With President Obama’s job approval rating currently upside down at 45% approval vs. 47.7% disapproval, Republicans have an interesting conundrum. We are heading into 2011 with no obvious 2012 presidential frontrunners, just a herd of prospective candidates all flawed for one reason or another, and most Republicans are not too happy with the selection.
So perhaps now is the time for Republican primary voters to consider a familiar name who would have been the obvious choice to head the GOP ticket in 2008 had he been born with any surname other than Bush.
Yes, I am suggesting that John Ellis Bush, aka Jeb, should run for president in 2012.
Before you say I am totally crazy, let’s examine the facts.
After two successful terms as governor of Florida from 1999–2007, Jeb Bush kept a low profile in 2008 for obvious brotherly reasons — but the times they are a changin’ and these shifting political winds could mean 2012 is the right time for Jeb Bush to ascend to the family throne.
Here’s why Jeb Bush should run, could win the nomination, and could defeat Obama in 2012.
Jeb has the prerequisite management and leadership experience.
Serving eight years as governor of a major state like Florida is some of the best presidential preparation one can have. Leaving office in 2007 (term limited) with approval ratings in the 60s is even more impressive, especially when at the same time his brother, the president, had the most dismal job approval numbers since President Richard Nixon.
In 2008, Jeb considered running for the 2010 open Senate seat just won by Marco Rubio (more below on that), but in January 2009 he decided it was best to “lay low” in the private sector and utilize his prior business experience in banking, consulting, and real estate.
But because of who he is, Jeb is always asked the inevitable question: Are you running for president? This is followed by the usual denials. In a recent Newsmax interview, Jeb said he could not envision a circumstance that would lure him into making a presidential run:
“But look, what I have said — and it creates all sorts of scurrying around and speculation — is you never say never in life. All I’ve said is I’m not running in 2012.”
“Never say never in life” comes as good news for many Republicans who thought Jeb was always strong presidential timber. Now he just needs some prodding to realize 2012 is his time.
Jeb has a unique relationship with Hispanic Americans.
Married for 36 years to the Mexican-born Columba, whom he met in 1971 while teaching English in Mexico, Jeb brings a personal perspective to the problems plaguing the Hispanic community like immigration and education. Fluent in Spanish, with three grown bi-racial children, Jeb and his family would influence Hispanics to take a closer look at the GOP.
Jeb has come out against Arizona’s controversial immigration law, saying it is the “wrong approach.”
Obviously, this stance does not endear him to prospective Republican primary voters and he cites it as proof that he is not interested in a While House run. But still Republican stalwarts salivate over the thought of someone like Jeb, who is the most likely candidate to build a bridge to the nation’s largest minority group (currently at 16% of the population and trending overwhelmingly Democrat). This fact brings negative future consequences for Republican candidates at all levels of government, especially the presidency, unless someone like Jeb can help turn it around.
Jeb’s big brother is back and recovering nicely.
George W. Bush is 2010’s “comeback kid.”
His book Decision Points has been perched at #1 on the New York Times and Amazon best seller lists for close to a month, and his popularity is on the rise.
According to a recent Gallup poll, our 43rd president had a higher job approval rating than President Obama, 47% vs. 46%.
The prevailing opinion is the longer President Obama is in office the more the job seems to overwhelm him – and George W. Bush gains more respect.
Nevertheless, the Bush-haters will always be around to tarnish the Bush brand and Jeb can always use that as his excuse not to run. However, in 2010 Jeb began to raise his own public profile. This is much easier now that Obama is faltering and Jeb´s brother is rebounding.
If this trend continues into 2011, Jeb Bush might even be convinced that 2012 is his year, especially if there is continued dissatisfaction with the current crop of candidates.
Jeb could unite the Republican Party.
The Tea Party movement and the “establishment” Republican Party must come together and agree on a compromise candidate if Obama is to be defeated in 2012. Nominating someone who polls show could not win over independent voters is like committing political suicide.
Enter Jeb Bush — who has great respect among party leaders and conservative primary voters.
He could emerge as the uniter the party desperately needs for 2012.
Jeb especially endeared himself to conservatives with his May 2010 endorsement of Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate seat Jeb himself turned down in early 2009. By endorsing Rubio, Jeb bucked sitting Governor Charlie Crist, the establishment party choice and the man who succeeded Jeb in 2007. Fearing a loss to Rubio in the GOP primary, Crist left the party to run as an independent.
Jeb’s continued popularity in Florida helped boost Rubio, who at 39 years old is considered a national rising star. Jeb’s mentoring and early unofficial support of Rubio’s Senate campaign will reap Jeb much future good will with young party conservatives.
A recent MarketWatch column by Darrell Delamaid titled “Jeb Bush in ’12: Third time may be the charm” sums it up this way:
Jeb combines the intelligence of the father with the affability of the brother, while adding a political smoothness all his own.
With all that going for him, what are Republican voters waiting for?
What’s even more perfect is the 2012 Republican National Convention will be in Tampa, Florida.
The presidential election cycle means it’s now, take a risk, or never.
If Obama is re-elected in 2012, then Jeb gets his shot in 2016. But that is a risky gamble.
Now consider: If Obama is defeated by one of the current Republican candidates in 2012, then Jeb has to wait around until 2020 to get his turn at bat. At that time he would be 67 years old. Considering all the young Republican talent who then will be ready for primetime, Jeb’s chances for a 2020 presidential run are very slim.
So if Obama looks really vulnerable by mid-2011, and none of the likely GOP candidates are catching fire, there might well be a Draft Jeb movement on the horizon. Then…
Jeb could raise money and put together an organization very quickly.
There is no doubt that even a late Jeb 2012 start would be well-funded and operational in time for a competitive general election. Remember the internet raises millions overnight and Jeb’s family has run more national presidential campaigns than any family in America.
Besides, Obama has been running against someone named Bush since 2008 and there is no reason why that should stop in 2012. There is already a Facebook page for Jeb Bush 2012 appropriately called Keep Hope Alive, but it has less than 2,000 members so far. Jeb 2012 T-shirts and bumper stickers are also available for the keepers of hope.
Jeb’s Catholicism might help sway Catholic Democratic voters in traditional blue states.
Jeb Bush has been a devout and active Catholic since his conversion in 1995 from his family’s Episcopal roots.
There has not been a Catholic president since John Kennedy. Jeb Bush, if nominated, would make history as the first Catholic Republican presidential candidate.
Might Jeb’s Catholicism help sway Catholic voters in traditionally blue states with large Catholic populations of 28% or over? States like PA, NY, CA, MA, RI, and NJ, all won by Catholic Democratic candidate John Kerry in 2004?
Kerry, although winning all these above mentioned states, ultimately lost the national Catholic vote to Jeb’s brother 47% to 52%, even though Kerry heavily courted that vote.
(Kerry, however, was not exactly a poster child for Catholicism, whereas Jeb lives his faith by his actions and beliefs.)
Even if Jeb’s faith moved older Catholics in some key blue states by just a few percentage points, that alone could be the electoral margin of victory in a close presidential race.
Jeb’s candidacy is greater than the sum of its parts.
Readers who are skeptical that another Bush will ever occupy the White House should think again.
With Jeb we have a very popular former two-term governor from a major bellwether state who is smart, personable, articulate, and attractive. He has business experience, knows the issues, is respected by all flanks of his party, speaks fluent Spanish, and has been married to the same woman for 36 years who happens to be from the fastest growing demographic group in the nation. He could also raise barrels of money and build a national campaign organization quickly if necessary.
He would make history as the first Catholic Republican nominee. He has a father who is a former president and a respected elder statesman. He has an older brother, another former president, who is currently the nations #1 best selling author and on the comeback trail in popularity.
Plus there is the excitement and momentum of the national convention in Jeb’s home state of Florida. So I ask: what’s not to like?
Jeb, you are the change we are looking for in 2012.
This is your time! Run Jeb, Run!