Democratic strategist James Carville, a Cajun who knows a little something about Clintons winning and beating a Bush, charmed a crowd at Saint Leo University on Wednesday night to kick off the school's International Business Conference. Highlights:
On Jeb: "I give Christie no chance. I would give Jeb probably less of a chance than most handicappers would, but still a good one."
Carville said he knows Florida's former governor ("I've done like three or four speeches with him, had drinks with him. He's a charming guy. He's the kind of guy, you ask him a question, he gives you an answer."), but is not yet convinced he is the toughest person for Hillary Clinton to beat: "Jeb's polling numbers are just not very impressive right now. I think you've got to let it play out. . . . But I think he's got a much tougher job than most people think."
On Hillary: The biggest question she has to answer? "Explain how substantively and stylistically you would be different from President (Barack) Obama." The electoral college inherently favors Democrats, Carville said, but Clinton will have a tough campaign and knows it. "She is no worse than 50/50," he said when asked about her prospects for winning. "She has to fly really close to the ground. Campaign hard, don't take anything for granted. . . . It can't be too many aides, too big a motorcade, she's got to show people (who she is)."
On Marco: "People sometimes run for president other than being president. I think that might be what he's doing right now."
Expectations: "Scott Walker has to win Iowa or he's out. Jeb Bush loses New Hampshire, he's done. It's must-win. . . . If Bush loses New Hampshire, you know who I think gets in? Mitt Romney. . . . I think Mitt is just kind of doing his knitting on the sidelines, and if you're talking about somebody who is pulling for Jeb to lose, there he is."
Obama: "The only person I've ever seen in politics that has been really, really successful who really doesn't much care what people think of him is President Obama. . . . It's just kind of odd to have someone who goes that far in a business that is about people. It's like being a banker and you don't like money."
Florida, Florida, Florida: "You cannot draw a map that a Republican can win the presidency without Florida. It can't be done. You can draw a map that the Democrats can win without winning Florida, but not very often. .. . Florida is Ohio on steroids. Ohio is 18 (electoral votes), Florida is 29, . . . They're not comparable swing states any more."
The paradox of politics today: Democrats have fewer state legislators, senators, members of Congress, governors than practically any time in modern history. And yet Democrats are supremely confident about the presidential election in 2016, and Republicans are terrified. Why? Much of it is because of how we live, with Democrats overwhelmingly clustered in heavily populated cities and Republicans outside of cities.
"Because of the way we live, where we live, it has become almost impossible for the Democrats to win the House of Representatives," Carville said. "And it has become . . . very difficult for the Republicans to win the presidency."
Whether he would want to run another presidential campaign: "I'm going to be 72 on Election Day, I'm pretty sure I don't know the Internet from the interstate. . . . I know what it takes to do this, and I ain't got it."
Bush adds adviser
Jeb Bush's political committee has hired a rising figure in opposition research and messaging.
Tim Miller, executive director of the aggressive oppo-group America Rising, will become a senior adviser to the Right to Rise PAC, which Bush created in December and has served as a vehicle for his presidential campaign in waiting. Miller would likely slide over to communications director if Bush becomes an official candidate.
Sen. Marco Rubio was asked by a Florida television station on Friday about Rudy Giuliani's comment that President Barack Obama does not love America.
"I don't feel like I'm in a position to have to answer for every person in my party that makes a claim," Rubio replied. "Democrats aren't asked to answer every time Joe Biden says something embarrassing, so I don't know why I should answer every time a Republican does. I'll suffice it to say that I believe the president loves America; I think his ideas are bad."
And from Jeb Bush's corner: "Governor Bush doesn't question President Obama's motives. He does question President Obama's disastrous policies," spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said.
Obama to be in Miami
President Obama will travel to Miami on Wednesday to participate in a town hall on immigration, the White House said. The event will be hosted by Telemundo and MSNBC.
Cruz is TV guest
State Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, who is poised to become the Florida House minority leader, appears on Political Connections today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Alex Leary contributed to the Buzz.