Jeb Bush is set to announce his bid for the 2016 presidency on June 15 in Miami, just two days after former Secretary of State and former first lady Hillary Clinton staged her largest campaign event to date in Roosevelt Island, NY. The former Governor of Florida’s 2016 GOP bid has been the subject of much speculation. When the 2016 polls first launched, Bush was frequently cited as the candidate who had the best chance of beating Clinton, who, despite the scandals stemming from Benghazi, Email Gate and The Clinton Foundation, remains the leading Democratic candidate polling at 59%, a 47.5Point lead over her nearest competitor Senator of Vermont, Bernie Sanders. After all, he has the Bush name, legacy, donor connections and financial resources. Yet, Bush has proven to not be as effective on the campaign trail as political analysts would have expected. Although he is now narrowly leading with a Real Clear Politics Average at 11.3% versus Scott Walker at 10.8%, and Marco Rubio at 10.3%, unlike Candidate Clinton, Bush is hardly the breakaway winner. As expected, the Bush name has proven to be a double-edged sword. On one hand, the Bush name raises money. But on the other hand, Bush has to constantly work to differentiate himself from the unpopular policies of his brother, former President George W. Bush. On that front, Bush has already made a major gaffe. When asked about whether he would have gone into the war with Iraq knowing what we know now, he took too long to answer and switched his position four times in four days, ultimately responding that he would not have gone into Iraq.
Bush, the son of former President George Herbert Walker Bush, is also battling the “Bush Dynasty” image and the perception that, like Hillary Clinton, he is “yesterday’s candidate.” Even his own mother Barbara Bush famously quipped that there have to be more than two families from which to elect a president. And of course, he has to address his own record. Some conservatives don’t think he is conservative enough and take issue with his stance on immigration and common core educational standards. He is also perceived to be a little rusty politically, as he has been out of public office for nine years. In the wake of losing some ground in the polls to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Bush made headlines this past week for shaking up his campaign staff just before his announcement, replacing his campaign manager Dave Kochel with Danny Diaz, a consultant known for his aggressiveness.
However, the tide seems to be shifting again for Bush, with him receiving positive comments from the press regarding his recent European tour. According to Politico, “Jeb Bush, now through two legs of a three-nation European tour that ends Saturday in Estonia, has thus managed to accomplish something that many of his GOP rivals have not; He’s traveled abroad, given a speech, met with foreign government leaders and held two press briefings all without a blunder”. In February Scott Walker and fellow GOP candidate Chris Christie made some mistakes on their “foreign policy” tours. Walker took heat for failing to answer a question about evolution. Christie came under fire for making controversial comments about vaccinations. CNN has described Bush’s campaign strategy as “Be the tortoise, not the hare.” And insiders within the campaign concur with this assessment. According to long term Bush friend and senior advisor to the campaign, Al Cardenas, “Since Eisenhower, every single nominee that the party has come up with is the nominee who has had the best resources and the best organization and so far that’s Jeb Bush.”
Miami is Bush’s moment to reclaim his early campaign momentum. He needs to re-engage the American public with his vision for America, and he must clearly demonstrate that he is not his brother, Bush 43, or his father, Bush 41. Despite all of her transgressions and bad press, Hillary Clinton remains the presumed Democratic 2016 candidate. Bush needs to convince the American public that he is still the only candidate with the staying power to beat her.
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