Jeb Bush is using his conservative cachet and experience as the former governor of a big, immigrant-rich state to bolster his president brother's campaign for new immigration reforms.
In an article he co-wrote with former national GOP chairman Ken Mehlman in today's Wall Street Journal, he takes issue with critics who dismiss the plan to allow millions of illegal immigrants to earn citizenship as "amnesty."
Those critics include presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who by surrounding himself with former Bush supporters, has fueled the perception that the popular former governor supports him. Bush has said he is neutral in the race, but he told at least one friend that he was "disappointed" in Romney's position on immigration.
Bush says the bill is not just good policy; it will help the GOP win over Hispanic voters. He argues in the article that a 1994 anti-immigrant bill in California has helped tilt the state toward Democratic candidates.
You can bet that when Romney rival John McCain defends his support for the bill on Monday in Miami, he will cite Bush's position. Immigration could become one of the definining issues of the campaign in Florida, poised to play a big role in helping to choose the nominees in its earliest-ever primary on Jan. 29.
Read the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed here.