RUSH: I had a fascinating headline here in a story at The Hill, TheHill.com. The headline is: “Jeb Girds for Battle with Base.” So here is a story about Jeb Bush, and he’s contemplating whether or not to seek the presidency of this country in 2016. And this story is about the battle that he’s going to have in getting there — and the battle that he’s going to have is the battle with his own party, not with the Democrats.
Wouldn’t you think that in a story about a Republican candidate or potential candidate seeking the White House, the story would be girding for battle with the Democrats? Here’s the opening paragraph: “Jeb Bush is steeling,” s-t-e-e-l, getting prepared, “for a fight with the Republican Party conservative base, signaling that he will not bend from his centrist positions on immigration and Common Core education standards in 2016 even if costs him support with grassroots conservatives.
“In what could be read as a swipe at Mitt Romney, Bush told a Washington audience…” This is the CEO group that the Wall Street Journal put together. “Bush told a Washington audience this week that ‘no one really knows’ if a presidential candidate can survive the primaries without sacrificing his core principles because it ‘hasn’t been tried recently.’ The former governor of Florida also told the CEO council that candidates have to be prepared to ‘lose the primary to win the general.'”
“Now, normally in politics, the way it’s always worked… I mean, just to show you how upside down things are, normally the way it’s worked is you got candidate A (say it’s a Republican), and he wants to be president. So the first thing he’s gotta do is win over the base, because the base is thought to be 40% of the entire presidential vote. The Democrats have their 40%, their base, and the Republicans have theirs. So the Republican Party candidate would have to go out and first win his party’s base while the Democrat candidate does the same.
After doing that, then they’d have to moderate a bit in directions away from the base to pick up, say, the precious independents and moderates. Now if you’ve listened to me regularly, you know that I think this is a giant trick or trap that has been played on Republicans for I don’t know how long, because what it in effect did was create Republican candidacies which were designed to appeal to only 20% of the electorate, while the Democrats were out running candidacies aiming at everybody, as many people as they could.
The way the trick manifested itself was political consultants of both parties, actually, because there was money in this. Political consultants in both parties would tell candidates, “Look, you got your base. You got your base wrapped up. You don’t need me for that. What you need me for is to get independents.” Remember this old saw? “Nobody wins the White House without winning the independents, and you’re gonna have your base locked up because every Republican candidate, the base is automatically gonna vote for ’em. Now, you need me, Mr. Candidate!”
This what the consultants would say in their sales pitch to be hired.
“You need me because I am uniquely qualified, I’m uniquely capable, I’m uniquely talented to show independents why you’re the man. So a candidate would be presented with a campaign that took the base for granted, and it was aimed at independents (i.e., moderates) or even liberals. Is it any wonder Republican candidates would lose in that scenario, because what happened is, the base was taken for granted, and as is the case in 2012, four million of ’em stayed home and didn’t vote for Romney.
I don’t know if it’s because they were angry at being taken for granted and decided to teach a lesson, or if they were just unenthused by the Romney candidacy. It could have been a combination of many things. But the bottom line is, four million members of the Republican base didn’t vote. It didn’t matter. Romney did win the independents. Do you remember this? In 2012, Mitt Romney won the independents going away — it wasn’t even close — and that used to be the rubric. That used to be what you had to do.
If you did that, if you pulled that off, why, you were guaranteed to win!
All of a sudden Republican candidates are winning the independents and losing the overall election. So now what Jeb is saying is that he’s gotta go out… In order to get his party’s nomination, he’s gonna have to figure out a way to win the primaries while running against the base. That’s what he told these CEOs. That’s what this means. “Jeb Girds for Battle with Base — Jeb Bush, signaling he will not bend from his centrist positions on immigration and Common Core education standards in 2016 even if it costs him support with trying to tell us conservatives.”
So he is assuring the CEOs and he is assuring the Chamber of Commerce that he’s not going to pander. He’s not going to modify, moderate, change. He’s not gonna pander to these Tea Party types. He not gonna pander. He’s not gonna say he’s conservative when he isn’t. He’s not gonna go out and do any of that — and that’s gonna be courageous, don’t you know?
This is a courageous stance we are supposed to believe is taking place. It’s now going to be a courageous campaign when one of the candidates openly says that he will need to run against his base in order to get elected, and that’s what this story is all about. It’s 180 degrees out of phase from what everything we’ve always been told, and we will see.