POLITICS

Jeb Bush presidential run would be hard on the GOP

 

slatepolitics@gmail.com

Jeb Bush is having a moment. For two months or so, as Chris Christie’s presidential fortunes have appeared abridged, people have started mentioning the former two-term Florida governor as a possible 2016 candidate. Now the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Robert Costa report that the whispers have grown into a draft-Bush movement.

The argument for a Bush run is that he has a governor’s executive skills, can forge a relationship with crucial Hispanic voters (particularly in a key swing state), and has a fundraising base founded, in part, on a reservoir of goodwill toward the Bush family.

Republicans are sick of being out of the White House and want a winner. Perhaps, but Bush is also the perfect candidate if your goal is driving simultaneous wedges into as many fault lines in the Republican Party as possible.

The first problem is his heritage. On domestic issues, the Bush family is synonymous among some conservatives with tax increases and federal spending. Perhaps the greatest sin in the modern conservative movement is George H. W. Bush’s 1990 budget deal where he traded tax increases for budget savings. Jeb Bush, on the other hand, has cited his father’s compromise as the epitome of presidential leadership. George W. Bush is criticized for his lack of spending restraint as well as his support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (which some might count as the second greatest sin).

In his positions on fiscal policy, Jeb Bush has given comfort to the suspicious. When asked about the hypothetical trade-off posited during a 2012 GOP debate, where no GOP candidate would accept a dollar of tax increases in exchange for 10 dollars in spending reductions, Jeb Bush took a different view.

“If you could bring to me a majority of people to say that we’re going to have $10 in spending cuts for $1 of revenue enhancement — put me in, coach,” he said at the time.

He has also criticized Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge that few GOP lawmakers refuse to sign. Bush even joked during a budget hearing two years ago that these positions “will prove I’m not running for anything.”

The GOP is having a robust debate about foreign policy that is likely to continue into the primaries in 2016. If Bush runs, he will have to field a greater share of questions about the war in Iraq than anyone else. He is appealingly loyal to his brother and father, but managing their legacies will lead to distracting fights.

The second problem for Bush is the people backing the draft movement. The support is coming from what one GOP veteran referred to as “the donor class.” This group is also variously referred to as the establishment, Country Club Republicans and the moderate wing of the party.

These Republicans are tired of being defined by the unpopular Tea Party wing of the party. Meanwhile, movement conservatives are sick of elites using their money to arrange things without the interference of pesky voters.

The final problem is that Bush has taken policy stances against his party’s grass roots on the hot-button issues of immigration and education.

Bush is an advocate for pathways to citizenship and residency for illegal immigrants, positions that House Republican leaders didn’t even want to debate in this election year for fear they would cause too big a rift in the ranks. Bush is also an advocate for Common Core education standards, which advocates like Bill Gates say are designed to make the United States more competitive in the world.

The tensions that a Bush candidacy would exacerbate have existed within the GOP since the New Deal as members have wrestled with whether to pick a candidate with the best perceived chance of victory or the one who best reflected the philosophy of the conservative movement.

These fights are robust, though they do not doom a candidacy. Sometimes they are the necessary clarifying battles that lead to victory. But they are exhausting.

Bush has never run at the national level, which Texas Gov. Rick Perry discovered can be very different from having the hot hand at home. Bush has also not run in a race since 2002, an age before Twitter, Facebook and the towering and repetitive pettiness of the modern presidential campaign. He has a shorter supply of inner sunshine than his brother that would get exhausted by lunchtime on most campaign days.

It would be in keeping with Bush’s description of himself as an “eat your vegetables” politician if he challenged the orthodoxy of part of his party in his campaign instead of trying to skirt his challenges. If he replaces Christie and becomes the new establishment front-runner then a battle is coming.

John Dickerson is Slate’s chief political correspondent.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
FLOWERS

    DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

    Rice targeted unfairly by media

    I’ve never been a victim of domestic violence, but I’ve loved people who have been. I say “people” because some of the victims have been men, despite the general “Burning Bed” stereotype of the muscled brute beating the living daylights out of the 100-pound female. Violence is violence, victims are victims and abusers are abusers regardless of gender, color, religion, and affluence. This is an equal opportunity horror.

  •  
MONTANER

    ISLAMIC STATE

    Barbaric methods appeal to mankind’s worst instincts

    YouTube is dripping blood nowadays. Viewers of these videos are as numerous as horrified.

  •  
WAGNER

    U.S. CONSTITUTION

    ‘An ideal put down in words’

    Wednesday is Constitution Day! No, it’s not the day we test how many hot dogs your constitution can handle in 12 minutes. It’s not even a memorial for the USS Constitution, which is the world's oldest floating commissioned naval vessel.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category