Jeb Bush faces an ‘interesting challenge’ to distinguish himself from his brother, former President George W. Bush

February 19, 2015 8:42 am
In public, offers nothing but love and respect for his older
brother, former President , who still divides Americans
more than six years since leaving office. In private, the younger Bush
notes that they’re not the same and see the world differently.
Others
who have attended similar private events with Bush in recent weeks, as
he aggressively seeks to raise money before formally launching a 2016
campaign, say the former Florida governor has told them the same. His
overriding message, although not one yet offered with many specifics: I
am my own candidate.

Jeb Bush faces an ‘interesting challenge’ to distinguish himself from his brother, former President George W. Bush. Photo / AP
“It’s an interesting challenge for me,” Jeb
Bush told an audience earlier month, offering a public glimpse into his
thinking about how the legacy of his family might impact his own
campaign.
“If I have any degree of self-awareness, this would be
the place where it might want to be applied,” he told the Detroit
Economic Club, earning a chuckle. “If I was to go beyond the
consideration of running, I would have to deal with this and turn this
fact into an opportunity to share who I am, to connect on a human level
with people.”

Part of Bush’s strength in the early days of the 2016 race
undoubtedly comes from his family ties, including a robust fundraising
network and connections inside the Republican Party built over
generations — his father served as president, his grandfather as a
member of the Senate.
At this point, few believe Bush isn’t
running in 2016. On Wednesday, he will speak to the Chicago Council on
Global Affairs to offer his views on the role in the world, and it’s
hard to imagine questions about his brother’s guidance of the US after
the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan
and Iraq won’t come during the Q&A that will follow.

Jeb Bush (right) looks on as his brother, former President George W. Bush, speaks in 2006. Photo / AP
Jeb Bush (right) looks on as his brother, former President George W. Bush, speaks in 2006. Photo / AP
Bush has broken with his brother before, although few times
publicly, including during his time as governor, which overlapped with
six years of George W. Bush’s administration. In 2003, for example, Jeb
Bush publicly criticized the administration over its decision to return
12 suspected hijackers to Cuba.
“Despite the good intentions of
the administration to negotiate the safety of these folks, that is an
oppressive regime, and given the environment in Cuba, it’s just not
right,” he said at the time.
Amid an unpopular war in Iraq and an
economy in freefall, George W. Bush left office in January 2009 with 58
per cent of Americans holding a negative view of him, according to
polls conducted by NBC and The Wall Street Journal.
That view has
softened over time, with a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted in
September finding 37 per cent of Americans with a positive view of the
elder Bush brother, 38 per cent with a negative view, and 24 per cent
neutral views.
Jeb Bush brought up the issue on his own during a
series of meetings with donors, former governors and top lobbyists last
month who were in Washington for a meeting of the National Association
of Wholesale Distributors. Some there said Bush affirmed his pride and
affection for his father and brother, while noting the siblings are not
clones.
A week later, Bush said during a paid speech to the
National Automobile Dealers Association in San Francisco that his older
brother “has become a painter. Who would have thunk it?” He finished the
brief family rundown with a solemn, “I love my brother and his service
for our country.”

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