New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gets all the love as the current GOP front-runner for 2016 (to the extent there can even be a front runner three years out.) But there is growing chatter in elite New York financial circles that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is giving more serious consideration to getting in the race, especially if it appears at any point that Christie is not drawing big national appeal beyond the northeast. Several plugged in GOP sources said Bush has moved from almost certainly staying out to a 30 percent chance of getting in. The “70/30” odds pop up in so many conversations they almost seem like circulated talking points.
“I think he could run,” said one senior Republican who now works in the financial industry. “The environment is shaping up well for him. Republicans want someone who is competent and who can win and that’s Jeb.” Of course it could also be Christie. Some of the chatter ratcheted up because Bush was in NYC on Tuesday and spoke at the SIFMA conference and took some hard shots at President Obama for taking “victory dances” after fiscal fights and not building relationships with Republicans that could help on tax reform, immigration and other issues. Bush also slammed Obamacare saying it would collapse of its own weight and the GOP should be “ready with an alternative.”
Bush billed his remarks and his conversation with CNBC’s Becky Quick as “non-partisan” but he sure seemed to lay out a center-right campaign vision (education reform, immigration reform, tax reform to boost GDP) while also taking harder partisan jabs. It seemed to many in the Wall Street crowd like Bush was gearing up for a run. And people who know the governor say that if he does decide to run he will drop everything else he is doing (working for Barclays, among things) and go all in. Lots of questions remain (including how he deals with fellow Floridian Marco Rubio’s ambitions; what about Bush fatigue etc.) but don’t count out a Bush bid just yet.