Democrats respond to Jeb Bush “actively exploring” White House run

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On Tuesday, Jeb Bush made his most substantial move toward a presidential run to date, with the announcement to “actively explore” a campaign, and a new political committee for Republican fundraising.

For Democrats, the move was hardly surprising, seen as just another way to keep Bush in the headlines.

“Isn’t this what he’s been doing all along?” asked DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee. “I don’t know what the difference is between ‘thinking about’ running and ‘actively exploring’ running, but I suspect it has a lot to do with keeping his name in the news.”

Elleithee, a longtime Democratic strategist who worked on four presidential campaigns, is not impressed with Bush’s agenda, which he says fails America’s struggling middle class.

“There’s no parsing this simple fact,” he said. “Jeb Bush has fully embraced the failed economic agenda that benefits only a select few at the expense of the middle class.

“That’s not going to change no matter how many different ways he says he may run.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant released the following statement:

“Seriously? If Jeb Bush hasn’t been exploring running for president for months, what has he been doing? This latest tease to the media has more to do with keeping his name in the headlines than actually hearing about the challenges Americans are facing.

“Here’s the good news: with this announcement, Americans are going to get their first chance to learn about Jeb Bush. As Florida governor, Jeb was a partisan extremist who fought to privatize public education and abused the power of government to interfere in private medical decisions in the Terri Schiavo case. Since leaving office, he’s used his family name and political connections to get a job at Lehman Brothers and make millions of dollars from shady offshore investments.

“As Jeb explores a run for president, Americans are going to learn that he’s always fought for the wealthy special interests and those at the top like him, while letting the middle class suffer.”

In his response, Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferrulo spoke plainly about the former governor’s record, noting that after two terms in Tallahassee, Florida voters are very familiar with Bush.

“Floridians got Jebbed!” Ferrulo wrote in a clear jab at Bush’s “Jeb!” campaign slogan.

“For eight years, so we know him better than anyone – and the last thing America needs is Jeb Bush in the Oval Office.

Ferrulo pointed to Bush’s “attacks” on public schools, opposition to health-care expansion and his close Wall Street ties, adding that  Republican’s “tangled web of shady business dealings have raised more questions than answers.”

“The country can’t afford to get Jebbed! in 2016,” he added.

During his years as Florida governor, Bush advocated tax cuts, and oversaw major reforms of the state’s education system, which became his signature issue after leaving office.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.