Republican presidential contenders – a full list
Washington: Jeb Bush, son of the 41st president of the United States and younger brother of 43rd enjoyed a normal family Thanksgiving last month, he reassured Americans in a Facebook updated earlier today.
“We shared good food and watched a whole lot of football,” and later he “decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.” If he won he would be Bush 45.
Anyone keeping half an eye on US politics already knew that this was a possibility Jeb Bush has been actively exploring for some time, but in making the announcement he has edged very close to starting up the full machinery of a presidential campaign.
Though the field of possible Republican candidates is vast, Jeb immediately vaults to the front of the pack and the possibility of a Bush-Clinton 2016 election is now considerable.
Should he run, Jeb will begin his campaign both buoyed up and weighed down by his family name.
Many supporters of both parties are appalled by the rise of dynasties in American politics, a sentiment captured by his own mother, Barbara, who said last year, “There are a lot of great families. It’s not just four families, or whatever. There are other people out there that are very qualified. We’ve had enough Bushes.”
One of his brother’s former advisors, David Frum, tweeted earlier today, “In this magnificent land of opportunity, anyone can aspire to the presidency, provided only that an immediate relative had the job already.”
But the Bush name also gives Jeb access to a formidable political network, instant name recognition, the support of much of the Republican Party’s Washington, DC establishment, and an insight into the rigors of a campaign and the job itself.
Indeed it is often said that Bush Snr – and Barbara for that matter – always expected Jeb to be president rather than his older brother.
Then there is the Bush record in office to consider.
Bush senior, or 41 as he is often referred to as, was the last US president to win a fast and decisive war, but many Republicans never forgave him for not finishing the first Gulf War by storming Baghdad. Many others mistrust him for increasing taxes to cut the deficit. When the independent Ross Perot split the Republican vote in 1992 Bush Snr lost office after one term, leaving the nation in recession.
Bush 43 won two terms but left a nation mired in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and facing a financial catastrophe.
Despite this the savagery of the popular Republican backlash against the Obama presidency has had led to some reimagining of the W’s era in the White House. A popular line of Republican merchandise has an image of W. Bush with the slogan “Miss me yet?” underneath it.
Jeb Bush’s own political record will cut both ways too. As governor of Florida he ran a conservative administration – small on government, big on death penalty – but since he last ran for office the Republican Party has been dragged further to the right by the Tea Party.
Jeb now finds himself on the wrong side of two major Republican issues – education and immigration.
Jeb supports what is known as the Common Core education standards. This is a set of nationwide standards that states are required to meet. This has become a flashpoint for many Tea Party Republicans who see it as federal government over-reach.
But it is on immigration that Bush stands apart from the pack the most. Bush has lived in Venezuela, done business with Cuban-Americans and married a Mexican. During the height of the debate over immigration earlier this year when many Republicans were calling mass deportations and a militarised southern border, he said of undocumented immigrants, “Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family.”
That is to say that Jeb Bush has a record that could significantly eat into the election-winning advantage Democrats have among America’s rapidly growing Latino population, but could cost him a Republican primary.