“I think the Bush network is locked, loaded and ready to fire for Jeb as soon as his wink becomes a nod,” former Bush aide Mark McKinnon said. “I don’t know what he will end up doing, but whatever it is it will be with a lot of reflection, deliberation and planning.”

He added: “I think arguably he could have run and won in 2012, so by 2016 whatever Bush “fatigue” there may be will have dissipated considerably. And Jeb is very much his own man with his own identity. From any angle at any time, the Bush assets swamp any Bush liabilities.”

Yet several veteran Republicans, including former Bush administration officials who lived through the backlash at the end of George W. Bush’s second term, said there’s a real fear that he isn’t the right candidate for the party as it struggles to reinvent itself.

Over cocktails and at dinner tables, Republicans in Washington worry he’d face criticism of dynasty building and attacks from Democrats that his policies will be the same his older brother’s, many of which remain widely unpopular. Bush’s economic policies still garner a majority of disapproval among Americans, and nearly 60 percent disapprove of his decision to invade Iraq in 2003, according to a recent poll.