Inside Washington

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Tom DeFrank and George E. Condon Jr.
June 12, 2014, 5 p.m.

On the Prowl

With the tri­umphant de­clar­a­tion, “The bear is loose,” Pres­id­ent Obama re­cently has twice es­caped the White House bubble and strolled off cam­pus. First, it was a leis­urely walk along the El­lipse to the In­teri­or De­part­ment on May 21. This week, it was Monday’s hike up Pennsylvania Av­en­ue to a Star­bucks. But on both oc­ca­sions, the lib­er­ated pres­id­ent made it clear he wants some people to stay in their cage — the re­port­ers who cov­er him. Both times, Obama showed clear pique that those pesky re­port­ers were ru­in­ing his jaunts. All re­cent pres­id­ents have al­lowed at least one print re­port­er close enough to mon­it­or their in­ter­ac­tions. But this pres­id­ent doesn’t like that pre­ced­ent. “C’mon, guys,” he com­plained to re­port­ers en route to In­teri­or. “You’re not go­ing to fol­low me the whole way?” Only the of­fi­cial White House pho­to­graph­er and a gov­ern­ment video­graph­er stayed close. On Monday, the White House broke from the long-ac­cep­ted norm and did not alert the pro­tect­ive press pool in time for re­port­ers to ac­com­pany the pres­id­ent. When they caught up, Obama com­plained to his aides, or­der­ing them to herd the press away. The White House Cor­res­pond­ents’ As­so­ci­ation has since pro­tested. But in­siders are de­cidedly bear­ish about the chances of restor­ing the tra­di­tion­al cov­er­age rules.

George E. Con­don Jr.

 

An Un­fa­mil­i­ar Spot

The Jeb Bush 2016 boom­let sud­denly has taken a new twist — Jeb for veep. The former Flor­ida gov­ernor has kept rig­or­ously quiet about his op­tions. Even broth­er George re­mains in the dark about his sib­ling’s lean­ings. But the big-time op­pos­i­tion of Jeb’s wife, Columba, to a pres­id­en­tial run leads many Re­pub­lic­an eld­ers to as­sume he won’t be a can­did­ate. That’s why some of these same GOP lead­ers have be­gun tout­ing Jeb as the nat­ur­al choice for the second spot. “He’s the per­fect No. 2 for any Re­pub­lic­an tick­et,” a top GOP con­sult­ant told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “It makes a world of sense.” Bush is an un­abashed con­ser­vat­ive, the the­ory goes, but a kinder, gentler ver­sion who can ap­peal to main­stream Re­pub­lic­ans, con­ser­vat­ive Demo­crats, and in­de­pend­ents. He would even pass muster with con­ser­vat­ive red-hots who think he’s too es­tab­lish­ment, es­pe­cially be­cause he speaks flu­ent Span­ish and is pop­u­lar with His­pan­ic voters oth­er­wise turned off by the GOP’s hard line on im­mig­ra­tion re­form. And if Jeb has to cam­paign for only three months as a VP nom­in­ee, in­stead of more than two years as a pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate, a seni­or Bush fam­ily source pre­dicts his wife would sign off. 

Tom De­Frank 

 

Mur­murs

He’s Back Sen. John Booz­man, the Arkan­sas Re­pub­lic­an who’s been out of com­mis­sion since un­der­go­ing heart sur­gery in April, re­turned to the Cap­it­ol this week. “I’m feel­ing good,” he said. “It’s kind of sad — people say­ing I look bet­ter now than be­fore I left.” Booz­man, who is serving his first term since de­feat­ing Blanche Lin­coln, said his out­look ap­pears pos­it­ive. “This dis­ease is a strange deal. If you get through it — very few people do — then you have the chance of a full re­cov­ery. I’ve done very, very well and hope­fully look for­ward to a full re­cov­ery.” If Booz­man had had to re­tire for health reas­ons, his seat might have switched parties, with Demo­crat­ic Gov. Mike Beebe tasked with ap­point­ing an in­ter­im suc­cessor.

Col­lege Try Rep. Peter Welch seems like he could have been Rep. Trey Gowdy’s old col­lege pro­fess­or. Welch, at 67, is lib­er­al and cereb­ral and doesn’t try to hide his half-bald head. Gowdy, at 49, is a con­ser­vat­ive rabble-rouser from South Car­o­lina with a blond punk hairdo. Who knew they would get along? They met through a com­mon staffer who worked for Welch when he was Ver­mont’s Sen­ate pres­id­ent. The aide then moved to South Car­o­lina to work for Gowdy. And it turns out they had more in com­mon than that. They agree that col­lege costs too much, and they co­sponsored le­gis­la­tion to curb high­er-edu­ca­tion reg­u­la­tions and per­mit al­tern­ate path­ways to col­lege de­grees. Of Gowdy, Welch says, “He’s got a weird hair­cut, but he’s a good guy.”

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