Jeb Bush has quit his $60,000-a-year position as adviser to an online educational company, and his office told The Washington Post
late Wednesday that he had stepped down from all of his corporate and business posts "effective today."
It is the latest in a series of moves that point to the likelihood that the former Florida governor plans to seek the GOP nomination to run for president in 2016.
The surprisingly fast and bold move — Bush is now more committed to running than the presumed Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton — will force his fellow Republicans to declare earlier than many of them had been prepared to do. Bush's entry stands to suck up most of the fundraising by wary GOP donors who want to get behind someone who will do well in a general election, not just the Republican primaries.
Already, though, conservatives like anti-tax hawk Grover Norquist are making moves to take on Bush.
Norquist is targeting Bush in a strategy that attempts to link him to what opponents used to help bring down his father's presidency — tax hikes, Fox News reported Thursday
Bush is one of a very few likely GOP presidential candidates who have refused to sign Norquist's "no new taxes" pledge. Those who have signed include Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
"Jeb Bush won't put it in writing, and he won't say it," Norquist told Fox News. "I think at some point you need to ask Jeb Bush what taxes do you plan to raise."
"You know what Jeb Bush is? He's an old-time liberal Republican. That's what he is," influential conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin said on a recent show, according to Fox.
Fox also quoted one of Florida's leading political analysts in pointing out that many Bush supporters consider themselves stalwart conservatives.
"I think that is kind of nonsense," Florida International University political scientist Dario Moreno told Fox News in response to Norquist's accusation.
Moreno told Fox that the term "Jeb Bush Republican" refers to anyone with unquestioned conservative credentials.
"Jeb's record in Florida was as very much a tax cutter and as a fiscal conservative. He got rid of Florida corporate tax and he reduced Florida intangible tax, which is a tax on investment," Moreno said.
The New Year's Eve announcement to the Post came on a day when Bush also declined an invitation to speak at this month's Iowa Freedom Summit, a political event organized by one of Congress' most strident immigration critics and which most other likely Republican presidential contenders plan to attend.
He also wrapped up 2014 with a $10,000 donation
to a fund to aid the families of the two New York City police officers killed by a gunman on Dec. 20.
Bush on Dec. 16 announced he was laying the foundation for a White House run, and in recent days has been ending business and professional affiliations, including some that could prove politically compromising.
Shedding his private-sector work is "part and parcel of a process he is going through as he transitions to focus on a potential run for president," his spokeswoman, Kristy Campbell, told The Post.
"This is a natural next step that will allow him to focus his time on gauging interest for a potential run."
He recently ended a consulting deal with Barclays, the British investment-banking conglomerate, that paid him more than $1 million a year, according to reports.
The Post also reported that recent filings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that Bush was leaving the boards of two publicly traded firms: Rayonier, which invests in forest lands, and Tenet Healthcare, which backed and profited from President Barack Obama's health insurance reform program.
The scion of one of America's most prominent political families, Jeb Bush is the son of one former U.S. president, George H. W. Bush, and brother to another, George W. Bush.
Bush's team said he had declined an invitation to speak at the Freedom Summit, a political event organized by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a strident immigration critic. An aide cited a scheduling conflict, although Bush is one of the few high-profile presidential contenders not attending the Jan. 24 summit.
Bush is one of the GOP's most vocal advocates for comprehensive immigration reform.
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