This morning’s must read is from POLITICO about how leading Republicans say the former Florida governor would be a stronger candidate ahead of 2016, if they weren’t worried about Bush baggage. An excerpt:
“I think it all depends on how much Bush fatigue there is in 2016,” former Chairman Haley Barbour told POLITICO. “Jeb is an outstanding candidate. If you looked at his time in Florida, he was extremely popular personally and his policies were extremely popular and he took on some of the hard stuff. … But I would put it this way — if Jeb’s last name was Brown instead of Bush, he’d probably be the front-runner for the Republican nomination.”
Even Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry, who worked for Jeb’s brother, George W. Bush, and endorses Bush’s record as governor, calling him a reformer who was ahead of the curve on school choice, acknowledges there’s an issue.
“The biggest thing to hold him back is the last name,” said McHenry, who worked on George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign. “It’s hard to be a third in the line for your family and the presidency, but having said that, the Bush network is unrivaled in any party.”
Bush is making clear moves toward a run, like tapping the family network and quietly making the rounds in places like New York, Florida and other key locales to gauge support in the world of big money. He’s also kept his name and policy platform in the news through a book tour.
And he’ll be in Texas as Bush world invades for the dedication of the George W. Bush Museum and Library. Numerous former administration officials, bundlers and confidants are slated to be on hand, and Jeb Bush’s political future is certain to be a central discussion point.
“I think the Bush network is locked, loaded and ready to fire for Jeb as soon as his wink becomes a nod,” former Bush aide Mark McKinnon said. “I don’t know what he will end up doing, but whatever it is it will be with a lot of reflection, deliberation and planning.”
He added: “I think arguably he could have run and won in 2012, so by 2016 whatever Bush “fatigue” there may be will have dissipated considerably. And Jeb is very much his own man with his own identity. From any angle at any time, the Bush assets swamp any Bush liabilities.”
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