When former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took to Facebook last week to say he will "actively explore" a White House run in 2016, pundits immediately declared him a contender, pointing to his solid résumé, good temperament, and an unmatched ability to mount a national fundraising and campaign apparatus.
So we know he has the makings of a candidate.
But what kind of 45th president would the son of 41 and the brother of 43 actually be? Here are six points in favor of putting another southern governor named Bush in the Oval Office.
1. He was a popular governor: After letting a former half-term U.S. senator run the country for eight years, Americans may again be ready for someone who actually governed. Bush qualifies. As governor from 1999 to 2007 of one of America’s largest and diverse states, Florida, he presided over the nation's fourth largest economy.
2. He's electable: Bush won, and was returned to office, in a politically dynamic state that has trended Republican in recent cycles but remains competitive for Democrats. Crossover appeal helps in Florida, a key swing state in Presidential elections, so Bush’s draw in the Sunshine State could be critical for GOP hopes to win in 2016. Obama won Florida in 2012, but Jeb most assuredly keeps Florida red. Bush already leads other likely 2016 GOP contenders in polls of Florida voters.
3. He's a conservative: However divided the GOP base looks during presidential primaries, Republican voters tend to ultimately close ranks around a candidate with a conservative record who can also appeal to independents and even some Democrats. Though Bush championed a pro-growth agenda of limited government and reducing taxes, he also led several environmental and education initiatives. He is pro-Second Amendment and pro-life.
4. He appeals to Latinos: Bush speaks fluent Spanish and will have the ear of a country with a growing Hispanic electorate. Connections to Hispanic culture run through Bush's personal and professional lives. Bush's wife, Columba, was born in Mexico and is of Mexican descent. The couple lives in Miami — so he's not a Beltway insider — and anyone who has served as Florida governor has addressed the concerns of Hispanics while also recognizing that he speaks for all residents.
5. He's done well out of office: Since returning to private life in 2007, Bush has maintained what the Tampa Bay Times once called a "high-impact low profile" through legal work, banking, fundraising for other GOP candidates, and public advocacy on key issues including education and immigration reform. He doesn't need the presidency, and by not projecting an air of clawing ambition or entitlement to the office, Bush looks more fit than some to occupy it.
6. He's a Bush, but not his brother: What some consider a tarnished political brand after the presidency of George W. Bush is arguably an asset in an era where name recognition matters. Though George W.’s star is rising again as Obama’s foreign policy leads America into new quagmires, Jeb Bush is unique, is focused on policy, and is a consensus builder.
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