Jeb Bush launches 2016 bid: can he extend the dynasty?

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush says he plans to seek the office previously held by both his brother and his father

Former Florida Republican Governor Jeb Bush
(Image credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty )

Jeb Bush has announced he is "actively exploring the possibility of running for president of the United States" in 2016, a dramatic entry into the field of Republican hopefuls from a man whose father and brother were both president.

Bush has been dubbed 'the smart brother' and is said to be more level-headed than his sibling George W. He was governor of Florida in 2000 when his brother defeated Al Gore in an election that hinged on recounted votes in that state.

While the wording of the 61-year-old's Facebook and Twitter announcement might seem non-committal to outsiders, the US media reaction suggests there is a strong chance Bush will be his party's next candidate for the White House.

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His entry to the race changes everything, says the Washington Post. It "scrambles the large Republican field, thrusting him to the front of the pack and locking up a huge swath of longtime party fundraisers being wooed by other candidates".

Those candidates whose financial backers are now set to desert them for Bush, according to the Post, include New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Texas governor Rick Perry and Florida senator Marco Rubio.

Bush's candidacy also makes it less likely that 2012 nominee Mitt Romney will stand again, says the Post. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll yesterday, Bush took a narrow lead over the rest of the field, if Romney was not included.

The news raises the interesting possibility of a clash between political dynasties in the 2016 race: Hillary Clinton is widely expected to stand for the Democrat nomination. Her husband, Bill Clinton, unseated Jeb's father 22 years ago.

MSNBC says the two families have become close over the decades. George W considers Bill Clinton to be his "brother from another mother", says the broadcaster, while Bill Clinton looks on the elder George Bush as a father figure.

But there are "plenty of people in both parties unhappy with another Clinton-Bush face-off", says MSNBC. It adds: "Liberals and conservatives alike might view the matchup as lacking real contest."

Bush may have one big advantage for his party as a candidate: it is thought he can attract the Latino vote. This section of the electorate is seen as crucial for the Republican party, which can no longer rely on the old, white, male vote to see it over the finish line.

Despite speaking perfect Spanish and having a Mexican wife, Bush has been oversold as a draw for the Latino vote, says Gustavo Arellano, editor of OC Weekly. Writing for The Guardian, Arellano says Latinos are not as conservative as they used to be.

Latinos are "as tired of political dynasties as they are of gringos", says Arellano. A better idea might be for Jeb to "sit this one out" and encourage his half-Mexican son, George P Bush, to run in 2024, he suggests.

Also for The Guardian, Suzanne Goldenberg says Jeb Bush may be smarter than George W, but he is an "out-and-out flat-earther" on the subject of climate change - a lot more radical than his brother. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has said she will defend the progress Barack Obama has made on the issue.

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