Is the Jebbie Bandwagon Gearing Up?

On CNN’s Inside Politics yesterday, John King allowed as how he’s hearing Jeb Bush is letting his money people know he has not ruled out a 2016 presidential campaign, in case they are approached by other potential candidates.

This is, of course, the sort of unattributed stuff that could have come from anywhere, including anyone with an interest in keeping Jebbie’s name on the invisible primary’s list of The Mentioned (a status threatened by Barbara Bush’s recent comments suggesting another Bush campaign would be a bad idea). But it does make you wonder if the legendary Republican Establishment is getting a tad desperate, what with Chris Christie’s troubles and Marco Rubio’s troubles (for the record, Mickey Kaus, a relentless opponent of comprehensive immigration reform, speculates the Establishment might deep-six immigration legislation precisely to rehabilitate Rubio among conservatives).

Jeb always shows a pulse in 2016 polls for precisely the same reason his brother W. looked surprisingly strong early in the 2000 cycle: name ID. Yes, I know there is a theory that any “dynastic problem” for a third Bush candidacy would be cancelled out by a second Clinton candidacy, but Jeb last ran for office in 2002, and the family name suffers not just from Democratic hostility but from the recent conviction of Tea Folk that W. turned out to be a big-spending RINO just like Poppy.

Maybe I’m underestimating Jeb Bush, who was the subject of a mini-draft effort in National Review back in 2011, showing that he still has some serious conservative street cred. But my guess is that the Electable Conservative mantle is more likely to fall on someone like Scott Walker, if he’s not soon down there with Chris Christie worrying about dodging process servers.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.