There are a couple of fundraisers in Tampa Tuesday night supporting what some hope (and others fear) will the presidential matchup in 2016: Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.
You’ll have to shell out a minimum of $1,000 to get in the door tonight for the fundraiser for Right to Rise at the Grand Hyatt. That’s the leadership PAC formed by Bush this past month that allows him to raise money, hire staff, travel across the country, and donate to candidates and other groups that ideally help lay the groundwork for a presidential run. Super PACs can accept unlimited contributions from supporters, but can’t coordinate with the official campaign when the candidate — in this case Jeb — declares his candidacy.
According to USA Today/Gannett, Bush has been dribbling out some of the millions he’s taken in already. The paper reports he’s distributed nearly $123,000 this month to key Republican players in early primary states, including Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
Meanwhile, for the low-dough amount of $20.16 a head, you can attend the Ready for Hillary event late Tuesday afternoon in downtown Tampa. That’s the super PAC that was formed nearly two years ago to provide a rallying point for Clinton backers. It’s the group’s third event in the Tampa Bay area, and may only be around for a few more months if Clinton indeed announces her candidacy in early April, as has been predicted.
So is this meeting a preview of what we may be seeing a lot of in the Tampa Bay area, and indeed Florida, during the next year and a half? Fundraisers and campaign appearances by Bush and Clinton?
Well, Clinton will surely be the nominee if she chooses to run for office. As The New York Times Nate Cohn reported over the weekend, “No candidate, excluding incumbent presidents, has ever fared so well in the early primary polls as Mrs. Clinton. She holds about 60% of the vote of Democratic voters, a tally dwarfing the 40% she held this time in the last election cycle.”
As of today there’s not a single other Democrat who has entered the race. None. Not Bernie Sanders, not Elizabeth Warren, not Martin O’Mally. None. So she’s in, if she wants it.
There is a rush in the media and among his supporters to call Bush the front-runner, but that is absolutely not the case right now. Yes, he’s raising a lot of money. But as of today, it’s not translating that heavily in the early polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, or even nationally.
Recently, conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly asked that very question recently, writing, “Do you get the message that the media buildup for Jeb Bush has begun and that the 2016 Republican National Convention may simply nominate for president another Establishment loser candidate?”
The GOP field is extremely unsettled at this point. But obviously, no one is making more noise right now than Jeb.
In other news …
U.S. officials will meet with their Cuban counterparts on Friday in their second official meeting since the White House announced their diplomatic breakthrough with the communist nation. Marco Rubio says that so far our engagement hasn’t resulted in any improvement in human rights.
A day after the Tampa Bay Times reported on how Jeb Bush has been advocated for fracking at the same time he was associated with a group raising money for purchasing fracking wells, the environmental advocacy group NextGen Climate says Bush needs to talk more about those companies.
And later this week the third annual St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs takes place on the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus.