Jeb Bush really is going to run for president, isn’t he? That’s the implication of today’s Bushworld news: The former Florida governor announced on his Facebook page that he’s filed paperwork to form a “leadership” political action committee. That will give him a legal way to raise money and hire staff in advance of an official campaign declaration.
“Right to Rise” is the new PAC’s name. Mr. Bush is using the same title for a second entity, a super PAC that will be able to receive truly large donations that ostensibly aren’t supposed to be used for direct electioneering. There’s no word yet on how (or if) these two organizations will work together.
So where did this name come from? That’s our question. It’s a bit out of the mainstream of PAC monikers. Most of them tend to be bland, even vague. This one seems to fulfill a descriptive purpose.
Bush himself has given us a road map here: He says it’s from Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin. It’s supposed to recognize the right of everybody to pursue economic freedom and happiness.
But its real roots might stretch back to the late Jack Kemp, the former pro football quarterback, congressman from New York, and 1996 GOP VP candidate. Bush has pointed to Kemp as a political role model for “right to rise,” as well.
“The name of the PACs reflects the developing theme of Bush’s possible campaign,” writes Robert Costa at The Washington Post. “An admirer of the late New York Republican Jack Kemp, whose politics revolved around poverty issues, Bush is hoping to cast himself as a new kind of Republican, in the Kemp mold, by touting his ideas on economic empowerment.”
If that’s true it’s an interesting peek at Bush’s (possible) campaign-to-come. Kemp was a combination of moderate Republican – he emphasized outreach to minorities, and spoke often about the need to fight poverty – and economic conservative. Tax cuts were his big thing. He was an original Reagan-era supply-sider who insisted that lowering tax rates would pay for itself in increased economic activity.
“Jack was a compassionate man and an ideas man,” said Jeb Bush in a 2013 speech at a Jack Kemp Foundation event. “It is interesting we find ourselves as a party and a movement and as a nation confronting many of the same policy challenges Jack predicted and presented solutions to decades ago – from immigration to private sector growth to education reform.”
In practical terms, this might mean that Bush is not going to tack right on immigration or education to try and please conservative primary voters. Kemp favored immigration reform in his day, for example.
And Bush has already pretty much indicated that he still supports Common Core educational standards.
The mission statement of the Right To Rise PAC notes it stands for giving “all children a better future by transforming our education system through choice, high standards and accountability.”
So Bush is trying to frame himself as a happy middle-of-the-road warrior. Whatever he’s doing, it’s got him in the lead for the Republican nomination: At this point he’s about six points ahead of his challengers in the RealClearPolitics rolling average of major polls.