Jeb Bush sounding more like a presidential candidate
In an interview, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he 'won't' rule out a run in 2016 and seemed to be positioning himself in a way that would appeal to Republican primary voters.
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Needless to say, this is all fairly intriguing. Until now, we've tended to regard Bush as a Mario Cuomo-type politician – someone who could become an instant front-runner should he enter the race, but who, for various reasons, we think may not pull the trigger in the end. (Recent reports that he was trying to buy the Miami Marlins baseball team only added to that impression.)Skip to next paragraph
Liz Marlantes covers politics for the Monitor and is a regular contributor to the Monitor's political blog, DC Decoder.
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Certainly, the Bush family name brings serious clout and credentials, but it also carries a tremendous amount of baggage. And a Jeb Bush candidacy would inevitably raise questions about whether the party was moving forward or backward.
A Public Policy Polling survey recently found Rubio leading Bush nationally among Republican primary voters, 22 to 13 percent. On the other hand, the Tampa Bay Times ran a poll of more than 100 "Florida insiders" (political operatives, lobbyists, fundraisers, etc.) last December, and found that 62 percent expected Bush to run for president in 2016 – and 81 percent said they believed Bush would be a stronger candidate than Rubio.
For now, Bush sounds an awful lot like someone who's trying to appeal to primary voters in Iowa. In the "Today" interview, Bush – a former governor who had to deal with a number of devastating hurricanes during his time in office, and knows what it's like to rely on federal aid – defended House Republicans for battling New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) over funding for hurricane Sandy.
While saying "look, I love Christie," he said he understood why Governor Christie was not invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC): "I think the issue of [Christie] castigating the House particularly for not going along with a $60 billion spending deal that had very little to do with Sandy recovery ... that's what I think was the critique," he said. Bush will be a featured speaker at CPAC later this month.
On the other hand, he did allow that there "may be" room for additional revenue increases down the road as part of a larger deficit-reduction deal between the White House and Congress – if President Obama is willing to tackle "our structural problems," such as entitlement reform.
That's in line with previous comments Bush has made criticizing antitax advocate Grover Norquist's famous no-new-taxes pledge, something Bush refused to sign during his three electoral campaigns. But he said now is not the time to be talking about revenues, given the tax hikes that came as a result of the fiscal cliff deal.
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