Former White House senior adviser David Axelrod has a warning for likely Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton: Watch out for Jeb Bush.
Among a crowded field of potential Republican candidates, Bush stood out as a threat to Axelrod — if he can get past the Republican primary unscathed.
“I think if Gov. Bush were to win the nomination without trimming his sails on immigration, on education reform, and some of these others, I think he could be very formidable,” Axelrod told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos in an interview.
But, Axelrod told Ramos, “that’s a big ‘if.'” Bush’s more moderate stances on issues like immigration and education could endear him to voters who don’t typically vote for Republican candidates. But they also don’t play well with the conservative Republican base, which vehemently opposes immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, as well as the Common Core education standards.
Bush has said in the past that a Republican may have to “lose the primary” — aka, adopt more centrist positions — to win the general election. Axelrod told Ramos that if he doesn’t stick to his guns, Bush will fall victim to the missteps of past Republican nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney.
“The past few candidates have been center-right Republicans who made Faustian bargains with the right wing of their party in order to be the nominee,” Axelrod said. “If he does that, then he’ll be as unelectable as the others.”
Axelrod told Ramos that Clinton’s worries, however, should start with herself.
“Her big issue is how she approaches her own campaign,” Axelrod said as he touched on her missteps in 2008, including an air of “inevitability” that feels familiar again heading into the 2016 campaign.
Axelrod also said Clinton needs to come out with a “focused message.”
“If she does those two things, regardless of who the Republican nominee is,” Axelrod told Fusion, “I think she’s got a good chance to win.”