When Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana decided to announce recently that he isn't going to run for the Republican nomination for president -- and instead is likely to run for governor of his state -- you would have thought, from the reaction in some quarters, that he had committed the ultimate act of betrayal. At least one senior longtime Republican political aide thought that Pence had somehow let down his principles and his country by not taking a chance on the presidential race. Folks on the Pence for president bandwagon were in a deep funk. "Seriously, who else do we have?" one asked me. "Unless something miraculous happens and we get an unexpected gift candidate."
Another GOP stalwart agreed: "Sad to say, but at a time when we need someone with guts, like Reagan in '76, challenging an incumbent president of his own party, or Rubio staying in the Florida Senate race when he was 40 points down to Crist, we get political calculation and personal ambition." Poor Mike Pence! Let's remember, the congressman has young kids and other options, and the presidency was a gamble.
While I appreciate these hard-working political veterans' early assessments of the field of potential candidates and their efforts to draft fresh candidates to energize people, I think they're down way too early. It's a big country, filled with potential candidates. Some of them are ready and willing to run, and some have very familiar names.
One of the latter happens to be named Bush. Later this month on MSNBC, Chris Matthews will host a special presenting Bill Clinton as "President of the World," talking about Clinton's global charity work since being out of office. In that spirit, consider this my pitch for a Fox News special: "Jeb Bush, Governor of the Country," a model of conservative leadership in and out of office. In his post-gubernatorial life, the former chief executive of Florida -- a bit of a policy wonk and activist on education -- has been working with school officials, businessmen and policymakers to translate his Florida achievement into progress for our schools nationwide.