Is Jeb Bush Presidential Material?

In an interview this week, George W. Bush eluded to the possibility of a 2016 run for his brother, former Florida governor Jeb Bush. “He and I had a conversation,” said the former president. “I, of course, was pushing for him to run for president. He, of course, was saying, ‘I haven’t made up my mind.'”

This isn’t the first time GOP insiders have hinted at having Jeb Bush lead them into battle against Hillary Clinton. Several of the party’s top officials have said that Bush may represent their best chance of re-taking the White House in 2016. Recently, House Majority Leader John Boehner made similar comments.

There are plenty of things to recommend Bush for a go at the presidency. He’s proven himself in office, he has the smarts to lead the country, and he has inroads to the Hispanic community. Fluent in Spanish and married to a Mexican-American, he may be one of the only paths to a Republican win amongst Latin voters.

But there are downsides. Even as unpopular as Obama has become, the country hasn’t forgiven Bush for the sins of Iraq. Low-information voters also point to Bush as the architect of the 2008 economic crash, giving liberals plenty of ammunition to use against his brother. While Republicans will be hammering the comparisons between Clinton and Obama, running another Bush under the GOP flag will give the opposition plenty of room for retort.

There are other problems, too. The younger Bush is far from a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. This, of course, is exactly what makes him so attractive to those at the top of the GOP. They don’t believe they can win with someone unwilling to compromise his values. It’s why we see a new story every week about Mitt Romney. Romney and Bush are two of the Republican Party’s most moderate potential candidates. Pat Buchanan, mulling over the possibility of a Bush run, actually said he believes the two have a deal. “If one goes, the other doesn’t because they would split up the moderate vote.”

Bush has a questionable record when it comes to issues that many conservative voters hold dear. He’s got a record that shows him in support of both Common Core and immigration reform, neither of which is going to prove popular with conservatives. They might play well in a general election, but Bush will have to first defeat candidates with more conservative records.

The question comes down to this: should Republicans be looking for a candidate that can win or a candidate that can best represent conservative values? It’s a question the party has struggled with as long as any of us have been alive, and 2016 will be no exception. With a winning candidate, we have a better chance of avoiding a disastrous third presidential term for the Democrats. With a conservative candidate, we can offer a true alternative to the liberal policies that have hurt the nation.

Whichever philosophy wins out, you can bet that 2016 is going to be one hell of a race.

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