Jeb Bush Is Rebuilding the Bush Family Brand by Cribbing from John McCain

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Oh sure, Jeb Bush has said he wants no part of the presidential election, but he means this election, not all elections. In his many no-way-will-I-be-veep interviews, Bush is setting himself up perfectly to be the savior of the Republican Party in 2016, New York's Jonathan Chait writes, the latest example being an interview with reporters hosted by Bloomberg View Monday. But Bush has to rehabilitate the Bush brand first, and what's fascinating is that he's doing it by stealing from the playbook of John McCain, his brother's former nemesis.

The straight talk. McCain rode around in the StraightTalk Express when he ran for president in 2000. He famously called some evangelical leaders "agents of intolerance." And here's Jeb Bush Monday, talking about the need for a change in tone among conservatives: "Don’t just talk about Hispanics and say immediately we must have controlled borders... It’s kind of insulting when you think about it. Change the tone would be the first thing. Second, on immigration, I think we need to have a broader approach."

The effing word Maverick! Maverick is McCain's word! Jeb Bush's son, George P. Bush, has started a new outside spending group, The Wall Street Journal's Patrick O'Connor reports. It is called Maverick PAC. "That’s really the purpose of the organization, to bring in new blood,” the younger Bush told the Journal. In the 2008 vice-presidential debate, Sarah Palin used the term 15 times. "I do feel a little out of step with my party on" immigration, Bush said Monday. "I hope we don’t all have this march… if someone is a conservative or a liberal, we’re sent this little book that says, 'you must not veer.'"

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The noble loss. "McCain is the patron saint of lost causes," Matt Welch writes in The Myth of a Maverick, "Aside from his controversial Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which finally squeaked through in 2002 after a quixotic, seven-year struggle, the bills he is most famous for all failed: the line-item veto that the Supreme Court struck down in 1998, the never-passed $1.10-a-pack tobacco tax he proposed the same year, and 2007's comprehensive immigration reform debacle."

And here's Jeb Bush, sounding somber earlier this month on his dim political future: "I think there's a window of opportunity in life for all sorts of reasons, and this was probably my time." Being picked as Mitt Romney's running mate, he said, is just "not going to happen." In his interview with Bloomberg View Monday, Bush said "the budget deal my dad did, with bipartisan support — at least for a while — that created the spending restraint of the ‘90s." But it cost him. "Politically it clearly didn't work out — he was a one term president."

The call for bipartisan compromise. McCain partnered with one of the most liberal senators, Russ Feingold, to push through campaign finance reform. Now Jeb Bush is calling for more bipartisan cooperation. "Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad — they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground," Bush said, according to BuzzFeed. "Back to my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time – they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan suport." Reagan "would be criticized for doing the things that he did."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.