Jeb Bush Changes Mind on Presidential Run. Can He Beat Hillary?

The word hit the street yesterday: Jeb Bush, who not long ago seemed out of the presidential race, has a 30 percent chance of running. A key question is whether moderate Chris Christie can lose 50 pounds falters.

Politico reported yesterday morning that Wall Street insiders were talking about Bush even after Christie's decisive victory in the New Jersey gubernatorial race. He has the name, the Phi Beta Kappa smarts, and the conservative record that Christie lacks.

Bush is reconsidering as the Republican Party seeks to recover from political damage done to its brand by the recent government shutdown, which was engineered by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and the tea party wing of the GOP.

More interesting, the media world began falling all over itself.

Newark's Star Ledger concluded, "Three years out, it's impossible to anoint a frontrunner; however, Christie is the flavor of the week after his landslide victory in his bid for re-election. But the right wing of the GOP continues to surface, questioning Christie's commitment to conservative causes."

Later in the day, NBC's Chuck Todd jumped in at a forum in Washington, positing the idea that Bush would have a pretty good chance against Hillary: "His only shot at the White House is if somebody named Clinton is running on the other side, and I think he knows that," he said. "He is thinking a lot harder about this than people realize."

And just two days ago, Bush sounded a lot like a candidate, endorsing Republican Rick Scott for governor: "While President Obama and Democrats in Congress are fixated on penalizing success, Governor Scott is pursuing policies to restore prosperity for more Floridians while prioritizing core state responsibilities, including increasing the state's investment in education."

What's interesting is that he cited Scott's education record, which is the number one issue Bush would run on. The younger Bush changed the national debate by improving Florida performance on national tests. He prioritized standardized testing, competition, and charter schools.

In June, a Quinnipac poll showed Hillary beating Jeb in Florida by 50 to 43 percent. But that was misleading. As Scott ramps up his own run for governor, that will fuel the state's right wing. And that will undoubtedly be good for the conservative, education-minded brother of the nation's worst president.

Of course, liberals hate the idea. From the The Atlantic: "The idea that Wall Street will slowly crank its steering wheel and offer Jeb Bush a ride to the White House is either naive or willfully misleading."

Though the presidential election is still three years out, Bush has been upfront about the idea of a run. Here he is just a few months ago on CNN:

The younger Bush would almost certainly be a better president than his brother. By instinct, he is more of a moderate than George W. and more of a compromiser. He has long supported immigration reform yet is more likely than Christie to be able to draw in the Tea Party wing of the GOP.

Hillary should be thinking about this. The next few months will be interesting.

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