Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush continued to raise his profile ahead of the 2016 presidential election with a second dinner with a big Republican party donor.
According to the Tampa Bay Times,
Bush dined Sunday with billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Bush is on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies and has worked with the former three-term mayor of New York City on education reform.
Three nights earlier, Bush spoke at a VIP dinner
arranged by business magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has pledged to donate more than $100 million to the 2016 presidential campaign. The dinner, built around the Republican Jewish Coalition's spring meeting, was held in Adelson's airplane hangar in Las Vegas and attended by about 70 of the most prominent GOP fundraisers, as well as many of the top potential 2016 candidates, including Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and John Kasich of Ohio.
According to a CNN report,
Bush's speech, which stressed the importance of economic and immigration reform, was well received by the crowd, who applauded when one person suggested during the Q&A session that he run for president.
Bush replied, "I am going to ignore that one."
Bush, whose father, George H.W. Bush, and brother, George W. Bush, both occupied the White House, has said he will decide
whether to seek the Republican presidential nomination by the end of 2014.
According to The Washington Post,
powerful donors, insiders, and conservative leaders have begun a strong behind-the-scenes push to get Bush to jump into the 2016 presidential race.
It has been suggested that the Republican establishment has lost faith
in the electability of Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
Christie's star has dimmed with the ongoing investigation into whether he knew of access lane closures to the George Washington Bridge ordered by his staff as political retaliation. Paul, meanwhile, is seen as a libertarian maverick who bucks the GOP on national security and foreign policy matters, both of which could be liabilities on Election Day.
Their pain appears to have made for Bush's gain.
Steve Huntley of the Chicago Sun Times
wrote that Bush's competence as governor of Florida, moderate conservative principals, history of bipartisanship, leadership on education issues, and fluency in Spanish – Bush's wife, Columba, is Mexican – would on the surface make him "a perfect general election candidate for the Republican Party."
Even Christie said Bush would make for an "outstanding candidate" for president during his interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Monday night.
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The challenge, according to Huntley, will be overcoming the fact that "his last name is Bush."
Bush himself acknowledged
that name could be a big part of the 2016 election game for himself, as well as Democrat Hillary Clinton, should both run for president.
"Would independents who helped deny President George H.W. Bush a second term and who don’t have warm memories of George W. Bush and the unpopular Iraq War come to believe that what the country needs is another Bush as president?" Huntley questioned.
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