A group of top Republican donors have reportedly begun an intense effort to draft former Florida governor Jeb Bush into the race for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.
A Washington Post report quotes one major donor as saying that the "vast majority" of the top 100 givers to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney would back Bush in a nomination fight.
The report also claims that a hard press has begun to get Bush into the race because conservative leaders and longtime Republican operatives are concerned about the electoral viability of New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Christie's standing and poll numbers, both nationally and among Republicans, have been damaged by the ongoing investigation into whether he knew of access lane closures to the George Washington Bridge ordered by his staff as apparent political retaliation.
On the other hand, Paul's libertarian views on matters like surveillance by the National Security Agency and his perceived softness on foreign policy has also raised red flags in the GOP establishment. Paul's victories in straw polls at the Conservative Political Action Conference and the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference earlier this month may also have been a factor in the renewed push for a Bush candidacy.
Earlier this week, Bush met privately with casino magnate and GOP donor Sheldon Adelson and addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition's senior members at a dinner held Thursday at Adelson's company airport hangar. The Post, citing a donor in attendance at the dinner, reported that the crowd of about 60 guests applauded when one told Bush, "I hope you run for President in 2016."
Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush and the son of former President George H.W. Bush, served two terms as governor of Florida between 1999 and 2007. After leaving office, his name was put forward as a possible Senate candidate in 2010 and a presidential candidate in 2012. However, despite the rumors, Bush has remained out of political life.
Bush's advisers told The Post that the former governor was not actively exploring a candidacy and would not make a decision on running until the end of this year.