Jeb Bush’s Bad Week: Is His Confidence Slipping?

By Kartik Krishnaiyer

Unless you’ve been in a cave somewhere, I think everyone would agree Jeb Bush is having a bad week.  Without rubbing further salt in the wound let’s analyze some of what I observed this week from the former Governor.

When he was Governor, Bush was always confident bordering on cocky. His self assurance and quite frankly his  arrogance rubbed most the wrong way including many Republicans. This week he’s appeared to me to be less shrill but also less confident in his words and mannerisms. Perhaps this is simply the works of handlers trying to make Bush appear more humble in anticipation of a potential 2016 Presidential Campaign. Maybe it’s some growing as Bush has gone from being a younger conservative ideologue committed to making Florida the center of right-wing think tank inspired legislation to senior party statesman.

Somehow, however I do not find that description possible. Bush was the most conservative Governor this state had since Millard Caldwell and one of the most conservative Governors in the country during that period. Instead what is logically happening is that either Bush is being over “handled” or simply isn’t terribly comfortable with some of these more “moderate” statements he’s making. I actually give Bush a pass for his contradictory stands on a path to citizenship. Bush’s manuscript for his book must have been submitted months ago and the debate on immigration reform has shifted significantly since then. But what seems obvious is Bush who always seemed in control from a messaging standpoint isn’t doing a particularly good job this week.

Despite the fact that many conservative pundits and media personalities want Bush to run in 2016, he seems to lack a political base to run from outside of talking heads. The Governor is still popular in Florida, but how he has been characterized by the press means he will never be the favorite of Tea Party activists, and his inability to yet clearly define himself as an “electable” alternative to those also discussing 2016 must have his proponents worried.

Another factor is Marco Rubio who it is assumed will defer to Bush in 2016 should Bush run. Rubio’s brand continues to grow in Republican circles and despite being the latest GOP “flavor of the month,” Rubio-mania shows no sign of dropping off anytime soon. While Rubio and Bush are political allies they are competing for the same air time, the same headlines and ultimately the same role – to become the titular head of a party that’s public perception has been badly damaged.

Jeb Bush may be characterized in some circles as the heir apparent to the Republican throne nationally. But many Republicans don’t want a Bush family restoration just yet and the former Governor looks himself to be somewhat uncomfortable, something that’s shocking given his history. Bush’s bad week could be a clear indicator as to how poorly things are developing for him going forward. Or his bad week could simply be an aberration, a bad few days on the road to becoming the most visible Republican in the country. Only time will tell on this one.


  1. Larry Thorson · ·

    Jeb will not run,for president because of a,big corrupt mistake h e made after leaving the governor’s office. He was paid as a,consultant t to Lehman Bros even though he had steered hundreds of millions of state business to them while in office. Florida lost tons of money when Lehman went bankrupt and Jeb has never been called to explain how he got richer while Florida took a huge financial hit. This finally would happen when he announces.

    And this is the worst writing software I’ve ever experienced.



    great article. I think Jeb is struggling honestly. Trying to fulfill a family legacy while he’d rather just quit. So he is torn.


  3. He’s shown all along he’s willing to pander to a certain group of Republicans opposed to the tea party while still maintaining his conservative credentials. Maybe smart or may be dumb.


  4. He’s looking shaky at best.


  5. Fla Dem Insider · ·

    He still seems cocky, shrill and arrogant. Hrs just looking less confident because he’s playing with the big boys now.


  6. […] Florida Squeeze thinks Jeb Bush is looking less than confident on the media trail this […]


  7. He does seem weak but it depends on how his education plans go this session and the looks of it. (remind you we are only in the 1st week) it depends on how many elected he has paid off to pass his legislation. It is clear that Lawson get paid. Who else? Sad state.


  8. Immigration is his Achilles Heel, and this book tour shows why: His real position is much closer to Obama than Romney, making it difficult to get through a Republican primary. The best thing that could happen to Bush is that Obama pushes through his immigration policy during this term, so it’s a done deal for whoever is elected in 2016.


  9. […] issue TWICE in that one week of media barnstorming, and as I wrote at the time, the former Governor lacked the confidence and the courage in his convictions that generally characterized his political career in Florida.  As Talking Points Memo referred to […]


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