This piece is based on the realities of election strategy, not
recent trends or polls. In Part I, I discuss possible GOP Primary
candidates and one General Election opponent in particular. In Part II
my thoughts on Jeb. Thanks for reading. Leave comments if you have
The Case for Jeb in 2008 - Part II
Assuming Senator Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee
for President in 2008, then the best Republican strategy for winning in 2008 is
simple: have a strategy for winning. If the GOP has to play 27 rounds of poker with
eight or more wannabees, then the GOP will lose electoral ground every day to
the presumptive Democratic nominee Senator Hillary Clinton. When the primaries
are over and it’s time to craft a general election strategy the eventual winner
will be in a situation with little money and little time to build a compelling
case for American voters, much like Kerry-Edwards in 2004.
With primaries in both the Republican and the Democratic
parties the MSM will not be dividing coverage equally. The eventual primary
winner will be behind in the polls, lacking name ID and lacking money. The
solution to this problem is to define a candidate early, support him
vigorously, and go on the offensive swiftly.
What does the GOP need to win? Jeb Bush. In my opinion, he
is the only logical choice if Hillary is the Democratic nominee and GOP is
serious about keeping the White House in 2008.
The GOP needs a candidate who can raise $300-400 million. Is
there anyone who doesn’t believe every single donor who gave $300+ million to
George in 2004 wouldn’t also give that much to Jeb? Or more? If a GOP candidate
has to run against Hillary and Bill, what better combination than George and
Jeb? In the run up to the 2000 primaries many in the base of the Republican
Party (i.e., donors) wanted Jeb, not
George. He is the Barry Goldwater of our generation. No other Republican
candidate can match Jeb’s credentials, grassroots, network, or fundraising.
After four years of the war on terrorism and seemingly
uncontrollable government growth, the GOP needs a candidate who is credible
when he says he will reduce the size of government. In his second inaugural
address Jeb said, “May these [government] buildings one day stand empty, a
memorial to a time when government was oversized and not needed.” In the six
years Jeb has been governor of Florida he has reduced the size of government and cut taxes nearly every year. In
addition, state revenues have increased and jobs opportunities have grown—all
this while experiencing a national recession and multiple natural disasters.
maintains one of the highest state credit ratings in the fifty states.
The GOP needs a candidate with strong ties overseas and is
credible on foreign policy, especially trade with Latin America and South America. In addition to established Bush family ties
(Saudis, Kuwaitis, and now Iraqis) Jeb works daily with many of the United States
largest trade partners. He manages a state that represents a third of all
American exports. Jeb has negotiated on behalf of the Free Trade of The
Americas (FTTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreements
(CAFTA). Brazil, Mexico, Cuba,
and Guatemala are but a few
of the Central and South American countries that the United States must work with in the
future on trade, immigration, and security.
The GOP needs a candidate with strong Hispanic ties. Jeb is
married to Columba, a woman of Mexican descent. His high profile son, George
P., is the Ricky Martin of Hispanic politics. Jeb manages a state that deals
with immigration issues from virtually every Hispanic country in the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, he is quite experienced
with policy debate regarding the balance between temporary workers, migrant
workers, and border security.
The GOP needs a candidate strong on faith, but not fanatical
or extremist. Jeb is Catholic, a candidate devoted to his faith but not a right
wing ideologue that many swing voters fear.
The GOP needs a candidate who can reach out to centrist and
moderate voters. Jeb’s stands on issues like Terry Schiavo and parental
notification for underage abortions affirm his protection of life and a defense
of parents. His very public problems with his daughter’s drug addiction make
him more human to most middle-America parents.
The GOP needs a candidate strong on education. Jeb’s
priority as Governor of Florida has always been improving education. He has
instituted multiple versions of vouchers and funding mechanisms for
alternatives to failing schools. As a result, more schools are improving and
children attending failing schools have the opportunity to receive a better
education. While, there have been some controversies over vouchers, his policy
for education demonstrates a leader willing to take a chance and explore all
In light of the failures and criticisms of the voucher
programs, the average math and reading test scores in Florida have increased and passage rates
have increased. All the more remarkable considering those gains were achieved
in spite of a growing school-aged population that outpaces that of the a dozen
states combined, and a sizable school-age population that doesn’t speak English
as a first language.
The GOP needs a candidate who is strong on domestic programs
such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. In the retirement state that
Jeb has earned his stripes many times over regarding Social Security, Medicare,
and Medicaid. He took the lead on promoting a more sustainable health insurance
program and is working to reform Medicare in Florida in his lame duck year. And an added
benefit, nobody knows better how to win the vote among the most active and
growing voting population in America,
The GOP needs a candidate whose political and electoral mettle
is tested and battle ready. Jeb worked his way through the Florida political system navigating
considerable insider networks to build his own coalition of insiders. He has
governed through an overzealous right wing legislature and managed the
implementation of term limits. No governor in America withstands the slings and
arrows of the daily media onslaught that Jeb endures. No governor in America was
targeted for attack, or has ever been targeted, such as Jeb was by the DNC in
2002. And no governor in America
has defended himself and successfully pushed his priorities such as Jeb.
Among “political” and media pundits the only substantial
reason against Jeb is that he is the President’s brother; it would be
unprecedented in American history and the word “dynasty” would corrupt the
process. That’s the worst? From a strategic standpoint I want to know my leader.
When the campaigning to be President of the United States begins I want all
boots on the ground.
If I am a member of the executive GOP–and I’m not–I don’t
want to spend the next four years parachuting in feelers for this or that
potential candidate. I don’t want to spend money and time researching the
credentials behind the lines of a weak candidate in what is surely an atypical
election year. Let’s face it; if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee then
the GOP has only one chance to end the mystique of the Clintons and solidify their dominance of
American politics for a generation. That chance is now.
Governor Jeb Bush is the only Republican with the requisite
name ID, governing experience, conservative credentials, political ties and
fundraising ability to even compete with the Clintons. He is term limited out of office in
2006 giving him two years without obligation to elected office.
He may not like it, but the solution for the GOP is to draft
Jeb Bush now and start the campaign, behind the scenes, and for real. The race
for the GOP primary should be over by the summer of 2006 and Jeb Bush should be
the GOP candidate for president in 2008.