What could derail the Democratic Party in 2014? A combined Jeb Bush-Rob Portman ticket.
That, at least, is the assessment of Harold Ickes, a longtime Hillary Clinton adviser and one of the organizers of Ready for Hillary, the super PAC that has been laying the groundwork for a Clinton campaign.
Ickes made his assessment before reporters during a meeting Friday of Ready for Hillary’s national finance committee at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan.
A Bush-Portman ticket could doom Democrats in Bush’s native Florida and in Portman’s Ohio, Ickes said, and Bush’s Hispanic support would make Colorado a difficult lift as well.
“Bush has what appears to be very strong credentials with Hispanics,” Ickes said of the former governor, whose wife, Columba, is Mexican-American. “I’m told he speaks Spanish at home, and I’m told that he actually thinks in Spanish.”
If Ohio, Colorado, and Florida were lost to Democrats, a path to victory would include deeply conservative but trending Democratic states like Georgia, Ickes added.
If Bush-Portman is the Republican nightmare ticket for Democrats, however, they may be spared. Although both Bush and Portman are considering a run, neither are thought to be particularly likely to declare their candidacy, and both carry significant baggage with the base of the party.
Bush favors the Common Core education reforms and a liberalized immigration policy, both of which are considered litmus-test issues for conservatives. And while Bush is meeting with possible donors to a campaign, some Republicans think the former governor, who last won a competitive race in 2002 and who now works in the finance industry, is likely to yield to some of the newcomers on the scene like his protégé, Marco Rubio.
The Ohio senator, meanwhile favors gay marriage, the only top Republican to do so. He arrived at that stance when his college age son came out as gay last year, and he is already facing a backlash among conservatives in his home state of Ohio. Portman is considered a possible vice-presidential candidate, but the former director of the Office of Management Budget in the Bush White House is often criticized for lacking the pizazz voters want.