Right Turn is on vacation, but we have left you with some thoughts on the top challenges facing likely presidential candidates. Today, we’ll look at former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who was once thought to be disqualified by his last name. Reform conservatism was his bailiwick before it had a name, so his solution-oriented style of politics may be attractive to a great number of middle-of-the-road Republicans. He will need to define his record in a way that bolsters his advantage over freshman senators and paints himself as the most electable Republican. That means:
1. Making the case that he is a true anti-Washington candidate by defining “Washington” as the capital of blowhards and haven for incompetents. If Washington is the capital of dysfunction, he can pose as a successful governor from a swing state, a model for governance.
2. Stressing that the three freshman senators most likely to run for president lack sufficient executive experience – just like the junior senator from Illinois did in 2008.
3. Hammering Hillary Clinton and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) as anti-defense, anti-Israel. Both favored getting out of Iraq entirely, opening the door for the Islamic State epidemic.
4. Emphasizing that he is a proven conservative who is nevertheless able to appeal to non-traditional GOP voters.
5. Highlighting the difference between talk and action, arguing that the shutdown is evidence of the pro-shutdown senators’ lack of readiness to govern. On immigration, he has advocated legalization-only and tough border security measures, but he will need to convince conservatives he will back a border-security-first approach.
6. Casting himself as the mature conservative with a solid record of accomplishment on education, jobs and growth. While Common Core has become a hot-button issue with the right wing (which mischaracterizes what it is), Bush will need to emphasize that the key to education reform is high standards, wherever they come from.
7. Championing his candidacy as the way to reinvigorate federalism and decentralize federal power. He can make the case that he understands what states require from the feds and what federal action is counterproductive.
8. Running as the one to pull the entire GOP together while Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) fuels the tea party vs. the establishment fight.
9. Tapping into the desire for comity and civility in the Beltway and exuding a happy warrior persona. He has said he wants a joyous campaign and that might be a breath of fresh air and nice contrast to the yellers in his party who seem perpetually mad and hysterical about the country’s demise.
10. Speaking Spanish, going into Spanish communities and making himself a strong presence on Spanish-language media. If Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) runs, Bush will have some competition in this regard, but his long track record and personal connection with minority voters, which his brother also had, are unequaled among the current crop of candidates.