Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has come out of his shell. He's speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference for the first time, and he's giving interviews that suggest he wants to be a participant in the debate about the future of the Republican Party.
Bush is an ideal Republican presidential candidate. He has a national stature, an enviable record as governor, a solid temperament, and nothing significantly scandalous in his past. He is one of his party's best voices on immigration.
But he is a Bush. That's going to be a problem. It's not going to be an insurmountable problem, but the Republican base is definitely wary of the Bush brand and will not embrace him, no matter how hard he tacks to the right. The American people, of course, have two trillion-dollar wars in their Bush memory bank association. It's not fair to the bro of George W., but it is what it is. Associations matter. If he were to change his name to Jeb Smith, then...
Immigration also works against Bush. He is to the left of even the integrationists in his party. In some ways, his connection to Florida Hispanics is more solid that George W. Bush's connection to Latinos in Texas. Depending on what passes Congress, immigration may still be a pivotal issue for 2016 GOP primary voters.