Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP's 2012 candidate for president, believes that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is easy prey to an attack from the right in the battle for the Republican nomination for the 2016 White House run.
But is that strategy likely to work?
Indications are that Bush, though hampered by his relatively liberal stances on immigration and Common Core education, can hold his own against a conservative onslaught by Romney and, in fact, has conservative credentials equal to the ones Romney boasts, a new Crowdpac candidate rating
Crowdpac notes that while "supporters of Jeb Bush believe he is a 'compassionate conservative' who will 'support Common Core' and 'smarter immigration laws,'" and "supporters of Mitt Romney say he will 'bring back fiscal responsibility,' support a 'strong military' and 'immigration enforcement,'" there is actually very little ideological difference between the two contenders.
Meanwhile, The New York Times said
: "Mr. Romney just isn’t an especially credible standard-bearer for conservatives. His past heresies on issues like health care and abortion will still pose some sort of challenge."
The Times also notes that Romney likely will face difficulties in attracting the votes of evangelical Christians, crucial in any race where a candidate hopes to mount a campaign focused on conservative values.
"There is no viable anti-establishment coalition that does not include large percentages of evangelical Christians. Mr. Romney, a Northern Mormon with a history of moderate politics, has not been very effective at winning them over," the Times said.
A Gravis Marketing poll in Iowa
shows Romney leading Bush by 21 percent to 14 percent.
In the Crowdpac ranking, Romney and Bush score very closely together on the liberal-versus-conservative sliding scale, with Bush posting a 4.2 rating and Romney an only slightly more conservative 5.0.
Even more telling, the two men are virtually tied ideologically on defense and foreign policy, the economy, and intelligence and surveillance, in ratings based on positions, past voting records and campaign funding sources. Only on healthcare, where Bush scores more conservative than Romney, at 5.6 to 4.6, and immigration, where Bush scores slightly more liberal than Romney, at 4.1 versus 4.7, is any real ideological difference apparent.
Even Twitter posters
agree. "Challenging Jeb Bush from the right probably won't work for Mitt Romney," one poster noted, while several repliers agreed.
A Romney donor told The Daily Beast
that Romney has said Republicans should not run Bush against likely Democrat contender Hillary Clinton, commenting: "A Bush can’t beat a Clinton."
Romney supporters, The Daily Beast notes, feel that Bush stands little chance against Romney, as Bush faces perceived weakness on immigration and education and has not been heard on the speaker's stump for a long time, while Romney has been actively campaigning for other Republicans, building up favor chits, and "worked hard for lots of people, from Senate candidates to sheriff candidates. Rank and file Republicans remember that kind of thing," Tom Rath, Romney adviser, said.
Crowdpac CEO Steven Hilton told CNN
that Bush is "actually more conservative than a lot of people are assuming. The data we have suggests that he's much more in line with the (Republican) average than people are thinking."
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