Lanny Davis: The Big Idea of the GOP field for 2016

Lanny Davis: The Big Idea of the GOP field for 2016
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So what do the many current and pending Republican presidential candidates have to say to the country about why they should be president in these challenging times at home and abroad?

I must say, there is one thing that impresses me so far: Their remarkable unity about one Big Idea. 


Have they told us how they would provide for healthcare for millions of uninsured everyday Americans in the U.S.? Or guarantee that those with pre-existing conditions won’t lose their health insurance and face bankruptcy in case of serious illness? No.

Have they told us what they would do about more than 11 million undocumented U.S. residents? Nope. Have they told us what they would do to close the huge gap between the incomes of everyday Americans while the super-rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Not at all. 

Have they told us how they will relieve young Americans who have substantial debts from student loans or offered them a program that would enable them to repay these debts? They have not. Are they willing to close tax loopholes that permit highly paid corporate executives to pay less in taxes than their secretaries? Not even close. 

So what have they told us? What is their Big Idea so far, the one that unifies them and that they ask the American people to rally behind, as a reason to vote for one of them to be our next president?

The answer: Bash Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMark Cuban says he's decided not to run for president Trump official criticizes ex-Clinton spokesman over defunding police tweet Poll: Biden leads Trump, Cunningham neck and neck with Tillis in North Carolina MORE

That’s their Big Idea. That’s it. 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in his first major media buy, will air a 60-second spot planned to run in the four early primary states that says that Clinton “represents the worst of the Washington machine, the arrogance of power, corruption and cover-up.” 

Just one day before Clinton announced her candidacy, Paul launched a new website. What did he decide to name it, “IdeasToSolveAmerica’”? No. Instead, he picked the name “” 

Former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina, fired for incompetence by her company and rejected by California voters in 2010 by a landslide margin in her bid to be a U.S. senator, has spent virtually all of her air time attacking Clinton’s character, apparently her main rationale for running for president. Really? 

Even Jeb Bush, whom I admire and respect for his usually decent approach to politics, couldn’t resist criticizing Clinton on the emails issue, even though he too used his own private email address and server, mixing personal and private emails, over eight years as Florida governor. 

And how about that exciting announcement speech from Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio? Did he spell out his vision for the country, offering solutions and specifics on the major issues facing the country? 

Here’s the summary of what I heard him say: Golly gee — I am so young and fresh, and fresh and young, I sure am. Golly gee, I mean, I am new generation. Yes I am. Yes I am.  And Clinton? She’s so “yesterday.” 

Rubio forgot to mention that what is “yesterday” was his position on immigration reform, before he flip-flopped when he was for it before he was against it. 

We don’t want to go back to 1999, Rubio said. Really? What about 23 million new jobs, low inflation and a hundreds of millions of dollars of budget surplus don’t you like?

So there you have it: The one thing these GOP presidential candidates agree on is to attack Hillary Clinton. 

What a great platform! 

Great, that is, if you are someone like me — someone who believes in the future, who wants solutions and bipartisan, purple cooperation in Washington, and, therefore, wants Clinton to be our next president because she offers both.

Will the American people be attracted to vote for a Republican candidate who offers mostly nastiness and personal attacks? Will they be persuaded by such attacks against a woman who has spent most of her life dedicated to public service for the public good, someone who has served her country with hard work as first lady for eight years in the White House, for eight years in the U.S. Senate, and for four years as secretary of State, leaving office with America’s positive ratings substantially higher all over the world than when she began her tenure?

I don’t think so. Stay tuned. 

Davis served as special counsel to former President Clinton and is principal in the Washington, D.C., law firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, and is executive vice president of strategic communications firm LEVICK. He is the author of a recently published book, Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life.