Renowned Saudi columnist Mamdouh Al-Muhaini of Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat has endorsed Jeb Bush for president. Writing that the Republican establishment has rallied around the candidate, Al-Muhaini declares Bush’s appeal to be his moderate approach, “distant from all those rigid and fanatical demagogues.”
The column declares Jeb Bush the “leading candidate among the Republicans” and a “strong man” capable of defeating Republicans, not just due to fundraising ability, but to the appeal of his ideology. Al-Muhaini backs up his claim that Bush has the support of the Republican base by noting that a Washington Post report claimed that the top 100 donors that supported Mitt Romney during the last election cycle will turn to Bush.
Al-Muhaini does not mention the grassroots pivot against the Republican establishment. He does mention Senator Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), perhaps the textbook example of a candidate that rose to prominence by addressing the concerns of the conservative grassroots base – by comparing him to President Obama. President Obama, the author writes, was inexperienced and has been a disaster, entering the White House with “the qualifications of a television star or a preacher, not of the president of the most powerful nation on the globe.” Senator Cruz, he insists, “aims to repeat the Obama scenario.”
Al-Muhaini also seems to dislike New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s chances of winning the nomination because he “is not a member of the Bush family.”
While Bush appears to be winning the hearts and minds of the Saudi media elite, back in the United States, the support of the Republican base has proven more elusive. A poll by YouGov/The Economist found that only 15% of Americans want to see Jeb Bush assume the Republican nomination – or run for President at all. Meanwhile, 39% of those polled had either a moderately or extremely unfavorable view of the former governor of Florida. State convention straw polls have been equally unfavorable to the younger Bush, with candidates like the aforementioned Sen. Cruz and Senator Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) receiving much warmer welcomes.
The former governor has announced that he is considering a bid, but he will not make any public statements or decisions until the end of the year.