WASHINGTON -- Jeb Bush is suddenly prompting questions among Republicans about the suitability of one of their top tier prospects for the 2016 presidential nomination.
Insiders were alarmed by his stumbling and bumbling this week to answer a seemingly obvious question about the most controversial element of his brother's legacy, the Iraq war. They warned at week’s end that his loyalty to his family limited his flexibility as a candidate and perhaps as president and risked reinforcing a damning narrative that he would merely offer a third term of his brother.
“The big challenge now is, you don’t want to start your campaign with a re-litigation of the past,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who says that Republicans knew Bush’s challenge would be to clearly distinguish himself from his father and brother’s administrations. “Elections are inherently a contest about the future.”
Supporters privately expressed puzzlement at his performance and worried it might not be a one-time incident if the former two-term Florida governor, never one to submit to coaching or handling by aides and advisers, fails to adequately adapt for the brewing Republican primary fight.