“I ran for office three times. The pledge was presented to me three times. I never signed [it]. I cut taxes every year I was governor,” Bush said. “I don’t believe you outsource your principles and convictions to people.”
This level-headed pragmatism has earned Bush plenty of enemies on the GOP’s far right, which has hijacked the party in the post-Reagan era and yanked it further from the center where presidential elections are won or lost.
For all their current success—controlling both the House and Senate (thanks to gerrymandering and two-thirds of the electorate staying home last November)—Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. The one national vote they did win, Bush’s 2004 defeat of John Kerry, had a margin of just 2.4 points. The GOP needs to end its quadrennial flirtation with inexperienced right-wingers who have no hope of winning 270 electoral votes—Santorum and Cain in 2012, Cruz, et al now—and find an experienced, mainstream guy with a marketable track record. Instead they’re about to engage in another round of fratricide and brand Jeb Bush the enemy because he’d accept a dime in taxes for a dollar in cuts. Crazy.