2016 GOP Power Index: Jeb threatens to keep grinding

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Buzz Cut:
• 2016 GOP Power Index: Jeb threatens to keep grinding
• Campaigns come to terms on debates
• ObamaCare stumbles bode ill for Hillary
• Power Play: Election Day 2015
• Cone heads

So, what to do with Jeb Bush?

He was the frontrunner from the first installment of the Fox News First 2016 GOP Power Index on Jan. 26 until he was unhorsed on Sept. 28, but now his campaign is a shambles.

The Power Index is about how likely a candidate is to be their party’s nominee. The Democrats, for example, don’t need a Power Index of their own anymore because they have a presumptive nominee already.

So could Bush still win the Republican nomination? Quite unlikely, but still possible. Could he win the Republican nomination and have it be of any value? Probably not.

Following his face plant in last week’s debate, Bush is repeating his promise to be “a grinder.” Not the delicious sandwich (carbs!) but rather that he will grind out his candidacy or, put differently, grind down resistance to him within his party.

In Bush’s tense NBC News interview on Sunday, he tried to duck his campaign and PACs’ efforts to attack Sen. Marco Rubio… while simultaneously attacking Rubio.

Bush vowed that his intense competitive spirit and a plan to break through “the punditry class” to connect with voters would carry him to victory in New Hampshire, where he’s currently tied for third place.

The underdog double-legacy candidate? The former national frontrunner promising a New Hampshire slingshot move? The guy who raised $100 million citing the “punditry class” now running as the disruptor of conventional wisdom?


The public phase of Bush’s campaign re-launch in Florida today focuses on his tenure as governor, which ended a decade ago. Here, Bush is trying to explain why his suffering and that of his party is necessary.

His message is that “Jeb can fix it” and that his experience and selfsame “grinder” nature will help him develop a new, bipartisan consensus on major issues in Washington. He may not be as good of a politician or communicator as his big brother, the implicit argument goes, but he can be heir to John McCain’s maverick mantle.

This message is already a centerpiece for his New Hampshire rivals John Kasich and Chris Christie, both current governors who tout their abilities to work with Democrats on key issues. And neither of them has the single lowest favorability rating of any Republican candidate, second only to Donald Trump.

But is it possible that Bush can knock out Rubio, Kasich, Christie and Carly Fiorina and be the last man standing to face the surviving member of the Donald Trump-Ben Carson-Ted Cruz tontine?

One of the reasons that Cruz continues to lead the index is that just such a scenario looks likely: An establishment candidate who emerges badly damaged by Bush’s attacks – or is Bush himself – proves unable to contend with the well-funded, well-organized Cruz, who continues to look best situated to survive his bracket.

Bush’s strategy involves winning a civil war within a civil war before March. And then face not some late-breaking Huckabeatific candidate scrambling to raise funds and build out staff but rather a juggernaut with cash reserves. Carson raised $10 million last month alone and is building a sizable campaign. Cruz may have close to $100 million when all is said and done.

But is it technically possible that Bush could survive the second civil war and destroy the conservative wing’s candidate or that the conservative would belatedly self-destruct? Yes, technically.

After that long ugly slog, though, what are the chances that Bush would be able to turn and pivot to fight a successful general election campaign against Hillary Clinton? She’s wrapping up her nomination now, and would be ready to unleash hell on her fellow dynastic claimant.

An establishment candidate without an electability argument for the general election is like a turtle without a shell: squished too easily. And that’s why the donors who made Bush into the $100 million man will now withhold the money he needs more desperately than ever.

1) Ted Cruz; 2) Marco Rubio; 3) Ben Carson; 4) Carly Fiorina; 5) Donald Trump; 6) Chris Christie [+2]; 7) John Kasich; 8) Jeb Bush [-2]; 9) Mike Huckabee [+1] ; 10) Rand Paul [-1]

On the radar - Bobby JindalRick SantorumLindsey GrahamGeorge PatakiJim Gilmore

What would you say? -
 Give us your take on the 2016 Power Index we will share the best and brightest with the whole class. Send your thoughts to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM

[Watch Fox: Chris Stirewalt joins “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson” in the 2 p.m. ET hour with the latest on who’s up and who’s down in the 2016 Power Index.]

Fox News: “Republican presidential campaigns agreed Sunday to side-step party leaders and try to negotiate directly with television networks over the ground rules for the remaining debates following controversy over last week’s CNBC event…Representatives from more than a dozen campaigns met behind closed doors for nearly two hours Sunday night in suburban Washington, a meeting that was not expected to yield many results given the competing interests of several candidates. Yet they emerged having agreed to several changes to be outlined in a letter to debate hosts in the coming days.”

Christopher W. Ullman
, spokesman of the Carlyle Group, knows a lot about finance and investments, and wanted to give that knowledge to his three children. He developed a system based on a WSJ article that said children needed to physically see the money coming in and going out to retain the lesson of saving and spending. In Ullman’s family, each child receives a dollar for each year of their age, and the sum is divided into three jars: church, savings, and fun. The fun jar is theirs to spend as they please, including some family dinners out. Ullman recalls to the WaPo one family dinner out that showed him the how much the kids were actually retaining from this ritual: “Just before the bill was paid, a discussion broke out about whether every kid should contribute equally to the bill. The two younger siblings, advised by Dad, pushed for a pro rata payment based on age, while Alydia — the oldest, with the most potential exposure to the bill — argued for an equal third from each. ‘They got into this debate without knowing they were debating a progressive tax versus a flat tax,’ Ullman said.”

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or the LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval:
Approve 46.0 percent//Disapprove – 50.8 percent
Directions of Country: Right Direction 26.9 percent//Wrong Track – 63.4 percent

A steady drumbeat of bad ObamaCare news is a sharp reminder that President Obama’s five-year old entitlement program is hitting the wall just as 2016 campaign is heating up. Next year’s enrollment period opened Sunday with the administration’s tepid goal to sign up less than half the originally projected 21 million enrollees. Premiums are spiking, mandated penalties for not enrolling are doubling and nearly half of ObamaCare insurance co-ops, set up at a cost of billions, have gone under.

Hardly a victory lap for the president, Hillary Clinton’s all in and more support for ObamaCare is popular with the base, but leaves her wide-open with the general electorate. Clinton he has offered to eradicate a few politically expedient bugs, but with most Republican 2016ers calling for a radical fumigation or complete extermination of the troubled program the contrast could hardly be clearer.

Email advised Hillary to stop blaming Benghazi attack on video - The Hill: “Hillary Clinton and other State Department officials were warned against saying that an anti-Muslim video contributed to the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a new email released on Friday reveals. The warning came from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, Libya, on Sept. 14, 2012, three days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in which four Americans were killed.”

A hotly-contested gubernatorial race in Kentucky, make or break judicial elections in Pennsylvania and a fight in swing-state Virginia are among the highlights for Tuesday’s voting. Matt Walter, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee joins Chris Stirewalt with a preview of this week’s 2015 election day races and ballot measures. WATCH HERE.

Evening Standard: “Police were called out to deal with a group of men dressed as traffic cones holding up cars in a Halloween prank. Officers in Kingston [England] revealed on social media they received the call out to the five men dressed in orange cones blocking oncoming traffic. The force tweeted: ‘A very interesting #Halloween style call out for our emergency response team!’ Since it was uploaded, the post has been shared on Facebook more than a thousand times and has been retweeted by over 200 users. Witness Dan Theochari spotted the men in Clarence Street, Kingston at 4.40am. He said: ‘They were just standing in front of the taxi and the bus not letting them get past and taking pictures of themselves.’”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.