Why Jeb Bush Should Run for President in 2012

The cast of 2012 Republican presidential candidates is nearly complete. And it’s mighty slim pickings. There’s not a person in the field who Barack Obama -- for all his shortcomings, failures, and sagging popularity -- couldn’t beat by ten points. And there are a few that he would beat by twenty.

Already, I hear conservative talk show hosts wishing they could build a Frankenstein monster -- taking a part from each of the candidates to build the perfect and unbeatable candidate.

Mitt Romney’s resume and business experience. Sarah Palin’s electricity and ability to relate to everyday Americans. Michele Bachmann’s plainspoken passion for conservatism. Newt Gingrich’s intelligence and debate skills, and so on.

But there’s no need to build that person. He already exists. And he’s the one Republican who could shake up this race and put Obama’s reelection in jeopardy: Jeb Bush.

The former two-term Florida governor has made it clear that he is not interested in running for president next year, which only fueled speculation among supporters and pundits that he is waiting until 2016  when Obama will be out of the picture with no heir apparent waiting in the wings. You can see why Bush would want to wait, and avoid a shootout with Obama who, for all his other flaws, is an exceptional campaigner.

And yet, given how weak the Republican bench looks at the moment, Republicans can’t be blamed for not giving up on the idea of recruiting Bush to run.

This is how bad things are on the right: The people that Republican voters tell pollsters they would be interested in supporting for president aren’t interested in the job. Besides Bush, there’s New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who also says he is not planning to run next year.  And then there’s Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is also sitting out this dance.

Then there is Rudy Giuliani. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll finds the former New York City mayor -- who doesn’t seem to be running but hasn’t closed the door -- leading the pack of possible GOP candidates with the support of 16 percent of respondents. Mitt Romney got 15 percent. Sarah Palin got 13 percent.

Here’s a bigger problem. No matter what name you throw out there, the result is an enthusiasm gap. Even those who say they would support Romney, Palin, or another GOP hopeful aren’t excited about the possibility that their choice could be elected president. That could be a recipe for low voter turnout.

All the more reason that Jeb Bush should reconsider his decision to stay out of the fray next year, and jump in.