For Jeb, Bush Name Not Such A Burden

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) looks to be on the brink of declaring a 2016 presidential bid, a move that would be by far the biggest development so far in the race to succeed President Obama.

But one question – how will his last name affect his chances? – hangs over everything.

The evidence that Bush is getting into the race has been piling up fast.

He announced at the weekend that he would release 250,000 emails from his tenure in Tallahassee — a decision that has no obvious rationale except to prepare the ground for a presidential bid.

Bush also said he would release an e-book regarding his policy positions next year. Book releases are a time-honored gambit of presidential contenders.

The argument that American voters would bridle at the notion of another Bush in the White House has two elements.

One is that voters would be instinctively disinclined to back anyone from a family that has already given the nation two presidents, George W. and George H.W.

The second is that the Bush name is particularly corrosive, given the deeply contentious presidency of George W., and the dismal approval ratings that dogged his final years in office.

“The Bush name is obviously going to be one of Jeb’s biggest hurdles, but it’s also going to be one of his biggest assets,” said Ford O’Connell, another Republican strategist.

Republicans say the window is open now for Jeb to define himself separate from his family.

“He needs to make the point that you’re not voting for Bush, you’re voting for Jeb,” O’Connell said.

Read more from Jonathan Easley at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy