2016 Scouting Report: Jeb Bush
Note: This is the first installment in a weekly series taking a look at each of the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates the same way a scout would break down a prospect for a pro sports franchise. For the complete list of the candidates we’ll be scouting click here.
Born 2/11/53 (61 years-old)…University of Texas alum…bi-lingual (Spanish)…son of former president George H.W. Bush….brother of former president George W. Bush…successful entrepreneur and real estate developer before getting into the family business (politics)…earned his political bones as the campaign manager for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who became the first Cuban-American elected to Congress…lost his first bid for Florida governor in 1994 by 2 points…defeated then-Florida Lt. Governor Buddy McKay by 7 points (including 60% of the Hispanic vote) to win his first term as governor of Florida in 1998…won re-election in 2002 by 12 points… Catholic convert (was Anglican-Protestant)…married Columba Garnica Gallo in 1974…they have three children, including George P. Bush, who just began a political career in Texas.
Family lineage gives him high name I.D…has a wealth of executive experience, most of it highly successful…led the fight for medical reforms in his state as governor, including more provider transparency, caps on malpractice lawsuits, and the most extensive Medicaid reform in the state’s history…was known as an academic reformer, including the scaling back of Affirmative Action set-asides to state universities…Florida received its highest bond rating ever while he was in charge…and Bush reduced taxes by more than $10 billion as well…With one exception (see next section), there was little conservative resistance to Jeb’s governance back in the day.
Family lineage is a double-edged sword — do people really want an 8th presidential election since 1980 with either a Bush or a Clinton on the ballot?….only real conservative criticism he ran into as governor was the tragic story of Terri Schiavo, who was starved to death by the state of Florida after a long, bitter court/political battle….some pro-lifers believe Jeb didn’t do all he could to save Schiavo (see this 2003 article for more background)…the conservative opposition to Jeb stems mostly from what he’s said and done since leaving office: he’s publicly backed raising taxes for deficit reduction (isn’t that what cost his father the presidency?), he’s a staunch supporter of amnesty for illegal aliens, is a board member for a healthcare company that has aggressively promoted Obamacare, and has become a national spokesman for the controversial and unpopular Common Core education program (even going so far as to call Common Core opponents “conspiracy theorists”)…for reasons God Himself only knows, Jeb presented Hillary Clinton a “liberty medal” on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the botched Benghazi terrorist attacks in 2013…Clinton, recall, was Secretary of State at the time the Obama Administration lied about the deaths of the four Americans killed that day, including our ambassador.
Despite a fairly conservative record as governor, the way Bush has positioned himself as a national figure in recent years is anathema to many conservatives. He’s on the wrong side of two issues conservatives are the most opposed to at the moment–Common Core and amnesty. He also fits the profile of the corporatist Republican Democrats successfully demagogue in national elections. Like they did his father back in 1992. The Clintons would love a chance to run Hillary against someone named Bush, because that’s her best chance to overcome the albatross of running for what amounts to Obama’s third term. “Blame it on a Bush” after all has worked for the Clintons/Democrats every time it’s been tried.
The Rove wing of the establishment will go all in for him if he runs, but he will be a tough sell to conservatives both in the primary and the general election. Furthermore, his links to American royalty and the corporate sector could cause him problems courting middle-class voters once the class warfare starts. As currently constructed, he fits the profile of the exact kind of Republican presidential candidate the liberal media says is the “most electable” but never actually gets elected.
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