But there’s risk in delaying a response for too long. “An attack left unanswered and unchallenged is an attack confirmed,” Steve Schmidt, chief strategist for Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s 2008 campaign, said in an interview. “Jeb Bush can delay the confrontation, but he can’t postpone it forever.”

Bush’s return volley may be coming soon. He’s scheduled to address the CPAC conference later this month in Washington, a lion’s den of conservative activists who enjoy a vivid show from their candidates. Last year, for example, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell brandished a rifle on stage and Herman Cain, in 2012, used the spotlight to argue that liberals main objective was to destroy the country. The group has, however, included pro-amnesty speakers at panels in years past, a decision that has irked Republicans like Representative Lamar Smith of Texas. CPAC is liable to be a defining moment in Bush’s prospective campaign—it’s a setting where he won’t be able to avoid his disagreements with the party’s conservative wing.

To be fair, there haven’t been major accusations yet from the potential rivals to force Bush’s hand. The main lines of attack have centered on Bush’s support for national curriculum standards, known as Common Core; his support for easing immigration laws and backing a path to citizen for those here illegally; and his last name—even though the Republican Party hasn’t won a presidential contest without a Bush on the ticket since 1972.