Is Crist Killing Jeb's Hopes?
It has long been assumed, despite the occasional and perfunctory hollow denial by Jeb's people, that former Gov. Jeb Bush was planning a bid for the White House in 2012 or 2016.
But a recent comment
by Shirish Date, Tallahasse bureau chief for the Palm Beach Post
and author of Jeb, America’s Next Bush
, puts those ambitions in doubt.
"Jeb really thought he had 10 years to kind of pick and choose what he did and when he did it. If the Republicans lose nationally in 2008, Charlie will be well positioned for his own bid, not for VP but for president in 2012. Even now, the Republicans come down here and kiss Charlie’s [Gov. Charlie Crist] ring. They need him more than Jeb now."
Is Date right?
The St. Pete Times has described Crist as the first "post partisan governor
." While it is still early in his first term, Crist is already more popular than Jeb ever was.
As Jeb's older brother continues to drag down the Bush name (most recently by commuting the sentence of Scooter Libby), will a moderate, popular Republican governor, who will still be in office in 2012, trump a man who won't have held office in at least six years, someone better known for hard line, ideological conservatism and the "with me or against me" attitude that has helped to sink his older brother's second term.
I am not prepared to rule out Jeb in five or nine years, depending on how next year pans out. Nor am I prepared to believe that Crist, should he harbor presidential ambitions, would be able to win a GOP nomination nationally.
What I am prepared to believe is that the comparison between Jeb and Crist will not bode well for Jeb in a presidential general election. I am also prepared to believe that Crist's popularity may marginalize Jeb among many Republican power brokers, who may prefer to kiss Crist's ring, as Date puts it.