Jeb Bush is not running for president.
And he’s not not running for president.
Let’s just say Bush is jogging en route to the campaign track. The former Florida governor is getting ready, pre-campaigning. In dramatic terms, he’s backstage mulling whether his campaign is to be or not to be.
“I’m not saying, ‘Oh, woe is me,’ here, don’t get me wrong,” Bush said Monday at a Wall Street Journal event in Washington. “I’ve got to really do a lot of soul-searching.”
There’s little doubt Bush would love to be president. The actual running is the issue. Bush’s Monday comments concerned not his potential presidency but his potential candidacy.
Among his top concerns: his spotlight-shunning wife and his daughter, who struggled with drug addiction a dozen years ago, about the same time as his last campaign.
Since then, we’ve seen the rise of Twitter, Facebook, blogs and a non-stop cable news cycle that cater to angry and unyielding electronic political tribes. The center does not hold in Washington politics. Democrats have moved left. The GOP base has gyred so far right that the conservative Bush is considered a moderate to many tea partiers, chiefly because of his advocacy for immigration and education reform.
Bush knows he might not be prepared to deal with the centrifugal forces of today’s politics.
“Do I have the skills to do it in a way that tries to lift people’s spirits and not get sucked into the vortex?” Bush asked.
Good question. Bush’s answer appears to be more yes than no. Here are the five signs that, contrary to what people like me once thought, make Bush appear more likely to run than not: