Don’t Bother to Pander, Jeb

Jeb Bush apparently wants to be the Jon Hunstman of 2016–the Republican presidential candidate who gets respectful treatment from the liberal press because he isn’t one of those awful conservatives. The New York Times reports that Bush has promised not to pander:

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida was blunt Monday night: If he runs for president in 2016, he will not pander to his party’s conservative base in the primaries.

Mr. Bush said at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council in Washington that Republican candidates must be willing to “lose the primary to win the general, without violating your principles.”

“It’s not an easy task, to be honest with you,” he added.

No one ever said getting elected president was easy, but it is harder if your political principles are out of step with the party whose nomination you seek.

Mr. Bush said he would make a decision about the 2016 race “in short order” and sketched out the sort of campaign that he said Republicans must run to take back the White House. “It has to be much more uplifting, much more positive, much more willing to be practical,” he said.

Practicality is not, of course, the primary attribute many Republican primary voters look for in a presidential hopeful.

No, of course not. We just nominated Mitt Romney, maybe the most practical presidential candidate since Herbert Hoover. In the Times’s view, to find practicality you have to look to the Democrats: “Yes we can.” “We are the change we have been waiting for.” How practical can you get?

Still, Mr. Bush noted, the viability of an unapologetically pragmatic bid has not been tested.

“Frankly, no one really knows that because it hasn’t been tried recently,” he said, prompting a round of knowing chuckles among the business executives in attendance.

Ha ha ha. Actually, Bush’s comment wasn’t just disloyal to his party, it was dumb. The GOP’s last four presidential nominees have been Romney, John McCain and Jeb’s brother George, twice.

This exchange shows how radically out of touch Jeb Bush is. Eliciting “knowing chuckles” from a group of CEOs, most of whom are not Republicans, is easy. Getting actual Republican voters to pull the lever for you is something else entirely.

Maybe Bush’s idea is that he can sneak through the primaries as the only moderate (or whatever he is) in a crowded field of conservatives. Well, why not? Look how well it worked for Jon Huntsman.


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