In a report for Monday's NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd described how "Democrats seem comfortable with the idea of a coronation of Hillary Clinton" in 2016, as "many of them are almost begging her to run." Meanwhile, he asserted that Republicans, "nervous about the influence of the Tea Party," were looking to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as a potential candidate. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The segment played a clip of one of Clinton's adoring fans pleading for the former secretary of state to run: "If you don't represent women in politics in America as future president, who will?" Moments later, Todd warned that Bush "has family matters to consider" given that "his own mother has said she doesn't want him to run." A sound bite ran of Barbara Bush remarking on the Today show in 2013, "We've had enough Bushes."
Todd wrapped up the report by piling on against Bush: "If Bush does go head to head with Clinton, recent polls show he'd face an uphill battle. Still, the bigger hurdle for Bush is the Republican primary gauntlet. Will the long-time conservative from Florida be viewed as conservative enough for the Republican Party of 2016?"
At no point did Todd suggest a single challenge or weakness in a Hillary Clinton candidacy.
Here is a full transcript of the March 24 report:
8:04 AM ET
TAMRON HALL: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton are sharing the spotlight today at an education conference in Texas. Could it be a preview of a Bush/Clinton presidential race in 2016? The story from NBC's chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: 2016 Race Preview? Hillary Clinton & Jeb Bush Share Spotlight]
CHUCK TODD: Two political powerhouses sharing the spotlight today could be presidential rivals in 2016. Democrats seem comfortable with the idea of a coronation of Hillary Clinton. Many of them are almost begging her to run. And now, some long-time Republicans, nervous about the influence of the Tea Party, would like to see a coronation of one of their own, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Bush has joked about a match-up with Clinton before.
JEB BUSH: We do agree on the wisdom of the American people, especially those in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina.
TODD: And for the first time in his career, Bush seems truly open to a run. At times, more forthcoming about his interests than Hillary Clinton, who continues to remain coy about her plans.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: If you don't represent women in politics in America as future president, who will?
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
HILLARY CLINTON: Give me your name and number.
TODD: Bush has been more direct, promising to make a final decision by the end of this year.
BUSH: The decision will be based on, "Can I do it joyfully?" Because I think we need to have candidates lift our spirits.
TODD: This renewed interest in Jeb Bush from key Republicans comes just as the early establishment 2016 favorite, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has been badly damaged by that George Washington Bridge scandal, leaving Jeb Bush as the party's leading statesman.
Bush's aides cautioned, though, against reading too much into his current schedule, arguing he'd be helping Republicans regardless of his 2016 plans. And Bush has family matters to consider. His own mother has said she doesn't want him to run, as she told Matt on Today.
BARBARA BUSH: We've had enough Bushes.
TODD: Bush is now trying to make light of his mom's opposition.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If, conditional, you were to run for president, would you get your mother's vote?
JEB BUSH: Yes. Yes, I would.
TODD: If Bush does go head to head with Clinton, recent polls show he'd face an uphill battle.
[ON-SCREEN GRAPHIC: McClatchy/ Marist Poll; Clinton 58%, Bush 38%]
TODD: Still, the bigger hurdle for Bush is the Republican primary gauntlet. Will the long-time conservative from Florida be viewed as conservative enough for the Republican Party of 2016? For Today, Chuck Todd, NBC News, Washington.