Jeb Bush Running for President

The former Florida Governor announced that he's taking the first step towards running for president in 2016.

Jeb Bush

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush took to Facebook to announce that he’s taking the first step towards running for president in 2016:

As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.

In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.

In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America.

The distinction between “actively explor[ing] the possibility of running for President of the United States” and “running for President of the United States” is a legal fiction, dictated by the vagaries of well-intentioned but doomed-to-fail attempts to regulate the flow of money into politics. A 61-year-old man who’s been a two-term governor and whose father was the 41st president and whose brother was the 43rd president has a pretty good idea of whether he’d like to be president. At this stage, he’s just trying to figure out whether he can raise enough money and garner enough support to make a run worthwhile.

My longstanding sense has been that Jeb lacked the fire in the belly to run, particularly in light of some minor scandals surrounding his immediate family years back. The fact that his brother left office with such low approval numbers (a whopping 67% disapproving of his performance in the final Gallup poll of his tenure) further complicated his decision, making his name recognition as much a negative as a positive.

I haven’t the foggiest how this will go. There’s no obvious frontrunner in the GOP field this year. It’s not anybody’s “turn” this go-round. Mitt Romney ran away with the nomination in 2012; only Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich had any significant wins but both were marginal candidates. Nor did vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan enhance his standing.

But it’s not obvious where Bush’s base of support is, either. He’ll have been out of office nine years by Election Day, so his governorship will be a distant memory. While his reputation for competence and calm leadership make him an asset with party elites—and Old School Republicans like myself—they’re probably a turnoff to the most animated part of the base and thus a liability in the primaries.

That said, while the Republican Party has moved to the right at the state and local level, they’ve continued to nominate moderates for president. Romney beat back a field of much more ideological candidates in 2012, as did McCain in 2008. And, in the last seriously-contested primary before that, “compassionate conservative” George W. Bush beat out “moderate maverick” McCain. There’s a pretty decent chance, then, that Jeb Bush would be quite competitive.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    I’m thinking the SCOTUS is ready to appoint him now.
    Why wait?

  2. anjin-san says:

    Our long national nightmare is over not over…

  3. Kylopod says:

    That said, while the Republican Party has moved to the right at the state and local level, they’ve continued to nominate moderates for president. Romney beat back a field of much more ideological candidates in 2012, as did McCain in 2008.

    The GOP nominated “moderates” who had swung way to the right and abandoned most of their “moderate” positions by the time they secured the nomination. This phenomenon didn’t start with McCain and Romney; George H.W. Bush did the same sort of about-face on abortion and taxes before winning the 1988 nomination.

  4. Rafer Janders says:

    The fact that his brother left office with such low approval numbers

    Well, “low approval numbers” is somewhat understating it.

    Let’s say “low approval numbers occassioned by his allowing the largest terrorist attack in American history, failing to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, letting New Orleans sink into the sea, launching an illegal and unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq resulting in the largest foreign policy disaster in fifty years and whose consequences will be felt for another fifty, turning America into a torture nation, and nearly blowing up the world economy thereby setting off the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression.”

  5. Rafer Janders says:

    While his reputation for competence and calm leadership make him an asset with party elites—and Old School Republicans like myself—

    So the distinction is that New School Republicans actively support torture, while Old School Republicans are willing to turn a blind eye to it?

  6. michael reynolds says:

    I think this will come down to a three way race: Jeb, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. That would be a fascinating battle for the soul of this soulless party.

  7. Mark Ivey says:

    But a 3rd Bush in the White House could finally finish us off AND kickstart the Rapture!

    Remember: God spoke to Moses through a “burning” Bush..

  8. MikeSJ says:

    I wonder how much Fomaldahyde they pumped into Reagan?

    I got back from Disneyland and I can tell you they’re doing some amazing things with animatronics. Dig him up, slap some gears and electronics in and off you go!

    Get it, I mean him, with on stage and any horrified criticism gets a “Well, there you go again” that Ronnie was so famous for and I’m pretty sure we know who’ll be winning that election!

    (OK, maybe not a who but a what.)

  9. Rafer Janders says:

    If Jeb clinches the nomination, that will make the GOP’s last five candidates the son of a congressman, the son of a president, the son of an admiral, the son of a govenor, and the brother of a president.

  10. Rafer Janders says:

    There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – can’t get fooled again.

  11. Barfour says:

    Jeb Bush will win his party’s nomination unless something unexpected happens. I have seen a lot of comments from people saying that he is too moderate for the current Republican party to win the nomination, but far right voters are a minority in the party, the vast majority of Repuplican voters want a winner in the general election and he is the best they’ve got. It is hard to say what his chances are in the general election because of variables that are difficult to predict now. Some Democrats are saying that another Bush can not win a presidential election but they are wrong. He may not be the favorite in the general election but Jeb Bush must NOT be underestimated.

  12. James Pearce says:

    Prediction: A serious Jeb Bush run would severely handicap a Clinton run. But then again, I have trouble believing this is very serious.

    Hate to say it, but I suspect this is all about scrounging up some money.

  13. michael reynolds says:

    The Bush-shaming will not work. It especially won’t work if Hillary represents the Dems. The smart move would be Warren. Jeb would represent Wall Street and the plutocrats, Warren the ‘little guy.’

  14. gVOR08 says:

    I think we need a slogan contest:

    THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM

    GEORGE W. WHO?

    TAKE A CHANCE, WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THREE IN A ROW

    THERE ARE ENTIRE MIDDLE EASTERN COUNTRIES WE’VE NEVER INVADED

  15. Tillman says:

    @MikeSJ: Bah, animatronics are for people who need a politician’s chapped lips to kiss their ugly baby. Holograms! Holograms are where “it” is at! All the substance of the real thing, plus shiny lights!

  16. Tillman says:

    Now I’m really hoping Hillary doesn’t run just to spare my aching sense of humor from all the 1992 nostalgia wank that is sure to arise.

  17. Paul Hooson says:

    Christ…His dad won election with 54% of the vote, but so badly managed the economy that only 38% of voters voted for him in 1992. His brother so mismanaged the economy that it drove the GDP growth down to a mere O.5%, one of the worst results in American economic history. That resulted in the unlikely election of Barack Obama over the well respected Sen. John McCain by a big margin and an electoral landslide. If Americans want a recession and bad economic times, we know who to pick. None of these Bush guys were good presidents. The Three Stooges of American politics. This isn’t the Kennedy dynasty here….

  18. Will says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yeah, I’m hoping Warren runs too. America just can’t wait for another liberal to run for president.
    We Republican’s couldn’t be more happier by her ascent!

  19. MikeSJ says:

    If not Jeb Bush then who?

    Christie will more likely be going to the Big House than the White House.

    Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are both way too out there for the public to swallow. As for Rubio – he seems to be channeling his inner Dan Quayle. Not happening.

    Walker, Pence and Kasich are the only other viable candidates I see out there. Walker, based on his states record of growth, would be destroyed in the general election.

    Kasich or Pence then if Jeb decides not go in. I can easily see one (Kasich) as VP.

  20. Kylopod says:

    @Will:

    Yeah, I’m hoping Warren runs too. America just can’t wait for another liberal to run for president.
    We Republican’s couldn’t be more happier by her ascent!

    If you could name a single policy idea of hers which is unpopular (like I could name dozens with the GOP candidates), your complacency would be more realistic.

  21. humanoid.panda says:

    @Barfour: I agree with most of that, but there is an important distinction between Bush on the one hand and McCain and Romney on the other. The latter two did everything they could to reshape themselves as “severe conservatives” (heck, Romney attacked Perry from the Right on immigration). Bush is saying that he will actually run as pro-immigration reform candidate. He has plenty of time to change his mind, but if he does try to run like a more competent, non Obama-affiliated Huntsman, he will be eaten alive.

  22. humanoid.panda says:

    The Bush-shaming will not work. It especially won’t work if Hillary represents the Dems

    Prediction: A serious Jeb Bush run would severely handicap a Clinton run. But then again, I have trouble believing this is very serious.

    Look, I know that political junkies on the left (and I am one) are meh about Hillary, but you guys do fail to give heed to the fact that for the vast majority of the electorate the last name “Clinton” is a major asset, not a burden.

  23. humanoid.panda says:

    @Will: I don’t think Warren will run or win the nomination, but if the amount of hatred I see from Republicans towards Warren is an indication of something, elation is really not the proper name for it.

  24. humanoid.panda says:

    @Kylopod: Didnt’ you hear? Chief Spraeding Bull/Fauxtohontas/ is a Liberal Professor that hates America. And Obama once ate a dog! None of them could possibly be elected.

  25. Neil Hudelson says:

    @MikeSJ:

    Pence has never had to run against a serious contender. He’s not that bright, and generally gets flustered if he can’t just repeat talking points.

    All of my money is on Walker winning the nomination.

    Not that it really matters, as I think no one really has a great shot against Hilary.

  26. MarkedMan says:

    IMHO opinion, Hillary is very defeatable in the general. And if the party elites want Jeb, that’s who the primary voters will install. There is nothing that you can point to about Jeb that makes him any less likely than Mitt Romney.

  27. C. Clavin says:

    @Will:

    We Republican’s couldn’t be more happier by her ascent!

    You must vote based on education issues.

  28. Will says:

    @C. Clavin:

    i vote with my wallet. If you worked, you might do the same.

  29. C. Clavin says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    Christ…His dad won election with 54% of the vote, but so badly managed the economy that only 38% of voters voted for him in 1992.

    Actually Bush 41 did a great job with the economy…his 1990 budget deal reduced the deficit, and combined with Clinton’s 1993 budget deal led to the longest run without a recession in recent history and left surpluses behind…which his sone then squandered. What you are referring to is the misinformation put out but economic know-nothings who claimed that the economy was going to be destroyed. They were wrong then. And they are still wrong. About everything.

  30. C. Clavin says:

    @Will:
    More nonsense about me not working? Seriously?
    Hey…Redskins are what? 3-11? Bottom of their division?
    Anyway…keep flying that racist avatar.

  31. Will says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    i don’t hate Warren. I actually agree with her on a few things such as the CFPB. She does though make a nice target for 2016 with the donors and general public.

    @Kylopod:

    Warren is a perfect symbol for big government which doesn’t go over well with most of America. i don’t know all her policies, but she sure sounds a lot like Candidate Obama. You guys now have your Ted Cruz too with Warren joining the good fight to try to shut down the government

  32. Will says:

    @C. Clavin:

    It’s only racist to you and your friends. btw, I’ve told you many times I don’t even like the Redskins. I use the Logo to show that i support free speech.

    btw, there are a number of good jobs on Linkedin if you want try your luck.

  33. humanoid.panda says:

    @Will:

    Warren is a perfect symbol for big government which doesn’t go over well with most of America. i don’t know all her policies, but she sure sounds a lot like Candidate Obama.

    1.Why is Warren a symbol of big government?
    2. You do know that candidate Obama won? Twice even!

  34. jukeboxgrad says:

    Paul Hooson:

    His dad won election with 54% of the vote

    Close. The correct number is 53.37%.

    If Jeb is the candidate, that means in the period 1988-2016 the GOP runs five times with someone named Bush and only 3 times with someone not named Bush. But maybe it seems like a good idea, since those people not named Bush all lost. The last time the GOP won by running someone not named Bush was 30 years ago.

    Speaking of 1988, that’s the last time an R got more than 51% of the vote.

  35. Will says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    Oh you got me there reminding me Obama won twice.
    So did Bush i think, but the public wasn’t exactly looking for someone like
    Him in 2008. You need to appreciate how unpopular Obama is outside this website
    The American public are not going to fall for this populist bullshit from Warren after
    Being conned by Obama. Maybe she’ll run with Ted Cruz. They seem to have a lot in common

    Btw. You can google Elizabeth warren to learn about her big government ideas.

  36. Will says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    What are Hillary’ qualifications anyway? Seriously what has she done
    That merits her being president? It was a much easier sell in 08 but
    I don’t see the enthusiasm there for a woman nearing 70 with a pretty thin record
    as senator and secy of state.

  37. humanoid.panda says:

    @Will:
    I’ll start from the end: if Obama “conned” the American people with his ideas, and those ideas are also shared by Warren, that must mean that those ideas might be popular, no?

    Also, yes Obama is unpopular, but he was more unpopualar in 2011 than he is today, and when the public had to pick between him and a Republican, he suddenly became just popular enough to win the election (hell, even if he is not popular today, I would give him even money if he could and did try and run for a third term).

    As for the Cruz issue, notice a very important difference: in both 2013 and 2014, Cruz wanted Congress to blackmail the President into making legislative changes that could not be obtained otherwise.
    In 2014, the appropriators on both sides also used the threat of shutdown to enact an epically unpopular legislation.
    In both 2013 and 2014, Warren opposed making legislative changes as price of keeping government open…

    And as a test of her “big government ideas” here is a simple question: do you think banks should be making speculative bets on derivatives, using their FDIC-provided insurance as de-facto collateral? This was the issue at stake, and Warren’s big-government position was no. Do you disagree with her?

    Finally, it is true that, by American standards, Warren supports big government.
    However,
    1. As someone pointed above, if you take a poll of her actuall positions on pretty much everything, they poll rather well.
    2. The way in which the GOP managed to make those positions taken as a whole package to be more or less poisonous is by wrapping them up with the image of the elitist, out of touch, naive liberal. Here, Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who spent her career at Harvard, does appear on paper to be susceptible to this framing. However, and it is a big however, she doesn’t look, sound, or has the life story of the kind of liberal the GOP managed to alienate the publlic from: a Gore, Dukakis, Kerry. Rather, she is a girl from Oklahoma, a lower-middle class person who made it big, a grandmother that sounds and behaves like a suburban Wisconsinite. I daresay that in the very unlikely case she wins the Democratic nomination, you will find that framing her as an out of touch academic who wants to tell the people what to do will be very hard.

  38. MikeSJ says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    I daresay that in the very unlikely case she wins the Democratic nomination, you will find that framing her as an out of touch academic who wants to tell the people what to do will be very hard.

    She responds to attacks with a clear and easily understood message. She does not accept the Republicans framing of an issue as a starting point for an apology/grovel & hide tour.

    Wait a second…are we sure she’s really a Democrat?

  39. michael reynolds says:

    @Will:

    What qualifications you looking for? And bear in mind, we will quote you when you’re backing Ted Cruz.

  40. Pinky says:

    OK, I was just saying that the Republicans have three races, for the leading moderate, the leading conservative, and then the race between them. So let’s say that puts Jeb against Romney, Christie, and maybe a couple of the other governors in round one.

    His assets: name recognition, and a reasonable chance of winning Florida. His liabilities: he’s been out of office for a while, he doesn’t seem to have much to run on other than immigration, and he’s not as far as I’ve noticed a compelling speaker.

    To be honest (and it’s way too early to make predictions, and I’m lousy at predictions anyway), I don’t see the moderate winning the primary this time. Usually there’s one moderate and a bunch of less-qualified conservatives. This time, there may be a few moderates, splitting the pre-primary establishment money and talent, and some of the more conservative candidates have decent resumes.

  41. humanoid.panda says:

    @MikeSJ: That’s one thing about her. She is in many ways not a a natural politician ,but she had been hammering the same message over and over again “The government is a servant of the big banks, but it should serve the people instead” as though she was a Ronald Reagan talking about welfare millionaires. Her message even has the upside of being true.

  42. humanoid.panda says:

    @Pinky: I am pretty sure that Bush came out that early to block Romney from running. Christie, I think is no competition for Bush in terms of discipline and fund-raising, so I can see a scenario where Bush clears the establishment side of the aisle. The big question then would be if one of the governors can do what Perry could have done had he not flamed out: to bridge the gap between the grassroots and the money people.
    Another question: Romney was not shy to outflank the field from the right on immigration. Bush seems to want to run as pro-reform candidate. Will the rest of the field gang up on him to represent him as a dangerous liberal?

  43. @Will:

    i vote with my wallet. If you worked, you might do the same.

    If one is contending that presidents directly affect the economy, then the logical vote with one’s wallet would be for another Clinton administration, not another Bush.

    Certainly, recent history shows a better economy with the Democrat in the office than with the Republican when he left.

    I am not trying to be snarky: it is a weird disjuncture to talk about voting with one’s wallet based on recent history (unless you are in the upper, upper echelon of the economy).

  44. Pinky says:

    @humanoid.panda: I think that Bush maybe moved earlier than he’d planned to in order to stamp out the Romney talk. I don’t think that Bush is putting himself out there solely to stop Romney. He wants this.

    Romney didn’t really become known as an anti-immigration crusader. It’s not outflanking unless you put a serious effort into it, and Romney didn’t. I don’t think the other candidates will beat up on Bush for his pro-reform position (because they’ll be looking to the general election), but I don’t think they’ll have to (because the Republican base will do it for them). And that raises a question: if Rubio runs, what exactly will be Bush’s hook?

  45. Paul Hooson says:

    @C. Clavin: Bush 1’s economy slowed so much that Reagan’s 3.8% GDP growth slowed down to 2.2%, or nearly cut in half. Clinton revived GDP growth to 4%, a stronger economy than even Reagan. Likewise, Obama’s GDP growth rate of 2% is four times better than G W’s 0.5% GDP growth rate. These Bush guys have a real problem managing the economy and aren’t good for business.

  46. C. Clavin says:

    @Paul Hooson:
    You don’t understand what happens when you cut the deficit. Reagan’s growth was inflated by massive government growth…along with debt. Bush reduced the deficit and increased revenue. He helped set the table for Clinton…who in turn was helped by a tech bubble.
    Bush 41 did well in spite of the Savings and Loan debacle.

  47. Davebo says:

    @Pinky:

    His assets: name recognition, and a reasonable chance of winning Florida.

    I’m not at all sure Bush could win Florida in the primary. And he trails Clinton in head to head polling in Florida by between 7% and 9%.

    But honestly I agree with you. Jeb has little chance in the primary unless he dumps his immigration reform stance and support for Common Core.

    And if he does that, he’s toast in the general.

  48. C. Clavin says:

    @Will:

    I use the Logo to show that i support free speech.

    Right…the freedom to make a racist statement.
    Thank you for reinforcing my point.

  49. humanoid.panda says:

    @Pinky:

    Romney didn’t really become known as an anti-immigration crusader. It’s not outflanking unless you put a serious effort into it, and Romney didn’t.

    You are mis–remembering the campaign. Perry got on the scene and very quickly shot to a double digit lead over Romney. Romney responded with ads that a) pointed out that Perry wrote a book arguing social security is unconstitutional and b) Perry signed a bill giving migrants resident tuition in state schools. This led to the famous debate in Orlando, where Romney argued for self-deportation, and Perry said that “you don’t have a heart” if you opposed his tuition bill. That led to his decline in the polls, killing his campaign even before the oops moment..
    Romney was not an illegal immigrant crusader, but he used their language to off his main opponent. That is just a fact.

  50. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “What qualifications you looking for? And bear in mind, we will quote you when you’re backing Ted Cruz.”

    No, we won’t. Because by then “Will” will be long gone, and magically another quasi-literate will appear, probably with a single-syllable name and exactly the same “writing” style and a slightly different schtick — instead of “I have the Redskins logo because you’re a racist” it will be something equally clever — “I don’t care about [insert topic] — I only post obsessively on it to bring it to the public’s attention” or “cupcake” or gaybaiting.

    And we’ll spend another three months with some jerk whose only pleasure in life is the moments of irritation he can bring to complete strangers.

    Alternatively we could all stop pretending that these are real people worth talking to… but I don’t see that happening soon enough.

  51. gVOR08 says:

    @Pinky:

    Usually there’s one moderate and a bunch of less-qualified conservatives.

    The establishment will be working hard to make that the case as soon as possible.

  52. Pinky says:

    @wr: I’ve seen this on a lot of sites: nearly-identical liberals complaining that the nearly-identical conservatives are all the same person. I don’t recall conservatives ever offering up the corresponding theory.

  53. Will says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I back Jeb or Romney. I’m on the moderate side of the party. I’ve said this many times before no matter how many times you guys try to throw me in with the Tea Party. I’m looking for someone with executive experience who has either run a state or business before. I’d like someone who is pragmatic and will work with the other side. I sincerely believe Jeb is that guy. I’m not looking for a polarizing figure like our last 2 presidents. i also don’t want one party ever controlling all 3 areas of government.

    @wr:
    If my comments trouble you then you should cease mentioning me

    @Steven L. Taylor: You make an interesting point Steve. My interests are in low income and capital gains taxes. I’m also for limited government and less regulation. i also wouldn’t be too unhappy if Hillary won either. IF she can get the economy going and create jobs, I would support her. I’m more interested in Ideas than I am in reflexively voting the nominee of my party.

    @C. Clavin:

    Keep playing that Race Card Cliffy…. Let me know when the FTC bans Redskin broadcasts and I’ll change the Logo just for you.

  54. jukeboxgrad says:

    I don’t recall conservatives ever offering up the corresponding theory.

    I do.