Inside the Beltway: A new interest in Rahm Emanuel for 2016?

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The recent Conservative Political Action Conference provides a forum for big names. But it’s also a platform for the murmurs and asides from political strategists who’ve been everywhere and done everything, and like to speculate. Such is the case when the potential presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton was parsed by a pair of insiders.

Would she run? Maybe, if her health and vigor remain strong. But is she holding a place for someone else? Could be. The take-away suggestion: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is seriously being groomed as a White House contender.

“Maybe in the lead role, maybe the running mate. Hey, he’s already been in the White House anyway,” one strategist said to the other.

Indeed, Mr. Emanuel, 54, was senior policy and strategy advisor for President Bill Clinton, and appointed White House Chief of Staff by President Obama. Similar rumors have surfaced about Mr. Emanuel for three years, and from major news organizations. He has so far dismissed the idea he’d run. Then again, so has Mitt Romney.

It would be ironic and fascinating if the pair ended up opposing each other in the 2016 race.

Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that Mr. Emanuel is now being showcased in CNN’s gritty new weekly documentary series “Chicagoland,” which is produced by Robert Redford and began Sunday.

“I have a high regard for Rahm Emanuel. It is not an easy job. To manage a city like Chicago with so many disparate parts to it is not an enviable task. I think that he is as qualified as anybody, but boy, it’s like being the president of the United States,” Mr. Redford said in an interview with the network before the series began.

“President in 2016? Perhaps Emanuel is angling to be Hillary’s 2016 vice presidential running mate. A Hillary-Rahm ticket?” asks William Kelly, a conservative blogger and strategist based in the Windy City.

“This series could have all the makings of a national political rebrand,” he adds.

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass has also broached the idea of “Vice President Emanuel,” though he envisions the mayor in the role of manager for Mr. Clinton — his old boss — who would be known as the “First Gentleman.” should Mrs. Clinton win the White House.

There’s more to come. Along with billionaire Sam Zell, Mr. Emanuel is one of the featured speakers at “Reinventing America,” a summit organized by Steve Forbes, chairman of Forbes Media. The two-day event is scheduled for late March, with much talk about the “heartland” and an agenda that pushes cheap energy, plus innovative manufacturing, finance and job creation — all noteworthy planks for a potential political platform.

AN INSTA-POLL

Sure. Why not have another Republican presidential straw poll? That is exactly what PJ Media’s “Instapundit,” Glenn Reynolds, did, complete with 24 contenders, and drawing more than 15,000 votes. The winner: Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky with 26 percent of the vote, followed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (21 percent) and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas (20 percent).

Among the other results: Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sarah Palin each drew 5 percent, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal each garnered 4 percent. Condoleezza Rice captured 3 percent; Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Allen West and Mitch Daniels, 2 percent. Eleven of the choices — including Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee — drew less than 1 percent. And in last place? That would be Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who drew 8 votes.

THEY STILL HATE CONGRESS

“With the 2014 midterms now eight months away, 15 percent of Americans approve of the overall job Congress is doing,” say Lydia Saad and Andrew Dugan, both analysts for Gallup, who say this has been a pattern since mid-2011.

“If it is partisan rancor that has been driving Congress’ job ratings into the ground since 2010, last month’s drama-free passage of a debt-ceiling increase has done little to ease public concerns,” the analysts write.

“Incumbents running in November still face a highly skeptical public. And while that should concern both parties, Democrats may be especially vulnerable. While President Obama’s suboptimal job-approval score is similar to Reagan’s in 1982, more members of his party are facing competitive Senate races than was true for Ronald Reagan, making Democrats more exposed,” they note.

DESIGNS ON INTELLIGENT DESIGN

Creationists are not the only ones out of favor in academic circles.

Four Indiana state legislators led by Senate Education Committee Chairman Dennis Kruse, a Republican from Auburn, are now taking Ball State University to task for imposing a “speech code censoring faculty speech on intelligent design,” specifically aimed at Eric Hedin, an assistant physics and astronomy professor. He recently suggested that nature displays evidence of intelligent design in an honors course titled “Boundaries of Science.”

The course has been officially canceled, but not without protest. More than 10,000 people signed a petition disputing the action; the legislators have contacted campus officials questioning their judgment and protocols. “We are disturbed by reports that while you restrict faculty speech on intelligent design, BSU authorized a seminar that teaches ‘Science Must Destroy Religion,’” they noted in their letter.

“Thus far BSU has refused to answer many questions about its mistreatment of Mr. Hedin,” says Joshua Youngkin, a lawyer with the Discovery Institute, a nonpartisan, Seattle-based think tank. “BSU even recently filed a complaint with the public-access counselor to delay disclosing emails requested under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act. It’s time for BSU to stop stonewalling.”

BACHMANN JOURNEYS TO BRITAIN

A dose of Yankee wisdom? That could very well be the case when Rep. Michele Bachmann arrives on Friday at the Oxford Union, the famed and august debating society within Oxford University. Founded in 1823, the group has hosted, among many speakers, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill.

Organizers describe the Minnesota Republican as “instrumental in forming the House Tea Party Caucus” and “devoted to repealing Obamacare.” Mrs. Bachman will deliver a speech, titled “Seeds of Progress: The Struggle Between Innovation and Bureaucracy,” and plans to examine the bureaucratic impulse to control innovation.

“I believe that it is no coincidence that the greatest explosion of innovation in history accompanied our first experiments with political liberty and free enterprise,” she says. “If we keep our societies open to innovation, we will continue to see breakthroughs that empower individuals to collaborate and transcend the bureaucracies that are thwarting progress.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 56 percent of Americans say the U.S. should not get “too involved” in the Ukraine situation.

• 50 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents agree.

• 44 percent overall disapprove of the Obama administration’s handling of the Ukraine situation.

• 67 percent of Republicans, 19 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents agree.

• 30 percent approve of the administration’s handling of the situation; 15 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of Democrats and 24 percent of independents agree.

• 29 percent say the U.S. should take “a firm stand” against Russia’s action in Ukraine.

• 37 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press poll of 1,003 U.S. adults conducted March 6-9.

• Grumbles, mumbles and pleas to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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