Talk of a third Bush president as attention shifts to 2016

Former Florida governor Jeb is ‘50-50’ on whether he will run, says George W

Former US president George W Bush speaks at the launch his new book, “41: A Portrait of My Father”, at the George Bush Presidential Library Center in College Station, Texas. Photograph: Mike Stone/Reuters

Former US president George W Bush speaks at the launch his new book, “41: A Portrait of My Father”, at the George Bush Presidential Library Center in College Station, Texas. Photograph: Mike Stone/Reuters

 

George W Bush, the 43rd president, unveiling his new biography of his father, 41st president, George HW Bush – a book he describes as “a love story” – spoke about the Bush patriarch’s views on political dynasties in a public interview at his presidential library in Texas on Tuesday.

The question arose as to whether Jeb Bush, George W’s young brother, Florida’s former two-term governor, would run for president in 2016.

“I heard him say that he doesn’t like the idea of a political class – the idea of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama-Bush troubles him, which speaks to his integrity,” said Bush 43 of Bush 41. “I said, ‘well how does this sound: Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama-Clinton?’” he added, to laughs from the audience.

George HW is not the only member of family uneasy with the idea of another Bush president. “If we can’t find more than two or three families to run for high office, that’s silly,” Barbara Bush, 43’s mother, told C-Span this year. If Clinton or Bush were elected, this would mean that by 2020 there will have been a member of the political clans in the White House (including as vice president or cabinet member) for 36 years, confirming what some see as an American oligarchy.

Bush 43 said his brother was still undecided on whether he would mount a presidential bid, which would be his first election in 16 years.

“He’s wrestling with the decision,” the former president said on the CBS talk show Face the Nation on Sunday. “I think it’s 50-50.”

The prospect of a Bush 41, Bush 43 and Bush 45 pattern appeals to some in the Republican establishment as the party likely faces another tough primary selection to pick a candidate from a crowded field.

This is in contrast to the Democratic side where Hillary Clinton is the presumptive nominee, far ahead of other prospective candidates such as Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and Maryland’s Irish-American governor Martin O’Malley.

Internecine warfare

Republican Party

Bush may offer the best prospect of mounting the most viable challenge to Clinton but the Republican ship is likely to be buffeted in the primary fight. Jeb, who is married to a Mexican-American immigrant, supports comprehensive immigration reform.

While this would help to win back the crucial Latino vote that helped elect Barack Obama twice in a general election, it may attract fire from more conservative Republicans in the nomination race.

Potential contenders such as Kentucky senator Rand Paul, Texas senator Ted Cruz, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, Florida senator Marco Rubio and Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, the 2012 vice-presidential nominee, are likely to lean toward the Tea Party side.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who beat Mitt Romney in a few GOP fights in 2012, and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum are also likely to be fighting for the nomination.

The big midterm election wins for Republicans pushed some contenders ahead, particularly state governors who can tap the strong anti-Washington sentiment among voters in a presidential election.

Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, was one of the winners. Despite the “Bridgegate” political scandal of last year, Christie, as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, showed he can score victories for Republicans in Democratic states such as Maryland, Michigan and Massachusetts, and in competitive swing states like Florida that are so crucial in presidential races.

Worth watching

Scott WalkerJohn KasichSusana MartinezRick Snyder

In a bunched race, Bush and Paul are neck and neck in a slight lead in an average of polls so everything is up for grabs.

Only 726 days to go.