Each is, of course, trying to remake him or herself into the image/perception they want, or at least the perception they think the voters want. Mario needs to show he is experienced enough. Hillary is trying to be one of us. Rand wants to be less nutty. Jeb wants you to know that he won’t pander to the GOP primary voters because he wants to win, not just look good losing. Oh, and he’s his own man too (read: don’t put my family’s records on me)
So, the field is starting out trying to be what each thinks he or she needs to be.
We have had the traditional announcements and Hillary’s more modern, social media announcement. I clicked on the video to watch it and, honestly, thought I was seeing an ad by an insurance or smart phone company because it had all the demographics a business would want. Whites. Blacks. Hispanics. Gays. Lesbians. Young people. Got it. I really thought it was an ad leading to Hillary’s announcement video. But it was what it was, Hillary's ad.
Her message is supposed to be: I’m you. But her demographic wasn’t represented. That would be the rich, $500,000 a speech, billion dollar foundation founder demographic. As my friend Rich Galen was quoted as saying: “Hillary didn’t become Hillary by being one of the gals; she became Hillary by not being one of the gals…” She begins the campaign though by not touting her experience to be president but her experience to be one of us.
Marco has a different challenge. He’s only 43, has only been in the Senate a couple of years and needs to prove he has the oomph to be president. (This is where he loses me; after the current president, it proves again you need some experience to be president and not just two years in the Senate. You need to build relationships and coalitions as president. You need to know you aren’t enough on your own).
Rand, well, Rand wants to be true to his libertarian roots but doesn’t want to be his dad. Good luck, Rand, you spent a few years trying to maintain his base and you can’t throw your dad under a bus. That wouldn't be very presidential.
Jeb, well, his goal is the goal I’d like to see be successful: not pandering to the right wing of the party and still win the general election. We’ve seen candidates on the GOP side pander in the primary and then lose the general. Jeb also wants to be loyal to his Bush roots but not brought down by what some see as the negatives of those roots.
So, this cycle begins as all others: candidates trying to portray themselves as something they want to be or, more importantly, think the voters want them to be. Of all, I think Jeb is being the most honest – not wanting to win the primary in a way that loses the election. Whether he can keep to that strategy and be successful is to be seen. But it is an honest strategy.
Meanwhile, on to next week, and, possibly, a new candidate or two. But we are running out of candidates that will be known by one name. Of course, there’s always Carly.