During his election campaign in Texas, George Bush talked about a possible run for president, calling it likely that the future would see another Bush candidacy. This sounds like it could be a history lesson, but despite the familiarity, it happened in a recent interview with George P. Bush who was asked about his father Jeb Bush’s possibly 2016 run at the presidency. The 38-year-old son of the former Florida governor is running for Texas land commissioner and furthering the Bush Dynasty in GOP politics. He poses an interesting challenge for any interviewer curious about the new scion of the famous family; interesting in the sense that he might provide a clue about his father’s thought process. As has been reported eagerly by many news sources, George P. Bush suggested that his father was “seriously considering” a run for president. As perhaps one of the closest sources to Jeb Bush, his speculation is one of the best hints there has been about a 2016 run for president.
Someday, George P. Bush might be interesting in his own right. As a member of a famous political family, he has already had a hard time distinguishing himself from his grandfather, father, and uncle. In an interview with ABC News, he reminded people that he was his own man with his own plan for the future of politics. “I need folks to evaluate me based on what I bring to the table,” he told interviewer Jonathan Karl. Unfortunately for him, what he brings to the table at this time is news of his father’s political plans. When asked about Jeb Bush, he said that a 2016 campaign was “more than likely” and that the family would support that decision completely.
This is big news in the political sphere. Another son of the Bush clan could run for president and hopefully save the GOP from the ignominious defeats of the last eight years. Unlike the lackluster campaign of Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush would bring star power to a thin Republican field of candidates. Unlike Rand Paul, he is actually a conservative, not a libertarian in red. He has experience that politicians like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio lack. The fact that he has been involved in politics through his family does not hurt either. For many GOP voters, Bush is a brand name that they can trust.
The only thing that may have dampened enthusiasm for many, though, is the lack of positive press he has given to the idea of a campaign. Both his brother George W. and his father have said they would support him running for president, but Jeb himself has been mum on the subject. At this time, his son’s comments are the closest anyone has to a confirmation. Unlike his other family members, George P. Bush could be considered a knowledgeable source since his relationship is such a close one. Still, it does not constitute certainty, only an appetizer on what could be.
Despite the second-hand nature of these comments, all the hints are there for a Jeb Bush 2016 campaign. He has been campaigning for Republican candidates ahead of the midterm elections, speaking on a wide variety of political topics. After having been out of the game for years, his sudden reappearance on campaign stages and stumping opportunities is one of the more reliable signals that he is preparing to make a big announcement. The enthusiasm from the GOP electorate is also present. A Washington Post poll question had him in the lead for Republican leaners by about three points. That kind of popularity may be the sign he needs to throw his hat into the ring.
But there are problems, as well. That same poll question did not include Mitt Romney as an option. In fact, the question was phrased for Romney supporters who, in the likely event that the former Massachusetts governor did not run in 2016, would have to choose someone other than their first choice. In that particular poll, then, Jeb Bush is still only a second choice to someone else. Moreover, his lead among the candidates takes on a slightly different cast when the undecided voters are taken into account. Bush’s lead over undecided voters was only one percent, meaning that he still has a lot of ground to make up with many voters. And these are only the problems with the polling.
On the issues, Bush is considered only a weak conservative candidate. His publicly voiced support for immigration reform and the common core standards put him to the left of the GOP base. He has been out of politics for ten years, working in the private sector exclusively. In that time, he seems to have lost touch with many of the hardcore conservatives who have to be wooed in order to win the Republican candidacy. His appearances at campaign events this year have also shown just how out of touch he is. During a stump speech for Thom Tillis in North Carolina, he talked about immigration reform saying that America needed to fix “a system that doesn’t work.” This led to an uncomfortable moment where Tillis had to speak against amnesty, which is one of the stated reasons why Republicans have made no move towards immigration reform. On that issue, at least, Bush is far out of step with the party he would run for.
While his father is making early mistakes in getting electoral support, George P. Bush is running his first election campaign in Texas. He could be the first Bush to win his maiden campaign effort. That alone is news, especially in Texas, the bastion of conservative support. But all anyone wants to know is whether his father will run. And the young Bush son did not disappoint. Is his good news reliable? That is difficult to say. “Likely” is not the same as “definitive.” Still all the hints and signs are there that Jeb Bush will run in 2016, as are the problems he will have to overcome to win over the conservative base.
Opinion By Lydia Bradbury