“A Bush can’t beat a Clinton,” another donor quotes the 2012 nominee as saying.

As the primary season heats up, this analysis has been echoed by others, who say that a Clinton-Bush matchup would boil down to a race between the peaceful, prosperous 1990s and the 2000s with its War on Terror and Great Recession—a comparison that the GOP wants to avoid.

But people inside Romney world see other flaws as well. They point out that Bush has not run a competitive race since 1998, when he was elected Florida governor, a lifetime ago in politics. They see someone who has problematic positions on education and immigration, probably the two most crucial issues to the Republican base. They see someone who does not seem to have the stomach for a nasty nationwide battle for the nomination, and a 2016 rollout that has been shaky at best, with its awkward cellphone videos and avoidance of the public and the press.

“They have not done a lot to flush out the details of his candidacy,” said Tom Rath, a senior adviser to Romney in both his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, speaking of Bush. “His time as governor was quite a while ago. A substantial number of Republicans have never heard him deliver a speech. Mitt is a proven commodity.”