Political Profile for Week One: Former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush

1. Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida:

Basic Background Information

  • 61 years old
  • Graduated from the University of Texas in 1973 in only 2.5 years
  • Worked in the private sector for years after graduating college
  • Worked on many of his father’s campaigns (former president George H.W. Bush)
  • Served as Chairman of the Dade County Republican Party (1986-1988)
  • Was Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s campaign manager in 1989
  • Ran for Governor of Florida in 1994, but surprisingly to most, he lost
  • Ran again in 1998 and won. Won reelection bid in 2002.
  • Term limited in 2006, Bush reentered the private sector.



1. Jeb Bush Political Profile

  • Well suited for the states that have early primaries/caucuses?

–Iowa-no, New Hampshire-yes

  • Skeletons in the closet (that we know about)?

–In 2013 Jeb Bush tweeted “Why would our President close our Embassy to the Vatican? Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic organizations opposing Obamacare.”

  • Bush was tweeting in response to a rumor circulating on right-wing websites that the United States was closing its Vatican embassy and cutting off all diplomatic relations with the Catholic church.
  • Obviously this was not true.
  • In reality the United States was just moving the Vatican embassy into the same building that houses the embassy to Italy in order to save an estimated one million dollars a year.

–Rumors are floating around regarding Bush’s wife and children (his daughter has been arrested on drug-related charges years ago) (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/as-jeb-bush-eyes-2016-key-question-is-how-a-presidential-campaign-would-affect-his-family/2014/05/11/73ef1816-d55e-11e3-8a78-8fe50322a72c_story.html), but nothing has been substantiated

–Admits to smoking marijuana as a teenager, was a poor student until he was getting ready to go to college; some have claimed that he was once a bully (https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2015/02/01/tumultuous-four-years-phillips-academy-helped-shape-jeb-bush/q6ccyHNOtP1n6kqDokMBfK/story.html).

–Took a number of corporate jobs in the private sector that will come under great scrutiny.

  • Candidate’s Weaknesses: Ties to unpopular positions or politicians?

–George W. Bush:

  • Although not his fault, the Bush name—once a great strength—is now one of his greatest weaknesses as a candidate.
  • It will be difficult to prove to voters in a general election that he is not just a clone of his brother.
  • Will also face resentment from primary voters who blame George W. Bush for the current state of the Republican Party
  • Bush fatigue: Many Republicans (including—until recently—his own mother, Barbara Bush) want to avoid nominating a third Bush

–It’s been a long time since he has run for office.

  • Hasn’t run for office in twelve years.
  • Hasn’t held political office in eight years (he was term-limited in 2006)
  • Can he survive the rigors of the presidential campaign trail?
  • Could struggle in debates.

–Prominent supporter of immigration reform (and common core).

  • Like Senator Rubio, will have to justify his views to dubious primary voters.

–An unimpressive public speaker/orator. Can he inspire, connect, communicate?

–Has a Marco Rubio problem

  • Both men are from Florida, it might be tough for both to run. Bush had previously endorsed Marco Rubio for Senate in 2010.


  • What is this candidate’s selling points?

–Can raise a lot of money (much more than any other Republican candidate)

  • The Bush family has built up a sizeable donor list over the last few decades. Can raise significantly more money than any other Republican candidates.
  • With Mitt Romney not running, he will also pick up many of Romney’s donors as the most electable “establishment” candidate
  • By all accounts, the Bush campaign is already raising millions of dollars.

–Brings experience and national appeal

  • The Republican field is shaping up to be a very young one.
  • Unlikely to make rookie mistakes
  • Bush is a rare Republican who has proven he can win over more than just conservatives.
  • Already won Florida (a purple state and a state Republicans must win a general election) twice.

–Could broaden the Republican base

  • Is popular with Latinos (at least compared to other Republican figures) and the Republicans must do better with Latinos if they want to be a viable national party.
  • If George W. Bush knew how to appeal to Latino voters; his younger brother has proven to be even better at doing so.
  • More appealing to moderate voters than most of his competitors.

–Is not associated with recent Republican missteps

  • Was not involved with, and therefore cannot be blamed for: the government shutdown, Benghazi investigations, impeachment talk, refusing to raise the debt ceiling, low Congressional approval ratings etc.

–Has a strong command of the issues. Excels at the question and answer format.

  • Best suited for the general election or primaries? Establishment or outsider candidate?

–The general election. With a name like Bush, how could he be seen as anything other than a member of the establishment? Still, he hasn’t held office for eight years and is not in any way tarnished by congressional foolishness.

  • Trending upward, downward , or neither. Why?

–Upward. Mitt Romney’s decision not to run again will allow Bush to lock up many of the wealthiest Republican donors and the establishment political consultants. Unlike almost every one of his main competitors, Bush has managed to remain generally mistake-free lately. Rumored to be raising a lot of money already.

  • On a scale of 1-10 (with ten being certain to run) how likely is he to run?

–10. Once thought to be unlikely to run, Bush is now certain to run.

Jeb Bush: Key Questions

  • Can Bush overcome his last name?
  • Will staying out of politics for almost a decade ultimately help or hurt Bush’s presidential bid?
  • Is Bush prepared to run a presidential campaign?
  • Can Bush unite the establishment wing of the Republican Party behind his candidacy?
  • Can Bush convince enough conservatives to earn his party’s nomination?
  • Can Bush survive the Republican primary when his positions on education and immigration are very unpopular with many Republican voters?


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