Bush starts the ad taking a shot at self-promoters a clear shot at Donald Trump. However, Bush has been perhaps the most consistently shameless self-promoter in politics nationally over the last twenty years with the exception of President Clinton. Bush used education and school “choice” as his vehicle to create a national following and has continued to use that even while out of office for the better part of a decade to promote himself. Unlike his brother President George W. Bush who retired from office and went quietly into the night, refusing to criticize his successor, Jeb Bush’s shadow has loomed large on the state and haunted his successor Charlie Crist and now Rick Scott.
The ad continues with Bush talking about his “proven conservative record.” As Governor, Bush had to call multiple special sessions to deal with budgeting snafus. Especially in his second term, the state began spending more and more money on public works projects and highways. That’s fine by me, but is difficult to characterize as “conservative.” In addition, Bush continues to defend the Iraq War which was one of the LEAST conservative actions taken by a US President in the post-World War II era. The Iraq War completely contradicted conservative principles on spending, nation building and entangling American forces abroad. Traditional conservatives will attest that the war in Iraq was a LESS conservative exercise than just about any major war in US history (although some might argue American entrance to World War I rivaled the Iraq War).
Florida has a balanced budget amendment in our constitution so when Bush says he balanced eight successive budgets, so did Lawton Chiles. Bob Martinez balanced four before him and Bob Graham eight before him.
While the ad comes across as slick, it’s a desperate attempt from Governor Bush who has gained almost no traction in the race for the Republican Presidential nomination to appear statesmanlike. Whether it moves potential GOP voters in early caucuses and primary states remains to be seen. Unless the polls turn around soon, Bush could follow former Governor John Connally (1980) and Senator Phil Gramm (1996) as early co-favorites that turned into GOP Presidential washouts with Texas ties.
The full Bush ad is embedded below.