August 4th, 2020


First Best Second Choice

Bill Whalen

By Bill Whalen

Published June 10, 2015

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush formally enters the presidential race next week in Miami.

It’s hot today in Palo Alto.

Well, mid-to-upper 80’s with little in the way of a breeze, which may sound laughable depending where you’re reading this. But it feels downright Dante-esque here in Northern California given that most of our May seemed overcast and unseasonably cool.

I won’t take the coward’s way out and blame the heat for this evergreen story — vice-presidential speculation. What got me thinking about it was this story on Jeb Bush’s presidential staffing hires — specifically, the surprise choice of Danny Diaz as campaign manager.

About Diaz: he was a senior advisor on Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign and, four years before, a deputy communications director on John McCain’s campaign.

But here’s what got my attention: Diaz has also worked for New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (here is he tweeting about her back in 2014).

And if you want to play the veepstakes guessing game, Martinez is worth a wager for at least three reasons:

1) Outreach. Jeb Bush is bilingual; he won’t back down on immigration reform. His kick-off speech next Monday will be at the Kendall campus of Miami Dade College, thus highlighting a theme of minority aspiration (last fall, 71% of credit-seeking students at Miami Dade were Hispanic and 17% were black). Should Bush receive his party’s nomination, Martinez and her compelling biography (nation’s first female Latina governor, former prosecutor, daughter of a Texas deputy sheriff) would seem a natural fit.

2) Gender. Let’s call it the “The Carly Fiorina Theory” — the idea being that the best way to attack a female presidential nominee . . . is by having a woman swing the hatchet (you’ll note that Iowa Sen Jodi Ernst also could serve this role).

3) Geography. For all the talk of the GOP winning back Florida, Ohio and Virginia in 2016, those states alone won’t swing the electoral balance — all the states being the same as in 2012, the Democrats would still have enjoy a 272-266 advantage. Where else to shop for electoral votes? Iowa, yes (6 electoral votes). But also Martinez’s backyard of “New West” (also known as the “Southwest”) and two states in particular: Colorado and Nevada (a combined 15 electoral votes). Win those two and the election goes from 272-266 Democratic to 281-257 Republican. Think of Colorado as the other Republican linchpin, in addition to Ohio: the last successful GOP presidential nominee who failed to carry the Centennial State was William Howard Taft, back in 1908.

There’ll be plenty of hot days ahead that will allow for more idle Republican veep speculation. Off the top of my head, here are a few possibilities:

1) Scott Walker . . . Marco Rubio?

2) Marco Rubio . . . John Kasich?

3) Donald Trump . . . think there’ll be human cloning by the summer of 2016?

06/08/15: Game of Inches
06/03/15: The Power Of Narrative Politics
06/01/15: Sorting The Republicans' 2016 Kingdom
05/28/15: To Command Without Having Served
05/21/15: 2016: Do Looks Matter?
05/15/15: John Bolton's Swan Song

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Bill Whalen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he studies and writes on current events and political trends. In citing Whalen as one of its "top-ten" political reporters, The 1992 Media Guide said of his work: “The New York Times could trade six of its political writers for Whalen and still get a bargain.” During those years, Whalen also appeared frequently on C-SPAN, National Public Radio, and CNBC.