GEORGE BUSH FOR PRESIDENT!….Here’s a trivia question: when was the first speculation in the mainstream media that George W. Bush might be a candidate for president in 2000?
Answer: as near as I can tell, it was in a Robert Novak column from May 27, 1996. At that point, the grand total of Bush’s political experience was 16 months as governor of Texas. Here’s what Novak said:
Close political advisers of former President George Bush are quietly pushing their choice as the Republican presidential candidate of the future, as early as 2000: Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Since his election as governor in 1994, the ex-president’s oldest son has kept out of the national spotlight — declining network television interviews. He has so far proved to be the most effective and popular Texas governor since John B. Connally 30 years ago. While winning Democratic applause, Gov. Bush has clashed with conservatives such as GOP State Chairman Tom Pauken.
I don’t know who Novak’s “close political advisers” were, but the best guess is probably either one of the members of the “Iron Triangle” (Karen Hughes, Karl Rove, Joe Allbaugh) or else Jim Francis, founder of the Bush Pioneers, one of his main fundraising vehicles.
Does anyone know of any earlier speculation in the national press? I’m curious to know how early people (a) inside Texas and (b) outside Texas first publicly mentioned him as a possible candidate in 2000.