Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bush Whacked?

After getting pounded in the last two congressional elections (not to mention losing the 2008 presidential election by a wide margin), Republicans have been salivating at the thought of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush running in 2010 for the Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez.

The optimism of the GOP that yet another Bush could help the party get back on track was enhanced when former President George H.W. Bush said, in a nationally televised interview over the weekend, that Jeb would make a great senator or president.

But Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times throws a bucket of cold water on the Republican Party's activists, reporting that Bush now appears to be leaning against making the race.

"[F]riends say family considerations could outweigh the pull of public service," Smith writes.

The question is not whether Bush would be a strong candidate in Florida.

"Despite his brother's anemic national approval ratings as president, Bush remains popular in Florida and a giant in the GOP," writes Smith. "Just by declaring last month that he was thinking about running, he effectively cleared the field of potential Republican candidates."

In fact, Bush's Hamlet act "has frozen the field on both sides of the aisle," according to former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, who also has been considering making a run for the Senate.

It should come as a surprise to no one that Bush, like his brother (and his father — after he was chosen to be Ronald Reagan's running mate in 1980), is a conservative. He is against abortion and for capital punishment, and he signed "Terri's Law," which was designed to keep severely brain-damaged Terri Schiavo (who, like socialite Sunny von Bülow, existed in a "persistent vegetative state") on life support.

"Terri's Law" was ruled unconstitutional by Florida's Supreme Court in January 2005, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. Schiavo's feeding tube was removed in spite of significant opposition from congressional Republicans. She died in March 2005.

Politico.com says Bush "was expected to make an announcement perhaps as early as this week."

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