Will Jeb Bush Run? George W. Says Maybe

by Chris Tognotti

Since the end of the midterm elections last week, the speculation's been getting hot and heavy. Who's going to run for president in 2016? And, will the Republicans be able to muster as potent a candidate as the Democrats likely will in Hillary Clinton? Amid all the fray, one very prominent name has been the subject of growing rumors — Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and younger brother of former President George W. Bush. Well, as it turns out, his brother thinks there's a good shot Jeb will runGeorge W. Bush says Jeb is "50/50" on running for President in 2016, and if he did so, he'd be vying to become the third Bush elected to the White House since 1988. And for the record, if he won, no one family could boast a greater domination of the executive branch.

Basically, absent the Bush family, there's no telling what the history of American presidential politics would look like for the GOP post-Reagan. Since the 1988 win for Bush family patriarch George H.W. Bush, the Republican Party has failed to elect a non-Bush to the White House — former Senators Bob Dole and John McCain, as well as former Governor Mitt Romney, all lost their bids to inject new blood into the GOP's upper-echelon leadership.

Indeed, even were Hillary Clinton to take the prize in 2016, it wouldn't mean quite the dynastic legacy a Jeb win would — three Bushes, between two generations, over the last 30 years. In spite of the criticisms people might make on that point, George W. insisted to NPR's David Greene (in an interview which won't be fully released until Tuesday) that his family name shouldn't enter into it.

Some guy at one time said to me, "You know, I don't like the idea of Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Bush." I said, "Oh, OK." I said, 'How do you like the idea of Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Clinton?' And the point is that these may be the two best candidates their party has to offer.

I have a certain bias as a member of the political left, but for the record, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Clinton sounds a lot better that an every-other-administration Bush ritual. But I'm sure countless Republicans disagree. George W. went a step further, however, highlighting whether the current domestic and geopolitical climate was one which his brother would want to step into.

I mean, the environment is what it is. You don't get to rewrite the environment, and so Jeb has to think about whether or not he wants to be president, just like Hillary Clinton has to think about whether she wants to be president.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Of course, there's an inescapable reality that Jeb will also have to confront, however much the Bush family might prefer to avoid it — will voters be willing to elect yet another of them to the country's highest office? After all, the last Bush to occupy the White House left with a tattered reputation, multiple wars mired in mismanagement and chaos (though he still doesn't regret Iraq), and a dismal approval rating.

While that approval rating has risen in the years following, which you'd expect as history slides into the rear-view mirror, there's still the distinct possibility that voters recall all the foibles and mistakes of Bush II when considering a vote for Bush III. At the very least, that fear could enter into Jeb's decision — while his recently polled support exceeds many Republican rivals, it's still no great shakes, at a mere 26 percent. Basically, a Jeb vs. Hillary showdown could be a long, steep climb, and there's no telling whether he'll be up for it.

That said, people within the Bush family clearly think this could be a go — Jeb's son George P. Bush, himself an ambitious young politician, revealed that his father was seriously considering a run just last month.

Image: Getty Images