Can Jeb Become Persona Grata?

Assuming Jeb Bush makes his campaign official in the weeks ahead, at what point does he make things more personal?

If you don’t like what the Republicans and Democrats are offering in the way of presidential candidates, here’s an alternative: Waka Flocka Flame, an Atlanta-based rapper who wants to be your next commander-in-chief.

On Monday, which also happened to be the annual 4/20 “Weed Day” celebrating marijuana use, the performer released this video laying out his presidential intentions:

“The first thing I’m gonna do when I get in office is legalize marijuana,” Flocka said. “The president’s gotta have a big, fat ol’ blunt.”

That’s “blunt”, as in marijuana cigarette — and blunt in choice of language: “I’m not wearing a suit when I go to the [congressional] meeting. It’s f——g irritating,” he says. “I’m going with a tank top, flip-flop, a box of Backwoods, some 1882’s, rolling one up, drinking a coffee. F—k Congress.”

Ok, I’m guessing this won’t be confused with Mick Huckabee’s announcement in a couple of weeks. Or, Scott Walker’s or Jeb Bush’s, whenever those are.

Speaking of Bush, there’s a buzz going around the Internet that he might surprise us and decide not to seek the presidency after all. It’d certainly be a shocker, considering that Bush has given us at least four signs that he’s running:

1) In January, he launched his Ready to Rise PAC, which will compliment the Bush 2016 campaign (in an uncoordinated way, of course, even it it ends up being run by fabled GOP consultant Mike Murphy).

3) In March, he sold his stakes in his remaining business interests (his turned over his share of Jeb Bush and Associates to his son and namesake; and he stepped down as chairman of Britton Hill);

3) For several months now, he’s been grinding his way through the early-primary states, including last weekend’s stop in New Hampshire where he both dished it out and took it.

4) And all the while, he’s been doing the one thing that all husky presidential wannabes seem to do (you might remember Ted Kennedy being the source of such speculation in the 1970s and 1980s): Bush has gone on a “caveman” diet.

About Bush’s announcement. It’s not the timing of the event that should concern Republicans. Because of his name recognition and formidable fundraising network, there’s no urgency to Bush making things official — he’s not Ted Cruz, needing to jump in front of social conservatives. Thus he has the luxury of time — both to hold off on an announcement and to use the extra time to further fill the coffers of Ready to Rise.

What should be concerning is what the former governor/presidential son-sibling intends to say when the time comes for the big announcement. Not so much the candidate’s goals and ideas, but who he is.

It’s been 35 years, since Jeb Bush’s father first sought the presidency and 27 years since “41” got the job. In the time since presidential campaigns have become far more biographical. Winning candidates not only figure how to fit in with the moment, they also know how to weave a sympathetic narrative.

Since the end of the Reagan/Bush run on the White House, we’ve had three two-term presidents — three distinctly different gentlemen with two things in common: all are Baby Boomers, all had a compelling personal story to relate:

— Bill Clinton, son of a father he never knew;

— George W. Bush, kicked the bottle;

— Barack Obama, finding his personal identity.

If you caught Hillary Clinton’s video release, you may have noticed there was nothing in the way of the candidate showcasing personal growth and overcoming struggle. Just a lot of empty calories about being a “champion” for ordinary folks. Maybe the Clintonistas figure she’s already so well-known that she doesn’t need a biographical rehash. Or (my guess), they can’t quite figure how to make “Hillary’s story” every American’s story. In the end, this may be what betrays Mrs. Clinton: she’s famous, she has a resume — and she’s not sympathetic.

One candidate who does understand this would be Marco Rubio. Here’s his announcement. You’ll notice how he weaves his family’s journey into the larger theme of where he wants to take America. We’ll see if Scott Walker, an Eagle Scout and son of a Baptist minister, also tells a family tale when his time comes.

So here’s the challenge to those inveterate Bush watchers: come up with a sentence, a paragraph, a 30-second soundbite that explains the gist of Jeb’s candidacy — a rationale incorporating the candidate’s life story (competence and electability don’t apply here). What is it, about the man, that voters should find relatable? What is it, about his life’s journey, that we should find inspiring?

The question is: is the Bush campaign asking itself the same questions?

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And Rubio Makes It Three

Marco Rubio makes it three first-term senators now seeking the GOP presidential nomination.

And then there were three . . . Republicans running for the president, now that Marco Rubio has made it official.

Three senators, none yet to complete a first term in Washington . . .

Three first-time presidential hopefuls, all from states well below the Mason-Dixon Line . . .

And three gentlemen with decidedly different ways of introducing themselves to Iowa New Hampshire America.

First there was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, preaching faith and social conservatism at Liberty University (video here).

Then along came Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, with a meandering treatise on libertarianism and party outreach (video here).

And now Rubio (video here).

About his kickoff, Monday night in Miami, and what it means to the GOP field.

  • Age. Rubio turns 44 next month, making him the youngest Republican hopeful of serious note since a 47-year-old Richard Nixon sought his party’s nomination in 1960. It’s prompted Charles Krauthammer to liken Rubio to Nixon’s opponent that year: JFK. Said the columnist: “I think Rubio is the one – again, if the theme is new and old, I think he’s got a chance to be the sort of Kennedyesque one, a lot of energy, youth, and especially because foreign affairs have become a very important issue in the last couple of years, very unusual, that we should have an election that hinges a lot on that.” A 40something candidate wouldn’t have much been an issue in the formative years of the GOP (John C. Fremont, the first Republican nominee, was 43 when he ran in 1856; Abraham Lincoln was 51 when he won the presidency in 1860). However, it’s out of character with recent standard-bearers. From Reagan to Romney, the average age of a Republican presidential nominee is 66.
  • “A New American Century”. Not just the slogan that was in the background for Rubio’s announcement, but an insight into his campaign’s strategy (here’s a look at her Rubio stands on a few key issues). A few days before his announcement, Rubio’s camp released this patchwork video, which is one part biography (he’s the son of Cuban immigrants – a bartender and a maid) and a second part a conservative call to arms. “This is about whether we are going to be the first generation of Americans,” he says in the tape, “to leave our children worse off than ourselves or the next generation that will allow them to inherit what they deserve, inherit what we inherited, give to them what every generation before us has given to the next: the single greatest nation in all of human history,” It has a Reaganesque ring to it. Moreover, as Rubio noted in his kickoff remarks, it separates him from other candidates who were around in the past century – a not so subtle dig at the two hopefuls whose families that have dominated national politics in post-Cold War America. On that note, reporters won’t lack for storylines of how Rubio and Jeb Bush now collide over geography, portions of the primary electorate and “Shakespearian” discomfort.
  • Third Place. If you accept the consensus – Bush and Wisconsin Scott Walker lead the Republican pack — then who’s sitting in third place? It may be Rubio, thanks in large part to how the chattering class assesses him. Consider this passage from “Rubio is both electable and conservative, and in optimal proportions. He’s in a position to satisfy the GOP establishment, tea party-aligned voters and social conservatives. In fact, Rubio’s argument for the GOP nomination looks a lot like Walker’s, and Rubio is more of a direct threat to the Wisconsin governor than he is to fellow Floridian Bush.” Historically, third place is a terrible place to be in a Republican presidential field. But in a contest featuring a couple of wobbly frontrunners (Bush has to deal with a skeptical, sometimes hostile base; Walker polls well, but is still largely provincial), there may be something to be said about running a competitive third – for now.

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New Video, New Campaign, A New Hillary?

Under the guise of how to keep an idiot in suspense, I spent a good part of my Sunday waiting for Hillary Clinton’s much-anticipated Twitter announcement.

And then it came – surprise! – John Podesta, her campaign’s senior advisor, issuing this email to Mrs. Clinton’s fan base: “I wanted to make sure you heard it first from me – it’s official: Hillary’s running for president. She is hitting the road to Iowa to start talking directly to voters. There will be a formal kickoff event next month, and we look forward to seeing you there.”

Followed moments later by this video that popped up on Mrs. Clinton’s campaign site:

Which, in turn, raises questions as to why Mrs. Clinton decided to enter the race this way.

About the venue – a slick video that’s long on “average” aspiring Americans and short on candidate face-time (Hillary doesn’t show her face or utter a word until one-and-a-half minutes into the two-minute-fifteen second-video). It’s both similar to and different from the announcement of eight years ago. In January 2007, Mrs. Clinton made her announcement via videotape. And she did it perched on a living-room sofa, in this family-friendly two-minute web video.

But in that 2007 video, it’s the candidate doing all of the talking, with no supporting cast. In 2015, it’s the opposite. If that’s the thinking — the less you see of her, the more you’ll like her – that doesn’t bode well for the candidate’s long-term prospects.

And there’s the follow-up strategy. In 2007, Mrs. Clinton took part in a series of video web chats during the week after her announcement. In 2015, the thinking again is to engage with the masses – this time, small-scale events with voters spread out over the next few weeks.

But to those who were expecting more, allow me to pose this question: what were her options?

Whereas Mrs. Clinton introduced herself in 2007 as the fortunate daughter of “a middle-class family in the middle of America” and in 2015 as “the champion” of “everyday Americans”, the reality is she’s far removed from Illinois and has little if any interaction with the nation’s working class (this is assuming she buys her own groceries or makes an occasional visit to Starbucks).

Plan B could have been a public event closer to home in Chappaqua. Then again, Mrs. Clinton hasn’t left much of a footprint in New York. And forget about that other residence in the nation’s capital. The last Democrat to make an inside-the-beltway announcement work was JFK.

That left the campaign free to announce pretty much wherever they liked in the “lower 48”. But to do so would require coming up with a backdrop that underscores the campaign’s essence. And at this point, the only essence to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, aside from the obvious gender factor, is this being in essence the Clintons’ last hurrah (by contrast, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, an immigrants’ son, will kick off his campaign on Monday at Miami’s Freedom Tower, an early stop for Cubans arriving in America).

Then again, this is much the same problem – how to repackage a familiar product as something fresh and original – that besets many a repeat campaign.

In November 1979, Ronald Reagan kicked off his campaign with this 5-minute message – as you’ll see, no adoring audience and pretty much the same message as in 1976.

So much for originality.

Then again, it didn’t matter. Reagan, lamenting an America adrift both at home and abroad, had his finger on the nation’s pulse. And he was an established conservative brand, not a finger-wetting, wind-testing triangulator.

Other second-time candidates haven’t been as fortunate as Reagan. In June 2011, Mitt Romney traveled to a farm in Stratham, N.H., to preach economics. Four years earlier, he started his first presidential run in Dearborn, Mich., reaching out to social conservatives. Reporters noted the difference and Romney found it difficult to escape a media narrative that questioned his core beliefs (remember “severely conservative”?).

A more painful example would be Al Gore. In April 1987, the then-senator started his first presidential run in Washington, D.C. – not an accident, as he was tying to channel JFK (”Americans may feel, as they did in 1960, it is time for our country to turn to youth, vigor, intellectual capacity,” Gore immodestly said at the time).

Fast-forward to June 1999 and Gore launching Al 2.0 at his family’s hometown in north-central Tennessee. “With your help, I will take my own values of faith and family to the presidency to build an America that is not only better off but better,” Gore declared.

The problem: Gore wasn’t born in Carthage, Tennessee and, though his resume did included “farmer”, that seemed a reach. The candidate had spent his formative years in the nation’s capital as a senator’s son. By the time the 2000 election rolled around, he was closing in on two decades as a D.C. politician. In short, Gore didn’t fit in with the Tennessee of the New South, with its GOP ascendancy. Gore would go on to lose his “home state” and it would cost him the presidency – ironically, to another southern better suited to talk faith and family.

Perhaps the Clinton campaign judged wisely by not resorting to a sentimental journal that would only dredge up bad history or point out the candidate’s weakness. Then again, if her campaign fails to be novel, hers may be a telenovela with a bad ending.

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Rand Currency?

Sen. Rand Paul (w/ wife Kelly) kicks off his presidential campaign in Louisville, Kentucky

And then there were two announced presidential candidates (well, more like 195 if you dig a little deeper through the FEC’s files), now that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has officially tossed his hat in the ring (here’s the video).

About the announcement: it wasn’t No Child Left Behind. More like: No Box Left Unchecked.

Before an enthusiastic Louisville crowd, Paul was (in addition to being an incumbent U.S. senator offering himself as an enemy of the “Washington machine”): (a) an advocate of limited government and a supporter of a big investment in infrastructure; (b) a former arguer in favor of defense cuts, who now wants to invest more in the military; (c) a tough-guy on national security who also wants to pull back from countries that don’t like us; (d) his father’s son as both a physician and a libertarian practitioner (Ron Paul was in attendance for the kick-off, but not on the front stage), with at least one big notable difference; (e) a candidate for the GOP nomination who believes the party needs a kinder, gentler approach to non-traditonal constituencies — all the while telling his announcement crowd that it’s time to “take our country back”.

Some factors to weigh as Paul embarks on the road to . . . Iowa and New Hampshire.

1) Purity. The campaign’s slogan is “Stand With Rand” (guess that’s better than “Paul, Y’all”). But is Paul 2016 about standing, straddling or repositioning? In January, Paul was the field’s biggest proponent of a diplomatic solution in Iran. Then he signed Tom Cotton’s letter. He once wanted “respectful relations” with Russia with regard to Ukraine, then said Putin should be “punished”. He also once wanted to zero funding for all foreign aid. You’ll hear more on the contradiction front in the days and weeks ahead, which begs the question of whether Paul can pass a purity test within the libertarian community while tying to build steam within moderate and establishment circles.

2) Can He Pull An Obama? And by that, I mean: can he run against the awfulness of Washington despite being a sitting senator (before Obama, the last candidate to survive “the Senate curse” was John F. Kennedy)? Like Obama, Paul has yet to complete his first term. But unlike Obama, he doesn’t benefit from as powerful a biographic narrative or a national yearning for symbolic change — the tailwinds that carried Obama in 2008. Here’s a concern I have about Paul running as a D.C.-basher. Yes,he used the big speech to call for congressional term limits and a new law requiring members to read laws before they’re passed. Then again, I don’t remember Paul bringing Washington to a halt other than his 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s CIA confirmation that he promised was “just the beginning” for further indignation. Like John McCain running as a critic of pork spending but never really going to the mattresses over it, we’ll see if primary voters buy into Paul’s message.

3) Can He Sell The GOP On Change? In 1992, Bill Clinton received his party’s nomination while running a campaign built on the concept that Democrats had to adapt (welfare reform, free trade, low taxes) or die. In 2016, Paul’s doing much the same — telling the party that it’s doomed unless it can attract greater numbers of minority and younger voters. Clinton benefitted from running in a weak field; Paul doesn’t have that luxury (he’s in the middle of the pack in yesterday’s Monmouth University Poll). Speaking of the former president, Paul likes to tell reporters: “Nobody is running better against Hillary Clinton than myself.” Indeed, he and Jeb fare best against Mrs. Clinton in the swing states. Paul’s strategists say the road to the nomination is tailor-made for their man. The reality is it’s more of a narrow path: juggling the libertarian core while trying to appeal to a broader crowd — in a crowded field where there’s two- and three-deep competition within all niches.

4) He Won’t Be Dull. Paul likes to tweet and troll. Last Dec. 23, the day reserved for Seinfeld’s Festivus, he took to Twitter to air his grievances. And there’s his colorful father, who won’t have a high-profile role in the campaign but did draw some 2.1 million supporters in 2012’s primaries so he won’t be entirely silent or absent. The younger Paul (he turned 52 in January) doesn’t lack for enemies. Democrats flame him when he visits Iowa. On the Republican side, New York Rep. Peter King’s called him an isolationist. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, likely a 2016 contender, recently said only Paul could have cut a worse deal with Iran. Come the time when the crowded GOP field gathers for its first debate, let’s see if Paul becomes the foreign policy piñata — and, if so, if he can withstand the slings and arrows.

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Chaining Of The Guard

Chained together: Tony and Sidney . . . and Jeb and Hillary?

Fifty-seven years ago this fall, a convicts-on-the-lam film hit the bit screen.

The Defiant Ones, starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier, was more than a tale about two escapees from a chain gang trying to make their way to freedom. Because it also was the story of a white man and a black man shackled together, their fate tied to their ability to get along (“They’ll kill each other in the first five minutes,” the sheriff predicts), it flirted with the issue of racial cooperation — the civil rights movement soon to blossom.

The movie comes to mind in looking at the 2016 presidential campaign — and, no, it’s not the Democrat-on-Democrat pairing you may be anticipating.

Yes. Barack Obama is black and Hillary Clinton is white. And, yes, their political destinies are intermeshed. For Hillary, it’s couldn’t be simpler. Like it or not, she’s wed to all news Obama-related — in the past week alone, the deal with Iran and the lackluster jobs report. Eighteen months from now, she’ll need Obama’s participation on the campaign trail, lest his fanbase (in particular, blacks and millennials) not turn out.

As for Obama, he needs Mrs. Clinton as a matter of legacy. Should she prevail, he can spin historians on the notion that he changed the electoral map (the last president to do this: Ronald Reagan). That, and her presidency as a buffer against Republicans who want to dismantle various Obama laws and edicts.

But perhaps Barack Obama isn’t Hillary’s true chainmate. Nor her husband, or Eleanor Roosevelt or the missing server.

A better choice, perhaps: Jeb Bush.

The former governor of Florida didn’t have the best of weeks. He came to the San Francisco Bay Area to raise money and had to deal with the fallout over the religious-freedom flap in Indiana — beginning the week with his support of the bill signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, then finishing it with a more nuanced stance.

In the middle of that, he also had to deal with The New York Times and the matter of press access (the paper didn’t get into a Bush fundraiser, then forced the campaign to cough up a recording of Bush’s remarks, so as to adequately explain his Indiana position).

Thus the connection to Hillary, in the following regards:

1) Straddling. Just as the press will continue to watch Bush like a hawk for where he lands on issues like sexual orientation/religious freedom/discrimination, just wait until Mrs. Clinton gets into the game. In her case, how she positions herself vis a vis not only the current Democratic president and the past one, but Elizabeth Warren (on that note: keep an eye on the extent to which populist economics creeps into Mrs. Clinton’s stump speeches).

2) Base-ic Instincts. Both presumed candidates are running what could be described as “donut” campaigns — a hole in the middle in the form of under-enthusiasm at their parties’ respective extremes. It’s a combination of name-weariness plus the complicated relationships with said surnames (here’s The Weekly Standard’s Andrew Ferguson looking at the odd relationship between Bush, a decidedly conservative governor, and movement conservatives who seem to believe that Bush isn’t one of them).

3) Media. I assure you that, deep within Bushworld, there’s a healthy and ongoing debate over media access. The candidate has name recognition and the party’s best donor network, so why the need for earned media? On the Clinton side, again where name-i.d. and cash won’t be a problem: (1) how to package and market what’s been dubbed “Hillary 5.0″ and (2) just how far she’ll go in trying to court the press (like this recent keynote at an event honoring political journalism).

4) History. Though we’ve twice elected a father a son (1796/1824 and 1988/2000) we’ve never gone with a second son or a first wife. This makes both candidates who aim to be America’s “45” something of pioneers in their fields. Ironically, two novelty candidates who aren’t exactly novel in name or approach.

5) Message/Enthusiasm. One reason why Bush struggles with the conservative base: the perception that the campaign is more about modifying the party’s behavior (immigration reform) than taking the fight to the Democrats. Maybe a good announcement speech can deal with that. As for Mrs. Clinton, it’s raison d’etre. Again, maybe an announcement clarifies why she’s running . . . for reasons other than, as an Everest climber not named Hillary famously said, “because it’s there”. Figure it this way: her acolytes are banking on Mrs. Clinton as a 2016 Eisenhower — a respected senior statesman. However, polls show that Americans aren’t sure at the moment if they like this Ike.

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Reiding Between The Lines

Who’s behind those Foster Grants? it’s soon-to-be-retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

His decision not to seek another Senate sent Washington into a tizzy last week, begging questions as to what prompted the surprise career choice and what it portends for control of the chamber beyond 2016.

But enough about Indiana Sen. Dan. Coats . . .

Instead, it’s Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who made the big splash in announcing that he won’t seek a sixth term next year. And this being the nation’s capital, where no one voluntarily relinquishes power unless (a) they’re shoved out the door or (b) happen to be awaiting indictment, one wonders what all contributed to Reid’s retirement.

Here are three things to ponder:

1) Maybe The Timing Was Right. Reid turned 75 last December, a month after the worst political beating in his career, and a month before an exercise-related accident that left him with broken ribs and facial bones (plus eye damage, which is why he’s wearing those shades in the image above). Perhaps Reid’s also tired and decided he couldn’t stomach another six years in Washington (and maybe we should have seen this coming, after the senator sold his Ritz-Carlton residence last summer). Politico’s Jon Ralston, who’s covered Reid for the better part of three decades, wrote the following: “This was an intensely personal and intensely secretive decision. Not even his closest friends knew until Reid and top aides started making phone calls before dawn in Nevada. This was between Reid and his wife, Landra, who is by far the most influential person in his life. Even some of his kids were not aware. One person who knew put it succinctly: “The honest truth: He didn’t want to be the old senile guy in the Senate. That people looked at and said he used to be sharp. And he wants to win the majority back and go out on top. Prospect of another eight years was too long. 2 or 4 yes; 8 no. And he would never allow his seat to be appointed by [a Republican] governor. So now he can pick who he wants to run in his seat.”

2) 2016 Won’t Be 2014 — It Also Won’t Be 2012, 2010 Or 2008. The last time Reid sought re-election, in 2010, he caught a break. Dean Heller, back in 2010 representing Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District (he’s now Nevada’s junior U.S. Senator), took a pass on challenging Reid. In that year’s GOP primary, Sue Lowden, a former anchorwoman/state senator/state party chair and mainstream favorite, lost to the Tea Party-backed Sharon Angle. After a $20 million campaign portraying Angle as extreme and dangerous, Reid prevailed . . . well, survive’s more like it, as pretty much as the lesser of two evils. But 2016 offers two intangibles for a Nevada Democratic candidate that 2010 didn’t: (1) can the party’s nominee win a Senate race if the opposition is the popular GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval?; and (2) in a presidential year, can Hillary Clinton turn out the same numbers in Nevada as did Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012?

3) The Effect on the Senate Map? The favorable terrain for Republicans in 2014 comes back to bite them in 2016 — 24 seats to defend, to only 10 for the Democrats. How does the chamber flip or stay red? By the outcomes in the following states currently with Republican senators: Florida (Marco Rubio’s seat), Illinois, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. But Reid’s departure gives Republicans hopes in not one but two twice-Obama states (Nevada and Colorado). The importance of the GOP getting those two pick-ups: it would force the Democrats to take back at least six GOP seats (seven, if a Republican’s elected president), to regain majority control. The GOP’s Senate haul in 2014: nine seats. But that was possible due to the plethora of red-state Democratic senators either the ballot on bailing lest they experience defeat. For Democrats to make a similar run in 2016, they’ll have to branch out to non-blue turf — i.e., Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina. Of course, all of that could change in 2018, when Democrats have to defend 23 seats, to only 8 for the GOP.

So those are your choices. Reid’s retiring because he (a) wants to avoid senility, (b) doesn’t like the way 2016 is shaping up back home, or (c) doesn’t see another four-year run in the Senate majority.

It’s multiple choice.

And there could be multiple correct answers.

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Better a Brown-In Or Brown-Out?

California Gov. Jerry Brown won’t be a candidate in 2016, gives the Democrats the Shaft.

I have this op-ed in this morning’s Sacramento Bee about California Gov. Jerry Brown and the 2016 presidential campaign.

Brown’s pretty much closed the book on what would be a fourth run for the White House. That includes this back-and-forth on Sunday’s Meet the Press, during which he seemed to indicate that he’d be a player if he were 10 years younger (Brown, California’s oldest governor, turns 77 this year):

So why do noodges like me keep on asking Jerry to challenge Hillary — in my case, polite imploring, as opposed to The Boston Globe’s begging Elizabeth Warren (if newspapers worked this hard for readership, there wouldn’t be circulation crises)?

Here’s my thinking (two-thirds tongue-in-cheek, one-third serious):

1) Geography. California doesn’t have a presence in presidential politics, other than doling out money. Yes, Carly Fiorina started out in the Golden State, but hers is a campaign driven in large party by Hillary-bashing. There’s nothing California-centric about it. From strictly an economic standpoint, it’d be nice to have a lure to draw the media west and boost the Golden State’s tourism revenue.

2) Language. Brown’s a difficult read, no question about it. Reporters I know who cover the man can’t decide if he’s charming or a bully — or maybe both. As a child of the ’70s, trying to make sense of a governor likewise originally from the ’70s, I believe Isaac Hayes said it best: “he’s a complicated man, but no one understands him but his woman”. One thing Brown does have: mad language skills — a penchant for tossing around 25-cent words and Latin phrases. It’d spice up what portends to be some dreary Democratic debates, which leads up to the final point . . .

3) Sobriety. In 1992, Jerry was Bill & Hillary’s bet noir — he wouldn’t go away in the primaries, he wouldn’t stop talking about the future First Couple’s ethics (or a lack thereof). This time around, Brown could be more friend than foe in that, when talking about “paddle left, paddle right” politics, he can remind Mrs. Clinton that centrism — as opposed to Elizabeth Warren’s anti-Wall Street Kool-Aid — is the smarter national sell for a Democrat not named Barack Obama.

There’s still time for Brown to change his mind. But for now, it appears that the 2016 campaign will be, to borrow a line from Seinfeld’s Newman, “Jerry-free”

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