The inevitable "draft Jeb" campaign shifts into high gear

The chore of determining who is the inevitable candidate for Republicans – at least in the minds of beltway insiders and the media – is clearly becoming more difficult. But the Washington Post takes a swing at the problem this weekend as they delve into the number of big donors who are now courting Jeb Bush to get off the bench and toss his hat in the ring.

Many of the Republican Party’s most powerful insiders and financiers have begun a behind-the-scenes campaign to draft former Florida governor Jeb Bush into the 2016 presidential race, courting him and his intimates and starting talks on fundraising strategy.

Concerned that the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal has damaged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s political standing and alarmed by the steady rise of Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), prominent donors, conservative leaders and longtime operatives say they consider Bush the GOP’s brightest hope to win back the White House…

Many if not most of 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s major donors are reaching out to Bush and his confidants with phone calls, e-mails and invitations to meet, according to interviews with 30 senior Republicans. One bundler estimated that the “vast majority” of Romney’s top 100 donors would back Bush in a competitive nomination fight.

One fly in the ointment is that Bush is still insisting that he won’t be making a decision until the end of this year, or possibly the beginning of next year. It’s not an unreasonable position, since people are still working hard on the upcoming mid-terms, but it looks as if it’s frustrating to some of the serious bundlers who want to get to work early. For his part, Bush is still telling reporters that his decision will hinge on whether or not he can “run joyfully” for the nomination, since Republicans will need a standard bearer who can lift their spirits and bring a positive message.

That may not play well with the base these days, though. Bush isn’t just rusty from more than six years on the sidelines. He’s also racked up some serious hits among conservative voters for his positions on immigration and Common Core, among other things. Upon reading this piece, Dan Gainor of Media Research Center immediately took to Twitter with the following:

I wouldn’t be too shocked to see more of that popping up. But in order for this next primary cycle to play out according to the preordained script, we have to have a big, conventional wisdom, establishment candidate to face down the grassroots upstarts, right? And if turns out that Christie is damaged goods and it’s not Bush, then who would it be?