Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and Iowa’s 2016 Grind

Both one-time front-runners are finding their route to the nomination long and complicated.

David Greedy AFP/Getty
S.V. Dáte
Add to Briefcase
S.V. Dáte
Sept. 22, 2015, 6:21 p.m.

DES MOINES, Iowa—Hil­lary Clin­ton and Jeb Bush nearly crossed paths here Tues­day. They would have had plenty of com­mis­er­ate about: both the one­time fa­vor­ites to win their re­spect­ive parties’ nom­in­a­tions, they now find them­selves mired in the slow primary grind.

A former sec­ret­ary of State and former first lady, Clin­ton entered the year as the vir­tu­ally un­op­posed front-run­ner for the 2016 Demo­crat­ic nom­in­a­tion. Now—though still the lead­er in most na­tion­al polling and the fa­vor­ite to win the nom­in­a­tion—she is trail­ing Sen. Bernie Sanders in some polls in Iowa and New Hamp­shire, while wait­ing to see if Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden fur­ther com­plic­ates her out­look with a late entry in­to the race.

Bush, sim­il­arly, was ori­gin­ally the Re­pub­lic­ans’ early fa­vor­ite. The son and broth­er of the last two Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­ents, Bush was able to use his fam­ily’s dec­ades-old fun­drais­ing net­work to amass more than $100 mil­lion for the su­per PAC back­ing him be­fore of­fi­cially en­ter­ing the race in June. Three months later, he is in single di­gits in Iowa and New Hamp­shire.

But Bush, who has had ma­jor roles in pres­id­en­tial cam­paigns since his fath­er George H.W. Bush’s first run in 1980, said polling at this point means little, par­tic­u­larly in Iowa be­cause it’s so dif­fi­cult for poll­sters to identi­fy ac­tu­al caucus-go­ers.

“The polling or­gan­iz­a­tions don’t have the money to spend to do all the fil­ter­ing to get to the caucus-go­er that would show up on a Monday night and spend a couple of hours in what will prob­ably be a warm, trop­ic­al cli­mate,” Bush said, jok­ing about the likely weath­er on a Feb­ru­ary night in Iowa.

Clin­ton used her Des Moines vis­it to de­tail her plan to add a pre­scrip­tion drug be­ne­fit to the Af­ford­able Care Act. Out-of-pock­et costs for crit­ic­al medi­cines would be capped at $250 a month, and drug com­pan­ies would no longer be per­mit­ted to count ad­vert­ising for drugs as a busi­ness ex­pense.

She said that while the law had lowered over­all health care costs, it was not help­ing all Amer­ic­ans. “In­sur­ance com­pan­ies have been keep­ing the sav­ings for them­selves and shift­ing more cost on fam­il­ies,” Clin­ton said, adding that she would de­fend the law that today is provid­ing health in­sur­ance to 16 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans who didn’t have it, and that she would an­nounce plans to lim­it Amer­ic­ans’ out-of-pock­et ex­penses in the com­ing days, as well.

“What we’re go­ing to do is build on and im­prove the Af­ford­able Care Act,” she said.

Clin­ton’s strong de­fense of Obama’s sig­na­ture health care law likely guar­an­tees that it will re­main a cam­paign hot but­ton for Re­pub­lic­ans, at least through the primar­ies, even as polling sug­gests that the pub­lic may be slowly warm­ing to it.

Even Bush, whose more meas­ured tone makes him among the least strident crit­ics among the GOP field, said he would push to re­peal the en­tire law if he is elec­ted.

“Her doub­ling down on all this stuff is go­ing to be a prob­lem for her polit­ic­ally,” Bush told re­port­ers. “I’m look­ing for­ward to tak­ing it to her on this. I think there’s a far bet­ter ap­proach. We’ll pro­pose re­peal­ing Obama­care and com­ing up with a more con­sumer-driv­en sys­tem that will im­prove health care ac­cess and health care cost.”

Bush, mean­while, un­rolled an­oth­er of his policy pro­pos­als Tues­day: a plan to lim­it reg­u­la­tions, as well as and force new reg­u­la­tions that in­crease costs on busi­nesses to be off­set by can­cel­ling oth­ers to re­duce costs by the same amount. He said busi­ness own­ers will love it when they learn more about it, par­tic­u­larly after six-and-a-half years of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“It’s a game changer,” he said of his plan.

What We're Following See More »
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
1 days ago
Trump Defends Confederate Statues in Tweetstorm
1 days ago
Trump to End Business Councils
2 days ago
McConnell: “No Good Neo-Nazis”
2 days ago
CBC Members Call for Removal of Confederate Statues from Capitol
2 days ago

"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are reviving calls to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia." Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group's chair, told ABC News that "we will never solve America's race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States." And Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol." But a CBC spokesperson said no formal legislative effort is afoot.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.