Rand Paul, Rob Portman and possibly the adversary of one of them in the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton all went proactive in the last few days on issues they think will help them in coming years.
Paul, a Tennessee senator and Tea Party favorite, changed his stance on immigration. Why? Because 16 percent of the population is Hispanic and 71 percent of those who voted in 2012 backed President Obama, compared to only 21 percent for Mitt Romney. Paul needs to at least break even with them, attracting Latino voters on issues like religion, conservative values and education.
Portman, an Ohio senator and former Bush administration official, was staunchly anti-gay marriage. But then [oops] his son came out. The senator’s catching flack from both sides of this debate, but he’s moved himself more toward the mainstream, especially for a possible run at the Republican presidential nomination in three years. As Michelangelo Signorile writes on Huffington Post, 58 percent of Americans now favor equality in marriage. Cynics will argue that was why Portman moved to support it and his son’s decision was just an easy hook and cover.
Gays rip him for waiting: Like all gays weren’t good enough for equal rights until his son showed him the way? And of course conservatives are not happy to “lose” the first Republican senator to support of gay marriage.
Meantime, Hillary Rodham Clinton, every Democrat [except Joe Biden’s and Andrew Cuomo’s] dream candidate for president in 2016, got on the right side of the gay marriage argument. No surprise, but shoring up her base, she came out for gay marriage. A little like Cuomo being for gun control, but OK.
The point of this amalgamation is not whether these are smart political moves [probably] or whether they’re surprising [two yes, one no]. It’s about the three of them going proactive.
Clinton announced her move to the gay marriage plus column on a Monday, traditionally a quiet day for news. Portman, who expected and received a great deal of criticism, made his comments on a Friday, when even those who pay attention to news are not tightly tuned in. And Paul, fresh off a strong showing at the weekend’s CPAC conference had enough chits in his pocket to burn a few on an immigration stance that would anger his base.
Paul made a move that angered his base, but after he had raised his political standing and popularity. Portman also came out for coming out, moving into the mainstream, a move that will make him more popular with middle-of-the-road Republicans and independents in 2016 or in his re-election bid in Ohio. And Clinton tidied up her ever-blossoming White House resume, covering her left flank against Biden or Cuomo for the 2016 debates and primaries.
Smart. Pro-active. Savvy.
The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.