- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 19, 2015

Monday marks the first in a series of speeches by Jeb Bush that will outline what his priorities will be as president, “beginning with taking on Mount Washington and reforming the way D.C. works” — this according to his campaign. The inaugural speech itself earned the title “Taking on Mount Washington,” in fact. The man spoke his mind.

“The overspending, the overreaching, the arrogance, and the sheer incompetence in that city - these problems have been with us so long that they are sometimes accepted as facts of life,” Mr. Bush told his audience at Florida State University in Tallahassee on Monday morning.

“We need a president willing to challenge the whole culture in our nation’s capital - and I mean to do it,” the candidate advised.

The tone and tenor of the speech could mark a change in demeanor for Mr. Bush which could help him fend off critics who frame his campaign as inconsequential or tepid. Indeed, the candidate appears to be evolving on the campaign trail. The leaner Mr. Bush has dropped 30 pounds, raised more money than his rivals, and ramped up his public presence; he was in four states last week, with more of same in the near future.

He’s recently shown his compassionate conservative style and big tent thinking: “Rhetoric of divisiveness is wrong. A Republican will never win by striking fear into people’s hearts. I campaign with my arms open. I campaign embracing diversity. Come join us, come join the team that is creating hope and opportunity,” a cheerful and energetic Mr. Bush recently told an audience in Iowa.

But he now appears ready to rumble, and ready to release his inner Bush, or words to that effect. His “Mount Washington” speech, proved to be a clear challenge to big government, faulty leadership, stifling regulations - always popular with a wide swath of voters. And yes, C-SPAN was there, often an indicator that substance is expected.


SEE ALSO: Trump fires back after ‘crazies’ remark: McCain a hero ‘because he was captured’


TRUMP: THE PESKY QUESTION OF THE DAY

“Is Trump’s campaign effectively over?” asks Townhall political reporter Daniel Doherty. “Trump campaign implodes,” declares a New York Post headline. Some wish it was true, perhaps; at least seven of Donald Trump’s fellow Republican hopefuls strongly disagree with the billionaire’s recent comment that Sen. John McCain was “only a hero because he was captured” during his deployment to Vietnam in 1967. Those critics included Sens. Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, Govs. Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal, former Govs. Rick Perry and Jeb Bush, former Sen. Rick Santorum and businesswoman Carly Fiorina.

So. Is Mr. Trump’s campaign over? “Depends on who you talk to,” Mr. Doherty advises.

It also depends on the shelf life of the comment; even controversial remarks can lose their edge in the welter of incessant, incoming news coverage. Mr. Trump also appears to have moved on, telling ABC News on Sunday that he owes Mr. McCain no apology. But tenacious rivals may not be ready to let it go just yet, particularly since Mr. Trump has led multiple voter polls in recent days.

“Republicans begin to surround Trump before moving in for the kill,” writes Tim Hain, an analyst for Real Clear Politics.

Well, maybe. But Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer has released a statement: “Senator McCain is an American hero because he served his country and sacrificed more than most can imagine. Period. There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably.”

MR. GORE GETS MENTIONED

Democrats should forget Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Bernard Sanders and Vice President Joseph R. Biden? One analyst says so.

“It’s time to draft Al Gore: If Democrats want to win, it’s clear neither Hillary nor Sanders is the way. Hillary’s flailing. Biden’s grieving. Bernie’s a long-shot. Gore bridges the party’s establishment, progressives.” writes Sean Illing, a “political theorist” for Salon who has 10 reasons why he believes Mr. Gore is a viable alternative.

“Enter Al Gore: the one person on the left, apart from Clinton and Biden, with the cachet to bridge the establishment and progressive wings of the party,” summarizes Mr. Illing. The proposal has attracted gleeful reactions, from among others, Powerline, Newsbusters, the Legal Insurrection blog and PJ Media, which summarizes: “Anybody but Hillary!”

Well, who knows? Mr. Gore himself declined to back Mrs. Clinton during an interview at an advertising and film awards symposium in France in late June, remarking that it was “too early.”

GOP HOPEFULS, GRASSROOTS AND ALL

There’s one lone Republican hopeful in the state of New Hampshire on Monday. That would be Sen. Marco Rubio, who like the other GOP hopefuls, is knee-deep in a very grassroots-y campaign. His 24-hour schedule: Mr. Rubio plans a meet and greet at Able Ebenezer Brewing Company in Merrimack followed by a town hall meeting at Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry. Tuesday morning, it’s over to Robies Country Store in Hooksett for another meet-and-greet, and yet another at Pease Golf Course in Portsmouth.

Gov. Chris Christie in South Carolina, meanwhile, where he appears at a “Tell It Like It Is” town hall meeting at Skillett’s Cafe in Hilton Head, and another at Liberty Tap Room in Mount Pleasant. And in Iowa, Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has vowed to visit all 99 counties in the Hawkeye State, offers a “Believe Again” town hall at Thunder Bay Grille in Davenport, followed by a similar event at the Oakwood Road Community Center in Ames.

“There’s no substitute for looking people in the eye when you’re answering the tough questions. Unlike some candidates, I’m not afraid to answer the third, fourth or tenth question on an issue,” an emphatic Mr. Jindal says. “We need a doer, not a talker. We need someone with executive experience, not another first-term Senator who needs on-the-job training Above all, we have to stop hiding who we are as conservatives and endorse our own principles.”

FIVE DAYS AT THE WHITE HOUSE

Now that President Obama is home from his weekend trip to New York City for a fundraiser, a Broadway play and some family time, here’s what’s next, verbatim, from the White House:

“On Monday, the President will host Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the White House. The visit will underscore the United States’ longstanding friendship with Nigeria, our commitment to strengthening and expanding our partnership with Nigeria’s new government, and our support for the Nigerian people following their historic democratic elections and peaceful transfer of power. In the afternoon, the President will deliver remarks at a reception for the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“On Tuesday, the President will travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to address the 116th Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention. Following the convention, the President will travel to New York, New York and will tape an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. In the evening, the President will attend a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee event.

“On Wednesday, the President will meet with small business owners to discuss the importance of the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. On Thursday, the President will attend meetings at the White House. In the evening, the President will travel to Nairobi, Kenya. On Friday, the President will arrive in Nairobi, Kenya.”

POLL DU JOUR

95 percent of Americans who have a pet consider the animal to be “a member of the family.”

84 percent of Americans say they grew up with a pet.

62 percent currently have a pet; 71 percent of that number have a dog, 49 percent say they have a cat, 11 percent have fish, 8 percent a bird and 7 percent some “other” pet.

71 percent of that number also say they allow their pet to sleep in bed with them, 64 percent say they have bought their pet a holiday gift.

12 percent buy health insurance for the pet.

$477: Average amount Americans spend on pet food and treats per year.

$426: Average amount they spend on vet appointments and medications.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,225 U.S. adults conducted May 20-26 and released Thursday. Multiple responses allowed on what type of pet that respondents own.

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