Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mr. Rubio goes to Iowa

By Richard K. Barry

Thumbin' a ride to Altoona.

Well, how do you like this? Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio will be in Iowa on Saturday, Nov. 17, for a birthday fundraiser for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R), one of the most influential Republicans in the state, according to The Hill.

As we know, the Iowa caucuses are the start of the presidential primary season and, The Hill rightly points out, "it's never too early for candidates to start courting opinion-makers in the state."

Though some people may think this is all terribly early to start thinking about 2016, Benjy Sarlin at TPM  argues that this point in time is actually an important moment in the process:

Nothing shakes up a party like a presidential defeat. After months, even years, of striving to project a unified front behind their nominee, Republican leaders are suddenly free to test out new messages and positions that previously would have been heretical. These early forays into uncharted territory could bolster their standing within the GOP, but could just as easily backfire if the party base rebels.

Perhaps this is particularly true now, as the GOP tries to figure out whether it is better to move towards the moderate center or suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that will likely result from staying the course or worse.

A couple of days ago I noted that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is out there saying the GOP needs to reject all things big, including big business, presumably to embrace a revamped right-wing populism. Not only does that throw Romney under the bus, but it test drives a new direction for 2016, just as Sarlin suggests.

It will be interesting to see who else comes out over the next few months with positioning and how that positioning is received by they base.

Stay tuned.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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