On Tuesday, former Florida governor Jeb Bush announced that he's going to start exploring the possibility of running for president in 2016. This was just a fancy political way of saying he's going to throw his hat in the ring and that he's going to run, just as his father and brother once did.
But, perhaps not surprisingly, the news was met with a tepid, if not outright angry, response from the very base he's going to count on to get votes. Republicans are just not that fired up about Jeb and they've made their voice pretty clear.
The apprehension seems to be stemming from where you'd expect: the Tea Party crowd, who think Jeb is just too much of a moderate.
Leading the charge is, of course, Rush Limbaugh, who put forth a conspiratorial proposition that Jeb is being prepped as the nominee by establishment Republicans who want to avoid getting a Tea Party favorite -- like a Marco Rubio or even a Ted Cruz -- on the ticket.
"Do you want to know why Jeb Bush is thinking of running?" Limbaugh asked on his show hours after Bush's announcement. "I'll give you a poss -- including the fact that he may actually want to be president, he may actually want to do this -- but he's also being looked at as a savior by the big money donor class and the consultant class, the establishment of the party, to head-off the Tea Party. They're going to pull out all the stops to make sure that a Tea Party-type conservative doesn't get the nomination. And if that means -- somebody like Jeb -- it could be a sacrificial run just to make sure that a conservative doesn't get the nomination in 2016. There's a whole bunch of stuff under the surface here that's percolating and effervescing. And it's all about us being the number one enemy of these people.
The conservative website National Review's Charles Cooke called Bush "the wrong man, at the wrong time."
"If Jeb Bush does manage to make it all the way to the top, we will be in uncharted dynastic territory -- territory that, frankly, should begin to worry us," Cooke wrote.
Likewise, Eric Erickson of Red State wondered if Jeb even still considered himself a conservative:
"In a year that could field the strongest total crop of Republican candidates in more than a decade, including the present Governors of Wisconsin, Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana and the present Senators from Texas, Kentucky, and Florida, why does Jeb Bush think that he is the man most qualified for the job and, more importantly, why should the nation believe there are no more qualified candidates than a third Bush who will not have run for office in fourteen years by the time we get to 2016?"
And then there was the Twitter hashtag #BetterThanJeb that launched almost immediately after Bush announced his exploratory committee on Twitter. Here's a sample:
Sniffing the fart-cloud of the Grim Reaper. #BetterThanJeb— Bronc Drywall (@Turin2012) December 17, 2014
[email protected] (@JohnENiemela) December 17, 2014
My root canal without numbing #BetterThanJeb— Doc (@DocDarnell) December 17, 2014
Still, Bush managed to possibly score himself some points with the conservative Cuban vote when he condemned President Obama's announcement that the United States and Cuba would start to move towards a better relationship.
"The Obama Administration's decision to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba is the latest foreign policy misstep by this President, and another dramatic overreach of his executive authority," Jeb wrote on his Facebook page. "It undermines America's credibility and undermines the quest for a free and democratic Cuba."
He added: "Cuba is a dictatorship with a disastrous human rights record, and now President Obama has rewarded those dictators. We should instead be fostering efforts that will truly lead to the fair, legitimate democracy that will ultimately prevail in Cuba."
He also told the Miami Herald that the U.S. shouldn't be negotiating with Cuba until the island nation changes:
"I don't think we shd be negotiating w/a repressive regime to make changes in our relationship w/them until" Cuba changes -Jeb Bush 2/3— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) December 17, 2014
What impact this will have on changing the minds of the more conservative base of the GOP is yet to be seen.
But Jeb relied heavily on Cuban exiles during his days of running for governor in Florida. The Cuban vote played a large role in getting him elected and then re-elected. Likewise in 2002, brother and then-President George W. announced that he would veto any bill Congress put forth that would be viewed as a relaxing of the Cuban embargo. That announcement scored W. big points with the Cuban voters for Jeb's re-election.
Jeb hasn't even officially announced he's running, and things are already going a little nuts for him.