Saying that "if his last name wasn't Bush he'd probably already be sitting in the White House," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush remains a dark-horse candidate for president — and a potential game-changer with his fundraising prowess if he decides to run.
Despite a "rusty re-entry into politics,"
rankling conservatives with sympathetic remarks on illegal immigration and support for federal Common Core
educational standards, Bush "wants to run,"
O'Connell told Newsmax TV's "America's Forum" host J.D. Hayworth and Newsmax contributor Francesca Page.
"He could conceivably out-fund-raise everyone in the field," said O'Connell, "and as you know, if you can raise enough money . . . in what's likely to be a crowded affair, you always have a chance.
"But it's going to be a game-time decision for Jeb Bush," he said Wednesday.
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O'Connell listed a few more GOP maybes:
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich: "He's got a strong conservative record and he's also got a strong economic record. And . . . it's the second-most important swing state in the Electoral College."
- Ohio Sen. Rob Portman: "His future really depends on what Kasich does — they'd be relying on the same well of donors. I love Rob, he's a pragmatic, solutions-oriented guy. The problem is he doesn't exactly light your hair on fire on the stump."
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry: "Sometimes you only get one opportunity to make a first impression, and Perry wasn't exactly ready for prime time in 2012. And I'm not sure donors and voters are going to forget."
- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: "He's doing very well in the polls, and I'm going to tip my hat to Mike.... But I'm not sure he wants to run because — let's be honest — he's got a great deal at Fox News."
- New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez: "Her back story is literally the modern American dream.... I'm going to make this prediction: I see her as the VP choice of just about everyone in the field who could possibly wind up as a Republican nominee."
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