Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is being encouraged to seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination in a low-key campaign effort by Mitt Romney's former financial and political backers, The Washington Post reports.
Bush is seen as someone who can best unite the party as a viable alternative to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has stumbled politically over the Bridge-gate affair.
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Among those courting Bush are casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who hosted the son and brother of former presidents at a Los Vegas dinner for financial heavyweights where Bush was showered with encouragement to enter the race. The "vast majority" of Romney's biggest contributors would reportedly support Bush, according to the Post.
Among Bush's selling points is that he is viewed favorably by the party's establishment, and just as importantly, by evangelicals who are an important force in GOP primaries. He is known as someone who thinks seriously about public policy issues, and has the added advantage of being fluent in Spanish. Analysts say that to win the presidency, the GOP will need to reach out to Hispanic voters. Moreover, Bush's wife Columba was born in Mexico.
The former governor, meanwhile, has been traveling the country— though not the early primary states— making speeches and campaigning for Republican candidates. He would consider a run if he could do it "joyfully" and be an uplifting force, he said in January. His veteran political counselor Sally Bradshaw describes him as "methodical," "thoughtful," and set to make a decision about the presidency by the end of 2014, the Post reported.
Bush has written a book advocating immigration reform, campaigned for common core education standards, embraced the traditional GOP foreign policy agenda, opposed Medicaid expansion, and has told audiences that the nation is experiencing a lack of economic mobility and a crisis of opportunity.
Bush's disadvantages as a candidate, analysts say, include his having been away from the political fray for seven years, leaving him out of practice in adeptly addressing issues that have divided the party.
"It'd be a little odd to nominate someone who was last in office in 2006, who hasn't been politically involved at all, in any significant way, in the Obama years," said Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol.
There is also the matter of "Bush fatigue" – rising above the presidential legacies of his father, George H.W. Bush, and brother, George W. Bush, when 48 percent of all Americans recently polled
said they "definitely would not" vote for another Bush to be president, the Post reported.
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