The Confederacy of Dunces that emerged to vie for the GOP presidential primary certainly must have some could-have-been candidates rethinking their decision. After the swift, and often surreal, rises and eventual falls of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain, the race is pretty much down to Newt Ginrich (at least until America remembers why exactly it was he was so hated in the '90s) and Mitt Romney (a man whose boring factors rivals that of a single slice of cheap ham on Wonder Bread).
Now, the Wall Street Journal reports there's murmurs among the conservative elite of the possibility of drafting a new candidate to enter race. Among the names apparently being whispered: Jeb Bush.
This isn't much of a surprise considering that ever since leaving the Florida Governor's Office Jebbers has pretty much made a career out of not running for president. Anytime he needs some quick publicity he just lets someone know he's not running for Prez. Obviously, he ruled out a 2012 bid long ago (with the possibility of a 2016 or beyond bid open), but could he be convinced to go back on his word?
The actual WSJ Political Diary entry is behind a paywall, but RedState excerpts some of it:
Efforts are underway by some wealthy Republican donors and a group of conservative leaders to investigate whether a new Republican candidate could still get into the presidential race. The talk is still preliminary and somewhat wishful, but it reflects dissatisfaction with the two leading candidates, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
Conservative leaders are looking into whether it is feasible for a dark horse to get on the ballot in select states. The deadline to qualifying for the ballot has passed in Florida, South Carolina, Missouri, and New Hampshire. But a candidate could still get on the ballot in states like Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Michigan and Texas. At the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, voters write in their choice, so there is no formal filing deadline.
In addition to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, businessman Donald Trump, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, RedState adds that Jeb Bush's name is also in the mix.
Alan Steinberg at PolitickerNJ says that Bush would be the perfect candidate:
He was a superb governor of Florida, and he retains a remarkably high degree of popularity in the Sunshine State. Jeb has first rate communication skills and an ability to forge solutions on quality of life issues, particularly education and the environment. Although he is from the center-right, he is able to please both movement conservatives and moderates. In most presidential election years, Jeb Bush would be considered to be an ideal Republican presidential candidate.
There's still two glaring problems with this however (aside from, you know, the small fact that he doesn't want to run): 1. He still has the last name Bush. 2. It's too late to get on the Florida ballot.
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There's also some other potential problems. Namely his past connections to Lehman Brothers and questions over weather his legacy set up Florida's economy to fail during the recession. His children also have some interesting arrest records.
Considering Bush's popularity in the state he still could have likely swept into the race just before the deadline to get on the ballot in Florida and found an easy path to victory. Even if he didn't win Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, he almost certainly would have won Florida and that could have set him up with enough momentum through the rest of the primary season.
But with Florida now out of the picture, a last-minute Jebbers run makes considerably less sense. Though the fact that conservatives aren't happy with either Gingrich or Romney is good news for Bush's future presidential ambitions. 2012 may have been too early for Bush to escape the stigma of his last name, but by 2020 he could be long forgotten. 2016 seems perfect. Assuming Marco Rubio isn't running, that is.