Steve Benen raises an interesting point:
We’re nearly through the initial phase of the presidential campaign – we know who’s running, who’s well positioned to compete, and roughly what the candidates’ platforms are going to look like. If this were a literal race, the runners have all effectively taken their place in the starting blocks. The next phrase tends to get a little … livelier.
On ABC yesterday morning, “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos said, in reference to some of the shots across the candidates’ bows, “The gloves are off, I can see that right now.” I think that’s probably a little premature, but there appears to be one Republican presidential hopeful who’s more eager than most to throw some jabs.
As political pugilism goes, all of these jabs are pretty mild, and we’re still months away from televised attack ads.
But let this be a reminder to campaign observers: one of the under-appreciated byproducts of a crowded Republican field is the inevitable crossfire. These GOP candidates have spent the last few months complaining about President Obama and Hillary Clinton, but we’re slowly reaching the point at which they start turning on one another – they have primary rivals to dispatch before they can prepare in earnest for the general election.
We may have reached a threshold, to be certain. But this is happening for a reason. With New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie mere days away, the field is ready to shift. As Mr. Christie begins jabbing at his soon to be opponents, so also is Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin aiming at or near his fellow Republicans. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced today, and that creates a new dynamic that bears considering.