Jeb Bush's Mission
John Ellis Bush -- grandson of the late Senator Prescott Sheldon Bush, son of former President George Herbert Walker Bush, brother of former President George Walker Bush and heir to the political estate known as the "Bush network" -- has a fight on his hands. And anyone who cares about politics -- not just Republican or presidential politics, but honest politics -- has a stake in this fight.
The former governor of Florida, who previously served on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies, had hoped to spook rivals out of the Republican presidential primary with a showing of financial and party support. He may yet produce the financial war chest, courtesy of a super-PAC that amounts to the conjoined twin of his campaign. But endorsements and votes are going to be won hard or not at all.
The most interesting thing about Bush's campaign, which he announced Monday, is how he plans to earn that support. Last year, Bush said that for his party to be successful in 2016, its nominee had to be willing to "lose the primary to win the general." Appealing too strenuously to Republican base voters would alienate the general electorate.
Following such advice will be harder than offering it. So far, however, Bush has largely been true to his word. He has refused to sign the anti-tax pledge that constricts Republican policy-making. And he has stood his ground in favor of immigration reform -- with a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants who are longtime residents of the U.S. -- and the Common Core educational testing standards that he has long and vigorously championed.
Bush has also been a successful governor of a large, diverse and complex state. He has a sharp mind for policy and the ability to master unscripted encounters with voters and the news media. His commitment to diversifying his party is the surest path to its success in the 21st century. And -- especially compared with that of some of his primary opponents -- his view of government's role in society is notable for its generosity. "My core beliefs start with a premise that the most vulnerable in our society should be in the front of the line, not the back," he said in a campaign video released in advance of his official announcement.
It's worth recalling that just a decade ago, Bush was one of the most conservative governors in the U.S., implementing education reforms and tax cuts and championing socially conservative causes that alarmed Democrats. That he enters the Republican primary hobbled by his family name is perhaps unavoidable. That some Republicans are calling him too moderate to be their standard-bearer should give more Republicans pause.
If Bush continues to campaign on his own terms, not only his party will benefit -- the nation might, as well.
Read more from this series:
Rick Perry Rides Again
Lincoln Chafee's One Issue
Martin O'Malley's More Than Marginal
The Other Lindsey Graham
George Pataki's Curious Candidacy
Rick Santorum's Only Chance
Ben Carson, Political Novice
Carly Fiorina's Best Argument
What Is a Sanders Democrat?
Which Marco Rubio for President?
It's a Race, Hillary. Start Running.
Why Rand Paul Matters
Ted Cruz Is No Captain Courageous
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