Donald Trump offers his speeches as a cure for insomnia, he was awkward on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” and Ben Carson has jumped him in the polls since his war with Trump has started.
But, experts are still saying that Jeb Bush has potential for the GOP nomination for one reason: he’s electable, and the Republican party is hungry for the White House.
Bush, 61, is campaigning for the general election, and while some say he is too liberal for the GOP nomination, others might be willing to compromise on certain issues like immigration in order to ensure the GOP a better shot at the presidency. Bush strays from traditional conservative views on immigration and education but as seen during his eight-year term as governor of Florida, he is fiscally conservative and believes small government is better.
Bush was long viewed as a frontrunner for the Republican nomination, thanks to his impressive fundraising and well established political connections, but lately his campaign has been losing momentum. His campaign reached $114 million in July, but his performance in the first debate began to worry his fundraisers. He seems to lack the charisma of his brother, which is hurting him in a crowded and boisterous Republican field. Despite a campaign logo that denotes excitement (Jeb!), a sense of apathy in recent interviews has led to his more vocal opponents getting all the attention from voters and the media.
While many of the other GOP candidates are touting their status as political outsiders, including the likes of Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, Bush has strong ties with the establishment. He descends from a long line of politicians and political activists; both his brother and his father were U.S. presidents and his grandfather was a senator.
Bush has been married to Columba since 1974, which has undoubtedly shaped his approach to immigration policy. Bush met Columba in her hometown in Mexico, León, while he was teaching English at a school. His strategy would provide more opportunity for undocumented immigrants on the road to citizenship. This sympathetic response to the ever-polarizing social issue has great potential to track well across a myriad of political persuasions, if Republicans are able to see past it in the primaries.
His moderate position is attractive to swing voters, as is his background in Florida, the largest swing state in the country. Jonathan Martin’s analysis of Bush in The New York Times notes that if Bush wins in one of the first four states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina) he can use his money to carry him to the nomination. Most other candidates will not be able to afford to advertise in multiple states following the first four votes.
Some believe Bush’s emphasis on education, specifically his support of the Common Core, and his position on immigration are hurting his campaign for the Republican nomination. Bush would instead benefit from focusing on his success as a strong conservative governor in Florida.
Bush was an active governor who strove to shrink the state government in Florida, and would likely try and cut down the size of the federal government if he were to earn the presidency. He made education his priority while in office, and he would likely try and continue building on this legacy once in the White House.
Bush’s personal wealth skyrocketed once he left office. According to the Miami Herald, since his time as governor Bush has made over $29 million through his consulting and speaking business, Jeb Bush & Associates, which he runs with his son Jeb Bush, Jr.
Bush started his campaign with a lead in the polls, but has seen his numbers drop since the start of Trump’s campaign. Bush’s numbers fell to single digits in August, and while the large field means that this is not a death sentence, it is still cause for concern. In the most recent polls, Ben Carson has also bypassed Bush dropping him to third. Despite these setbacks, many still believe that Bush should still be considered an extremely viable candidate, with a good chance to be the one to emerge from the Republican fray.