Updated at 1:15 pm EST
Jeb Bush is in town.
The former Florida governor, brother of one former president and son of another, is encamped in Washington — in a hotel just a few blocks from the White House, as the National Review Online notes — ostensibly for another national conference of his Foundation for Excellence in Education. It’s the fifth annual conference, the last one in San Francisco. Bush sets the election year parleys in Washington.
While here, NRO’s Robert Costa reports, Bush held a private, one-hour meeting Monday with some political operatives — including Neil Newhouse, a Washington-area pollster who served as Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign pollster and has a long association with Bush.
Neilhouse, of Alexandria, Va.-based Public Opinion Strategies, polled for both of Bush’s winning campaigns in 1998 and 2002. He tells Political Capital that the get-together yesterday was nothing but an informal gathering of a couple of mostly policy-oriented associates of Bush over drinks — the door to their meeting open, with no speechifying.
Bush, Costa reports, was not ruling out a presidential run of his own in 2016: “I am here to catch up with folks and promote education reform,” he said in an interview — with a reported smile. He called the crew with whom he met in the J.W. Marriott hotel’s Cannon room “an alumni group that I like keeping in touch with.” He maintained that he is “here to focus on educational reform.”
Bush, who served two terms as governor and has long been involved in education reform, opened his two-day education summit of workshops and speeches at the Marriott this morning as the “keynote” breakfast speaker. They counted 950 people from 45 states.
They’ll be talking about many of the same issues that Bush has explored since starting another foundation following his first, losing, campaign for governor in 1994, when he opened a charter school in Miami with the leader of the Urban League there, T. Willard Fair: School choice. Tuition vouchers are on the agenda today.
True to form, Bush has an ecumenical guest list: With Arne Duncan, President Barack Obama’s education secretary, and John Podesta, a former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, on the speakers’ list. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who had been seen as a potential Republican presidential candidate this year, will deliver the keynote breakfast address tomorrow.
And the keynoters tonight at dinner include: Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state in the administration of Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, will join Joel Klein, a former education chancellor for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.