Jeb Bush Leads With His Chin

As fate would have it, the same day Byron York helped reinflate the Mitt ’16 trial balloon, Jonathan Martin of the New York Times has an illuminating report on the 2014 campaign trail struggles of the man who may stand in the Mittster’s way, Jeb Bush. Check this out:

In one of his first public appearances of the 2014 campaign, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida had a vivid preview Wednesday of the challenges he would face with his party’s conservative base should he seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

Standing alongside Thom Tillis, the North Carolina House speaker and Republican Senate candidate, Mr. Bush outlined his views on two of the issues he cares most passionately about: immigration policy and education standards. But as Mr. Bush made the case for an immigration overhaul and the Common Core standards, Mr. Tillis gently put distance between himself and his guest of honor, who had flown here from Florida on a dreary day to offer his endorsement in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate.

Since Tillis made it clear he opposed Bush’s support for a path to citizenship and of Common Core, I don’t know if “gently” is the right term to use. I betcha Tillis’ people were close to throttling Jebbie’s people backstage; the last thing they need right now is to have someone come into North Carolina and offend Tillis’ “base.”

One thing Bush should have learned from Mitt Romney’s travails in 2012 is that when you are stuck with an issue position at odds with the dominant sentiment in your party (as with RomneyCare), you really just have three choices: flip-flop, lie or simply don’t talk about it. Mitt sort of did a combo platter of all three approaches on health care in 2012. It sounds like Jebbie is still articulating the Republican CW as it existed in about 2007. That just isn’t going to work going into 2016.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.