Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has defined his candidacy by an unwillingness to fall in line with traditional conservative views that resonate with the base, but there is some evidence as of late that he has shifted to the right, said the National Review
At a meeting recently of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce
summer conference, he used a question-and-answer session to say he would not strike a deal that raised taxes in exchange for spending cuts, even though in 2012, as the government began inching toward a shutdown, he supported that proposal when Democrats offered Republicans the bargain.
"I think he’s attempting to do two things at once: He wants to be seen as kind of the adult in the room who’s operating in shades of gray and is a real leader as opposed to Donald Trump," a top Republican strategist told National Review. "But at the same time, I think he knows that he needs to make himself more attractive to conservatives."
A Bush spokesman, Tim Miller, declined to comment on the perceived change in position, instead describing Bush’s record on taxes as "unimpeachable." He highlighted Bush’s two terms as governor during which he cut taxes every year and said that as president, Bush would work for "pro-growth tax reform that lowers rates."
But in another signal that he may be evolving, Bush appeared to back away from his stance in support of Common Core when he told New Hampshire’s First in the Nation Voters Forum
last week that the federal government should not have any role in the creation of educational standards.
"States ought to create standards," he said.
Miller insisted there has been no change in his position on the issue — particularly since Common Core standards were created by governors and state educators, not the federal government. But National Review notes that he has shifted the emphasis in his rhetoric on the subject.
Bush has figured out "how to be more sellable to voters," a top GOP strategist told National Review.
But others, including some conservatives, say that Bush has always been consistent in his policy approach and say it is therefore meaningless to try to interpret subtle shifts in his messaging.
"The question for Jeb is whether he understands and is willing to take on the bipartisan forces in Washington that work to preserve the status quo and take big transformative ideas and make them small," Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America, told the National Review. "I think he has and always has had good conservative policy instincts."
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