Jeb Bush Is Cleaning Out His Closet for 2016

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Have enough Americans forgiven George W. Bush that they'll vote for his brother for president? Jeb Bush is doing several things that indicate he thinks so. He gave a speech in Dallas Wednesday titled "Restoring America's Promise: The Leadership Required and the Policy Changes that are Needed." He wrote a book about immigration reform. He's giving speeches about education. Oh, and he's getting potentially embarrassing news out of the way. Bush's maid was deported in 1991, The Washington Post's Manuel Roig-Franzia and Peter Wallsten report Wednesday. "It was a difficult time for all of us, but most of all for Maria," Bush told the newspaper.

Bush and his wife Columba could not stop the deportation, even though Bush's dad was president at the time, the Post reports. Jeb Jr. was just 10, and didn't know she was deported. "I thought she just left," Jeb Jr. says. The Post is clear about what Bush's experience means: "While Republicans cast about for leaders who can connect with Spanish-speaking voters, this tall Texas native with the Mexican American wife has remarkably come to represent a kind of Hispanic consciousness for the party." Bush has experience with bigotry. When his son was playing a baseball game in seventh grade, someone in the stands yelled out a slur for Hispanic. "His skin is darker, because my wife is from Mexico," Bush said at a 1998 campaign stop. "He has been discriminated against... This was my family. There is hatred out there."

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Earlier this month, George W. Bush told Parade magazine, "I hope he will run." Politico's Anna Palmer reports that Bush has the things he needs to be elected president: "money, résumé and connections." Alas, "he's also got a problem: his last name." Former Republican National Committee chair Haley Barbour said, "I would put it this way — if Jeb's last name was Brown instead of Bush, he’d probably be the front-runner for the Republican nomination." The idea that the only thing holding Bush back is his name has been around since at least 2007, and has been repeated many times. But if Bush's last name were Brown, we probably would have never heard of him. In 1994, the Palm Beach Post complained that Bush's "political résumé begins and ends with his last name." Will he run in 2016? Bush said Wednesday, "To be honest with you, I'm focused on the land commissioner race in 2014." That would be the race featuring his son, George P. Bush, who will be in attendance at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas Thursday — along with his brother, his father, and President Obama, as well as former President Bill Clinton... and his wife.

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