Quotes of the day

“Our country is on a very bad course. And the question is: What are we going to do about it? The question for me is: What am I going to do about it? And I’ve decided,” Bush said Monday afternoon at Miami Dade College in Florida. “I’m a candidate for president of the United States.”

“We don’t need another president who merely holds the top spot among the pampered elites of Washington. We need a president willing to challenge and disrupt the whole culture in our nation’s capital,” Bush said in his announcement. “And I will be that president.”


Bush made only a fleeting reference to his dad and brother, joking that he is someone “who met his first president on the day he was born, and his second on the day he was brought home from the hospital.”

If anything, Bush went out of his way to convince voters that he thinks he isn’t entitled to anything.

“I know that there are good people running for president. Quite a few, in fact,” Bush said. “And not a one of us deserves the job by right of résumé, party, seniority, family, or family narrative. It’s nobody’s turn. It’s everybody’s test, and it’s wide open—exactly as a contest for president should be.”…

“After eight years, we’ve learned this much: The presidency of the United States does not come with training wheels. The presidency of the United States should not be the first management job you apply for,” [state Sen. Don] Gaetz said, after warning of the last time a “young man with a silver tongue” ran for president.


“The prime thing he talks about is he wants to go about showing his heart,” said Bush spokesman Tim Miller, recalling the message of exit polls on Election Day in 2012.

“A lot of people highlighted in the exit polls how Mitt Romney beat Obama in a lot of characteristics but was trounced when it came to ‘who cares about people like me,'” Miller said…

“We learned who the real Mitt was two years after the election when someone did a documentary,” Kostrzewa said. “The mantra of this campaign is, ‘Let Jeb be Jeb.'”

“I am going to be who I am, I am not going to change who i am because at a given point in time someone has a particular point of view,” Bush told reporters in Estonia on Saturday as he concluded a three-nation trip.


Why does Jeb Bush want to be president? The use of the descriptor “diffident” is one way of saying we don’t have a clear answer to that question. Running for the White House is a gruel: It’s time consuming, often humiliating, and sometimes damaging to one’s psychological well-being or family happiness.

To work so hard for so elusive a goal, most candidates need the fuel of personal ambition combined with an ideological agenda. Bush seems to be lacking in both. Hillary Clinton hopes to break the ultimate glass ceiling, Senator Bernie Sanders to push the Democratic party to the left, Senator Rand Paul to re-orient the Republicans in a more libertarian direction, Senator Ted Cruz (among many others) to be the new Reagan.

No such overarching fusion of personal and political destiny is evident in Jeb Bush. He’s running, it seems, because his wealthy supporters think that there is a vacuum in the GOP. The party needs to put a more moderate visage and the other major candidates are too far to the right. But the role of Jeb-the-moderate sits uneasily with the candidate’s own political instincts, which are more in sync with the party’s right-wing base than commonly recognized.


From the beginning, Bush has insisted his decision about whether to undertake a presidential run in 2016 would depend on his answer to one question: “Can I do it joyfully?” But now, as he officially launches his campaign at a Monday afternoon rally in Miami, Bush’s pursuit of the presidency seems destined to be a grinding, grumpy ordeal — permeated with disdain for the trivial demands of campaign pageantry, and rooted in a sense of duty to save the GOP from a field of candidates he seems to regard as unprepared or unserious.

Joylessness wafts off Bush wherever he goes, from the photo-ops on his just-completed tour of Europe, to the grip-and-grins on the campaign trail in New Hampshire…

Of course, presidential campaigns have never been uniformly joyful affairs, and every candidate has their fair share of miserable days. But in Bush’s case, the surface-level signs of weariness may be symptomatic of the fundamental rationale for his candidacy. Despite his long-held passion for public policy and stated desire to “develop a message that’s hopeful and optimistic about the future of the country,” Bush is not entering the Republican civil war as a true believer fighting zealously for one ideological tribe of conservatism. He is casting himself, instead, as the mature, sensible, electable candidate — the GOP grown-up with a proven ability to “move the dial” on key issues while in office…

But if Bush’s entry into the race is motivated by a desire to restore a sense of maturity, sobriety, and substance to the process, that is almost certainly a recipe for misery. It may, indeed, get him nominated — Mitt Romney triumphed over a much weaker field with roughly the same strategy — but in the meantime, he will have to spend significant time on a debate stage in between people like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, while they hurl high-octane soundbites at the cameras.


Jeb Bush’s entry into the 2016 GOP primary race hands the liberal media an establishment candidate that they enjoy using as a tool to whack conservatives. Bush’s stances on immigration, Common Core and other issues have drawn praise from the likes of Chris Matthews who cooed: “He wants to run on his own terms. He’s not going to become a wacko bird. He’s not going to join the clown car…he believes in Common Core education. He believes in immigration.”…

It wasn’t always this way for Jeb Bush. Whenever he was in the way of a liberal candidate or signed conservatives legislation they attacked him. When he was running for the Florida governorship in 2000 against liberal Democrat Lawton Chiles he was described by ABC’s Jack Smith as “a radical conservative.” And in 2005 ABC reporter Jeffrey Kofman compared him to the fictional Dirty Harry when he signed pro-gun legislation: “What was it Clint Eastwood said, ‘Go ahead, make my day?’ Well, Florida Governor Jeb Bush has done just that for gun owners here in Florida. It’s going to be a lot easier to shoot and kill someone in the name of self-defense.”…

But now that Bush is seen, by the liberal media, as a moderate and therefore more acceptable choice compared to his conservative rivals they seem more willing to praise him.  


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will launch his presidential campaign Monday in Miami. Much will happen to change the shape of the race between now and November 2016. But given what we know now, I predict that Bush will become the 45th president of the United States

Rather than trying to expand his support among conservative voters, Bush is trying to make inroads with moderate, swing voters. For example, when I’ve heard Bush talk about his education reforms in Florida, he doesn’t just give conservative talking points about expanding families’ freedom to choose the school that’s best for them. He explains how successful the reforms have been in making Florida’s Hispanic, black and low-income students outscore students in other states.

Bush is a true Big Tent Republican. He generally doesn’t attack other Republicans, and when he attacks Democrats, he generally avoids the outraged tone that other GOP candidates employ. This will be an attractive feature to the growing share of voters who are fed up with the politics of perpetual outrage. Conservative voters likely won’t like his moderate approach to immigration or his support for Common Core. But Bush isn’t flip-flopping on those issues; instead, he is working to convince conservatives of his positions while taking his message to moderate voters.


PredictWise gives him roughly a 31 percent chance of winning the Republican nomination, a number that has changed little in 2015. It was as low as 27 percent in January and briefly touched 36 percent a couple of times in early April. He remains the favorite, with Marco Rubio at 25 percent, Scott Walker at 18 percent and no other individual candidate above 5 percent (Rand Paul’s chances have generally been rated higher in the last few months, but he is at 5 percent as of today).

Mr. Bush’s basic strengths and weaknesses have not changed. He is the most experienced, tested candidate among the Republicans’ major contenders, with deep ties to party leaders, a popular tenure as Florida’s governor and a well-known interest in policy. He is also a mediocre speech-giver, the brother of a president who was among the least popular of the last 80 years, and a person who’s distrusted by many conservatives.

I might quibble with the collective opinion of the prediction markets. (I believe they’re still overestimating the chances that the nominee will be someone other than Mr. Bush, Mr. Rubio or Mr. Walker.) But the notion that Mr. Bush’s chances are only slightly worse than they were at the peak feels right, for all the negative commentary he is now receiving.


The striking — and surprising — thing about his candidacy is that he will formally enter the race Monday bearing many of the costs of the center-right approach without seeming to enjoy many of the benefits.

He has not won the invisible primary, the behind-the-scenes competition for elite support that often decides the nomination, and he has not even emerged as a favorite of the party’s large block of more moderate voters. He starts in a weaker position than not only his brother in 1999 or his father in 1987, but also Mitt Romney in 2011…

What is surprising, though, is Mr. Bush’s relatively vulnerable standing in the places he had seemed strong only a few months ago. It’s no surprise that he has miserable numbers among Iowa caucus-goers, who are very conservative, and Tea Party supporters nationwide. It is surprising that he has not emerged as a clear favorite in New Hampshire, where self-identified moderates make up nearly half of the electorate. In national polls, he fares no better against Hillary Rodham Clinton than Marco Rubio or Mr. Walker, and his favorability ratings are worse than all of them. The party establishment hasn’t unified around him, perhaps in part as a result of these indicators…

The state’s voters aren’t just relatively moderate; they’re independent and iconoclastic. John McCain won the state in 2000 and 2008, while Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul combined to amass more support than Mr. Romney received four years ago. One wonders whether an establishment-backed Bush is the right candidate to appeal to a state with a penchant for “mavericks.”


My fear, however, is that Bush is sincere: He believes not just that he is well-qualified to be president, which is fair enough, but that he has a realistic strategy for winning an actual presidential election against Hillary Clinton. I just don’t see it. You know the basic argument: Fairly or unfairly, the Bush brand is tarnished, and Jeb Bush will have little choice but to be seen as a stand-in for his still unpopular older brother. Bush is a figure who has been around for a long time, and it’s possible that he’s too stale for an electorate hungry for change. I buy the idea that Bush has unique liabilities that would hurt him badly in a general election…

Even now, as Bush’s proto-campaign underwhelms donors and activists, he has at least a 50-50 shot at winning the GOP nomination, thanks to the fact that he can make just enough Republicans dislike his most plausible opponents more than they dislike him. But will brutal attacks on Marco Rubio’s youth and inexperience inspire young people? Will months of tearing into Scott Walker encourage blue-collar Midwestern swing voters to back Bush? Could it be that condemning Rand Paul as a reckless isolationist will prove to skeptical moderates that he’s learned from the failures of George W. Bush’s foreign policy?

The Republican candidate who can win in 2016 is the candidate who can fight the Democratic candidate to a draw on the question of which candidate “cares about people like me.” The fact that voters found Barack Obama more attuned to their economic anxieties than Mitt Romney is a big part of the reason Obama won, despite the fact that voters found much to like in Romney. Jeb Bush has many virtues. Relatability is not one of them. He should do the right thing and clear the way for the next generation of Republicans.


“I will take nothing and no one for granted. I will run with heart. I will run to win.”