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Matt Vespa

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March 14, 2013 - 12:12 pm

CNN’s Politicker blog reports that Jeb Bush, a moderate Republican, doesn’t have his name on the CPAC straw poll ballot.

“It was our request to Mr. Cardenas when he extended the invite for Gov. Bush to speak. We asked not to be included, as Gov. Bush has said repeatedly, it is too early to think about 2016,” Bush spokesperson Jaryn Emhof told CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper, anchor of the upcoming CNN program “The Lead.”

Bush will speak at the conference Friday.

Bush lately has been doing something he’s never really done before: talk publicly about possibly running for president. Earlier this month as Bush did the television interview circuit, including two interviews on CNN, around the release of his new book, “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” the son and brother of former presidents openly discussed his thinking on a run for the White House in 2016.

But in those interviews Bush, who passed on running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012, said he won’t be making a decision on the next race for the White House any time soon and chided the media for obsessing on 2016.

“I suspect Jeb didn’t want to be on straw poll list. He has consistently said it’s too early for 2016 talk and doesn’t do anything to fan the flames,” said Ana Navarro, a GOP strategist, CNN contributor and friend of Bush.

And a source very close to Bush told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, anchor of CNN’s “State of the Union,” that the straw poll “would start a conversation he doesn’t want and doesn’t even think should happen at this time.”

However, the CPAC straw poll is essentially worthless, as Allahpundit noted today.

The real reason he’s withdrawn from the ballot, of course, is that he’s likely to do poorly among a group as conservative as CPACers. In recent history, there’s been two ways to win the straw poll: Either you’ve got intense grassroots support, a la Ron Paul, or you’ve got an organization that’s busing people in to help you win, a la Mitt Romney. It’s a lot like the Ames straw poll just before the GOP primaries — essentially meaningless but catnip for political reporters who are eager to use the results as tea leaves for a candidate’s chances at the nomination. In other words, it’s a buzz factory, for good or ill. They’ve held 18 CPAC straw polls over the past 27 years and, incredibly, only once has a Bush been victorious. (That was Dubya in 2000.) How do you suppose Jeb, a famously moderate Republican, would fare against grassroots rock stars like Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, and most importantly Rubio, whose entry into the race might well preclude him from running given how many of their top supporters overlap? The last thing Jeb needs is a “RUBIO CRUSHES BUSH AMONG CONSERVATIVES” headline. Worse, what if he ended up behind someone like Chris Christie, whose RINO tendencies have led him to be banished from the whole affair? (“BUSH FINISHES BEHIND RINO.”) If only for the sake of his book sales, it’s best to do what Romney did in Ames in 2011 and take himself out of the running. You can’t be said to have “lost” if you didn’t really compete, right? Take that, political media.

Yeah, it’s hard to believe that Bush could’ve placed well when stacked against, not just Rubio, but Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, and Scott Walker.

And don’t miss Next Generation’s members-only coverage of CPAC 2013 — featuring former Congressman Allen West and Michelle Fields. Click here to learn more.

Matt Vespa is a web editor at Townhall.com and occasional writer for Hot Air, RedState, and Townhall Magazine.

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