Ready for a third President Bush? Short answer: No
Might wealthy Republicans persuade Jeb Bush to stand against Hillary Clinton? It's not an April fool
THERE is increasing speculation in Washington DC that the 2016 presidential election to find Barack Obama's successor could be run between two of America's greatest/most infamous (take your pick) modern political families – the Clintons and the Bushes.
Hillary Clinton, wife of Bill, has been the likely Democrat contender for ages, although she still has to confirm whether she'll run. Now the Washington Post is reporting that, with their leading centre-right candidate Chris Christie going down in flames because of various scandals unearthed in New Jersey, "influential Republicans" are working to persuade Jeb Bush to stand.
"[Jeb] Bush has travelled the country delivering policy speeches, campaigning for Republicans ahead of the fall midterm elections, honing messages on income inequality and foreign policy, and cultivating ties with wealthy benefactors — all signals that he is considering a run," says the Post.
His father, George H W Bush, was the 41st president, and his younger brother George W Bush the 43rd. Might this be Jeb's turn?
The idea may appeal to some wealthy Republicans, but it is not going down well with political commentators on either side of the Atlantic.
The Spectator's Alex Massie says a Bush-Clinton race would be perfect for cable news - a soap opera "to make you puke" but one Americans would have to watch.
But if this is the best the Republicans can do, says Massie, it's hard not to conclude that the Republican party is exhausted. "Since (from a conservative perspective) Jeb’s father and brother each disappointed – albeit in rather different ways – there’s something quaintly optimistic about suggesting third time lucky with the Bushes."
In America, Myra Adams for the Daily Beast has compiled five good reasons for the Republicans to think again – two of which are his name and his politics.
His name, in short, is poison: and that's not just the political pundits talking, but the great American public. A recent Washington Post poll found 50 per cent of registered voters said they would definitely NOT vote for Jeb Bush, proving that the negative legacy of brother George remains potent.
As for Jeb's politics, in short he's not right-wing enough to win over enough of the party's supporters. He's "soft" on immigration – he supports an amnesty and he even has a Mexican-born wife, Columba – and he's a "moderate" when it comes to issues like public education.
All of which is rather unfair on Jeb who, if his brother hadn't made such a hash of it, and if the Republicans hadn't turned so far right since the Bush era, might actually be considered a perfectly reasonable choice for the Republican nomination having been Governor of Florida from 1999 – 2007.
There are, however, skeletons ready to tumble out of the closet: in his first year as Governor, his wife Columba was caught by customs agents at Atlanta airport trying to bring in $19,000 worth of clothes and jewellery from Paris. And their daughter, Noelle, has had her run-ins with the authorities over drugs. But at least he hasn't started any wars.
What does brother George say? When asked on CNN a year ago about Jeb running, Dubya responded: "Well, big Jeb, you know, he's got a decision to make. And if I could make it for him, it'd be, 'run,' but I can't."
He added: "I don't know what he's going to do… He'd be a great candidate and a great president."
Would the famous Bush family matriarch, Barbara, back another son to run for the White House?
"Jeb's the best qualified man, but no," she said. “I think it's a great country. There are a lot of great families, and it's not just four families or whatever. There are other people out there that are very qualified and we've had enough Bushes,” she said.
Who could put it better?