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Jax Daily Record Friday, Nov. 9, 201212:00 PM EST

Clinton vs. Bush in 2016? Politico editor says matchup is possible

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Politico, the online media company created five years ago to focus on politics and Washington, D.C., governance, is speculating that the 2016 presidential election could feature another round of Clinton versus Bush.

This time, it could be Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush.

"You could end up with Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush in 2016," Politico Executive Editor and Co-Founder Jim VandeHei told about 375 business dealmakers Thursday at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.

VandeHei was the keynote speaker at the Association for Corporate Growth 2012 Florida Capital Connection, whose participants included private equity executives, investment bankers, businesses, lawyers and others seeking and providing financing and merger assistance.

The connection was presented by the four Florida chapters of the association, including the North Florida chapter headed by Foley & Lardner partner Michael Kirwan. It began Wednesday and concluded Thursday evening.

Clinton, U.S. secretary of state, is part of what Politico calls "the House of Clinton," led also by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

On the Republican side, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is part of the "House of Bush," led by Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, and brother, former President George W. Bush.

Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton defeated incumbent George H.W. Bush in the 1992 presidential race.

President Barack Obama was re-elected Tuesday after a hard-fought campaign against Republican contender Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.

"I don't think any name in the campaign benefited as much as the Clinton name," VandeHei said.

He talked about the energizing effect on Democrats of Bill Clinton's nomination speech for Obama in September at the Democratic National Convention.

After that, the campaign strategists "wanted to glue Bill Clinton to Barack Obama," he said.

The past and present presidents didn't always associate. "A year ago, they decided they needed Clinton," VandeHei said of the Obama strategists.

"There's no politician who likes attention, likes appreciation, more than Bill Clinton," he said. Obama, in contrast, appears more distant.

Hillary Clinton, then a U.S. senator representing New York, unsuccessfully challenged Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. President-elect Obama named her secretary of state soon after the election.

VandeHei said Clinton is positioned for the 2016 Democratic candidacy.

"If she says she wants to run for president, no one will challenge" her within the Democratic Party, he said.

Clinton is 65 and Jeb Bush is 59. In 2016, Clinton would turn 69 just before Election Day, and Bush would be 63.

Politico.com reported Thursday that "Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush loom the largest over their respective parties as the long road toward 2016 begins. Any other would-be presidential candidate will first take a long look toward Chappaqua and Miami before moving forward."

The Clintons live in Chappaqua, N.Y., and Bush is based in Miami.

"After barely falling short in 2008 and earning high marks and soaring approval ratings in four years as America's top diplomat, she unambiguously has the strongest claim on being the next Democratic standard-bearer. If, and it is a big unknown, she wants another shot at the presidency," Politico reported.

"Bush, were he to run, most likely wouldn't clear the field in the way Clinton could. But his gravitas, fundraising capability, Florida roots and entree to Hispanics makes him the most formidable Republican on a sparkling roster of potential 2016 contenders," it said.

An Oct. 14 report in New York Magazine said:

"Imagine. Four years from now. Once again, it is impossible to ignore Jeb Bush describing a problem he's uniquely suited to solve for his party: a popular two-time governor of a Hispanic-heavy state, with a record of improving education for minorities, fluent in Spanish, married to a Latina, and father to two Hispanic sons, George P. Bush and Jeb Jr. By Jeb Bush's own calculus, Jeb Bush would make a great presidential candidate."

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports George P. Bush, 36, made a campaign filing in Texas this week that is required of candidates planning to run for state office, but had no information about what office Bush might seek.

In an extensive keynote discussion analyzing the Tuesday results, VandeHei said the Republican Party needed to begin quickly to "reorient" itself if it wanted to win future elections. "You cannot be a party of straight, older, white men," he said. "It just doesn't work."

VandeHei contended there won't be a repeat of a ticket that looks like Romney-Ryan. Romney's running mate was U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

"You will never again see a Republican ticket with two white men on it," he said, "or they are not going to win."

VandeHei said Romney lost for five reasons: Women, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and gay Americans. Citing the splits in voting percentages, he said those voters sided strongly with Obama.

VandeHei said the "silver lining" in the Republican loss was that "for the first time, Republicans are realizing they have to change."

"If Republicans move quickly, they can realign the party," he said.

VandeHei named Republicans he expects could lead that change and possibly the Republican presidential ticket in 2016 — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; and Ryan.

Politico's report Thursday said the 2012 contest was notable for being the first presidential campaign since 1976 that didn't feature a member of one of America's most famous political families, and looks like it might be only a brief break from tradition.

"That the same two families who dominated American politics for the previous decades may return to the fore after the Obama interregnum would be fitting in a country that purports to disregard dynasties but actually builds, enables and obsesses over its ruling clans," it reported.

VandeHei's biography on the politico.com site shows he is 41 and, along with John F. Harris and Allbritton Communications, launched Politico in early 2007 and established it as one of the leading new media companies in the nation.

The bio also says VandeHei, a native of Oshkosh, Wis., is a regular political analyst on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and a frequent guest on cable and network television programs. He co-moderated with MSNBC and CNN two televised presidential debates during the 2008 campaign.

He graduated in 1994 from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with degrees in journalism and political science. After working in journalism in Wisconsin, he moved to Washington, D.C., in 1995 to pursue a career in political journalism.

The bio says VandeHei worked for New Fuels Report, Inside the New Congress and Roll Call, where he covered the fall of House Speaker Newt Gingrich and battles for power within the Republican majority.

The Wall Street Journal recruited him in 1999 to cover Capitol Hill and he became a White House correspondent in 2000, covering the first year of President George W. Bush's administration.

In 2002, The Washington Post offered him a position covering Congress, and he covered the Democratic fight for the nomination in 2004, followed by the general election. He served as a White House correspondent during the first year of Bush's second term.

His political editor at the Post was John F. Harris. They left the Post in November 2006 to start Politico, which is based in Arlington, Va.

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@MathisKb

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