So, Jeb Bush is his own man, though he loves talking to his dad’s and his brother’s men. Joe Biden loves all men -- and women, of course, too -- particularly those in early-voting states. Whether Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton learn to love each other might be the biggest question of 2016. Rudy Giuliani thinks he knows what the president loves. And Chris Christie is learning more than he wanted about whom Republican donors love.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the stories the ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:
|JEB AND FRIENDS|
The annual conservative carnival known as CPAC will come together outside Washington and draw the brightest prospects of the Republican Party, along with servings of Donald Trump and Sarah Palin. The Conservative Political Action Conference has historically been an outlet for presidential contenders to show off their stump speeches and burnish their conservative credentials, and all the major 2016ers will be there. CPAC will be the first multi-candidate showcase to feature former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose declaration of independence from the Presidents Bush doesn’t change the fact that his brother’s administration isn’t so fondly remembered by some in the conservative movement. Will Bush dare to mention immigration or education, and risk early boos in his quest for 2016?
Wait -- it’s the end of February already? Those comfy two months Republicans carved for themselves to deal with Homeland Security funding have gone by fast, with no real progress in crafting a bill that can actually pass Congress. Republicans calculated that this deadline was the best way to roll back President Obama’s executive order on immigration. But Democrats are standing their ground, and polls suggest Republicans are more likely to shoulder the blame for a partial departmental shutdown. While the consequences wouldn’t necessarily be dire, since so many DHS employees are considered essential, Homeland Security is kind of a bad department to not fund. A federal judge put a stop to the immigration order this past week, potentially giving Republicans an off-ramp from a confrontation they’re not entirely comfortable with. But word that the White House is plotting to get that ruling reversed scrambles even that calculation. Somebody will have to blink, or somebody will have to cut a deal, and fast.
|NAME OF LOVE|
Rudy Giuliani isn’t running for anything, and hasn’t won an election since 1997. But he still knows how to win/lose a news cycle. “I do not believe that the president loves America,” the former New York City mayor declared, prompting days’ worth of sparring with Democrats, and partial walk-backs that may have made things worse for Giuliani. The dust-up evokes memories of the early, birther-infused days of the Obama presidency, and invites uncomfortable questions for 2016ers. The current context is important, too: President Obama is pointedly refusing to call terrorists “Islamic” or “Muslim,” in a semantic decision his critics fear has policy implications. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is readying a Washington trip that will expose deep divisions between the U.S. and one of its closest allies on the issue of Iran.
|JOURNEYS WITH JOE|
Joe Biden is flirting ... with something. Or else his schedulers are really good at making us think he is -- how else to read a third early-voting-state visit by the vice president in as many weeks? Next on Biden’s tour is a trip Wednesday to New Hampshire to tout the economy, following up on trips to South Carolina and Iowa. It was in Iowa that Biden said Democrats running for president should be “sticking with what works” -- in essence, he said, running for a “third term” of the Obama administration. Biden himself has said he won’t make up his mind on running until summer, but Democrats continue to be restless about the Hillary-or-bust shape their nominating process seems to be taking. While Hillary Clinton herself still stays away from early states, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will hit South Carolina on Friday.
|RAHMBO: FIRST ROUND PART II|
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has gone a long way toward righting his own political ship in advance of Tuesday’s mayoral election in Chicago. But his best bet at guaranteeing himself a second term would come by securing an outright majority in this first round of voting, thereby avoiding an April runoff. Polls suggest 50 percent is within reach but by no means guaranteed for Emanuel, despite a tumultuous first term marked by a spike in violence and tensions over schools and pensions. The general thinking is that one of Emanuel’s lesser-known rivals could consolidate frustration with the mayor, given a one-on-one shot in a runoff. President Obama recorded a radio ad for his former chief of staff, and dropped by the mayor’s campaign headquarters this past week with the knowledge that Emanuel doesn’t want to face six more weeks of campaigning.