The name of Jeb Bush has been bandied about for months as a jump-in candidate for president; the former governor of Florida is described as “the last dream date that Republicans may have at their disposal” by National Review, which praises Mr. Bush’s prowess building coalitions among conservatives, his appeal among Jewish and Hispanic voters, and his right-leaning influence on the Sunshine State. Aside from a polite nod and a little grin, Mr. Bush himself has had little to say about the idea. He, however, is about to emerge on the big stage. Mr. Bush joins Republican hopefuls Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum in the next 48 hours as the GOP reaches out to the nation’s 21 million eligible Latino voters.
Along with former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mr. Bush hosts the trio of candidates at the Hispanic Leadership Network conference, at the swank Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami. The center-right group, which is co-sponsoring the 20th Republican debate with CNN on Thursday night, will host a fairly fabulous debate watching party — also covered live by the network. The three hopefuls are eager to address the conference Friday and prove they’re in touch with the Latino voting bloc.
“America is in a jobs crisis and Hispanic Americans have been hit especially hard,” Mr. Gingrich says.
Adds Mr. Romney, who notes that unemployment among Latinos now stands at 11 percent: “In order to free the private sector and provide jobs and opportunity for Hispanic families, we must get Washington out of the way of the American entrepreneurial spirit.”
While conservatives weigh the pros and cons of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, rival Rick Santorum is carefully rebranding himself, attuned to voter uneasiness. Mr. Santorum has been the “momentum candidate” and the “consistent conservative” in recent weeks. Now he describes himself as the “full spectrum conservative” — which sounds vaguely like some form of antibiotic or insecticide. But Mr. Full Spectrum already has proven his surprising tenacity; he has his agenda, and he fears for the future.
“On the big issues, Gingrich and Romney are not all that different from President Obama,” Mr. Santorum says. “That’s bad for two reasons. First, I think the reason we are having these debates is because we want to replace Obama with someone different, not just a carbon copy. And second, anybody who basically agrees with Obama will get destroyed by his campaign in November.
“Obama’s political operatives are among the most skilled in the country. They will take every opportunity to point out that Gingrich and Romney agree with Obama on many issues. Conservatives, when given the choice between Obama and a nominee who agrees with him, will stay home. And that would be like forfeiting the election.”
NOT SO RICH ROMNEY
Yes, we’ve all seen Mitt Romney’s tax return and know he’s worth about $250 million. But on the Richter scale of moolah?
“All in all, a pretty good stash. But in relative terms, Romney, if elected, would not be tops in presidential wealth,” points out Forbes magazine senior editor William P. Barrett, who tallied the land holdings, incomes, investments and other factors among all the presidents to reveal George Washington was the richest of the bunch.
“The father of our country held a big chunk of it too.”
In second place is Herbert Hoover, followed by Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Zachary Taylor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson and James Madison.
See the list and supporting rationale at Forbes.com.