15 Jun 2015

Jeb Bush presidential campaign: the key questions

Jeb Bush, younger brother of George W Bush and son of George H Bush, formally declares his candidacy for president of the United States.

What are his views?

Jeb Bush’s views are seen as relatively centrist in comparison to other Republican candidates. He has stay away from the far-right politics dominated by the Tea Party movement.

Like most Republicans, Mr Bush is highly critical of the Obama administration’s framework agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear programme. He has said he believes in “traditional marriage” but in January urged “respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue”.

In April Jeb Bush said “we need to work with the rest of the world to negotiate a way to reduce carbon emissions”. Those remarks, along with his more relaxed stance on citizenship for illegal immigrants, set him apart from other Republican hopefuls.

Is he tainted by George W?

Jeb has the difficult task of trying to both defend and distance himself from George W Bush’s record as president.

Jeb and George Bush

Over the last few months Jeb tried to fend off questions about the 2003 invasion of Iraq but struggled to explain his position. Eventually he conceded that he “would not have gone into Iraq” knowing what we know now.

In May, Jeb sought to put more distance between himself and his brother, declaring: “I think that in Washington, during my brother’s time, Republicans spent too much money.”

Will he get support of fellow Republicans?

Jeb Bush has been out of politics for nine years – a long period that many feel will be a big problem for him. He was governor of Florida between 1999 and 2007 and recently put out a press release with endorsements from many of the state’s political leaders.

He just hasn’t met the expectation level of what we expected of a Bush. Senator John McCain

But many Republicans have voiced their opposition to Jeb’s relatively moderate positions on immigration and education. In congress Bush lacks support, at least publically, at this early stage.

Not a single senator has endorsed his candidacy – although campaign officials say that a number of congress officials are privately supportive and will begin to emerge as the campaign ramps up.

What is it with political dynasties in the US?

The names of the last four presidents of the United States read: Obama, Bush, Clinton and Bush. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are both early favourites in the 2016 election. Notably, both Clinton and Bush have tried to distance themselves from their respective family’s famous surnames.

Jeb Bush released his campaign logo on Sunday, which reads simply as “Jeb!” Hillary Clinton officially launched her campaign back in April. Her merchandise features the slogan “Hillary for America” and her campaign logo is simply a “H”.

The Clinton and Bush campaigns are by far the best funded in their respective fields and their family connections mean their campaigns have received the lion’s share of the media spotlight.

Will he win?

Jeb’s campaign hasn’t had the start he expected. By the time he had officially declared his candidacy he had hoped to have raised more money, set himself apart from his brother’s controversial presidency and established a clear lead in the GOP polls.

However, his campaign has been tainted by staffing shakeups and he finds himself as part of a tight field of Republican candidates.

“He just hasn’t met the expectation level of what we expected of a Bush,” former presidential candidate Senator John McCain told the New York Times.

Jeb’s nearest challengers for the Republican nomination are likely to be Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Scott Walker. Over the next few months he will seek to use his huge resources and the televised debates to help pull himself away from the rest of the GOP field.