Jeb Bush might have ruled out a 2012 White House bid Tuesday, but the chatter about his political future is only getting started. Of particular interest: the former Florida governor hitting the stump for Tea Party-approved candidates. Could the heir to America's most rock-ribbed Republican dynasty be eying a new constituency?
- A Legitimizing Force The Atlantic's Joshua Green says Bush's impeccable establishment credentials make his support for Tea Party candidates all the more significant. "He hasn't followed the Tea Party to the political fringes," writes Green, "but neither has he ignored them." Bush has a golden opportunity, Green argues, to parlay his "solid conservative record that wasn't compiled in Washington and broad appeal in a critical state" into a leadership role with a movement in need of "an ideas guy."
- Working Behind the Scenes Sam Stein of the Huffington Post writes that Bush has worked quietly behind the scenes to ensure Tea Party candidates this fall are well positioned with GOP moneymen. Writes Stein:
In addition to working closely with House leadership on various rebranding efforts, he helped craft the delicate strategy that the party took in the Florida Senate Republican primary. Understanding that the National Republican Senatorial Committee was essentially obligated to put its support behind his successor, Charlie Crist, he cautioned chairman John Cornyn (R-Tex) to anticipate Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio's rise. The committee was, subsequently, well-positioned to handle Crist's GOP defection.
- A Perfect Biography Bush might be the only Republican capable of bridging the divide between the Tea Party and independent swing voters, write Matt Bai in the New York Times. Moreover, writes Bai, he's quietly amassed political capital, working this election season to become "a favorite of the anti-establishment crowd" without having to stop being "a political celebrity with a pronounced independent streak."