USA | Jeb Bush är det vuxna alternativet bland de republikaner som nu har tillkännagett sitt intresse för att bli partiets presidentkandidat.
Men är amerikanarna redo för ännu en Bush i Vita huset? Och kommer en framgångsrik valstrategi kräva att han distanserar sig från sin bror?
Kritik om att han inte skiljer sig nämnvärt från den politik hans bror George W. Bush stod för kommer garanterat dyka upp från utmanare, både inom partiet och från demokraterna.
Jeb has always been more substance than style, a technocrat who doesn’t often display his brother’s gift for gab. “He doesn’t like the backslapping of politics,” says T. Willard Fair, the CEO of the Miami Urban League and a longtime friend who teamed with Bush to build Florida’s charter-school network. “If you could put him in the corner with a book, he’d rather do that.” Even close friends say he doesn’t kibitz much, charging through pleasantries on the phone to cut to the heart of the matter. But he has mastered the niceties that count in campaigns, like entering donors’ numbers into his personal cell phone so he can greet them warmly when they call.
For a politician who operates as a soloist, Bush has built an ensemble of allies with rare devotion. The ardor was clear on a Tuesday afternoon in mid-February, when 300 longtime supporters showed up at a Tallahassee hotel with a view of the state capitol for a fundraiser to benefit Bush’s super PAC. Lobbyists and former aides wearing circular red jeb! ’16 stickers on their chests scribbled out checks on tall cocktail tables as they waited to enter a ballroom with baubly glass chandeliers. “There are a lot of us who would do almost anything for him,” says former Bush political director David Hart, pulling from his pocket an index-card-size printout detailing the state’s education gains since Bush took office.
The 43rd President’s biography of the 41st, coupled with a hagiographic HBO documentary, formed the core of a quiet campaign to stoke nostalgia for the first Bush presidency and thaw opposition to a third. At the same time, Obama’s struggles to tame Islamic extremism refired the Restoration instincts in Republican politics. By June 2014, George W. Bush’s approval rating trumped Obama’s in Gallup polling, breaking the 50% threshold for the first time in nearly a decade.
And so a year ago, Bush asked his top political advisers to map out a role in the 2014 midterms with an eye toward a possible presidential run. As he campaigned for Republican candidates, he met privately with policy bigwigs. He had his fundraisers gin up cash for key governors, always a good way to test the waters around the country.
As his team sees it, Bush has four main weaknesses among primary voters. He is a longtime champion of comprehensive immigration reform in a party suspicious of amnesty. He supports Common Core education standards, which have emerged as a grassroots bugbear. His refusal to sign antitax pledges calls up for skeptics the “read my lips” promise broken by his father, and his recent statement that conservatives should respect gay couples who marry made social conservatives skittish.
Then there are the liabilities of his lineage. The conservative base came to regard George W. Bush as a Big Government Republican, a profligate spender who ran up big deficits, passed now-unpopular policies like No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D and presided during the greatest economic crash since the Depression. Many presume Jeb is much the same. And polls and party operatives agree that in the coming battle against Clinton, the party would benefit from a fresh face.
Few people outside Florida know much about Jeb, and his advisers acknowledge that the campaign’s success may hinge on its ability to distinguish the new family man from the Bushes who have preceded him. (It is no accident that the candidate’s signage and swag don’t include his last name.) But at some point this may require a public break from his brother. Jeb–who supported George W.’s wars and has argued that Obama’s troop withdrawal paved the way for the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS)–gently conceded during a recent appearance in Chicago that his brother had also made mistakes in Iraq. But the muscular foreign policy vision he laid out left audiences wondering exactly how his approach would differ.
Tidskriftsomslag: Time, 16 mars 2015.