Jeb Bush has declared he is officially looking at running for the Presidency in 2016.
Many conservatives acted with horror. But before dismissing Jeb Bush, I think conservatives should probe where his mind and heart are on issues. He was an excellent governor of Florida. I disagree with Bush on common core and immigration, but I think his record in office generally stands the test of time.
He is not my first pick. But I would gladly vote for him against any Democrat.
I do, however, have three questions I think Jeb Bush is going to have to answer.
First, in a year that could field the strongest total crop of Republican candidates in more than a decade, including the present Governors of Wisconsin, Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana and the present Senators from Texas, Kentucky, and Florida, why does Jeb Bush think that he is the man most qualified for the job and, more importantly, why should the nation believe there are no more qualified candidates than a third Bush who will not have run for office in fourteen years by the time we get to 2016?
Second, does he still consider himself a conservative and, if so, how does he define what that means and how is it different, in his mind, from being generically a Republican?
Lastly, the base of the Republican Party remains largely conservative and was willing to support both Jeb Bush's father and brother. However, Jeb Bush's father broke with conservative orthodoxy on taxes. Likewise, his brother broke with conservative orthodoxy on the entitlement state. What conservative orthodoxy can we expect Jeb Bush would most likely break with?
I think those question are both reasonable and fair. And given Jeb Bush's unquestionably conservative tenure as Governor of Florida, I think conservatives should allow him to both make his case and answer the aforementioned questions before we pass judgment on him.
The truth is that every Republican nominee since 1980, with the exception of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), opposed Ronald Reagan in 1980. Jeb Bush would add to that list. The truth is also that Reagan did better than any of those other candidates. Conservatives owe Jeb Bush nothing, but that does not mean we should ignore him out of the gate.
After all, he is not Mitt Romney who has already lost twice at the national level.