In what NBC News is calling a ‘trial balloon’, Jeb Bush met with a group of CEOs in an event sponsored by the Wall Street Journal as a test of whether he has what it takes to make the big splash.
And from the response to a number of questions, Bush’s decision appears to hinge on one thing: whether he thinks he can run successfully in the Republican primary, in which conservatives weigh heavily, without having to sacrifice his very public positions on Common Core and comprehensive immigration reform. At the event, he commented:
“I don’t know if I’d be a good candidate or a bad one. I kinda know how a Republican can win, whether it’s me or somebody else — and it has to be much more uplifting, much more positive, much more willing to be, ‘Lose the primary to win the general’ without violating your principles. It’s not an easy task to be honest with you.”
Some have already pointed to those positions as enough to consider Bush anathema to the party’s base, and alternative options in more conservative candidates are aplenty.
But history in Republican primaries has proven otherwise. In every presidential primary since Ronald Reagan, a more moderate candidate ultimately won the nomination. In several cases, Bush 41, Dole, McCain and Romney, that nominee was outright opposed by the core conservative base of the Republican Party.
If history is any guide, the political prognosticators think that the inertia of Jeb’s efforts and the road paved by those before him will make his bid for the White House inevitable.