WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fallout from House Speaker John Boehner’s abrupt resignation, the impact of the summer fund-raising challenge on the 2016 field and Donald Trump’s big week ahead — those stories filled our Sunday trip around the “Inside Politics” table.
1. Frantic fund-raising as the quarter ends
Presidential campaigns are required at this point to report quarterly fund-raising numbers — and the year’s third quarter ends on Wednesday, the final day of September.
The three-month period includes July and August, traditionally the toughest months to raise money. And CNN’s Jeff Zeleny pointed out all the campaigns are in a frantic push to collect more cash as the clock ticks toward the end of the month.
“If you are looking for a presidential candidate this week, you should have a check in your hand, because all the candidates are out raising money in this final push to the end of this month,” said Zeleny.
“Hillary Clinton is in Los Angeles, the seat of Democratic money, and she’s going to San Francisco to raise a lot of money. She wants to have a good, strong fund-raising number to show that she’s in a better position against Bernie Sanders.
“But for Republicans out raising money this week, it is do or die for some of them. Some will have very dire cash-on-hand numbers at the end of this period. Is a Bobby Jindal going to stick around? Is a Jeb Bush going to have a good number to make his donors happy?”
2. It may have been the summer of Trump, but Carson also cashed in
It was without a doubt the summer of Trump. But Ben Carson enters the fall with a big smile, and a bigger bank account, too.
Carson’s campaign reports it is on track to raise $20 million in the third quarter, and $10 million in September alone. That would be proof Carson has the resources to be a player as the year winds down. And it is a problem for the Ted Cruz campaign.
Just this weekend, Cruz handily won a straw poll at the Value Voter Summit, his third consecutive win at the annual gathering of Christian conservatives. But out in the states, Iowa in particular, Trump and Carson at the moment are polling ahead of Cruz among the evangelical voters critical in the first-in-the-nation caucuses.
Team Cruz has consistently made the case, privately, that it expects Trump and Carson to fade. And Cruz himself has said he has no plans to go negative against the men ahead of him in the polls.
The Cruz team remains confident its long view will prove correct. But there is no question Carson’s strength in the polls — and now fund-raising — create a race very different from the one Team Cruz envisioned at the outset of the campaign.
And the test of that “long view” is closer than you might think: As of Sunday, there are just 126 days until Iowa casts the first official votes of the 2016 nominating contests.
3. Trump’s ‘second act’ on the New Hampshire stage
Donald Trump may never have money problems, but he has other hurdles, as the GOP front-runner deals with a slip in the polls and looks to add some details to his campaign agenda by releasing a tax plan Monday.
Then on Wednesday, Trump hits the trail in New Hampshire for the first time since a town hall that featured a rant by a man who wrongly asserted President Obama is a Muslim.
Matt Viser of The Boston Globe shared reporting on the importance of this moment for Trump — who is looking to show he can rebound from a bit of a tough stretch. Adding to the drama of Trump’s New Hampshire return: Jeb Bush, often the target of Trump barbs, will be holding his own town hall about an hour away, with Ben Carson also there.
“He’s also got a night with Ted Cruz — a cigar night in Salem,” said Viser. “The state is wide open and you have a lot of candidates trying to gain traction, and this week will be a key week to watch up there.”
4. Post-Boehner, the biggest fight appears to be for the No. 2 and No. 3 jobs
The early odds heavily favor Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California to succeed John Boehner as the House speaker.
And given that, CNN’s Manu Raju reports that the bigger battles could well be for the other top jobs in the House GOP leadership. McCarthy currently holds the No. 2 post — majority leader — and the scramble for that job could have a domino effect on the other leadership posts.
“I talked to Republican aides yesterday — and members — and they said that this is one of the most wide open leadership conference contests in years,” said Raju.
“You have people like Tom Price from Georgia, who’s angling for the position, Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington state and Steve Scalise from Louisiana. Pete Roskam (of Illinois) may get in this as well. So this is a wide open race and can go any way in the coming weeks.”
5. ‘The dogs that caught the car’
That is a big question facing the restless House conservatives who suddenly have what they have long wanted: Boehner’s resignation as speaker.
The House Freedom Caucus is one of the groups that has long complained Boehner isn’t true to conservative ideals. Its members are vocal, and constant thorns in Boehner’s side.
But with a victory in hand, these insurgents face a challenge. Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast took us inside the effort to get one or more jobs of their own in the coming leadership shakeup.
“So the House Freedom Caucus has a pretty big test coming up,” said Kucinich. “They are sort of the dogs that caught the car.”
“They are the most conservative members of the House Republicans and they’ve shown themselves to be very good at agitating, at kind of messing up the process, but they haven’t shown themselves able to win — to win elections.”
“So with these upcoming leadership elections, we’re going to see if they can actually turn from just being agitators to being governors.”