The potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate many expected to be a late decider or an early withdrawer, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, made an overt move towards a campaign, announcing yesterday he was seriously considering a run, and also setting up a “leadership PAC” (a personal PAC like most future presidential candidates have to reward endorsees and create a footprint in key states). This produce a frenzy of speculation about Jeb’s viability, much of it revolving around the “dynastic question” (whether voters are inclined to create a third Bush presidency in less than thirty years) and Bush’s alleged “moderate” heresies and provocations to conservative activists.
Yours truly weighed in with a column that assessed Jeb Bush’s strengths and weaknesses and in the latter category focused on his poor general election polling history, which undermines the “electability” rationale he needs to attract reluctant conservatives. But I also mentioned his remarkably strong support from big GOP donors, who might well be able to keep a Bush candidacy afloat until a log jam of “true conservative” candidates begins to undergo casualties.
Bush-the-more-likely-candidate was thrown a curve right away by the president’s announcement of an effort to normalize relations with Cuba, an issue that might call his otherwise very valuable Florida background into question as reflecting a certain parochialism. Jeb’s initial reaction was negative but measured; it will be interesting to see if he feels the need to compete with more outspoken opponents of Obama’s policies (certainly Marco Rubio and probably Ted Cruz) in the next few days.