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Eye On Candidates
May 8, 2015

Should Bush Fight for Iowa?

The POLITICO Caucus is chock-full of interesting insights from leading Iowa and New Hampshire political insiders on the 2016 nomination contests. Leading off, whether Jeb Bush should compete strongly in the Iowa Caucuses:

Insiders say Bush shouldn't ignore Iowa

Jeb Bush’s failure to invest time in Iowa is the main explanation for his seventh-place finish in the latest poll of likely Republican caucusgoers.

The POLITICO Caucus, our weekly bipartisan pulse-taking of the most important activists, operatives and elected officials in Iowa and New Hampshire, finds a pervasive feeling that the former Florida governor will improve his standing if he just gives the Hawkeye State some TLC.

“The Iowa Lottery’s motto is ‘You can’t win if you don’t play.’ The same is true in politics,” said a top Republican there, who — like all 72 respondents — completed the questionnaire anonymously in order to speak candidly. “Am I surprised that a candidate who has visited the state once in 2015, and only twice in the past 20 years, isn’t kicking butt in Iowa? No.”

It’s been exactly two months since Bush last appeared in Iowa, for an agriculture summit. He will return May 16 for a town hall in Dubuque, a fundraiser in Iowa City for Sen. Chuck Grassley’s reelection campaign and a Lincoln Dinner speech in Des Moines…

Some of the other nuggets in the piece include:

Hillary’s immigration comments are boosting her standing with progressives.

Flanked by DREAMers in Nevada this week, Clinton declared her emphatic support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

All but one of the Democrats surveyed said Clinton’s immigration speech will calm concerns from the left about her credibility on the issue. Many used the word “bold” to describe it…

Most Democratic insiders want Warren to get onboard the Hillary train.

We asked our insiders to guess the size of the anti-Hillary share of the Democratic electorate in their state right now. The average response was around 25 percent among Dems in each state. Republicans rated it only a little bit larger.

Asked an open-ended question about what role Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren should play, a surprising number of Democrats said she should either run or get out of the way…

A handful of Democrats who do not plan to support Clinton in the primaries complained that Warren is freezing out potential challengers by not more forcefully telling the “Draft Warren” crowd that she’s not going to run in 2016…

Most Iowa insiders thought Huckabee had the best rollout this week; Granite Staters picked Fiorina.

Three long-shot Republican candidates announced their campaigns this week: Ben Carson in Detroit, and Carly Fiorina with a media blitz on Monday — followed by Mike Huckabee on Tuesday.

Just over half of Iowa GOP insiders picked Huckabee as having the strongest announcement, perhaps because he made several stops in the state after his kickoff in Hope, Arkansas…

Republicans overwhelmingly approve of the way Fiorina has contrasted herself with Hillary.

Fiorina wants to carve out a niche as the main GOP attack dog against Clinton. She explicitly pitches herself as the best option to beat the Democratic frontrunner. Her own announcement video opens with a clip of Hillary’s video.

Nine in 10 Republican insiders said they thought that was a clever move, even if a gimmick…

The Politico Caucus, released every Friday morning, is fast becoming a must-read for anybody wanting to understand what is going on with the 2016 presidential nominating contest.