By giving-up his six-figure seat on the board of a healthcare corporation, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has signaled that he will do more than just explore a 2016 White House run: he is "in it for the duration," lobbyist and former Florida U.S. Rep. Mark Foley told Newsmax TV
Bush is quitting corporate posts
, including a $200,000-a-year directorship at Tenet Healthcare Corp., realizing that he "has to get himself ready and get rid of all the stuff" that poses a conflict of interest and provides grist for media and opposition research, Foley told "MidPoint" guest host Ric Blackwell.
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Just as current Florida Gov. Rick Scott faced questions about his health-executive past, Bush's work for Tenet — a company that receives federal Medicare funding — will be scrutinized for signs of questionable dealings, said Foley.
"Somebody is searching now in keystrokes trying to find things he may have said," said Foley.
Foley, who represented southeastern Florida in Congress from 1995 to 2006, said that Bush's "compelling record" as Florida governor from 1999 to 2007 "gives him a head start" on what will be "a very dynamic campaign season."
"And it has already started," he added. "This is the opening salvo of a very interesting 24 months."
One question is whether another Florida Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio, will join the race, with his former mentor, Bush, likely to commit.
"Will that blunt [Rubio's] attempt to run as Florida's favorite son?" said Foley. "We'll see."
He said that if Bush were to get as far as the White House in 2016, he would make "an incredible president."
"He's very bright, very focused, has great out-of-the-box thinking, appeals to Hispanics, wins Florida, which is something critically important, and a very good executive — somewhat better than his brother," said Foley, referring to former President George W. Bush.
Jeb Bush has "a different skills set" and is "a little bit more personable, more engaged in the campaign apparatus," said Foley. "George W. Bush wasn't very interested in campaigning. He was insular, and his father [former President George H.W. Bush] even more so.
"Jeb is a real people person," said Foley. "He made a great governor. His approval rating was 60-plus when he left office in this very purple state."
He also said that if there's anyone who can overcome Americans' fatigue with Clintons and Bushes, it's Jeb Bush.
Turning to Congress, Foley gave straightforward advise to Republicans who will control the Senate for the first time since 2006 and will operate with one of their largest majorities ever in the House.
"Prove you can govern: get something done," said Foley, arguing that hardline opposition to compromise "has been proven to be a failure in the past."
Foley acknowledged that Republicans might find it harder to negotiate with President Barack Obama than House Speaker Newt Gingrich did with President Bill Clinton.
"He was a deal-maker," Foley said of Clinton. "He saw the writing on the wall and he said, 'These people are in charge, I need my legacy [to be] about achieving things' . . . I'm not sure Obama has that skill set. I'm not sure if he wants to achieve anything with Republicans."
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Even so, GOP congressional leaders should look for consensus with Democrats on immigration, trade, taxes and entitlement reform, said Foley.
"Don't go at it alone," he said, adding, "Just because we have a huge plurality now in the Senate and the House doesn't give you license to run roughshod over the minority party. Be agreeable, agree to disagree, but get something done."
Foley also discussed public protests over policing and the murders of two New York City cops at the hands of a man vowing revenge for the death of Eric Garner.
He said it was "over the top" for an NYPD union official to blame Mayor Bill de Blasio for the officers' deaths, but he also said that respect for police needs to be maintained even as communities voice concerns about racial bias in law enforcement.
"The racial tensions are worse than I've seen," said Foley, "and at the same time, we've elected an African-American president. So, we've made strides."
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