Jeb Bush’s Presidential Prospects Look Better Than Some Might Think

Bush 2016?

Jeb Bush Testifies At House Hearing On Free Enterprise And Economic Growth

Former President George W. Bush said that he believes his brother wants to enter the race for the White House in 2016:

Former President George W. Bush says he thinks his brother Jeb wants to be in the White House and added that he is pushing his younger sibling to run for president in 2016.

“I think he wants to be president,'” George Bush said on Fox News on Thursday. “I think [Jeb would] be a great president. He understands what it’s like to be president.”

Jeb Bush has cited his family as a major factor in whether he will seek the Republican nomination and said he plans to make a decision next year. George Bush said he thinks that Jeb has yet to make up his mind about running.

“[Jeb] and I had a conversation. I of course was pushing for him to run for president, he of course was saying, ‘I haven’t made up my mind,'” the former president said. “I truly don’t think he has, and plus I don’t think he liked it that his older brother was pushing him.”

He added, “He [Jeb] understands what it’s like to be president for not only the person running or serving, plus family. He’s seen his dad, he’s seen his brother. And so, he’s a very thoughtful man, and he’s weighing his options.”

The 43rd President’s support for his brother isn’t surprising, of course, especially given the fact that he has previously said that he thinks Jeb should have run in 2012. A Jeb Bush run is also supported by former President George H.W. Bush, although perhaps not so enthusiastically by the matriarch of the family, who may be over the whole ordeal of family members running for President at this point. Outside the Bush family, there does seem to be strong indication that a Jeb Bush candidacy in 2016 would be well received by the mainstream of the party and, most importantly, by the big money donors that Bush would need to rely on to run the kind of campaign that could potentially vault him to the nomination. Additionally, Bush himself is sounding more like a Presidential candidate than he has in the past.

It’s true, of course, that we’ve seen Jeb Bush Presidential speculation before, but this time it seems as though both the candidate and his potential supporters might just be more serious about it than in the past. Bush would obviously face a lot of opposition from the more conservative elements in the party and the candidates that they will support, of course, but that wouldn’t necessarily be fatal to a potential campaign. For one thing, to an even greater extent than in 2012 there are likely to be a number of candidates vying for the support of the conservative/Tea Party wing of the party to the point where, at least in the beginning, that support is likely to be scattered among several candidates rather than rallying around one. In that kind of environment, a more centrist conservative like Bush would practically have the field to himself which, along with name recognition and the support of the same types of people who were the big financial backers for Mitt Romney in 2012. This is one reason, I suspect, that current speculation is that Romney would only consider running for President again if Bush didn’t run. In any case, notwithstanding talk of a disdain for political dynasties and the prospect of another Bush v. Clinton match twenty-four years after the first one, I suspect that Jeb Bush would be a far more formidable candidate for the GOP nomination than those on the right who dislike him would care to admit. The one fly in the ointment for Bush would be if other Republican Governors like Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and John Kaisch entered the race and started performing well since those candidates would be drawing from the same well as Bush by and large. Barring that, though, and assuming he wants to run I would not rule the idea of Jeb Bush being the person who accepts the nomination in at the convention in Cleveland in the early summer of 2016.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Environment, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. gVOR08 says:

    I’ve thought he’d wait for ’20 when we’ll have had 12 years of Dems and the memory of his brother will be further behind us. But I’m sure he’s getting a lot of very flattering calls from people who are offering a lot of money. I see no reason this cycle won’t go like the last few, the establishment GOPs will buy the nomination for their guy, and there isn’t a strong challenger to Bush for establishment candidate.

    I find the prospect of a third Bush simultaneously hilarious and terrifying, but I think the nomination is his if he goes for it.

    As is the case with Ann Romney and Mitt, does George W. have any clue that he’s Jeb’s biggest liability?

  2. Will says:


    It’s now or never for Jeb. He and the donors must be celebrating Obama’s rapidly declining approval numbers. Obama is going to cost the Dems the Senate, and the GOP must feel like they at least a punchers chance in 16 with Jeb. Cruz and Paul will never get the nomination and there really are no other candidates. A Bush/Martinez or Bush/Pence ticket would least be competitive in 16

  3. Gustopher says:

    I really don’t want to have to live through a Clinton vs. Bush campaign — it’s going to be ugly, petty and stupid. I might have to move to Canada or something until it is all settled.

  4. jib says:

    Anyone who thinks Jeb has a chance really does not understand the lay of GOP land in 2016. The Tea Party would be in full revolt. The Tea Party IS the anti-Bush wing of the repub party. If you think they will mildly swallow and go with the establishment nominee regardless of who he is, then you have not been paying attention to the 2014 Senate race in Kansas.

    Mitt has a better chance than Jeb but everyone knows that Mitt is the “we cant agree on any one else, oh to hell with it go with Mitt” canidate. Might happen but a very long shot. No way that they will accept Jeb, full revolt if he gets the nomination.

  5. wr says:

    Yes, I think that Jeb will have every bit as much success as President Giuliani did before him.

  6. rudderpedals says:

    Some memories linger. Should he throw his name into the ring the former Florida guv’s going to have a heckuva time carrying the Sunshine State. Fool me once, shame on you, also.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    The reason Jeb is being taken seriously is the same reason Romney is…Republicans got nothing,

  8. gVOR08 says:


    If you think they will mildly swallow and go with the establishment nominee regardless of who he is..

    I mostly agree with you. I don’t think they’ll “mildly swallow” the establishment candidate, I think it will cost hundreds of millions to get the TP to swallow Jeb. I just fear people are pledging those hundreds of millions as we speak.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    “I think he wants to be president,’” George Bush said on Fox News on Thursday. “I think [Jeb would] be a great president. He understands what it’s like to be president.”

    Now THAT’S a job reference right there.

  10. jib says:

    @gVOR08: You could be right. The Tea Party is not the majority of repubs, just a very large and loud minority. That is why people like Pat Roberts can (barely) win primaries but not get the support they need to win the general. Jeb for prez would be Pat Roberts on a national scale with Karl Rove and co. deploying their full bag of dirty tricks but this time targeting other repubs. There is a non-zero chance Jeb could win that kind of race but the results would be McGovern ’72 with a fiercely divided GOP imploding on the way to the general election.

    I actually think a lot of establishment wing of the GOP understand this, including Jeb himself. He knows that to win he has to do a full Mitt and repudiate everything he stands for now and hope to fool the party into thinking he is conservative. But he also knows that as a Bush, he does not have the anonymity that Mitt had and it will be even harder for him to pull it off.

  11. edmondo says:

    @Gustopher: @Gustopher:

    I really don’t want to have to live through a Clinton vs. Bush campaign — it’s going to be ugly, petty and stupid. I might have to move to Canada or something until it is all settled.

    The four years afterwards will be pretty ugly too

  12. Moosebreath says:

    Meanwhile, Paul Waldman posits what an unsuccessful Jeb candidacy may mean for the GOP:

    “If a real Tea Partier were elected, Boehner’s entire Speakership would look like nothing more than roadkill along the way — the “GOP establishment” had done nothing but resist the inevitable, by trying to keep the Tea Party in check, for too long. On the other hand, someone like Jeb Bush becoming president would mean that all the aggravation Boehner endured wasn’t futile; he held the barbarians back, prevented them from ruining the GOP, and the party came through on the other side by taking back the White House.

    On the other hand, nothing would be worse for Boehner and other establishment figures than somebody like Bush getting the GOP nomination but then losing to Hillary Clinton — and short of a Tea Partier winning the presidency, nothing would be better for the base conservatives. Those conservatives could say: Look, we’ve tried nominating old, familiar, establishment Republicans three times in a row now, and all it got us was President Obama and now President Clinton. We can’t repeat the same mistake in 2020. It’ll be an awfully compelling argument to those in the party, even if the counter-argument — that nominating someone like Cruz would be a complete disaster — might be true.”

  13. michael reynolds says:

    I take Jeb very seriously, always have. I do not like people being glib about this. Hillary looks good now, but she looked good in 2008, too. He would carry Florida.

    On the plus side I don’t think he’d be a terrible president. Which is why Hillary supporters should be nervous.

  14. Jeremy R says:

    Whoever gets the GOP nomination will surely be to the Right of 2012 Romney on immigration. Also, given recent polling showing the base’s surging, irrational fears when it comes to Islamic extremism and Ebola coming for them across the border, I expect an even harder line on the issue will be demanded. Assuming all that, it’s hard not to see Jeb Bush’s recent statements as intentionally, preemptively, working to disqualify himself with his party’s voters. He’s continues to endorse comprehensive immigration reform, describing illegal immigration as an “act of love,” not a crime. He publicly supports the President’s Common Core education standards. He’s made statements in favor of trading tax increases for entitlement reform. I just don’t see the path for him, and I can’t imagine he sees one either.

  15. Pinky says:

    I see the same problem for Jeb that I do for Hillary: who would want to go into the voting booth and vote for either of them? Who would think, “this is the person that our country needs”? Who would state a reason for supporting either without using words like “alternative” or “likely”? I know that some people would click a box to donate to them, but who would stand outside in the rain wanting to hear them speak, or handing out flyers with their picture on them?

  16. Modulo Myself says:

    Overall, I think it would be tough for a candidate in the internet era to come out of nowhere and just run, especially if their name has the baggage that a Bush name has. It’s hard to see what he brings, except electability.

    On the other hand, for a GOP moderate to run and lose would be less of a blow than a far-right candidate showing up and getting creamed. The people like Rove who keep on getting the welfare can play this game forever, as long as moderates run and lose. As long as the moderate loses, they can fire up the base for Hillary and keep their positions. But one Tea Party-type without anyone normal establishing control and the 47% for 500 million that Rove raised got drops to 40% and the loss of Rove’s job.

  17. EddieInCA says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Michael – I spent the last four years in Florida. No way he carries Florida. Rick Scott is going to spend a fortune, yet he’s still going to lose to Charlie Crist. South Florida, Tampa and are all very blue and are overcoming the advantage that Orange County had for years. Additionally, this next generation of Cubans are reliably Democratic.

    Telling you, no way Jeb wins Florida. I don’t think there is anyone on the GOP Bench right now that can win Florida.

  18. Crusty Dem says:

    @EddieInCA: last 4 yrs in Florida? My apologies…

  19. Andre Kenji says:


    The Tea Party IS the anti-Bush wing of the repub party.

    It´s not. They only revolted when his presidency ended and a Black man was elected president.

  20. michael reynolds says:


    A poll last month had Hillary up by 2 in Florida over Jeb. Margin of Error.

  21. RGardner says:

    I don’t think Jeb will do it, but imagine a Republican President fluent in Spanish. Hell, imagine any President fluent in Spanish.

    I think in 15-25 years the first Hispanic-American President will be George P. Bush (son of Jeb Bush). Unless he craters in the usual sex scandal But doesn’t fit the narrative.

    BTW, George HW & Martha Bush had 5 children. I had the misfortune to live about a half mile from Marvin Bush when his brother was President. After 9-11 I called in several helicopters with false registrations to Fairfax County (VA) hovering over my area (I looked up the N-number, said Cessna 182, not a helicopter….)

  22. Just 'nutha' Ig'rant Cracker says:

    @C. Clavin: You beat me to it. I was going to ask what it says about the GOP that Jeb may well be the most viable candidate. (I guess I just did anyway.)

  23. Just 'nutha' Ig'rant Cracker says:


    people are pledging those hundreds of millions as we speak

    On the other hand, what better use do those plutocrats have for their money? At least this way it gets back into the economy and reduces their capital reserves.

  24. Just 'nutha' Ig'rant Cracker says:


    The four years afterwards will be pretty ugly too

    Is that a prediction on who will win?

  25. edmondo says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ Ig’rant Cracker:

    Is that a prediction on who will win?

    Yes. Does it really matter if it’s Jeb or Jeb-in-a-pantsuit?

  26. stonetools says:

    That Jeb is even being considered shows what a clown car the Republican Presidential field is. Where is that deep bench we heard of a few years ago?
    I think the problem here is Republican policies are crap and known to be crap. It’s hard to be an effective spokesperson for policies known not to work ( “Tax cuts for the rich are the answer to all economic problems, etc.”).Whether it is Rick Perry, Jeb Bush or Mike Pence saying it, its still unconvincing to even low info voters.
    Jeb Bush will be sunk in the nominations process by his pro immigration reform stance. The Tea party white nationalist vote has been invoked and empowered. It’s not going away in the next two years.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @edmondo: Yes. It does matter. Jeb would pick up a lot of W’s ex HW team. (Less Cheney, at least.) They share the same simple minded country club conservatism.Do we not remember what a bloody disaster the W admin was? He broke everything he touched. Except al Qaeda. Is there any reason to think Jeb would be different?

    I’m not a big Hillary fan, for the usual reasons. But if you can’t see a difference between her and Jeb, please stop voting.

  28. jib says:

    @Andre Kenji: I wont argue that having a black man in the WH does not turn up their fever a notch or 2. But they do hate Bush. Dont forget, this is by and large the same part of the repub party that turned on the first Bush when he raised taxes. They were not huge Bush fans to begin with.

    The TP are the true believers. An older group, many have been waiting for full repub rule since Reagan. And then W comes in and the repubs finally control everything and then promptly blow up the deficit, increases the size of govt, launch a disastrous war in Iraq, all of which leads to the economy imploding at which time the repubs uses govt bailouts to save their buddies (and their own stock portfolios) on Wall Street.

    At this point a repub supporter has 2 options, either A) admit that for the last 30 years you have been following a fundamentally flawed ideology or B) blame it all on the incompetence and corruption of the ‘so called conservatives’ that ran the country into the ground.

    The true believers can not move to the left, not after 30 years of blaming all the countries problems ON the left. So they choose plan B.

  29. steve q says:

    @michael reynolds:

    When RBG is forced by health reasons to retire in 2017 and JEB appoints another Roberts/Alito….

  30. bill says:

    this shows what a nation of ill informed voters we are- nothing against jeb but people are voting for name familiarity (a la “clinton”) . i was kinda shocked when “w” got the nod, he’s a great guy and all that but too many people go for word association- that’s no way to elect a president.

  31. Eric Florack says:

    Oh, goodie.
    Someone who tells us he’d govern like LBJ.
    Just what we need.

    And by the way, so much for the claims that the GOP has drifted to the right.