Ending what might have been the least-mysterious mystery of the 2016 election cycle, on Monday Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush endorsed his father, former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), for President.
Introducing Jeb Bush to a crowd of cheering supporters in Miami, Bush shared his deep love and respect for his father.
What I appreciate most about my dad is no matter where I go he has always been there standing w/ me & now I’m proud to stand w/ him #Jeb2016
— George P. Bush (@georgepbush) June 15, 2015
“No matter where I go or what I do, he loves me, no questions asked,” Bush said affectionately. “My Dad has always been there, standing with me, and now I’m proud to stand with him.”
Bush thanked his father for encouraging him in his successful campaign for Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office (GLO), and said that he was glad he was able to reciprocate by being with his father for his campaign launch.
— GeorgeP.BushCampaign (@TeamGeorgeP) November 5, 2014
“I’m proud to say that Jeb Bush is the greatest man that I’ve ever known, and he’s going to make an excellent President of the United States of America,” Bush continued, officially endorsing his father. Quelle surprise!
Normally, this would hardly be the kind of news to warrant its own separate headline. “Son Endorses Dad” is only slightly less surprising than “Cookie Monster Endorses Cookies.”
However, ever since the younger Bush launched his campaign in 2013, and even after he was elected, the media have continually pestered him. Reporters have hounded Bush with questions about his father, often demanding that he declare on the record whether he would endorse his father for president, long before Jeb Bush had even filed the paperwork for his Super PACs or officially expressed interest in running.
This reporter has personally seen members of the Texas political press corps approach Bush at events where he was appearing in his official capacity at the GLO, and the first, sometimes only, question they asked was about his father running for President.
Until Monday, Bush had consistently refused to grant any interviews about his father’s political plans, or even state whether he would endorse him if he ran, often pointing to the fact that Jeb Bush was not yet a candidate. Monday’s introductory speech was Bush’s first comment on the record on this topic.
In compliance with Texas law, Bush’s staff at the GLO have also stayed far away from any political issues and have declined to comment about Jeb Bush’s potential campaign, just like their boss.
Still, the ever-ravenous media beast has been persistent. To be fair, an American political figure who is related to two living presidents plus another potential president is newsworthy, but the nearly single-minded focus on Bush’s last name is extreme, especially when contrasted with the media’s willingness to allow Hillary Clinton to run for office with an identity separate from her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Not to mention that while Bush cannot pick his relatives, it was Hillary’s decision to marry Bill — and stay with him through all the “bimbo eruptions” and illicit involvements with White House interns — and then work together with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation. If any politician should have to answer for the policies and actions of someone with the same last name, it’s Hillary Clinton.
One illustration of the media’s relentless focus on Bush’s last name — though certainly not the most egregious of examples — was last September, when Texas Tribune Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith interviewed Bush at the Tribune’s annual “TribFest” event.
Smith spent several minutes introducing Bush, listing his experiences as an inner city public school teacher, serving in the military, attending law school, forming Maverick PAC and the Hispanic Republicans of Texas, and running his oil and gas investment firm.
Smith’s first question was a perfunctory check-in about his experiences on the campaign trail, but then he turned to a series of questions about Bush’s political family, asking about his uncle, former President and Texas Governor George W. Bush, running against former Gov. Ann Richards, wondering out loud whether he was running for office for his own reasons or to “answer the call of the Bush — the magnetic pull of the surname may be too great,” asking him about what “growing up Bush” taught him about public service, the advantages from his last name, and so on.
Bush reminded Smith that “not all Bushes are in politics” — out of the eighteen Bush grandchildren in his generation, he is the only one currently in politics. He patiently turned each of Smith’s questions back to his own experiences, perspectives, and thoughts about the work of the GLO, an agency which focuses its work on education, energy, and veterans, a perfect match for his own resume entries as a teacher, veteran, and oil and gas investment firm principal.
After about twenty minutes of policy questions that were (gasp!) actually related to the work of the GLO — and it’s an excellent discussion that any Texan should watch for a deeper understanding of the office and its functions — Smith asked Bush about several issues that “admittedly have nothing to do” with the GLO, including his views on gay marriage, abortion, and Obamacare. These issues were framed, however, not just as what Bush thought about them, but about several Bush family members who had differing opinions, and how he fit into the “family brand of Republicanism.”
Near the end of the interview, Smith mentioned how Bush had endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) very early on in the Republican primary for Senate against then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R-TX), and asked if he would endorse Cruz for president. Bush replied that he was staying out of the race.
“What if your dad runs? What kind of son are you? Really? If your dad runs, you’re not going to endorse your dad?” Smith asked incredulously.
Bush smiled and, as he had done throughout the campaign, refused to say he would endorse his father.
The son’s silence ended on Monday, as a proud son welcomed his father to the stage where he would announce his plans to run for the highest office in the land.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.