Jeb Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, says the former Florida governor should run for the White House in 2016. Their mother, however, says forget about it — it is time to give another family a shot.
Jeb Bush is holding his cards close to vest, saying that he will not make any decisions about his political future this year. That has left the rest of the world looking for clues into his intentions — including taking note of his new svelte figure.
“If I didn’t know better, I would say he is getting into fighting weight,” joked Ana Navarro, a Bush ally.
The possibility of a third Bush White House is a storyline that lingered Thursday over the dedication of the George W. Bush’s Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University, which serves as a showcase for the 43rd president’s turbulent tenure, from the 2000 recount in Florida to the decision to invade Iraq and the economic recession of 2007 and 2008.
It also is a reminder of the political hurdles before Jeb Bush.
By the time George W. Bush left office, his approval rating — and by extension the Bush family brand — was in the proverbial toilet, fueling speculation that George W.’s presidency could torpedo Jeb’s chances of translating what many considered a successful governorship into a national political campaign.
“The fact remains there still is some level of Bush fatigue in this country, and he would have to overcome that,” said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida.
Many conservatives still look back with horror at the Bush administration, namely the big-government policies and the pile of national debt that he left in his wake, and worry that Jeb is cut from the same cloth.
Jeb Bush’s allies, though, note that more than four years after he left office George W. Bush’s poll numbers are on the rebound — possibly creating a more favorable environment for his younger brother to lay the groundwork for a White House bid. “My sense is that if Jeb decides to embark on this journey all of those [Bush family] issues will be a factor at the beginning — the Bush last name, his brother’s record,” said Al Cardenas, head of the American Conservative Union, “but as the campaign begins, and the debates take place, those factors will become of secondary importance and the main issues will be perception of him as a candidate.”
Some say that Mr. Bush, who is fluent in Spanish and married to a Mexican-American, would be a force to be reckoned with in the Republican primary and say that he would help the party woo Hispanic voters who have swung heavily toward Democrats in the past two presidential elections.
“If he is going to get in, he is going to be a big player,” said Blaise Ingoglia, vice president of the Florida GOP.
For his part, Jeb Bush has not ruled out a presidential bid and has raised his national profile in recent months. He has gone on a media blitz promoting a book that he co-authored with Clint Bolick, called “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” which offered the GOP a roadmap forward on the thorny issue of immigration.
But he muddied his message by announcing during his rollout that he was open to a pathway to citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants as a part of comprehensive immigration reform — something he does not advocate in the book.
Mr. Bush went on to deliver a keynote address at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference and for the first time has accepted an invitation from the Faith and Freedom Coalition to speak at its June “Road to Majority” conference in Washington, which draws social conservatives from across the nation.
This week’s unveiling of the Bush library provided the family with a platform to weigh in on the Jebstakes. In an interview Tuesday, the former president said that his brother “would be a marvelous candidate.”