Republican Jeb Bush Moves Toward Presidential Candidacy

The brother of the last Republican president is weighing a candidacy of his own.

Republican governor of Tennessee Bill Haslam speaks with former Florida governor Jeb Bush at the Vanderbilt Freedom Forum in Nashville, January 14, 2013
Republican governor of Tennessee Bill Haslam speaks with former Florida governor Jeb Bush at the Vanderbilt Freedom Forum in Nashville, January 14, 2013 (Governor of Tennessee)

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush made the first move toward seeking his Republican Party’s presidential nomination on Tuesday, writing on Facebook that he would establish a political action committee early next year.

Such an organization allows presidential hopefuls to approach donors and supporters and is seen as a stepping stone toward a formal candidacy.

Dynasties

Bush’s announcement raises the prospect of a clash between two American political dynasties in 2016.

Jeb’s father, George H.W., lost the 1992 presidential election to Democrat Bill Clinton, who was succeeded in 2001 by Jeb’s younger brother, George W. Bush. Clinton’s wife, Hillary, who was President Barack Obama’s first secretary of state, is expected to seek and win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

Moderate

The Republican could struggle to endear diehard conservatives who mistrust his relatively moderate positions on education and immigration policy.

Bush supports legal status — but not citizenship — for illegal immigrants as well as federal language and mathematics standards in primary schools.

Many right-wing Republicans reject both.

Hispanic vote

The policies are more popular among ethnic minorities, constituencies Republicans have struggled to appeal to nationwide.

Bush won a majority of the Hispanic vote when he ran for the governorship of Florida in 2002. Mitt Romney, the last Republican presidential candidate, got only 27 percent support from Hispanic voters in 2012.

In a presidential contest, Florida’s 29 electoral votes can make a crucial difference.

Bush could also make Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, states with large Hispanic populations that Barack Obama won in the last election, more competitive.

Closer look

A closer look at his governing record in Florida reveals Bush is far less of a moderate than his opponents allow.

Over the course of eight years, Bush reduced taxes by $14 billion. He eliminated thousands of public-sector jobs by outsourcing state duties. He introduced tougher crime laws for repeat offenders and expanded gun rights.

Bush also created America’s first statewide school voucher program in Florida and has actively championed conservative education reforms, including charter schools, since.

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