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‘Jeb!’ Bush Continues 21 Year Habit of Campaigning With His Nickname

The day before he is to launch his campaign in Miami, Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) unveiled the logo for his presidential campaign, a simple design with his nickname and an exclamation point, and the year:

After the logo was posted, many commented on the omission of Bush’s last name, and wondering about the use of the exclamation point. “Jeb” is not Bush’s legal name, instead being a nickname formed from his initials: John Ellis Bush.

Some compared the logo to the “Lamar!” logo used in 1996 by former Gov. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in his presidential campaign. However, Bush’s use of this logo even predates Alexander’s. Bush has used his nickname in his campaign logos for some two decades now, starting with his unsuccessful attempt to challenge former Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles (D) in 1994. The same “Jeb!” logo was also used in the two campaigns he won, in 1998 and 2002.

Bush adviser Mike Murphy, who is expected to head Bush’s Super PAC after the campaign launches, confirmed on Twitter that the new logo was the same as Bush had used before. The only difference this time around is the addition of “2016” and the reversing of the colors. Instead of white letters on a red background, the 2016 edition uses red letters on a white background.

As Breitbart News reported last week, Bush’s longtime attorney and adviser, Raquel Rodriguez, filed the paperwork for a Florida not-for-profit campaign to serve as Bush’s principal campaign committee. Like the logo, the committee’s name omits the Bush moniker and only uses his nickname: “Jeb 2016, Inc.

Florida-based Republican strategist Rick Wilson told Breitbart News that he thought it was smart for Bush to keep the same logo, and that any critics were “overthinking” the situation. “This is the same chipper, expressive, single-name branding that has been with Jeb since the beginning,” said Wilson.

“In branding, you stick with the stuff that’s simple, you stick with what works for you,” Wilson continued. Rather than an effort to hide from the Bush name, “Jeb has branded himself as ‘Jeb’ his entire political career. It’s worked for him in the past, people know it and recognize it…you’ll still see the occasional car in Florida  with the Jeb! bumper sticker on it.”

Wilson also contrasted the Bush logo with Hillary Clinton’s, the other candidate who is also using only her first name. While Bush’s logo has over two decades of history to it, and “still a couple million people in Florida who remember him as Jeb,” Clinton’s logo “was weird, came out of nowhere,” and had no connection to anything that had represented her ever before.

Marc Caputo, Politico‘s Florida reporter who was with the Miami Herald for years before that, also scoffed at the idea that Bush was rejecting his last name, tweeting that when Bush first ran for office, his name had a positive track record — his father had just won the state in the 1992 presidential election — and that there was “zero evidence” at the time in 1994 that he was running away from his name. Caputo even did a search of news clips from that year to back up his claim.

Realistically, no one thinks that Bush could escape from his last name even if he wanted to do so. For Bush, as well as Clinton, polling this past year has consistently showed near universal name recognition. Anyone who can figure out how to register to vote will know that this candidates last name is Bush.

Whether the peppy, friendly tone and retro style of “Jeb!” that framed his campaigns in the booming economies of the 1990s will be able to reach voters in 2016 remains, of course, to be seen. And love it or hate it, it certainly is memorable. “This is a competition of branding,” said Wilson. “Campaigns are like start up companies. They have a year and a half to brand it and a day to sell it. The simpler and better you are, the better you’ll sell.”

Bush will officially launch his presidential campaign on Monday in Miami. Breitbart News will continue to follow this story.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.

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