced a potential presidential bid. In 2010, Trump expressed interest in running for the 2012 GOP nomination.  In this week’s announcement, the mogul spoke about his leadership role in building his company, and his success in creating jobs throughout the Trump Organization, with “very little debt.” Trump has often criticized President Obama’s handling of the nation’s economy and federal budget.

If he were to run, Trump would face quite a challenge – in a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 74 percent of Republicans said they viewed Trump in a negative light. He received a higher percentage of negative feedback than any of the 14 other candidates included in the poll.

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