This donor primary," Digby observes
is likely to get a little bit frantic with all the candidates jockeying for the role of the Republican party’s leading man. Will it be the Wisconsin cheesecake Scott Walker, the Texas beefcake Ted Cruz or the spicy Cuban manwich Marco Rubio? And don’t forget the rest of the chorus line. There’s the B-Actor Jeb Bush who could turn in a credible, if not transcendent, performance, or the Wild Arkansas Preacher Mike Huckabee, along with a whole crew of character actors who could be in a position to step up if they are given the chance. It’s wide open. If nothing else the contest should be wildly entertaining for the rest of us.
Wildly entertaining it will be, and wide open among the three leading contenders. Scott Walker, as the candidate most energized by demonizing workers, and Marco Rubio (now making headway with Sheldon Adelson) are starting to round up the big donors. It will be no problem (and already has not been) for John Ellis Bush in part because, as Buzzfeed's McKay Coppins wrote two months ago
When Bush officially launches his presidential bid later this year, he will likely do so with a campaign manager who has urged the Republican Party to adopt a pro-gay agenda; a chief strategist who signed a Supreme Court amicus brief arguing for marriage equality in California; a longtime adviser who once encouraged her minister to stick to his guns in preaching equality for same-sex couples; and a communications director who is openly gay.
To an extent that would have been unthinkable in past elections, one of the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination has stocked his inner circle with advisers who are vocal proponents of gay rights. And while the Bush camp says his platform will not be shaped by his lieutenants’ personal beliefs, many in the monied, moderate, corporate wing of the GOP — including pragmatic donors, secular politicos, and other members of the establishment — are cheering the early hires as a sign that Bush will position himself as the gay-friendly Republican in the 2016 field.
Bush obviously needs to walk the gay rights tightrope, with the nod and wink to wealthy gay donors while repeating the "religious conscience" mantra to the GOP popular base, hoping all along that the donor base recognizes his support for rights begins and ends with marriage- and might not include even that.
While Bush, Rubio, and Walker are fully committed to being the next President (though only the Florida senator thus far has announced), it is doubtful that all of the Repub aspirants are determined to obtain the Party's nomination, let alone win a general election. Charlie Pierce is not the only pundit highly skeptical of Carly Fiorina, "a spectacularly failed business executive (and) a spectacularly failed senatorial candidate," who is set to declare on May 4.
And then there is the curious case of Mike Huckabee. Ironically, Salon's Simon Maloy singles out the former Arkansas governor as "at best" a "scam artist" and" at worst" "monster." To the contrary: Huckabee is at worst, even more extremist than most of the prospective GOP field; at best, more earnest than most, perhaps all, of the possible candidates.
"The biggest gap," Chris Hayes has noted, between the donor base and the GOP public "is on marriage equality." Rubio contends (video commentary, below) he would attend a gay wedding. and Bush maintains marriage should be "a local decision." If the former governor isn't slippery enough, we have Walker (video beneath the other) admitting "I and our family have already had a family member who’s had a reception. I haven’t been at a wedding...for someone I love, we've been at a reception." Pierce responds "Is he only in it for the open bar and the bratwurst? Stay tuned."
Huckabee, though, will not be at the reception, for the open bar, the bratwurst, or for show. He contends
If the courts rule that people have a civil right not only to be a homosexual but a civil right to have a homosexual marriage, then a homosexual couple coming to a pastor who believes in biblical marriage who says ‘I can’t perform that wedding’ will now be breaking the law. Let me make clear: It’s not just saying, ‘I’m sorry you have a preference.’ No, you will be breaking the law subject to civil, for sure, and possibly criminal penalties for violating the law, depending on how the law is written in communities, states and in the nation.
The man from Hope never has claimed to be a lawyer and never should attempt to be one. According to Politico's Nick Gass, he also "said that the government is telling chaplains that they cannot help people 'seek assistance' for a 'homosexual lifestyle' and to 'put their Bibles away, no longer pray in Jesus’ name.'" He has crossed into the point of no return.
Someone did not get the memo. John Ellis Bush got it, opposing same-sex marriage while urging "respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue — including couples making lifetime commitments." Adopting the "gay and lesbian" and "lifetime commitments" lexicon no doubt reassured those donors Bush has been courting.
Scott Walker got it, threading the marriage equality needle by noting he might be asked to attend a marriage of "someone I love," love being a fairly uncontroversial concept. Even Ted Cruz played it safe, largely punting on the issue.
Gass writes that Huckabee told Politico "that opponents of gay marriage are 'pariahs”' among the 'ruling class' and donors. He also noted that 'supposedly conservative donors and conservative office holders are running away from the issue.'" Mike Huckabee knows the score- he just doesn't want to play the game.