Though they will be the last to use the term, the Bush family appears to be taking steps to cement its position as the United States’ foremost political dynasty. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, according to his son, is now “more than likely” to declare himself a candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency in the 2016 general election.
In an interview with ABC News’s Jonathan Karl, Bush’s son, George P. Bush, said that his father is now far more interested in running for the White House than he was a few years ago.
Long-discussed as a potential though unlikely candidate, there have been a number of reasons why many thought the younger brother of the last Republican president and the son of the Republican president before that might decline to run. A primary reason was the extreme unpopularity of his brother, George W. Bush, when he left the White House in 2009. Another was the opposition of Bush’s wife, Columba, to getting back into the political arena.
As memories of his brother’s presidency lose some of their potency, the toxicity of the Bush name has likewise subsided. And now, according to Peter Baker of The New York Times, so have Mrs. Bush’s concerns. Baker reports that in an interview, Bush’s son, Jeb Jr., said that Mrs. Bush has given her consent.
Mrs. Bush’s reluctance to submit herself and her family to the harsh scrutiny reserved for the families of presidential candidates would be understandable under any circumstances. But the Bush family has dealt with a number of legal and personal challenges over the years that will get a fresh – and nationwide – airing should her husband run for the White House.
The problems begin with Mrs. Bush herself, who in 1999 was detained by the U.S. Customs Service for failing to declare more than $19,000 worth of clothing and jewelry she had purchased during a trip to Paris.
They also extend to at least two of the Bush’s children. Their daughter Noelle has battled drug addiction, was once arrested for trying to obtain the tranquilizer Xanax with a fake prescription, and has been involved in multiple car wrecks. Their son, George P. Bush, currently running for Texas Land Commissioner, is not without problems, either. In 1994, shirtless, he broke into the home of an ex-girlfriend whom he had not been dating for more than a year. After being confronted by her father as he crawled through a window, Bush returned to the girl’s house in his car, and drove it across the lawn, doing substantial damage.
Jeb Bush himself has a history of business dealings that put him in close contact with people later convicted of crimes including money laundering and fraud, though he was never accused of wrongdoing himself. He also served as a paid consultant to Lehmann Brothers just before the financial firm’s collapse, which helped trigger the financial crisis.
A Bush candidacy would also have to deal with the hard-to-deny perception that the Presidency would appear to be an almost dynastic office if three of the last five occupants of the White House were from the same immediate family.
How hard fellow Republicans would hit Bush on these issues is unclear, but with a number of other Republicans, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas – and maybe even serial candidate and 2012 nominee Mitt Romney – also in the mix, it’s certain that he wouldn’t receive a free pass to the nomination on the basis of his name.
Of course, the Democrats have their own budding political dynasty in the Clinton family. Hillary Clinton is the current favorite to win the Democratic nomination in 2016. However, their only child, Chelsea, a new mother at 34, has so far showed little inclination to run for office herself.
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