Forget for just a moment that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is related to those other Bushes.
When you separate him from his presidential brother and father, Jeb Bush has all the makings of a winning presidential candidate. Especially in these difficult economic times.
Consider this: Bush is the only Republican to have ever won a second term as Florida governor. He was as popular when he left office in 2007 as he was when he was first elected in 1998. He has been able to maintain excellent relationships with Florida's Hispanic and African American communities despite an educational initiative he adopted in 2001 that virtually ended affirmative action programs throughout the state's university system. Nevertheless, the accusations of racial discrimination that dogged President George W. Bush after the Katrina hurricane in 2005 would be tough to lodge against the former president's younger brother.
Jeb Bush's support from Florida minorities stems not only from the long-standing business relationships he cultivated with Cuban and African Americans long before he considered running for governor, but also from his personal life. He has raised three children with his American Latina wife, Columbia Garnica Gallo, whom he met during a visit to León, Guanajuato, Mexico when he was just 17. His popularity among Hispanics and other minorities is one that could very well lift him to victory in 2012, and it would most certainly render mute the liberal allegations that the GOP is somehow anti-minority.
Bush was rumored to have considered a run for Senate in 2008, but shrewdly stayed away, apparently recognizing the tough times Republicans were in for that year. This time around, though, things are different, and if he wants to make a go of it for 2012, his chances would be as good as anybody else's ... even with a last name that many consider tainted.
For the past year and a half, President Barack Obama has been blaming Bush's brother for a lagging economy, rising unemployment, and just about every other problem he has had to deal with since taking office in 2009. Most political observers on both the right and the left see through Obama's charade, but the accusations -- founded or no -- are enough to cast anyone even remotely related to the former president in a bad light. Some might argue that the relentless drubbing the Bush name has recently taken by Obama and his fellow Democrats could make it difficult for another Bush to overcome.
But while there can be no question that Bush fatigue was a very real phenomenon in 2008 and even part of 2009, Jeb Bush is his own man in both style and substance. He lacks the "country-boy" attitude that created such fierce animosity from his brother's opponents (along with fierce loyalty from his supporters), and Jeb Bush comes off as insightful and intelligent, a quality with which very few would credit George W. for having.
Speculation is rampant that Jeb Bush is leaning heavily toward making a run for president in 2012, and if he is, pundits would be wise not to discount him.
After all, if the Bush family has proved anything since 1988, it's that it is excellent at fielding presidential candidates.
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