Former Florida Republican governor Jeb Bush has said he won’t endorse anyone in the presidential primary. He has said he won’t run in 2012. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about the Republican Party or the conservative movement. In a rare intervention into electoral politics since his departure from the Florida governorship, he decided that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s venture into birtherism has gone on long enough. In an exclusive statement to Right Turn, he e-mailed me: “Republican candidates should categorically reject the notion that President Obama was not born in the United States. It is a complete distraction from the failed economic policies of the President.” And that was it.
In two short, declarative sentences he told his party that this way lies madness. The country, the party and the conservative movement are at a crossroads. Our economic future and the viability of a Republican Party that is both responsible and forward looking are at stake. This is not the time for foolishness. That is the essence of the message.
At this point, few responsible Republican office-holders dare defend Perry, and even fewer will want to appear with or endorse him. The challenge that Jeb Bush and Govs. Terry Branstad (Iowa) and Bob McDonnell (Va.) have laid out is clear: Are you with the sane Republicans or not? GOP voters need to decide.