Four years after leaving the Florida governor’s mansion, he remains one of the most impressive Republican politicians in the country, a formidable policy mind with the political chops to drive conservative reforms even out of office. So why isn’t he running for president? Bush told Miller what he’s said to others, too — he won’t run in 2012, but he’ll consider 2016. This is a mistake. Bush should run now for at least eight reasons. Chief among them:
1) It’s a wide-open field for a nomination that’s worth having.Rarely do you get such a convergence of a beatable incumbent president with a wide-open field to challenge him. Obama is slightly below 50 percent in the polls, with a real weakness in the middle of the country, and he’s saddled with a recovery that has yet to produce substantial job growth. Yet there is no true frontrunner in the race to challenge him. It’s hard to imagine an environment better suited for a heavyweight like Jeb to make a run.
2) 2016 is too late I. By 2016, Jeb will have been out of office ten years. No doubt he will have made many contributions to the cause in the interim, but by then his main credential — his governorship and its accomplishments — will seem like yesterday’s news. Right now he has the feel of an elder statesman of the party while his time in office is still fresh.
4) The Bush rehabilitation has begun. George W. Bush is not exactly popular, but two years of Obama have taken the edge off W.-hatred, and he’s risen from the depths of his unpopularity near the end of his presidency. Gallup had a poll in December that had Bush’s approval rating very slightly above President Obama’s. Bush’s book, Decision Points, and the accompanying media tour were successes. In 2008, Jeb’s association with his brother would have been an absolute killer. That’s not true anymore. The controversies that made the Bush years so venomous have faded, and — partly through the miracle of the accelerated news cycle — 2000–2008 already feels somewhat distant.