The Amount Of Tax-Free Fenefits For Employees. IMMIGRATION

At the core of the Bush challenge is the brand name and all it signifies. “I do think the bar’s higher for me, but that’s good,” he said in an interview in his black campaign Escalade on his way to the airport after his three-day Iowa swing. “I don’t see it as a burden. I see it as an opportunity.”

But the rise of the insurgent right has forced Bush to depend even more on his name. Fundraising for the latest Bush campaign has always been a fam­ily business, but neve: like this. Former President George \V. Bush has partici­pated in at least four fundraisers, in­cluding one very quietly just outside the nation’s capital a few weeks ago. His par­ents, in their 90s, have each participated in two, and his brother Marvin Bush and sister Dorothy Bush Koch in one each. Later this month the two former Pres­idents Bush will i: in the hopeful at a summit for high-d: lit: d: nors in Hous­ton dubbed the “Jeb Celebration.” Then there is his rising-star eldest son George P. Bush, the Texas land commissioner, who has crisscrossed the country fund­raising and attending campaign events while younger sc n Teb Jr. has focused on youth outreach.

This summer. Jeb reports, Barbara Bush strolled the beaches of Kenne- bunkport, Maine, .••ith her dogs and a pair of “Jeb! 2016′ tamper stickers on her three-wheeled red walker, handing out others to passersby on one condi­tion: “Don’t put it in a scrapbook—put it on the car.” “This is typical of my mom,” Jeb notes as the car ride continues, be­fore quoting the family matriarch: “Ifyou have two cars and you want to put them on, I’ll give you two.”

Ask about his struggling poll numbers (Jeb has fallen from double to single dig­its in most surveys since getting into the race) and Bush points to his father’s ex­perience. “At this point, my dad was an asterisk in 1979.” he noted, plugging his time campaigning for his father in Iowa that year. Left unmentioned was the fact that a more conservative and charismatic candidate, Ronald Reagan, beat the elder Bush to the nomination in 1980.


Dorene Oliver was sitting just in front of a bank of television cameras at the Pizza Ranch in Indianola, Iowa, when Bush was


With the pie-in-the-skygoal of sQstained
4% annual economic growth, Bush
has put forward a series of mostly
conventional Republican policy ideas.


Repeal Obamacare and replace it with
tax breaks for individuals to purchase
catastrophic insurance coverage and
block grants to help states serve low-
income people. He would also limit
the amount of tax-free benefits for


Push comprehensive reform that gives
a path to citizenship for undocumented
immigrants who were brought to the
country as children but not everyone
else. “What do we do with the 11 million
people here? I think the answer is
earned legal status,” he says.


Eliminate many deductions and cut
income tax rates, which could reduce
tax revenue by as much as $3.4 trillion
over 10 years.


Approve the Keystone XL pipeline, push
to allow exports of U.S. crude and
natural gas, repeal EPA regulations of
greenhouse gases and reduce other
industry regulations.

asked by a voter to name his biggest mis­take as a leader. Muttering within ear­shot, Oliver, a 56-year-old Ben Carson supporter, quipped, “Not changing your last name.”

Jeb heard the jab and searched the room for the culprit. “Who said that? That’s not a mistake,” Bush responded matter-of-factly. “I’m proud of my family.”

But there is still time for a Bush re­bound. He’s built the largest ground op­eration in New Hampshire and is looking to his formidable super PAC to help re­introduce him to voters over the airwaves. During the Iowa trip, his super PAC re­leased a new ad, featuring Bush’s dis­ruption message, part of a months-long $50 million campaign to define his rec­ord as a government reformer. “He has the record of shaking things up and ac­tually accomplishing something, which is what a lot of the appeal of outsiders is,” said a Right to Rise adviser. The echoes of the slogan that made George W. Bush the nominee in 2000—“Reformer With Results”—are easy to hear.

The elder brother’s counsel may prove to be another advantage as the real prima­ries begin. “My brother gives me good ad­vice,” Bush says of the former President, who he notes is the only Republican to win nationally since their father in 1988. “I need to ask him more, to be honest with you. Because he’s got a great, very astute sense.”

in indianola, Jeb proceeds to talk up his Florida record, cutting the size of gov­ernment, raising the state’s growth rate— the sort of things that matter most to Re­publican voters this year. The Carson supporter who came in mocking Bush’s name eventually came around. “I thought we were going to listen to another George W. Bush, but I was very, very wrong,” Ol­iver explained afterward. “I’ve changed my mind.”

Yet there is a grim counternarrative spreading in the Bush supporter and donor orbit: that maybe Jeb is the wrong candidate, with a temperament, last name and ideological disposition ill suited to the moment. Perhaps he missed his chance in 2012, they muse privately, or maybe, as Barbara Bush said in 2013 (but later recanted), “We’ve had enough Bushes.”

The Bush strategy is a wager that vot­ers will set aside their anger and the ap­peal of the “grievance candidates” who’ve never held government office and look in the end for a more electable Estab­lishment favorite. That is usually how it goes with Republicans. But the anger that has marked the race so far seems to be broadening if not deepening, and that’s lengthening the odds on Jeb. If it doesn’t subside and if he can’t rebrand himself to capture the frustrations by the time Re­publicans go to the polls in February, then even many of his staunchest backers con­cede it may be a lost cause.

In the meantime Jeb Bush gets up every morning to try again, preaching joy while grimly focused on the narrow task before him. “It’s been my responsi­bility from the very beginning to method­ically go about telling my life story,” he says. “I don’t know what everybody else does in the campaign, but that’s what I do.” There’s little else he can control, he says. It is what it is.

Send a Comment

Your email address will not be published.