A Memorial Day test for Hillary Clinton

The 'Inside Politics' forecast
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The 'Inside Politics' forecast 03:46

Story highlights

  • Jitters about Jeb Bush in Iowa
  • Is Perry the next Santorum?
  • Clinton's parade performance

Washington (CNN)Jitters about Jeb, some praise for Rick Perry, the meaning of Hillary Clinton's holiday weekend parade march and some coming Democratic competition filled our Sunday trip around the "Inside Politics" table. Plus, a take from conversations with a couple dozen younger voters that was both interesting and a bit depressing.

1. Hillary's hometown parade & a test of 2016 style
Memorial Day parades are a popular place to find politicians this holiday weekend, whether one is running for sheriff or president. Count Hillary Clinton among those marching, and it is both a familiar stroll for her and perhaps a glimpse at her style as she moves past early events that have been carefully scripted.
    Hillary Clinton campaign heats up?
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    Hillary Clinton campaign heats up? 00:31
    Maggie Haberman of The New York Times reminded us that Secretary Clinton -- formerly Senator Clinton -- has walked in her local New York parade before and gotten a great reception. Perhaps there's a tad more scrutiny this time because she is back in the running for president -- and because she is about to enter a somewhat new phase of the 2016 effort -- including the big official rollout rally.
    "There has not been a sense of great energy around her candidacy so far," said Haberman. "So that is one thing to keep an eye on."
    "So far, she's keeping these events small. They're doing it for a reason, but you lose something when you do it that way and they need to really kind of galvanize and mobilize people."
    2. The summer of Bernie?
    So far, the Clinton strategy is pretty obvious: lay out her positions in a way that both protects her standing as the prohibitive Democratic front-runner and, when possible, exposes GOP divisions.
    Can she stick to what at times seems to be already a general election approach? Stay tuned.
    CNN's Jeff Zeleny notes that the Democratic field is about to become bigger, at least officially, when Bernie Sanders launches his campaign on Tuesday.
    "He's going to have a big rally, probably reminiscent of Howard Dean's big entry into the race in '03-'04," said Zeleny.
    "The question is, will this be the summer of Bernie? Will he be able to rally things? He's already getting a lot of online support and a lot of interest from that side."
    Zeleny adds that he will be watching Sanders and O'Malley, who will launch later in the week, to see how much "space they occupy" in the Democratic 2016 presidential field.
    3. Jitters about Jeb, even as he says the ship has been righted
    It's a bit off when the candidates get into self-analysis, but there was Jeb Bush this past week saying all is well and the ship is righted.
    He felt compelled to make that statement after a stretch in which he seemed to have a hard time talking about the Iraq War and his brother's judgment in launching it.
    So is his self-assessment shared by other Republicans? Not so fast, reports Robert Costa of The Washington Post.
    "When I was in Iowa and New Hampshire this past week, I sat down with a lot of Republican officials and donors in those states and I said, you know, really just give me a sense of what's on your mind behind the scenes," said Costa.
    "And the topic almost all of them brought up was angst about Jeb Bush, angst about his candidacy. They're anxious that he's not getting momentum, that he doesn't have energy in any way in this primary. They're not sure how he's going to get it."
    4. Is Rick Perry the new Rick Santorum?
    Rick Perry torpedoed his 2012 run for the presidency. The trademark moment was, of course, when he couldn't -- in a debate -- name three Cabinet agencies he would eliminate if elected.
    This time, as he explores another run, the former Texas governor is but a blip in most polls.
    But Julie Pace of The Associated Press, just back from some time on the ground in Iowa, says Perry is getting some favorable reviews from activists as he works the state and seeks political redemption. And, Pace says, he has a model for his 2016 plan: the rise of former Senator Rick Santorum from 1% or 2% in early polls to victory on caucus night.
    "He is spending a ton of time in Iowa," said Pace. "He's doing all of the big campaign forums. He went to the Eagle Scout dedication of a local activist. He's just doing the things that people in Iowa want to see candidates do."
    5. Some Sanders buzz, plus a lot of disillusionment among younger voters
    I spent a good deal of time last week talking to younger voters, and possible voters. As always, these conversations were refreshing -- the energy is inspiring and I was involved in several interesting conversations about big 2016 campaign issues. But some of it was a tad depressing.
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    Losing the youth vote 01:24
    At a Boston dinner for the remarkable community service organization City Year, I was approached by a handful of young people who wanted me to know how eager they were to help Sen. Sanders in his Democratic bid.
    Many others said they were unimpressed with the candidates so far. Many expressed views consistent with what we see in public opinion polling: Many young people lean conservative or libertarian on issues such as taxes and regulation and NSA surveillance, but see the Republican Party as trapped in a time warp when it comes to issues such as immigration, climate change and same-sex marriage.
    My casual, and unscientific, focus groups included my older children. My son, Noah, graduated from Boston College on Monday. We drove back to Washington on Wednesday, with all his stuff, plus 18-year old Hannah King and "almost four" Jonah King.
    We don't talk politics much because they have always viewed it as dad's job -- and boring. But for a chunk of our drive we did, and they had thoughtful observations about the big issues and about many of the candidates in the 2016 race.
    But -- this is the tad depressing part -- like many of those at the City Year dinner, they voiced the opinion that nothing gets done on the big and hard stuff anyway, so why waste their time worrying about the campaign?
    Whether you were happy with the results or not, the enthusiasm of younger voters in the Obama campaigns was good for our politics.
    There is a huge opportunity -- and a huge potential campaign talent pool -- available to the 2016 contenders. But most of the young people I talked to were skeptical about politics, if not outright disillusioned.
    All of the candidates, regardless of party, need to do a better job convincing these voters -- and possible voters -- that they are listening, and that it does matter.