Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
Every presidential campaign sells itself a story. Strategists call it their “theory of the race,” and it begins at the end, with victory. That their candidate is singularly suited for the time and assured to win remains fixed. The question is how straight a route the operation can plot to reach that point, once the inevitable squalls knock it off course.
More than any other Republican contender, Jeb Bush has had to endure his share of unexpected weather events, Hurricane Donald chief among them. Once the prohibitive frontrunner, the former Florida governor watched half his poll support wander away over the summer. He now stands at best in fifth place in most surveys, both nationally and in key states. It’s a particularly perilous moment. Bush, in his theory of the race, cast himself as the “joyful tortoise” who’d make plodding progress while others rose and fell. But his own poll dip now has donors on edge. And he needs to keep raising campaign cash, because his own narrative dictates his superior resources will power him through the burst of early contests primed to winnow the field.
In Jeb World’s gospel, the antiestablishment trio now leading the polls — Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina — fade as more voters start to tune in early next year. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz inherits the burn-it-all-down fervor fueling their bids. And then Bush defeats Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, his former mentee, in their native state’s March 15 primary to set up a final showdown with Cruz for the nomination. If past is prologue, and it usually is, it won’t go so smoothly. The race is still rife with potential spoilers. But that, for now, is the story.
• Another debt default looms, but Boehner could save the day
The U.S. Treasury will exhaust the extraordinary measures it’s using to avoid a debt default on or about Nov. 5. That’s according to a warning Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent lawmakers on Thursday, urging them to move as soon as possible to lift the nation’s borrowing limit. An imminent debt limit breach could spook markets, especially considering the chaos now consuming the House Republican conference that in recent years has made a practice of trying to extract demands from the administration in return for its help authorizing new borrowing. The good news is that House Speaker John Boehner won’t step down until the end of the month. He’s made clear he intends to clear the decks for his successor, a commitment that presumably includes engineering the unpopular vote, even if it requires Democratic support to pass. Fortune
• Jeb and Marco, former pals, are looking more like frenemies now
Just a few years ago, Jeb Bush spoke glowingly about Marco Rubio, the up-and-comer he’d mentored in the Florida legislature before he stepped onto the national stage. Now that the former governor and the current senator are vying for the GOP presidential nomination, Bush is no longer so kind. Bush this week demonstrated a new willingness to attack the Rubio, suggesting in a CNN interview that he may not be ready for another promotion, comparing his lack of experience to President Obama’s upon taking the job. The gloves have not yet come all the way off. But if both men remain in contention they surely will. Washington Examiner
• Carly Fiorina isn’t getting much of an endorsement from her former employees
Hewlett-Packard employees are voting with their wallets, and it doesn’t look good for their former boss, Carly FIorina. According to the most recent disclosures, the Republican presidential candidate has yet to collect a check worth more than $200 from an HP employee. (It’s possible she hasn’t received any worth less, either – campaigns don’t need to disclose contributions that small.) Among those sitting on their checkbooks: current CEO Meg Whitman, her senior leadership team, and all but one of the board members. That’s a potentially troubling sign for a candidate who’s staked much of her claim to experience on her tenure at the company. Daily Beast
Around the Water Cooler
• A new birth for Ex-Im?
Supporters of the Export Import Bank, which has been in liquidation since conservative House Republicans blocked the extension of its charter in July, may have found a way to revive it. Moderate GOP backers of the credit financing agency are aiming to use a rare procedural move to force a vote on the measure. Their hope is to muster a majority for the bank with the help of near-uniform Democratic support. The clock is ticking: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who’s primed to ascend to Speaker at the end of the month, has emerged as a vocal foe of the bank. Wall Street Journal
• A ho-hum jobs report may delay an interest rate hike
Per Friday’s job report, the economy added a disappointing 143,000 jobs in September. First drafts of jobs reports are notoriously sketchy. But to the extent the new data reflect a continued underlying weakness in the labor market, the September results may convince the Fed to hold off just a little bit longer on a long-contemplated interest rate hike. Fortune
• Do prediction markets trump polls on election outcomes?
For another view of how voters are rating the presidential candidates from either side so far, consider what they say about whether or not they could support a given contender. While the leading Democratic candidates all find themselves in good position, the Republican field can’t make the same claim. In particular, Donald Trump, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, and John Kasich all find themselves underwater on this measure, a potential sign that they’ve hit their respective ceilings. Cook Political Report