So, Jeb Bush Is Running

by Dish Staff

Noah Millman expects “Jeb Bush will be a very formidable candidate whose entry will seriously change the shape of the race.” And that we “have every reason to believe that the most-likely choice the voters will be presented with in 2016 will be Bush versus Clinton”:

The 2016 primaries on the Democratic side will feature Hillary Clinton ignoring a handful of protest candidates who never get any traction. And on the Republican side they will feature Jeb Bush coopting his most formidable opponents on his way to defeating a Rand Paul insurgency that more closely resembles Eugene McCarthy in ’68 than Ronald Reagan in ’76. And the general election will be the most-depressing of our lifetimes.

Kilgore sizes up the race:

Bush is now the Establishment fave who has taken the most overt steps towards running for president, which puts some extra pressure on Chris Christie since Bush’s PAC will at a minimum put the arm on many potential campaign donors in a way that will tend to commit them.

As fate would have it, McLatchey put out a new national poll this very day showing Jeb running second to Mitt Romney … and taking the lead if Mitt stays out. This will be enough for many Establishment types, who can be expected to begin calling Jeb the “frontrunner.” But truth is, he’s only running at 14% (16% if Mitt doesn’t run), and in a trial heat against Hillary Clinton, he’s trailing 53-40, which doesn’t exactly burnish the “electability” credentials he’d definitely need to convince conservatives to ignore his policy heresies and his family’s reputation for playing them for fools.

Larison downplays Jeb’s chances:

Certainly there would be no better way to announce that the GOP remains in thrall to the Bush era than to choose another Bush as standard-bearer. The problem with this isn’t just that it would reward dynasticism, but that it would be rewarding an especially incompetent dynasty. That’s why I assume that there will be enough Republican voters that won’t go along with a Bush revival. For one thing, they don’t have to, and for another Bush isn’t likely to be the best or most compelling candidate in the 2016 field.

Allahpundit gives Bush better odds:

Even as I write this, conservatives are scoffing on Twitter that Bush is way overhyped and will flame out badly in the primaries. I disagree … There are a lot — a lot — of low-information “somewhat conservative” voters who won’t particularly care that Jeb supports Common Core or immigration reform; he’ll have hundreds of millions of dollars behind him to give him a rosy glow on early-state TV sets. He probably can’t win Iowa, especially if Christie or Romney runs and splits the centrist vote with him, but I’m not sure why he can’t win New Hampshire, South Carolina (which just reelected Lindsey Graham, remember), and of course Florida. He’s smart and polished and he’ll have big-name establishmentarians like Rove slobbering all over him in the media for months to come. How many times do we need to see a McCain or Romney nominated before we internalize the reality that yes, Jeb Bush has a decent chance?

Paul Constant also takes Jeb seriously:

We will have two candidates with eminently familiar names spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising every two weeks, trying to convince us simultaneously that their brand of nostalgia is the best. If this election really does turn out to be a marketing battle between the Clinton brand and the Bush brand, I could see Americans tuning out of the election process in droves. Nothing will make people feel sicker about participating in politics than the sense that they’re pawns in a battle between two wealthy arms of American aristocracy. This matchup could bring the lowest turnout we’ve ever seen in a national election, and we all know that when turnout is down, Republicans win elections. I believe President Jeb Bush is absolutely a very real possibility.

Jonathan Bernstein chips in his two cents:

Republicans haven’t had to live with extreme uncertainty about their nominee for a long time; and some may be very tempted to just settle for the next Bush in line. And by all accounts, Jeb is simply a better politician than either his brother or his father (or, for that matter, his grandfather).

On the other hand, this field looks a lot more like the impressive 1980 candidate group in which George H.W. Bush finished as the far-back runner-up than it does the uninspiring 2000 array that George W. Bush trounced. What’s more, W. checked off all the conservative boxes; Jeb doesn’t. His positions on education (supporting Common Core) and immigration reform (he’s for it) may not disqualify him from the nomination, but both will draw serious opposition, and there are several potential candidates who could exploit that.

Beutler wonders how Jeb will handle immigration:

[T]he central question facing Republicans at the outset of the primary will be what the next president should do not about immigration in the abstract, but about Obama’s deportation program specifically. Most candidates will be pledge to end it. To test his formula, Bush will have to promise not just to end it, but to replace the executive actionswhich he called “extraconstitutional”with a more legitimate legislative scheme.

It’s not a replacement, though, if it doesn’t create a legal status for the people who will benefit from Obama’s deferred action plan. And if he pledges to create such a status, the right will abandon him.

Waldman welcomes that debate:

Bush doesn’t just support comprehensive immigration reform, he talks about the subject in a very different way from most other Republicans. In a speech earlier this year, he described undocumented immigrants this way: “Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love, it’s an act of commitment to your family.” And there’s no question that Bush feels this sincerely. He wrote a book on immigration reform (which his opponents’ aides are no doubt scouring for quotes that can be used against him). His wife is an immigrant from Mexico. He speaks Spanish. His kids look Hispanic. He’s not going to suddenly change his position on immigration.

What this means is that by being one of the top-tier candidates in the race, Bush instantly changes the immigration debate in the primaries. It isn’t that any of the other candidates are going to move to the left, but the discussion will not just be about who wants to build the highest border fence. There will be at least one person talking about immigrants in human terms.

Haley Sweetland Edwards focuses on Jeb’s other big vulnerability – his support for Common Core:

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who is often listed among the potential Republican presidential hopefuls, used to support Common Core, but now is so publicly against it that he has launched lawsuits against his own state and the U.S. Department of Education, claiming that the standards are a violation of state rights.

While most of that is shameless political theater, it still leaves Jeb Bush in a tricky position: in order to win the Republican nomination, he’s going to have to win over the Republican conservative base, which hates Common Core with the fire of a thousand suns. The easiest way to do that would be to disown Common Core. But that’s not likely to be in the cards.

With Jeb running, Vinik thinks Rubio is toast:

If there is one loser from Bush’s decision to explore a presidential run, it’s Senator Marco Rubio, also from Florida. Bush has deep connections to the donor base in Florida thanks to his eight years running the state. If Bush does choose to runand the signs clearly point that way nowit will leave little room for Rubio to mount his own presidential campaign.

Rich Lowry sees an opening for Cruz:

The Texas senator wants a pure establishment–Tea Party fight and a Jeb candidacy does the most to tee that up by potentially squeezing out the candidates who have some appeal to both wings. So Jeb getting in would be the biggest windfall for Cruz since the shutdown fight, without which he wouldn’t be in such a strong position (it gave him an enormous boost among the grassroots and a huge e-mail list).

Jim Newell speculates about Christie’s ability to raise money:

Chris Christie, who, if he runs, will be vying for the same pile of dough — let’s call it the “Wall Street Journal CEO Council” money. Christie is in a difficult situation now. He wants to run for president and is willing to torture however many pigs as necessary to prove his mettle. But all those people who begged him to run in 2012 may be more interested in Jeb Bush, their private equity blood brother and considerably less of a loudmouth.

Relatedly, Cillizza hears that fundraising was one reason for Jeb jumping in early:

[S]everal people I talked to suggested that with a 2016 primary price tag, likely somewhere between $150 million and $200 million, even a Bush has to start raising money sooner rather than later.  “It allows the organization of the donor community,” noted one Republican. “The Bush network grinds into gear and gets big commitments.” (An interesting side point worth considering: Does the “Bush network” exist in anything close to its 2004 form? “Most of these people haven’t raised money in a long time,” said one unaligned consultant.)

Finally, Aaron Blake views “biggest question from here on out is not so much who leads in the polls, but who runs”:

If Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Romney all run, that cuts into Bush’s chances, because he draws from the same pools of supporters and donors. That’s not so much the case with Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.