It has been widely reported power brokers are anxiously waiting for Jeb Bush, a former two-term governor from one of the nation’s most important swing states, to decide if he is going to run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
They wait because Bush is well-respected and presidential in stature. He has many positive attributes that would help the GOP attract Hispanic voters, so desperately needed if the party is ever going to recapture the White House.
Bush is a convert to Catholicism, speaks fluent Spanish, and his wife, Columba, is a native of Mexico. With Bush’s name recognition and national profile, he could literally raise millions of dollars overnight, and all he has to say is “yes.”
But here are 10 reasons why Bush in 2016 is a really bad idea:
1. Bush Derangement Syndrome
Let’s face it, if Bush had the last name of Something Else, he would have already run for president in 2008 or 2012, and he knows 2016 is his last chance. But has enough time passed for the Bush name, linked to his older brother’s unpopular presidential legacy, to still be a factor in the minds of voters?
Unfortunately, what Republicans like to call Bush Derangement Syndrome is still flourishing, and that is the most problematic aspect of a Jeb Bush candidacy. It is just too easy for the media and Democrats to reinforce the mantra, Bush = Bad.
2. Half of registered voters would not vote for Jeb
According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, 50 percent of registered voters said they would definitely not vote for Jeb Bush. Among independents, the results were 49 percent, and even 18 percent of Republicans said the same.
Such results prove that the legacy of George W. Bush continues to have a negative effect on his brother’s political future.
3. Bush vs. Clinton 1992: “Back to the future”
So what does Bill Clinton defeating George H.W. Bush in 1992 have to do with Hillary Clinton vs. Jeb Bush in 2016?
It’s the media, stupid!
The unfriendly media and Democrats will hammer home comparisons between the Clinton economy (good) vs. the Bush economy (bad).
Both older Bushes will be easy targets for the concept that all Bush economies hurt the nation, and that will extend to Jeb Bush. Realistically, the comparison makes no sense for voters in 2016, especially after the Obama economy, but watch this concept take hold if Jeb Bush somehow does manage to win the GOP nomination.
4. Jeb would split the party
Conservative activists/tea party Republicans — the majority of GOP primary voters — are not lining up for Jeb Bush in 2016, largely because of his stand on “Common Core” academic standards and his support for “amnesty” immigration legislation. Although he considers himself a “practicing conservative,” Jeb Bush is also viewed as a moderate establishment Republican in the mold of Mitt Romney.
The good news is that means he does not scare independent voters and is capable of raising millions from the “country-club” Republicans. The bad news is Jeb Bush epitomizes the “establishment vs. tea party” divide currently raging within the party.
5. Jeb is sucking-up early money from other candidates
The former Bush network and most of Romney’s financial backers are just waiting on the sidelines until Bush makes a decision. Then, crowning Bush the “money candidate” would buy party backlash on the right, increasing the divide.
6. Clinton and Bush families like each other
The last thing we need is for the Clinton and Bush families to wage war. But war would be declared if Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton won their parties’ nominations. Consider this revealing quote from Bush’s mother, which aired on a C-SPAN’s series on first ladies:
“I love Bill Clinton, maybe not his politics, but I love Bill Clinton. Bill’s father wasn’t around, and I think he thinks of George a little bit like the father he didn’t have.”
The Clintons and the Bushes have also teamed up over the years on fundraising efforts after several global natural disasters. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton also share a passion about education issues and have appeared together at various conferences, always exciting the press about a potential match-up.
A Clinton-Bush family “feud” in the form of national election would be contrived, bloody and uncivilized.
7. Jeb’s last campaign was 2002
Jeb Bush had the distinction of being Florida’s first two-term Republican governor. He was elected in 1998, and re-elected with 56 percent of the vote in 2002. But he ran in the political Stone Age before the advent of social media like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Even cellphones were not yet smart. That would put Bush at a distinct disadvantage in an era when everyone has a camera, every move and word is recorded and any blooper could go viral and destroy your campaign. (Just ask Mitt Romney how that worked out with his 47 percent remark at a private home.)
8. Jeb has not held office since January 2, 2007
Not only has technology changed campaigns but the political climate has also become more hostile and polarized since Jeb Bush left public office — even within his own party! Will Jeb be ready-to-rumble in this mean and harsh Republican primary environment? Then, is his personality suited to a general election with PAC attacks and the take-no-prisoners mentality? Jeb is untested in this new arena.
9. Jeb’s immediate family has had a few problems
No family is perfect, and certainly Bush can attest to that, but a rough national campaign means old baggage gets repacked. Stories like when, in 1999, his wife, Columba, was caught trying to hide $19,000 worth of clothes and jewelry from customs agents in the Atlanta airport after a shopping trip to Paris.
Then, his daughter, Noelle, had a series of drug-related arrests. But most important is how Jeb would be forced to distance himself from his brother’s two terms of turmoil without tearing his family apart.
10. Mom famously said “no” but is now warming slightly
Every good son must listen to his mother’s advice, especially when Mom is a former first lady and her oldest son is a former president.
On April 25, 2013, when Barbara Bush was asked on national TV if she would like to see Jeb Bush run for president, she replied, “He’s by the far the best qualified man, but no.” She also added, “We’ve had enough Bushes.”
Now in 2014, with a Jeb Bush versus Hillary Clinton match-up looking more likely, Barbara Bush said recently on Fox News, ”I read ‘The Bully Pulpit’ by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and she points out that in 1700, there were only three families, so maybe it’s OK.”
Still, her memorable 2013 quotes will be replayed non-stop, mirroring what voters also believe, that we have had enough Bushes.