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El Tiempo Latino
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Jeb Bush’s travails


The problem for Governor Bush is that in realpolitik, size matters.

Alberto Avendaño-oped | 6/11/2015, 12:29 a.m.
Jeb Bush’s travails
El exgobernador de Florida Jeb Bush ha dado los primeros pasos para concentrarse en la candidatura republicana para las elecciones presidenciales de 2016. | AP

They say that in politics, sleeping with the enemy is the game —a game of thrones where the powerful (kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars and honest men) play hard to sit atop the Iron Throne.

Who can you trust to support your political goal? How can you gather majority support in a politically fragmented environment —where being center would be easily perceived as too much to the left?

Is Jeb Bush as an all-but-declared presidential candidate becoming burdened by his own bloodline? Is there greater travail than that of a Bush who has before him the challenge of differentiation?

A rose is certainly a rose, but a Bush is not necessarily a Bush.

And when American politics was starting to make me feel superficially philosophical, a June 10 story of Ed O’Keefe and Robert Costa in The Washington Post grounded me —back to realpolitik.

Governor Bush is in trouble, they claimed. He is not on track to raise predicted $100 million, he is in a 5-way tie, and questions remain about igniting the base. Yeah, it is all about the base —Meghan Trainor Dixit. No treble.

The problem for Governor Bush is that in realpolitik, size matters. And as a Wall Street Journal-NBC news poll indicated earlier in June: Mitt Romney had problems with conservatives in 2011, but Jeb Bush’s may be worse in 2015.

According to the poll, some 28% of conservatives felt “negative” about Bush, twice the share who viewed Romney negatively 4 years ago. To the question: If the next Republican primary for president was being held today, which one of the following candidates would you favor? Marco Rubio was on top with 22%, then Scott Walker with 17% and Bush came in third with 14%. In contrast, Romney was the leader in the polls among conservatives by a large margin in June 2011.

Is this relevant? You bet. Conservatives dominate GOP primaries making up about two-thirds of the group that ends up selecting the GOP nominee.

What is happening to Jeb Bush? Is it the prospect of a third Bush presidency what keeps some GOP voters at arm’s length? Is his centrist, compassionate conservatism attitude toward the immigration issue hurting him? One thing is clear, Bush went from the one Republican uniquely ready for the presidential stage to one of the several candidates huddled together trying to figure out how to jump to the top.

And then, in a surprise move, Bush shakes up his team while on a political tour throughout Europe. Republican strategist Danny Díaz was named to head Bush’s still-unofficial presidential operation. Some good old Hispanic blood for the campaign? Is this a good sign?

The question remains: Is Bush ready? Will he need some epic toughness to control the Seven Kingdoms of the GOP or will it suffice with a small dose of machiavellic House of Cards —you know, the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft?

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Avendaño is Executive Editor of El Tiempo Latino, the Hispanic publication of The Washington Post

@albertoavendan1