GOP 2016: Scott Walker Has the Lead, Jeb Bush Has the Money
Policy + Politics

GOP 2016: Scott Walker Has the Lead, Jeb Bush Has the Money

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida governor Jeb Bush continue to dominate the GOP field of potential presidential candidates for 2016. Bush, meanwhile, is right now outpacing Walker and other potential rivals in early fundraising.

A new Quinnipiac University national poll shows Walker as the favorite, with 18 percent of Republicans selecting him compared to 16 percent for Bush. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee trail with eight percent each. Dr. Ben Carson is at seven percent.

Related: Scott Walker Nails His Stump Speech – and It’s Working   

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the 2016 presidential choice of 56 percent of Democratic or Democratic leaning voters, the survey reports, with 14 percent choosing Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, 10 percent Vice President Joe Biden and 4 percent Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent.  

Clinton has consistently scored in the high 50s or low 60s among Democrats, while Warren – a favorite of liberal Democrats – has repeatedly said she won’t vie for the Democratic presidential nomination. However, the latest survey was conducted before the uproar over the disclosure that Clinton used a private email account for official business while serving as secretary of state. 

Walker has been on a roll since his strong speech to grassroots conservatives in Iowa in late January. He was also warmly received last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), notwithstanding a controversial statement – which he later clarified – comparing how he stood up to 100,000 protesting state employees in 2011 with how he might stare down ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria or others if he were to be elected president. Walker said afterward he meant it as a more general statement of how he would exert leadership in tough situations.

Related: Jeb Bush on His Brother: ‘Mistakes Were Made’

Bush, the son and brother of two former GOP presidents and a strong favorite of businesspeople and other establishment Republicans, was both cheered and booed during his speech at CPAC. He used that platform to defend his more controversial stands on immigration reform and on the Common Core educational standards.

While Walker finished well ahead of Bush in CPAC’s presidential straw poll, 21 percent to 8 percent, Bush is scoring big where it counts a lot more – raising campaign funds in the early going.

Although he has yet to formally announce a candidacy, Bush is on target to raise tens of millions of dollars by the end of March for two political action committees, both called Right to Rise, established in January.

The former governor’s fundraisers have been instructed not to ask donors to give more than $1 million per person this quarter, according to The Washington Post. Bush strategists apparently are concerned that – with so much big money flowing in – the former governor may look beholden to an elite group of donors when he is trying to reach out to grassroots conservatives.

Bush’s spokesperson, Kristy M. Campbell, declined to comment on that issue, The Post reported, while Howard Leach, a veteran GOP fundraiser who recently co-hosted a Bush event in Palm Beach, Florida, confirmed the limit and said, “This campaign is about much more than money. They need substantial funds, but they don’t want the focus to be on money.”

Scott Walker is also doing well on the fundraising front, although he is not in Bush’s league just yet. The governor formed a new political committee last month, Our American Revival, and has assembled an impressive network of contributors in all 50 states.

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