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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ATS says:

    US core law prohibits “corruption of blood” (punishing relatives for someone’s crime) and —however much our “special ally” may do otherwise in the ME— the core law is right.

    The corollary should be that we earnesty discourage nepotism and the divine right of kings within the rut of our presidential families.

  2. Christopher says:


    What did you mean about his wife and daughter???

  3. James Joyner says:


    His wife, Columba:

    On July 24, 1999, Bush was detained by the U.S. Customs Service at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta after returning from a trip to Paris, France, on a Delta flight. On a mandatory declaration form handed out on the flight, Bush falsely stated that she had purchased only $500 worth of goods.

    Customs agents then found some shopping receipts in Bush’s purse, but she declined an opportunity to change her declaration. When Customs agents searched Bush’s luggage and found the merchandise, she then confessed to the agents that she had lied on the declaration form because she did not want her husband to know how much she had spent.

    Under federal law, customs agents could have fined her up to the full dollar amount of the purchases and confiscated the merchandise; however, Bush was only fined $4100 and returned to Tallahassee that evening with her purchases. The Bushes issued a written apology admitting to the incident late the next day.

    His daughter, Noelle:

    Gov. Jeb Bush’s 25-year-old daughter was found with crack cocaine at a rehabilitation center, police said Tuesday. If confirmed, it would be her second lapse since entering court-ordered drug treatment.


    Bush was arrested in January at a Tallahassee pharmacy drive-through window for allegedly trying to buy the anti-anxiety drug Xanax with a fraudulent prescription.

    She was admitted to the treatment center a month later, with the possibility charges would be dropped if she completed the program.

    But in July, she was found to be in contempt of court because a worker at the treatment center found her carrying prescription pills, which belonged to another worker and had been taken from a cabinet. Circuit Judge Reginald Whitehead sent her to jail for three days.

    His son, John Ellis:

    The youngest son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was arrested early Friday and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest, law enforcement officials said.

  4. Christopher says:

    Thanks, James. I guess now I do remember some of that.