Report: Bush 41 telling friends it's a "near certainty" that Jeb runs

After a week of watching you guys dry-heave at the thought of another Romney run, I thought it’d be fun to wind down on Friday by having you dry-heave at the thought of Bush’s candidacy instead.

Dude, this is happening. Or is it?

But people who have met in recent weeks with Jeb Bush in New York, Washington and Florida say they are far less certain that a campaign will ultimately materialize. Some described Bush as deeply engaged on issues beyond his usual focus on immigration and education, suggesting he was very much preparing for a national race. Others said it seemed like concerns over how a run would impact his family ultimately might keep Bush on the sidelines.

“He told me two things,” a person who spoke with Bush recently in Washington said: “that he knows he has to decide very soon, and that his wife is not at all happy with the possibility.”…

It would, however, be a restoration of the family legacy, something said to be very important to the 41st president. A person in attendance at the former president’s 90th birthday party in Kennebunkport this past June said the elder Bush spoke of a Jeb Bush candidacy as a near certainty. The elder Bush is also said to have leaned on his son to run.

His wife’s reluctance is allegedly what convinced Mitch Daniels to pass on running. What a gut-punch for center-righties if they lose another top recruit on that ground. Another bit that caught my eye:

“He is well aware of party dynamics, but his view is that leadership matters, a lot,” said Arthur Brooks, a friend of Bush’s and president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “What he says is, ‘I have strong views on Common Core and immigration and those are views that some people don’t share. But I’m going to provide leadership and ask people to go along with it, and if they can’t — they can’t,” Brooks added. “Isn’t it refreshing to have someone who values truth over victory?”

So Jeb’s going to run as a loud and proud RINO, huh? I confess, that may be the only way to make me semi-enthusiastic about his candidacy — not because I agree with his RINOier positions (especially on immigration) but because it’d be interesting to cover a GOP primary where there’s one unabashed squish in the race who’s not trying to pretend he’s something else. We thought we were getting that with Romney but then he started pushing “self-deportation” and insisting that he’s “severely conservative” and no one believed any of it. If we as a party are going to go for the RINO again, let’s not lie to ourselves about what we’re doing.

On the other hand, Rubio took a similar approach last year after he joined the Gang of Eight and it … didn’t work out so well for him. He didn’t run and hide from conservative media at the time. On the contrary, he went on Rush Limbaugh’s show and made his case for comprehensive immigration reform in other right-wing outlets. He was the Gang’s de facto director of outreach to tea partiers; the thought was that a young Latino star with enough of a knack on the stump to get elected to the Senate as a 39-year-old might just be able to convince conservatives to soften up on legalization. Eighteen months later, Rubio’s in full retreat from the bill ahead of the 2016 primaries. A key difference between him and Jeb, obviously, is that Rubio would aim for some conservative votes next year as a candidate whereas Bush would target center-righties and “somewhat conservative” voters. In other words, Rubio had more of an incentive to walk back his heresies than Jeb does given that they’re playing to slightly different audiences. But what happens if Jeb runs unapologetically as a pro-amnesty, pro-Common Core RINO and wins the nomination? He’s counting on the fact, I assume, that grassroots conservatives will hold their noses and turn out for him anyway in the general election in the name of beating Hillary. Will they?

Exit question: Does the “near certainty” of Jeb running per Papa Bush explain why Team Romney has been talking more lately about Mitt eventually getting in? It could be that Mitt’s inner circle wants their donors to know that they shouldn’t commit to Jeb just yet since the big guy might have one last run in him. But in that case, I don’t understand why every story about Mitt 2016 mentions that Romney himself is waiting to see what Bush will do; if Bush runs, the thinking goes, Mitt will pass, secure in the knowledge that the rich hawkish donor class has a formidable standard bearer in the battle with Paul and Cruz. (Ann Romney herself suggested this week that they were waiting on Jeb.) If Jeb has the right of first refusal then why are Romneyites talking about Mitt running now? Is it really Christie that they’re worried about and want to discourage instead?