George W. Bush says Jeb 'wants to be president.' Really?

In an interview with 'Fox & Friends,' former President George W. Bush said of his brother, 'I think he’d be a great president.' But it's unclear whether the former Florida governor is up for a 2016 run.

Danny Johnston/AP
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, left, speaks to reporters as Republican candidate for Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson listens in the library at LISA Academy North in Sherwood, Ark. on Tuesday. Bush, a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, has been campaigning for Republicans in tight races ahead of the midterm elections.

George W. Bush is trying to nudge his brother Jeb Bush into the 2016 presidential race, apparently. But at this point even the former president can’t tell if Jeb will attempt to continue the family White House tradition.

That’s the impression left by an interview George W. conducted with “Fox & Friends” on Thursday morning.

Talking about a recent joint appearance with Jeb, W. said that when he talked to his sibling in private “I, of course, was pushing him to run for president.”

Jeb was receptive, said W., to a point.

“I think he wants to be president,” said Bush 43. “I think he’d be a great president.”

“He understands what it’s like to be president, for not only the person running or serving, plus family. He’s seen his dad. He’s seen his brother. And so he’s a very thoughtful man, and he’s weighing his options,” Bush continued.

Hmm. That doesn’t make it sound as if Jeb is super-pumped about a White House campaign, does it?

Right now we’re in the 2016 invisible primary. A number of possible contenders – Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul, Chris Christie – are already in essence running, while maintaining the option to stop if they wish. Their default setting is “go.”

For Jeb, on the other hand, the default setting appears to be “stop.” He’s out there campaigning for GOP candidates, raising money, and doing some of the travel required of prospective presidential candidates. But by all accounts, he’s still not sure he wants to run.

Otherwise, why would his own brother go public about pushing him?

“Insiders say [Jeb] is truly wrestling with a momentous decision that could alter the course of the rest of his and his family’s life,” wrote Politico’s Ben White in a piece on Bush’s Hamletesque behavior last week.

The public nudges only increase the perception that Jeb’s heart might not be committed to a grueling run for, and possible service in, the presidency.

After all, his bro isn’t the only one poking him. Family patriarch George H. W. Bush talks openly about his hope that Jeb will try and make the Bushes a three-president family. House Speaker John Boehner has talked up the prospect of a Jeb candidacy on numerous occasions.

“He’s had plenty of opportunities to tell me to stop, and he hasn’t,” Mr. Boehner said recently in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

Oh, and Mitt Romney has implied that there is no way he would run again if Jeb chooses to make a try for the Oval Office. Much of the recent “Mitt 2016” boomlet in the Republican Party seems to stem from the perception by establishment figures that Jeb might not run after all, depriving of them their most well-known potential candidate.

Reportedly, Jeb is well aware that if he runs he’ll get hit by tea party candidates on his pro-immigration reform stance. Some in the party bristle at the thought of a third Bush presidency.

But right now Jeb has a burgeoning business career and three grandchildren, noted Politico’s White.

“A run for president would take him away from all that, possibly for close to a decade,” wrote White.

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