Jeb Bush: Elder statesman or 2016 candidate?

“Jeb Bush is following a pattern we see with ambitious presidential candidates,” said Jamie Chandler, a political scientist at Hunter College, New York. “Just like Romney did in 2004, he’s raising his public profile and increasing his speech activity now for a potential run in four years.”

If Romney wins, Bush would be a likely cabinet candidate, perhaps as education secretary, said Chandler. But any presidential ambitions would have to wait until 2020. By then he would be almost 68, just a year younger than Reagan in 1990, the oldest U.S. president to be sworn into office.

Not everyone is convinced Bush has such a game plan. Some of the people who know him best say he is not that calculating. They say he is speaking out because he is deeply loyal to the Republican Party and worried about the issues he holds dear.

“It’s more about helping the cause than helping himself. He will always call it the way he sees it,” said Jorge Arrizurietta, a top Republican fundraiser in Miami and a former adviser to Jeb Bush. “I can’t tell you that he’s got a master plan, but there is a broad consensus in the party that Jeb should stay involved and consider a run at the right moment.”