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article imageOp-Ed: Has Jeb Bush, first 2016 GOP frontrunner, learned from 2012?

By Calvin Wolf     Dec 28, 2014 in Politics
In the latest polls, former Florida governor Jeb Bush has become the first official frontrunner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, becoming the GOP's first solid favorite since polling began. But has Jeb heeded the lesson's of 2012?
With presidential campaigns beginning earlier and earlier, it should be no surprise that 2015 is not even upon us when the first "official frontrunner" of the opposition party's 2016 presidential nomination has been named. That's right: According to CNN, a new poll has made former Florida governor Jeb Bush the first Republican to become the favorite beyond a margin of error. Bush is favored by 23 percent of surveyed Republicans, a full ten percentage points above his closest competitor, New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
But the painful lessons of 2008 and 2012 present important warnings for Bush. Both election cycles saw the Republican Party cycle among various frontrunners. The Rothenberg Political Report, way back in February 2011, highlighted the frailties of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney as the original 2012 GOP frontrunner. Sure enough, the 2012 Republican pre-primary season saw Romney eclipsed many times by new frontrunners, all of whom quickly faded again: Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain among the more notable.
Eventually, Romney won the GOP nomination...but some felt that his ultimate defeat in the presidential election was influenced by his emerging from the Republican primaries as "damaged goods."
Back in 2008, the situation was similar. Mitt Romney, an early frontrunner, jostled with other politicians like former New York City major Rudy Giuliani, Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, and Texas representative Ron Paul. Ultimately, he lost a hard-fought primary season to Senator John McCain of Arizona. And, just as in 2012, a hard-fought primary season resulted in a general election loss for the GOP.
As the first frontrunner of 2016, Jeb Bush has a target on his back. Like former heavies Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton, Bush will likely suffer from allegations of nepotism and insinuations that he is the "inevitable" candidate. Essentially, opponents will chide voters to stay away from Bush, lest they be modern-day royalists and sheeple, un-American drones willing to remain cowed under the blanket of historic authority. Romney, the multimillionaire Ivy League grad whose CEO father ran for president in the early 1970s, was painted as a hollow, handsome shell by both Republican and Democratic opponents. Clinton, the former First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State, is painted as a limousine liberal who will simply use Bill's Rolodex and playbook to run her White House.
Jeb Bush must seek to quickly differentiate himself from the policies of both his father and older brother. He must highlight his non-Ivy college experience and his Latin American ties, as explained by the Museum of Florida History, and highlight his bipartisan support during his tenure as governor. He must also prepare to stand down his 2016 opponents by highlighting his extensive gubernatorial experience compared to their relatively minute congressional experience: Likely primary opponents Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, both stronger foes than New Jersey governor Chris Christie, are both junior senators.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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