Posted: 2:06 am Monday, June 15th, 2015
By Jamie Dupree
From Miami, Florida
As Jeb Bush announces his plans on Monday to run for President in 2016, it’s clear the former Florida Governor has a lot of support within the Republican Party, but he also faces a strong GOP field filled with candidates who have not been scared away by his money, his record, or his family’s name.
“I am so excited about Jeb Bush,” said Rep. John Mica (R-FL), one of eleven Florida Republicans in the Congress to announce their support for Bush last week.
“He has qualifications that are unparalleled of anybody who is running,” Mica gushed. “There’s nobody that can match his credentials.”
— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) June 12, 2015
“He was a very good Governor for Florida,” said Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL). “A lot of people have forgotten the good things he was able to accomplish.”
“I feel his executive experience is what we need right now,” said Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL).
But in interviews with Republican lawmakers in the Congress, it didn’t take long for Bush supporters to deal with another issue.
“Obviously he has a name that everybody knows,” Miller said. “But there is a Bush fatigue out there.”
“The name Bush maybe is the best thing he’s got going, but the name Bush is maybe the worst thing he’s got going,” acknowledged Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL).
“I hope he can stand up on his own and say, I’m my own man, this is what I believe in,” Crenshaw added.
But for others, it is simply time for the Republican Party to go a different direction.
“I was a 43 fan,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), speaking of President George W. Bush in glowing tones.
“I love the guy,” Westmoreland said of the former President. “But I’m not a big Jeb guy,” telling me he’s interested in other Governors like Scott Walker, Rick Perry and John Kasich.
Also maybe working against Bush is the specter of a matchup next year that could pit two familiar political families against each other – Bush vs. Clinton.
“I think you’re going to see just another establishment candidate, and on the other side would be Hillary Clinton,” Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), a Tea Party favorite, said of a Bush nomination.
“If you like the direction of the country, then those would be your two candidates,” said Yoho, who is backing Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
Bush critics zero in on immigration
While there is never a guarantee that your own party will agree with you on everything, for Bush critics inside the Republican Party, two main issues stand apart from all others.
“The issues as they relate to Common Core and immigration reform,” Rep. Miller readily acknowledged.
In his trademark calm and measured tone, Bush has not tried to avoid those items – the sometimes wonky former Governor simply says he sees them differently than many GOP voters and activists.
“I just think you’re wrong on immigration, to be honest with you, and you think I’m wrong,” Bush told a very conservative audience in Washington, D.C. earlier this year.
“And I respect you for it,” Bush said without any hint of anger or aggravation in his voice.
But the former Governor says he simply feels that a comprehensive immigration reform plan – with secure borders – is something that will boost the nation and economic growth.
“I just honestly believe that if we could fix the legal (immigration) part that is not working, we could grow our economy much faster,” Bush says.
“Maybe I’m stubborn, I’m willing to listen to other views,” Bush said. “But I think I’m right about this.”
Obviously, there are many GOP voters who don’t see things that way when it comes to Bush and immigration.
— Charles Pewitt (@CharlesPewitt) June 11, 2015
So far, Jeb Bush has not set the Republican field on fire; many experts see Bush in the top tier of GOP candidates, along with Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
“Jeb is a policy wonk,” said Rep. Miller. “He is a well-rounded candidate.”
“I think in this case, to carry into the general election, Jeb Bush is the guy,” said Rep. Crenshaw.
After months of getting ready to be a candidate, Jeb Bush is now ready to take the next step.
His father tried, but failed to win the GOP nomination in 1980, won the White House in 1988, and then lost it to Bill Clinton in 1992; his brother George W. won it back in 2000 and 2004.
Is there room for a third Bush at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
That drive officially begins on Monday.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.