On Tuesday, former Florida governor Jeb Bush announced via Facebook that he would “actively explore” a presidential run – in other words, Bush announced that he would be entering the 2016 primary sweepstakes. His early jump effectively bars the candidacies of 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney as well as Florida Senator Marco Rubio. It also disheartens members of the conservative base, who see Bush as too moderate, unlikely to fight the Clintons tooth and nail, and as a representative of a family that helped destroy the Republican brand not once but twice.
Leftist media members simply can’t understand the tepid response from conservatives to Jeb, who governed in very conservative fashion in Florida. NPR’s S.V. Date wrote in Politico magazine, “On issue after issue, Jeb’s track record in Florida pushed conservatism’s envelope to the breaking point.” And Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times similarly wrote, incredulously, “Jeb Bush, a moderate squish?”
Here are the top six reasons many conservatives oppose Jeb:
Ripping Conservatives. Jeb has spent an awful lot of time ripping conservatives to the media – a familiar sight, given that 2008 and 2012 presidential nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney did the same before primary season. In 2012, Jeb told BuzzFeed:
Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad – they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party – and I don’t – as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground.
Similarly, Jeb told The Wall Street Journal CEO Council that any Republican nominee should “lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles.” Just a few weeks ago, Bush visited Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on Capitol Hill, where he heard typical McCain-speak from the 2008 nominee. According to McCain, “I just said to him, ‘I think if you look back, despite the far right’s complaints, it is the centrist that wins the nomination.'”
And just two weeks ago, he encouraged Republicans to stop trying to repeal Obamacare. “We don’t have to make a point any more as Republicans,” he stated. “We have to actually show that we can, in an adult-like way, we can govern, lead.”
Common Core. Bush has been the leading Republican advocate for the federalized education standards known as Common Core. His foundation ran an ad campaign in favor of Common Core. He recently said that debate over Common Core was “troubling,” and said he had “lost my patience” with those opposing Common Core. Additionally, accusations of crony capitalism have begun to dog Jeb over his support for the program.
Immigration. Jeb told BuzzFeed, “I do feel a little step with my party” on the issue of illegal immigration. In April, he said:
I’m going to say this, and it’ll be on tape and so be it. The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their families — the dad who loved their children — was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table. And they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.
In 2013, Bush said:
Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans, over the last 20 years. Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity.
In July, Bush wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal stating that Republicans should embrace comprehensive immigration reform despite the wave of thousands of illegal immigrant children crossing the southern border:
Congress should not use the present crisis as an excuse to defer comprehensive immigration reform. Whether President Obama is making health-care policy by fiat or using the Environmental Protection Agency to circumvent the lawmaking process, we have too often seen what happens when the president oversteps his constitutional authority. Avoiding similar disastrous results will require legislative action by both parties.
And even after Obama’s executive amnesty, Jeb pushed comprehensive immigration reform.
This, of course, is his chief appeal to many of the so-called big brains in the Republican Party. The New York Times reports that Jeb is willing to break with the base on illegal immigration, because both he and his advisors believe that Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election thanks to his harsher position on the border. “We often say, ‘Let Jeb be Jeb,'” said advisor Mike Murphy.
Warmth With The Clintons. Last week, former President George W. Bush told CNN’s Candy Crowley that his family was incredibly close with the Clinton family. In the process, he called Hillary Clinton his “sister-in-law,” although he added that he thought Jeb could beat Hillary in a presidential race. And last year, Jeb gave an award to Clinton, stating, “We recognize the commitment of someone who has devoted her life to public service,” and handed her the 2013 Liberty Medal for “her ongoing efforts to advocate for the rights of women and girls worldwide.” Hillary returned the love:
Today, Jeb and I are not just renewing an American tradition of bipartisanship, we’re keeping up a family tradition as well. We also share something that is far more important than any of our political differences. We both love this country and we believe in the wisdom of our founders and the constitution.
The event fell one day before the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed the American ambassador.
Taxes. Jeb has refused to sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge not to raise taxes. In 2012, Bush was asked by the House Budget Committee whether he would trade $1 in tax increases for $10 in spending cuts. He replied that he would. Of course, Democrats have repeatedly offered that deal, only to pull the football at the last second, increasing spending and taxes.
The Bush Legacy. George W. Bush was a horror show for conservatives in his second term, and raised spending dramatically in his first term. George H.W. Bush made “read my lips” a punch line with regard to Republican credibility for years. H.W. Bush lost to Clinton in 1992, and his lack of conservatism even opened the door to fringe candidate Pat Buchanan and led to the rise of Ross Perot. The prospect of yet another Bush/Clinton election leaves most conservatives queasy.
Jeb does not have the base. But he may have the coastal Republican cash – and the temporary love of the media, until he wins the nomination. That divide will define his presidential run.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.