In last week's column, it was Newt Gingrich for president in 2008. This week brings us to consideration of another name that deserves serious consideration -- a name that now may be viewed as just as much a long shot as Gingrich, although for different reasons.
That name is Jeb Bush. He says, emphatically, he will not run. But that doesn't mean he shouldn't.
First, a bit of follow-up. I met with Newt Gingrich late last week. He continued to stick to his story that he's really just pushing the fresh policy ideas in his new book. Even so, it was clear that he is preparing to enter the next and most amazing stage of his meteoric public career. Let's put it this way: Don't be shocked to see him vacationing in New Hampshire and signing lots of books in Iowa.
Gingrich is the textbook case of a potential presidential contender whom the politically naive may discount as a candidate because they think he can't restyle his old image. They're wrong. Now let's consider another potential Republican candidate who pundits incorrectly believe could never win because of the simple fact of his family ties. That man is Gov. Bush.
Many so-called political experts are often way off when it comes to deciding this far out who can win the White House. They would have us believe a Jeb Bush candidacy in 2008 would be doomed supposedly because Americans would never elect three presidents from the same family. How interesting. Had the late Robert Kennedy lived and been elected president in 1968, there is little doubt that, in good time, brother Teddy would have seemed the next popular choice for Democrats entranced by the Kennedy mystique.
In the case of Gov. Bush, there is substance behind the notion that he could -- even should -- be elected to succeed George W. Bush. With all deference to Jeb's dad, George H.W. Bush -- whom I passionately supported in '88 and in '92 -- and to his brother, the current president, it's long been my contention that Jeb is the most articulate and the most natural political leader hanging on the family tree.
Moreover, our InsiderAdvantage surveys in Florida have consistently shown Bush to have strong approval ratings. The most recent of these surveys found him well above 60 percent approval. That's no mean feat in this divided and tumultuous political era. Some of his popularity may be attributed to his household last name. But in a state as politically diverse as Florida, there's got to be more to it. Could it be because he's been a great governor? Not just good, or even very good. Great. Here are some reasons why: