Jeb Bush in 2016? Barbara Bush backs away from 'no.' (+video)

Barbara Bush, matriarch of her family's political dynasty, now thinks maybe it's OK for son Jeb Bush to run for president in 2016. But a new poll shows nearly half of Americans would definitely not support a Jeb Bush campaign.

By , Staff writer

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    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush answers questions after speaking earlier this year at the Inside ITFs Conference in Hollywood, Fla.

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Barbara Bush, wife and mother to former presidents, may be warming up to the idea of seeing son Jeb run in 2016 after all.

In an interview with Fox News, the Bush family matriarch called her No. 2 son, the former two-term governor of Florida, “the best qualified person in the country” to run for president in 2016.

Last year, she dismissed the idea. "We've had enough Bushes,” Mrs. Bush told the “Today” show.

Recommended: 17 Republicans who might run in 2016

Now, she says, “I read ‘The Bully Pulpit’ by Doris Kearns Goodwin and she points out that in 1700, there were only three families, so maybe it’s OK.”

Indeed, even without Jeb Bush jumping in, the Bush political dynasty is alive and kicking. Jeb’s son George P. Bush won the Republican primary Tuesday for Texas land commissioner, and is expected to win in November.

Still, the idea of another Bush running for president is a different matter, just a little over five years since Jeb’s older brother, George W. Bush, moved out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Jeb himself had pretty firmly ruled out the idea, but as the jockeying begins in a large potential GOP field with no clear favorite, the former Florida governor now seems to be considering it.

“I’m deferring the decision to the right time, which is later this year, and the decision will be based on, can I do it joyfully, because I think we need to have candidates lift our spirits,” Bush said Jan. 29 in a TV interview while visiting a charter school in Hialeah, Fla.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is licking her chops over the possibility of a Clinton vs. Bush rematch: Hillary Rodham Clinton vs. Jeb Bush.

When asked about the column, Barbara Bush said she saw it – and then took a slap at the Gray Lady.

“Anything to make news,” she scoffed. “Did you read about the man who died and in his obituary . . . said don’t send flowers, don’t send donations to anything – cancel your New York Times subscription. So I did.”

Well then. But Jeb Bush may have much bigger problems than a snarky Maureen Dowd column, if he really does decide to run (which political analysts doubt). Poll data on the 2016 race released Thursday by The Washington Post and ABC News show that 48 percent of Americans definitely would not support Jeb Bush for president if he ran.

Perhaps Americans are conflating Jeb with brother George, who was deeply unpopular in his second term, suggests ABC pollster Gary Langer. Or maybe Americans really are tired of Bushes in the Oval Office, at least for now. George P. Bush – telegenic, Latino (through his Mexican-born mother), fluent in Spanish – could be just what the Republicans need in, say, 2024.

Also of note: Jeb Bush is not speaking at the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, which begins today near Washington. According to the right-leaning National Review Online, Bush made sure conference organizers knew he had “previously scheduled business commitments.”

This year’s CPAC is a cattle call for many of the likely GOP 2016 hopefuls, including Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor needs to reenergize party support after the uproar over “Bridge-gate” if he is to be a viable presidential prospect. But the well-respected Bush can afford to skip CPAC this year, even if he does have his eye on 2016. He spoke last year, and if he decides to run for president, he can come next year.

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