But insofar that there was a rhetorical constant, it was open disdain for Jeb Bush, as candidates responded to his sympathy for undocumented immigrants and praise for federal education standards. “Get rid of Common Core and replace it with common sense!” said Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, taking a swipe at Bush’s support for the reformed curriculum standards. “I think what Jeb was trying to say was that many people come to the United States to look for opportunity,” said Huckabee, commenting on Bush’s support for comprehensive immigration reform. “I don't personally support amnesty. I think we ought to have a secure border.”
Trump also riffed on Bush’s immigration comments, mocking the notion that immigrants come to the United States out of “love.” “[T]hat’s one I've never heard of before,” Trump said. “I've heard money, I've heard this, I've heard sex, I've heard everything! The one thing I never heard of was love. I understand what he's saying, but, you know, it's out there, I'll tell you.” More importantly, the mere mention of Bush’s name drew boos from the crowd, who oppose the former governor’s immigration leniency.
If Jeb Bush has anything on his side right now, it’s this—the establishment stamp of approval. Just read this Washington Post story from late last month, where a parade of Republican donors and officials showed their enthusiasm for a Bush candidacy. Yes, there are still arguments and divisions among Republican elites, but one thing is clear: If Bush steps into the ring, he’ll begin the race with key victories in the “invisible primary,” where candidates fight to win influence and endorsements from the party’s most moneyed supporters.
Even still, this doesn’t make the grassroots irrelevant as much as it changes the nature of the challenge. No, the Republican base isn’t strong or influential enough to drive a candidate to the nomination or to kill the candidacy of someone with establishment support.
And that’s the “Jeb Bush” that has to go. To win the invisible primary and prevail with voters, Bush will have to sacrifice the most moderate aspects of his persona and commit to the main concerns of the rank and file. Or, put another way, there’s a good chance that any Jeb Bush who represents the entire Republican Party will be a Jeb Bush who opposes comprehensive immigration reform, shows strong skepticism for federal education programs, and adopts the usual bromides against President Obama and the Democratic Party.
It’s a Jeb Bush who—if he truly wants to win the nomination—may have to disavow his brother and father, too. Few Republicans will defend the eldest Bush, who worked with Democrats to raise taxes and earned the animosity of a generation of conservatives.
For Jeb Bush to win, he may have to do more than bury his former political persona—he may have to bury the Bush name.....snip~
Jeb Bush may win the nomination: GOP donors matter, the party’s base does not.