Jeb Bush ‘Yo No Tengo Futuro’
Abby Goodnough reports on the continuing speculation as to the political future of Jeb Bush.
When the same old irksome question popped up recently at one of his final public events here, Gov. Jeb Bush, addressing Spanish-speaking reporters, gave an atypically dramatic answer: “Yo no tengo futuro,” or “I have no future.”
His words set off round-the-world buzz, with The Daily Telegraph of London going so far as to call them “a recognition by the Bush family that their dynastic reign in American politics is drawing to a close.” But in fact, the question lives on. Mr. Bush’s spokeswoman said last week that he made the comment jokingly, and when asked about it later in an e-mail message, Mr. Bush himself replied, “I was misunderstood by a reporter.”
Despite the wishful prodding of admirers, Mr. Bush has adamantly ruled out a presidential campaign of his own next year, saying that he wants only to return to Miami with his wife, Columba, and their cat, Sugar. Yet rumors about his future have burst forth as regularly as exotic species in the Everglades — among them that he would be the next commissioner of the National Football League, run for Senate or become Senator John McCain’s running mate if Mr. McCain won the Republican nomination for president in 2008.
“The presidency is out of the question at this point because of Bush fatigue,” said Peter Schweizer, a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford who wrote “The Bushes: A Dynasty” with his wife, Rochelle. “But the vice presidential slot is something that’s very much in play. He’s a successful governor of an important state, he helps shore up relations with the social conservatives and he has the Bush money machine.”
All indications notwithstanding, ardent admirers like Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, are not giving up on the prospect of Mr. Bush jumping into the presidential race next year, especially if Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York becomes the Democratic candidate. “He could step in later than anybody else,” Mr. Norquist said. “You can run for president with the last name of Bush, even though there is and will be Bush fatigue, in a year that you’re likely to be running against someone whose last name is Clinton.”
As for the continued speculation, he wrote: “I am flattered that all sorts of people are interested in what I am going to do and many have offered advice as well. That will all subside soon.”
Yet despite Mr. Bush’s abrasiveness and the plunging popularity of his brother the president, he has remained well liked — or at least respected — to the end, a feat in a state as ethnically and politically divided as Florida. A poll last month by Quinnipiac University found that 57 percent of Floridians feel he did a “good” or “great” job as governor, compared with only 10 percent who said he had done a “bad” job.
Jeb Bush has some baggage, including a wife and daughter who can’t seem to abide by the laws of the land, that would complicate a presidential run even aside from his brother’s low approval numbers and the natural hesitancy of the electorate to elect a third Bush president in sixteen years. I nonetheless expect him to make a serious run at the White House at some point. He’s still a young man–a few weeks shy of his 54th birthday–so 2012 or 2016 are definite options.