Why Jeb Bush wants you to read his e-mail – for $2.99

The presidential candidate's new e-book goes on sale Monday, featuring e-mail exchanges during his tenure as Florida governor. Will it improve – or hurt – his reputation as an effective leader? 

REUTERS/Brian C. Frank
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the Growth and Opportunity Party at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Brian C. Frank

After cutting campaign staff and spending, a weak debate performance, and continued nose dive in the polls, Jeb Bush has a new plan to revitalize his Republican presidential campaign, and it comes in the form of nearly 650 pages of e-mails.

On Monday, Mr. Bush’s new e-book, titled “Reply All,” went on sale for $2.99 on Amazon. It can also be ordered in paperback for $15.99. A Bush spokesman told The Washington Post all profits will go to Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

It’s an extensive, self-curated collection of Bush’s e-mail exchanges throughout his tenure as governor of Florida. It attempts to cast the presidential candidate as a productive policy wonk who is transparent and accessible to constituents.

The release comes along with the launch of the “Jeb Can Fix It” tour, the de-facto title of his campaign’s reset strategy, which will utilize the book as proof of his leadership qualities. But for a candidate whose biggest weakness seems to be mundanity, how can releasing a dense book that covers issues like medical tort reform compel primary voters to swing in his direction?

It certainly won't be with juicy morsels of Bush family gossip – the book’s forward says any e-mail exchanges about personal matters were excluded. But there are some interesting finds.

While Bush is now targeting Sen. Marco Rubio for his poor attendance in the Senate, in 2000 a constituent wrote to the governor complaining that he was spending too much time campaigning for his brother, George W. Bush. He responded that he works 80 hours a week and only campaigns for his brother in his spare time, and not at the expense of taxpayers.

From exchanges with then-ABC News anchor Barbara Walters, to a nine-year-old girl who hated piano lessons, to brief correspondence with his parents, the book appears to be both humanizing and pragmatic.

The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe reported on a multitude of the book’s contents, writing that “Instead of messages between Bush and Florida officials, or his family or his brother's presidential campaign aides, he instead published a series of mostly emotional, critical e-mails from concerned Floridians.”

The suspenseful aftermath of the 2000 presidential election, when a recount took place, provides some insight into how Bush may have handled his conflict of interest:

The book also includes several pages of e-mails Jeb Bush received during the 2000 recount of ballots cast in the presidential election. He described the cliffhanger conclusion to the contest between George W. Bush and former vice president Al Gore as "a six-week roller-coaster ride, which included recounts, lawsuits, court rulings, overturned court rulings, contradictory court rulings, and accusations of wrongdoing on both sides. The entire country developed a case of whiplash while waiting to see who would be the next president."

And it can’t go unnoticed that Bush voluntarily releasing his emails is in contrast to the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while secretary of State. It’s an indication that Bush still sees Clinton as his toughest and ultimate opponent, who leads national polls for the Democratic primary.

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